Can’t-Miss Shows

A dozen-plus concerts, plays, musicals, and dance performances adding sizzle to the 2009–10 season

By: Leslie Milk

With Helen Mirren making a star turn as Phèdre at the Shakespeare Theatre in September, the 2009–10 season is off to a great start. Here are more mark-your-calendar attractions.
The VelocityDC Dance Festival features top local companies as well as visiting ensembles such as Brooklyn’s Evidence.

VelocityDC Dance Festival, Harman Center for Arts, October 2 and 3. A brand-new festival with performances by some of the area’s best dance companies including the Washington Ballet, CityDance, and Gesel Mason Performance Projects. $15; 202-547-1122.

Lost in Yonkers, Theatre J, October 21 through November 29. Holly Twyford and Tana Hicken star in Neil Simon’s story about two brothers living with their formidable immigrant grandmother, ditzy aunt, and hoodlum uncle. The original Broadway production won four Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize. $30 to $55; 202-518-9400.

A Streetcar Named Desire, Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater, October 29 through November 21. Cate Blanchett stars as Blanche DuBois and Liv Ullmann directs the US premiere of the Sydney Theatre Company’s production of Tennessee Williams’s Pulitzer Prize–winning drama. $25 to $110; 202-467-4600.

Show Boat, Signature Theatre, November 10 through January 17. Only Signature artistic director Eric Schaeffer would dare recreate the classic Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein musical—with no boat. $51 to $86; 703-820-9771.

Lang Lang, Kennedy Center Concert Hall, November 13 with the National Symphony Orchestra; George Mason University’s Center for the Arts, April 3 with the Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra. Lang Lang, the 27-year-old piano virtuoso who dazzled at the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics, will play Beethoven and Prokofiev. Kennedy Center, $30 to $125; 202-467-4600; kennedy-center.org. GMU’s Center for the Arts, $30 to $60; 703-993-2787.

Maverick director John Waters brings his own version of Christmas classics—more naughty than nice—to the Birchmere.

Ballroom With a Twist, Strathmore, November 20 and 21. On the high heels of the TV ballroom-dance craze, Strathmore brings Dancing With the Stars’ Louis van Amstel’s dazzling production featuring performers from that show and So You Think You Can Dance. $35 to $79; 301-581-5100.

Pennsylvania Ballet: George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, Kennedy Center Opera House, November 24 through 29. Balanchine’s version of this holiday classic comes to Washington for the first time. $47 to $150; 202-467-4600.

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Black Cat, December 3. Long on the leading edge of the indie-rock scene, the band is one of Washington’s best. $15; 877-725-8849.

A John Waters Christmas, Birchmere, December 17. Outrageous film director John Waters of Pink Flamingos and Hairspray fame puts the X into Xmas. His one-man show is just the ticket for those who’ve seen one too many performances of A Christmas Carol. $39.50; 202-397-7328.

Radio City Christmas Spectacular, Verizon Center, December 18 through 20. Prepare for dazzling costumes and kicks with the incomparable Rockettes. $53.50 to $129; 202-397-7328.

Reasons to Be Pretty, Studio Theatre, March 24 through May 2. Helen Hayes Award winner David Muse directs this dark comedy by Neil LaBute, who zeros in on America’s obsession with physical appearance. Studio Theatre has done brilliant productions of LaBute’s Fat Pig and The Shape of Things. $35 to $63; 202-332-3300.

Topol in Fiddler on the Roof, National Theatre, April 13 through May 9. The musical has attracted audiences all over the world with its terrific score and story about generational conflicts. Israeli actor Topol—who starred in the movie as well as many stage versions—returns one last time to the role of Tevye, the poor milkman with three daughters to marry off. Ticket prices not yet available; 800-447-7400.

Porgy and Bess, Virginia Opera at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts, April 23 and 25. George Gershwin’s opera is a gem too often overlooked by Puccini purists. Think opera is overblown and unapproachable? It ain’t necessarily so. $44 to $98; 703-993-2787.

Want to find theater and concert tickets at a discount—or even free? Visit washingtonian.com/artsdeals for a listing of deals on seats this season beginning with a Free Night of Theater on October 15.