Performing Arts: This Week’s Top Theatre Picks

by Editorial

Shakespeare and ABBA? We’re in an award-winning and classic mood for our theatrical picks of the week.
By Candice Norwood

Judy McLane, Carolee Carmello and Gina Ferrall, 2006 Broadway cast of Mamma Mia! (Photo by Joan Marcus)

Mamma Mia!

With colorful, retro costumes and fun-filled music from 70s pop group ABBA, Mamma Mia! has seen a lot of success including a Tony Award and a feature-film adaptation. On the Greek Island of Calicos, a young woman named Sophie prepares to marry. She is determined to have her estranged father walk her down the aisle and finds the names of three men in her mother’s diary who she believes could be her father. Prior to the wedding Sophie decides to send each man an invitation using her mother’s name. When all three prospects actually show up, the drama officially begins. The show’s North American tour stars Liana Hunt and Lisa Brescia and will stop at the Wolf Trap Filene Center. Runs from June 30 to July 3. Get tickets here.

The Merchant of Venice

For the first time in over a decade, the Shakespeare Theatre Company will stage The Merchant of Venice. Bassanio, a gentleman of Venice, Italy, is desperate to obtain money so that he may reunite with and marry the wealthy Portia. Portia, a smart and beautiful heiress is bound by her father’s will, which compels her to marry the first man who chooses correctly among three caskets. While Portia tests suitor after suitor, Bassanio and his close friend Antonio go to borrow money from the Jewish moneylender, Shylock, who despises Antonio for his racial slander. Turmoil ensues as tensions rise and a long-time rivalry comes to a head. Runs from June 21 to July 24 at Shakespeare Theatre’s Sidney Harman Hall. Get tickets here.

Next to Normal

Since its release on Broadway in 2009, this pop-rock musical has won the hearts of millions. It was nominated for 11 awards at the 2009 Tony’s, of which it won three, as well as a Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The story shares a family’s struggle to deal with the mother’s worsening bipolar disorder. As suburban mother Diana fights extreme depression with electroshock psychiatric treatment, her dark episodes begin to weigh heavily on her patient husband Dan and their daughter Natalie who soon releases her frustration by experimenting with drugs at clubs. Members of the cast and crew include Michael Grief, the award-winning director of the original RENT, as well as Tony-winner Alice Ripley starring as Diana. With heart-felt ballads and hard-hitting rock numbers Next to Normal is a rollercoaster of emotion. The show runs from June 28 until July 10 at the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater. Get tickets here.

Aaron Tveit, Alice Ripley and J. Robert Spencer in Next to Normal (Photo by Joan Marcus)


This contemporary drama will resonate with Washingtonians as it follows a prominent Lazara Quartet seeking to replace its violinist Dorian who is fired before a fast-approaching performance at the White House. The play flashes between hurried preparation for the show and the events that precede Dorian’s release. Behind closed doors, the lives and relationships of these classical musicians are anything but picture perfect. Drug abuse and a volatile affair plague Dorian and first violinist, Elliot, while another member deals with cancer. As drama unfolds throughout the production, the quartet must ultimately make a difficult decision and betray one of their own. Opus runs at the Olney Theatre Center from June 8 until July 3. Get tickets here.

The Glass Menagerie

Following a month-long run this spring at Georgetown University, the Mead Center for American Theater and Georgetown have partnered to present Tennessee Williams’ classic play once again on the Arena Stage. Set in a tenement apartment in 1930s St. Louis, the four-character play takes place from the perspective of Tom who reflects on his life with his mother Amanda, and sister Laura. Tom endures the day-to-day boredom of working in a warehouse in order to support his family. Amanda on the other hand desperately wants to find a proper suitor for Laura, who suffers from a crippled leg. When Tom’s efforts to assist his mother with her plan fail, he decides to leave his troubled life behind. The Glass Menagerie runs at the Arena Stage from June 9 to July 3. Get tickets here.

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