Performing Arts: Top Theatre Picks of The Week

by Editorial

British actress, Rachael Pickup joins The Shakespeare Theatre Company and talks about her role and time in Washington as well as our top picks of the week.
by Jordan Wright

Rachel Pickup as Lady Chiltern and Nancy Robinette as Lady Markby in Shakespeare Theatre's "An Ideal Husband". Photo by Scott Suchman.

Fighting Improv Smackdown Tournament

The totally irreverent and irresistibly uproarious Washington Improv Theatre’s six-week square off is back.  Watch teams pair off with one of WIT’s standing troupes in an evening of spontaneous off-the-cuff comic madness.

Root for your favorites or discover new faces with names like “Guys in Plaid Shirts,” “That’s So Puberty,” and “Brobot”.  This ever-popular fifth annual single-elimination event, fondly called “F.I.S.T.”, consists of 41 teams of 141 local improvisers who face off till one team is left battered but standing.  Through April 16th on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays only, by The Washington Improv Theatre at Source, Washington, DC.

The Chosen

Joshua Morgan and Derek Kahn Thompson in "The Chosen" at Arena Stage. Photo by Stan Barouh.

In celebration of their tenth anniversary, Theatre J mounts this production at Arena Stage.  It tells the beloved and time-honored tale, written by Jewish American author Chaim Potok, of the relationship between two boys, one whose father is a rabbi, the other a scholar.  Set in Williamsburg Brooklyn during World War II, it is a redemptive story of friendship, family and difficult life choices.  A very strong cast indeed, including Helen Hayes award-winning actor, Rick Foucheux, in the role of the zealous but restrained Reb Saunders.  Foucheux comes off his recent success in the one-man play “Buckminster Fuller: The History (and Mystery) of The Universe”.  Adapted and directed by Aaron Posner.  Through March 27th by Theatre J at Arena Stage, Washington, DC.

If You Give a Cat a Cupcake

"If You Give a Cat a Cupcake at Adventure Theatre". Photo courtesy of Adventure Theatre

The world premiere of this adorable children’s story by Laura Numeroff and the third book of hers turned into a play.  The hugely talented playwright, Renee Calarco, brings this crazy kitty to life with her endearing adaption.  We love that patrons can drop off cat toys, food and supplies in the lobby during the run of the show.  To see the particulars visit The Montgomery County Humane Society’s website.  Through April 25th at Adventure Theatre, Glen Echo, MD.

An Ideal Husband

Oscar Wilde’s play about a well-to-do family caught up in a web of lies.  Stunning costumes, lavish sets and a gorgeous cast in a plot boiling over with blackmail, politics and dishonor.

Recently I spoke with actress, Rachael Pickup, the beautiful British stage and screen actress who plays Lady Chiltern.  She spoke of her emotional inaugural trip to Washington DC and her challenges in crafting this role.

Washington Life: How did you prepare for the role of Lady Chiltern?

Rachael Pickup: The director asked us to learn our lines before rehearsal.  When you learn your lines you try not to make decisions, you haven’t met your other actors, or yet know the director’s vision.  Keith [Baxter] knows exactly what story he wants to tell.  Things happen gradually, not with a specific method.  If you make a decision about the role, then you might have to change it.  It’s constantly shifting and changing.

WL: Do you think US audiences will respond in the same way as British audiences?

RP: This version is slightly darker than the British version I saw recently which my father was in [character actor Ronald Pickup], and that, I think, is absolutely vital to the play.

WL: How long have you been here and how do you like Washington?

RP: I’ve been here for 4 ½ weeks.  It’s my first time in DC and I absolutely love it!  I walked out to the Capital and burst into tears.  The next day at the Washington Monument I was even more awash with emotion.

WL: What have you done so far?

RP: On my first night the director took us to the District Chophouse in Chinatown and I had a good American steak that was absolutely fabulous.  Most of the time I am just totally obsessed with Whole Foods.  I adore the hot food bar and bakery, and also the olive and self-serve bars.  It’s just heavenly…otherwise its just bagels and salads at Chop’t.

WL: What are your hobbies back home in England?

RP: It may sound dull but reading, eating and drinking with friends, going to movies and concerts, and striding through the city.  My major passion is playing the piano and baking, especially bagels, which aren’t as good in England.

Through April 10th by the Shakespeare Theatre Company at the Lansburgh Theatre, Washington, DC.

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