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July Theater Preview

“The Addams Family,” “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson,” and the Capital Fringe Festival hit Washington stages this month.

It’s your last chance to catch The Normal Heart at Arena Stage, closing July 29. Pictured: Michael Berresse and Tom Berklund. Photograph by Scott Suchman.


The biggest theater news of the month is that the Capital Fringe Festival is almost upon us, meaning two weeks of the wacky, the wonderful, and the just plain weird. This year’s festival includes more than 130 different performances in venues mostly located between Penn Quarter and Mount Vernon Square. We’ll have a post on what to look out for next week, but for now check out the festival site and see what catches your fancy. July 12 to 29.

Lovers of new plays should check out the American Contemporary Theater Festival, which runs July 6 through 29 in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, about a 90-minute drive from downtown DC. This year’s festival presents five new plays (including two world premieres) by Neil LaBute, Evan M. Wiener, Bess Wohl, Bob Clyman, and Johnna Adams. To read more about the slate, check out our interview with festival founder Ed Herendeen or visit the CATF’s website.

Signature Theatre brings back its Sizzlin’ Summer Cabaret series this month, with a pretty decent lineup of artists performing July 11 through 28. Carrie Manolakos (Wicked, Mamma Mia) performs July 27, and recent Helen Hayes Award winner Carolyn Cole performs July 19 and 26.

The musical adaptation of Charles Addams’s cartoons—also the source of a 1960s TV sitcom—was a hit when it debuted on Broadway in 2010. The Addams Family stops at the Kennedy Center with Douglas Sills as Gomez and Sara Gettelfinger as Morticia and featuring puppetry by Basil Twist. July 10 through 29.

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Michael Friedman and Alex Timbers’s irreverent musical about the origins of the Democratic party—at Studio Theatre’s 2ndStage—imagines the seventh President as a tortured but charismatic rock star. The show won a 2010 Drama Desk Award. July 11 through August 5.

Forum Theatre stages Church by Obie Award winner Young Jean Lee at Round House Theatre Silver Spring. Lee’s Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven ran at Studio Theatre in 2010; Church explores religion through the playwright’s aggressive, funny prism. July 12 through 29.


Two small theaters take on big plays this month. Fairfax’s Hub Theatre is staging Charles Mee’s Big Love, an update of Aeschylus’s The Suppliants, which features 50 brides fleeing from their 50 intended husbands. July 13 through August 5.

American Century Theater finishes up its season by offering up an ambitious and rarely staged work: June Havoc’s Marathon ’33. The experimental play by the real-life “Baby June” immortalized in Stephen Sondheim’s Gypsy explores Havoc’s experiences as a dancer during the Great Depression. July 27 through August 25.

Bethesda’s Quotidian Theatre Company presents Brian Friel’s Afterplay and Chekhov’s A Little Trick July 20 through August 19. The first brings together two of Chekhov’s most compelling characters in an imagined encounter; the second is adapted from Chekhov’s short story about a lost love.

Scena Theatre adds another unconventional play to its repertoire with Mein Kampf, George Tabori’s play imagining a young Adolf Hitler as a struggling artist in a dingy Viennese boardinghouse. The black comedy—at H Street Playhouse—was adapted into a film last year by Swiss director Urs Odermatt. July 7 through August 19.

How to Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular, based on the hit 2010 movie, brings 23 fire-breathing “dragons” with 46-foot wingspans to the Verizon Center. Like the film, the story features a lonely Viking misfit named Hiccup who adopts an injured dragon. July 19 through 22.


The History of Invulnerability closes July 8 at Theater J. Our review is here.

Sleuth at Olney Theatre Center also closes July 8. Read our review here.

Shakespeare Theatre Company’s production of The Merry Wives of Windsor closes July 15. Our review is here.

The Normal Heart closes at Arena Stage July 29. Read our review here.

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