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August Theater Preview
Some shows stand out in what is usually a sleepy month for theater By Sophie Gilbert
Comments () | Published August 1, 2011

Katie Atkinson, Jim Jorgensen, and Ashley Ivey (from left to right) starred in last year's production of The Ramayana. Photograph by Daniel Schwartz

Opening This Month
Since actress Cate Blanchett and her playwright husband, Andrew Upton, took over as artistic directors, Australia’s Sydney Theatre Company has experienced a renaissance of sorts, winning multiple awards (including one of our very own Helen Hayes Awards) for A Streetcar Named Desire, which played at the Kennedy Center in 2009. The company returns this month with Upton’s new adaptation of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, a tale of frustrated dreams and desire on an old family estate. Unlike Streetcar, this is the show’s only US engagement, and it makes a welcome change from August’s usually sleepy schedule. The show is at the Eisenhower Theater August 4 through 27; tickets ($59 to $120) available at the Kennedy Center’s Web site.

August 1 and 2, Broadway veteran Marc Kudisch returns to Signature Theatre for the first time since his 2010 performance in Ricky Ian Gordon’s Sycamore Trees. Kudisch performs a one-man cabaret show, titled What Makes Me Tick, based on his experiences performing in Bye Bye Birdie, Throughly Modern Millie, 9 to 5, and more (no word yet on whether Kudisch’s ex-fiancee, Kristin Chenoweth, gets a mention). Tickets ($24) available at Signature’s Web site.

Constellation Theatre Company revives its production of The Ramayana August 4 through 21 at Source. Based on an ancient Hindu epic, the show depicts the legend of Rama, a prince whose wife, Sita, has been abducted by a demon king. Sound designer Tom Teasley picked up a Helen Hayes Award for the show’s original score earlier this year. Tickets ($25 to $35) available at boxofficetickets.com, more info at Constellation’s Web site.

Shakespeare Theatre’s annual Free For All returns August 18 through September 4 with a restaging of the company’s 2008 production of Julius Caesar, directed by Studio Theatre’s David Muse. The show about political power struggles in ancient Rome is a part of the celebration of STC artistic director Michael Kahn’s 25th anniversary with the company. Some tickets are available through an online lottery at shakespearetheatre.org; others will be available via a standby line on the day of performance.

Signature Theatre’s American Musical Voices Project, which helps develop, fund, and produce original musicals, offers two new shows in repertory at the start of its 2011-12 season. Eric Schaeffer directs The Hollow, running August 23 through October 16, which is based on Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, with music and lyrics by Matt Conner and book by Hunter Foster. August 25 through October 16, The Boy Detective Fails, with music and lyrics by Adam Gwon and book by Joe Meno, is based on Meno’s fourth book about a troubled former sleuth. Tickets ($29 to $82) available at Signature’s Web site.

Comedian and musician Reggie Watts has a four-day run at Woolly Mammoth August 23 through 26. Watts was the opening act on Conan O’Brien’s recent Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television tour; he’s been described as “intoxicatingly strange and hysterical” by the New York Press, and was named 2010’s most exciting new comedian by Spin. Tickets ($35) available at Woolly Mammoth’s Web site.

Ongoing

Last chance to catch the Cole Porter classic Anything Goes, which runs at Toby’s Dinner Theatre through August 28. The musical, which originally featured a book by P.G. Wodehouse, is set on a 1930s ocean liner sailing from London to New York, and features the songs “I Get a Kick Out of You,” and “Let’s Misbehave,” in addition to the memorable title track. Tickets ($47 to $52) available at the Toby’s Dinner Theatre Web site.

If you haven’t already seen Oklahoma! and Clybourne Park, two Helen Hayes Award-winning shows getting a revival at Arena Stage and Woolly Mammoth, there’s still time. Clybourne Park (read our review here) runs through August 14, and Oklahoma! runs through October 2 (read our review of the show’s first run here). Visit woollymammoth.net and arenastage.org for tickets and more details.

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