On Stage in March: The Month in Washington Theater

Go around the world with new productions opening this month on Washington stages

By: Sophie Gilbert

As the Helen Hayes nominations earlier this week demonstrated, theater is thriving in Washington, and March is no exception. Along with a diverse selection of touring plays (from Shakespeare to Ibsen in Manipuri to a former Destiny’s Child), there are two world premieres of new musicals at Signature Theatre and Ford’s Theatre, as well as comedy, horror, and blue men.

It’s the last chance to catch Tom Stoppard’s On the Razzle, which closes at Constellation Theatre Company March 6. The slapstick show, adapted from an Austrian play about two grocery-store clerks on a misadventure in Vienna, memorably had its U.S. premiere at Arena Stage in 1982, starring Yeardley Smith (best known for her TV role as Lisa Simpson). Buy tickets ($25 to $30) at 800-494-8497 or Constellation Theatre’s Web site.

DC native David E. Talbert is often referred to as the next Tyler Perry. The playwright’s latest, What My Husband Doesn’t Know, comes to the Warner Theatre March 1 through 6. The drama about a cheating wife stars Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child fame and Brian White from TNT’s Men of a Certain Age. Get tickets ($32.50 to $49.50) by calling 800-551-7328 or through LiveNation.

From March 3 through 27, Washington Stage Guild presents Red Herring, a 2000 work by American playwright and Villanova professor Michael Hollinger. The madcap spy comedy is set during the Cold War and spoofs film noir detective stories from the ’30s and ’40s. Buy tickets ($40 to $50) at 240-582-0050 or Washington Stage Guild’s Web site.

New York’s Acting Company—whose alumni include Kevin Kline and Patti LuPone—brings a touring production of The Comedy of Errors to George Mason University’s Center for the Arts March 4. Presented in association with Minneapolis’s Guthrie Theater, the Shakespeare farce—about two pairs of twins separated at birth and later reunited—is updated with contemporary costumes. Get tickets ($18 to $36) at 888-945-2468 or the George Mason Center for the Arts Web site.

On March 4 and 5, Chorus Repertory Theatre presents When We Dead Awaken at the Kennedy Center as part of the Maximum India Festival. Based on the play by Henrik Ibsen. director Ratan Thiyam spins on Ibsen’s themes of art and consciousness. Performed in Manipuri with subtitles. Buy tickets ($18 to $45) at 202-467-4600 or the Kennedy Center’s Web site.

Complementing the productions of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (pictured bottom left) and At Home at the Zoo—which opened in February—Arena Stage’s Edward Albee Festival presents staged readings of most of the Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright’s works March 7 through April 24. Readings are free, but reservations are required. See arenastage.org for the schedule. For tickets, call 202-488-3300 or visit Arena Stage’s Web site.

Shakespeare Theatre Company’s season continues with An Ideal Husband, March 8 through April 10 at Sidney Harman Hall. The Oscar Wilde comedy about scandal and blackmail among Victorian London’s ruling class is directed by British actor Keith Baxter. Buy tickets ($20 to $85) at 202-547-1122 or at Shakespeare Theatre’s Web site.

From March 8 through 27, Arena Stage hosts Theater J’s remounting of The Chosen, based on the novel by Chaim Potok. Adapted and directed by Aaron Posner, the drama about two Jewish boys and their fathers in 1940s Brooklyn stars Rick Foucheux and Edward Gero. Buy tickets ($25 and up) at 202-488-3300 or Arena Stage’s Web site.

The Second City’s Fair and Unbalanced stops at Wolf Trap for two nights March 11 and 12. The Chicago comedy troupe, famous for its stellar alum list (everyone from Steve Carell to Amy Sedaris) turns to politicians and celebrities for inspiration in this sketch show. For tickets ($24), call 877-965-3872 or visit Wolf Trap’s Web site.

Ireland’s Druid company—whose production of The Cripple of Inishmaan was recently at the Kennedy Center—settles into Studio Theatre March 15 through April 3 for Penelope (pictured top right). The surreal work by Dublin playwright Enda Walsh, an award winner at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2010, reimagines the suitors from Homer’s Odyssey as four middle-aged rejects living in the swimming pool of Odysseus’s wife, Penelope. Buy tickets ($44 to $67) at 202-332-3300 or at Studio Theatre’s Web site.

The Trip to Bountiful (pictured bottom right) by Horton Foote plays at Round House March 16 through April 3. In the second Foote play to be staged in Washington this year, an elderly woman attempts to return to her childhood hometown in Texas. Buy tickets ($25 to $55) at 240-644-1100 or Round House Theatre’s Web site.

Signature Theatre presents the world premiere of And the Curtain Rises March 17 through April 10. With music by Joseph Thalken, lyrics by Mark Campbell, and book by Michael Slade, it takes a humorous look at the 1866 birth of the first American musical. Get tickets ($55 to $87) at 703-820-9771 or Signature Theatre’s Web site.

On March 21, Harman Hall hosts a live broadcast of Frankenstein from London’s National Theatre. The production, directed by Danny Boyle of Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours fame, stars Jonny Lee Miller of Showtime’s Dexter and Benedict Cumberbatch, who recently starred in the modernized Sherlock Holmes series aired on PBS. Buy tickets ($20) at 202-547-1122 or on Shakespeare Theatre’s Web site.

Mike Daisey, called “one of the hardest working and most accomplished storytellers in the solo form” by the New York Times, brings his newest show, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs (pictured top left), to Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company March 21 through April 10. Steve Jobs, the Apple founder, is the inspiration for a comic exploration of globalization, technology, and the human condition. Reserve tickets ($40 to $65) at 202-393-3939 or on Woolly Mammoth’s Web site.

Blue Man Group, the New York performance-art trio turned global franchise, comes to the Warner Theatre March 23 through April 3. The troupe (three blue-faced men, though not always the same three) combines music, art, and comedy into an exuberant show. Buy tickets ($32 to $92) at 202-397-7328 or Ticketmaster.

Ford’s Theatre stages the world premiere of Liberty Smith March 23 through May 21. The new musical with music by Michael Weiner, lyrics by Adam Abraham, and book by Abraham, Marc Madnick, and Eric R. Cohen follows a childhood friend of George Washington through Revolutionary America. Get tickets ($35 to $55) at 202-397-7328 or Ticketmaster.

Synetic Theater—known for its movement-based, wordless approach, which garnered it 14 Helen Hayes nominations this year—brings King Lear to Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Lansburgh Theatre March 24 through April 24; Irakli Kavsadze stars. Reserve tickets ($40 to $55) at 202-547-1122 or Shakepeare Theatre’s Web site.

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