Performing Arts: Top Theatre Picks of the Week

by Editorial

Bring on the drama! Our top Washington-area theatre picks for the upcoming week.
By Jordan Wright

(L-R) Domio of Ephesus (Darius Pierce) with his master, Antipholus of Ephesus (Bruce Nelson), in The Comedy of Errors, on stage at Folger Theatre through March 6, 2011. (Credit: Carol Pratt)

A Comedy of Errors

Against a backdrop of quaint Elizabethan shops painted in cheery carousel colors, this topsy-turvy farce spills forth at breakneck speed.  Think Shakespeare by the Marx Brothers plus two sets of twins.  Director Aaron Posner injects his own innovations with a quirky modern day intro by the Worcestershire Mask and Wig Society.  His flesh-toned masks in the style of the Italian Commedia dell’Arte are both clever and cool.  Through March 6th at the Folger Shakespeare Theatre.

Perseus Bayou

Take a well-loved Greek myth and plop it in the middle of the Louisiana bayou with alligators, swamp ghosts and the head of Medusa.

Percy (Tyler Herman) makes his way through the bayou in PERSEUS BAYOU at Imagination Stage. (Photo credit: Scott Suchman)

Sprinkle this Cajun-inspired musical with a bit of magic to conjure up a thoroughly rapturous adventure for kids age 6 and up.

Shaunté Tabb who plays the role of Athena, the ageless goddess, is a local actress and Howard University grad, now in the musical studies program at Bowie State University.  As the understudy for Aida in the rock musical created by Elton John and Tim Rice, she recently traveled throughout China for three months on a ten-city tour that for her was a life-changing experience.  “ I feel like art can take you anywhere,” she told me.  Watch for Tabb to go places.  Through March 13th at Imagination Stage, Bethesda, MD.

His Eye is on the Sparrow

In her second bio-musical the incomparable Bernardine Mitchell, who previously starred in “Mahalia!”, channels the life and times of pioneering jazz and gospel legend Ethel Waters.  Threaded throughout with sixteen soul-stirring songs, like “Stormy Weather” and “Am I Blue?”, Mitchell, with her lush contralto voice, portrays the iconic singer whose musical journey took her from ragtime bars to Harlem’s famed Cotton Club, and from the Negro Vaudeville Circuit to Hollywood and the Broadway stage, ultimately embracing gospel music in Billy Graham’s worldwide crusades.  I asked Mitchell what she wanted audiences to take away from this story.  “Everyone needs to know the truth,” she urged. Through March 20th at MetroStage, Alexandria, VA.

David Whalen (Billy Lynch) and Molly Cahill Govern (Eva) in Round House Theatre’s production of Charming Billy. (Credit: Photo by Danisha Crosby)

Charming Billy

Set in New York, Pulitzer Prize-winning Maryland author Alice McDermott’s poignant drama transports the audience to a rainy night at an Irish wake in an Upper East Side Bar, and flashes back to the Long Island of potato farms and fisherman’s cottages in the 1940’s, to tell a story of a Yeats-quoting Irishman whose charms and woes create and dissolve his relationships with family and friends.  Seamless and powerfully acted.  Through Feb. 27th at the Round House Theatre, Bethesda, MD.

La cándida Eréndira/Innocent Eréndira and the Heartless Grandmother

Based on a novel by Columbian Nobel Prize winner and author Gabriel García Márquez who is best known for “magic realism”, this stunning Felliniesque drama, dripping with surrealistic symbols is set against a bleak Columbian landscape.  A cross-generational tale of exploitation, power, love and abandonment, it is artfully crafted by the multi ACE award-winning director, Jorge Alí Triana, who says, “By being loyal to the spirit of the original work, we transport it to the stage and achieve an innovative reading open to the audience’s imagination.”   Laura García delivers a tour de force performance that is unforgettable.  Through Feb. 27th at the GALA Hispanic Theatre, Washington, DC.

The Landless Theatre Company’s Mash-Up Fest

Hill staffers check your credentials at the door for this first ever non-pc spoof festival.  Four original plays by local playwrights from send ups to lampoons as several parodies are “mashed” together at the same time.  For playwright Kerri Sheehan, it was mixing up her favorite musical and favorite horror film to create “All That Jawz”.  Unsanctioned by any known theatrical authority, and totally, unconventionally on the fringe.  Through Feb. 26th at DC Arts Center in Adams Morgan.

Related Articles