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More “Wicked” at KenCen, Don Quixote Reinterpreted, and an Erotica Writer’s One-Man Show: June Theater Preview

Plan your month in Washington theater

Dominic Conti and Reed Martin in "Completely Hollywood." Photo courtesy of the Kennedy Center.

"No show on Broadway right now makes as direct a grab for the heart—or wrings it as thoroughly—as Next to Normal does,” said the New York Times when the show debuted on Broadway following an Arena Stage run. The Pulitzer Prize–winning musical about bipolar disorder stars Alice Ripley, who won a Helen Hayes Award for her Arena performance and later a Tony. It comes to the Kennedy Center June 28 through July 10. Tickets ($35 to $120) available at KenCen’s Web site. ’Tis the season for blockbusters at the KenCen, both literally (Wicked) and figuratively (Completely Hollywood), but the rest of June’s productions run the gamut from kisses to C-R-E-P-U-S-C-U-L-E-S.

Washington Shakespeare Company closes its season with two plays in repertory at Artisphere: Tom Stoppard’s Night and Day, about reporters working in a fictional African country during a revolution, and Tennessee Continuum, two short plays by Tennessee Williams. Both run through July 3; tickets ($25 to $50) available at Washington Shakespeare Company’s Web site.

June 2 through July 3, Synetic Theater (which snagged four Helen Hayes Awards this year) presents its movement-based take on Don Quixote. Paata Tsikurishvili directs the tale of the well-meaning but ultimately foolish nobleman. Tickets ($40 to $50) available at Synetic Theater’s Web site.

The New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players return to Wolf Trap June 3 and 4 with H.M.S. Pinafore, the operatic comedy about love affairs aboard a British naval ship. Tickets ($8 to $50) available at Wolf Trap’s Web site.

Scena Theatre presents Purge by Finnish playwright Sofi Oksanen, June 4 through 26 at the H Street Playhouse. The play was adapted by Oksanen from her 2008 novel about sex trafficking in Estonia. Tickets ($25) available at Scena Theatre’s Web site.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee runs at the Keegan Theatre June 4 through July 3. Christina A. Coakley directs the quirky musical about a high-school spelling contest (audience participation is usually required). Tickets ($40) available at Keegan Theatre’s Web site.

Olney Theatre Center presents Michael Hollinger’s Opus June 8 through July 3. Hollinger, a classical musician turned playwright, based the story of a string quartet whose violinist goes missing on some of his own experiences. Tickets ($26 to $54) available at Olney’s Web site.

At Arena Stage, Washington stage fixture Sarah Marshall stars in The Glass Menagerie June 9 through July 3. The collaboration between Arena and Georgetown University is part of GU’s Tennessee Williams Centennial Festival. Tickets ($35 and up) available at Arena Stage’s Web site.

June 11 through 19 at the Kennedy Center, Minnesota’s Penumbra Theatre Company looks at the legacy of Nat King Cole in I Wish You Love. The show, written by Dominic Taylor and directed by Lou Bellamy, focuses on African-American life in 1957, when Cole’s music was at its most popular. Tickets ($34 to $40) available at KenCen’s Web site

Writer/actor/monologuist David Cale presents his new one-man show, The History of Kisses, at Studio Theatre June 15 through July 2. Cale, who previously brought his solo show Somebody Else’s House to Studio, explores the life of an erotica writer. Tickets ($35 to $65) available at Studio Theatre’s Web site.

When tickets for Wicked went on sale earlier this year, demand crashed the KenCen’s Web site. Broadway’s blockbuster riff on The Wizard of Oz is back June 15 through August 21; tickets ($37 to $250) available (hopefully) through the Web site.

The Reduced Shakespeare Company has patented the art of abridging hundreds of works into a single show. The company returns June 21 through July 3 with the movie-themed Completely Hollywood, in the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater. Tickets ($39 to $49) available at the Kennedy Center’s Web site.

Ethan McSweeny directs Shakespeare Theatre Company’s The Merchant of Venice June 21 through July 24 at Sidney Harman Hall. Mark Nelson plays Shylock. Tickets ($38 to $85 available at Shakespeare Theatre’s Web site.

Shakespeare Theatre also has an HD screening of The Importance of Being Earnest from the Roundabout Theatre Company’s New York production, directed by and starring Brian Bedford as Lady Bracknell. Tickets for the June 28 show ($20) available at Shakespeare’s Web site.

The DC Black Theatre Festival brings over 150 performances to different area stages June 12 through 19, including 45 full-length plays, 12 staged readings of new plays, and a five-day "battle" among one-act plays. Three-time Tony Award-winner Hinton Battle (Sophisticated Ladies, Miss Saigon) wrote and directs Love Lies, an R&B/gospel influenced musical which debuts at The Duke Ellington Theatre in Georgetown June 15 and 16. For tickets and more information, visit the festival's Web site.

The Goethe-Institut teams up with three Washington theaters this month to present staged readings of new works by contemporary European playwrights. June 13, Shakespeare Theatre's Alan Paul directs The Ugly One by Marius von Mayenburg, about a man whom plastic surgery renders too beautiful. June 20, Ford's Theatre's Mark Ramont directs Lukas Barfuss's Oil, a black comedy about love, commodities, and power. And June 27, Arena Stage's David Dower directs Hamlet Is Dead. No Gravity. by Ewald Palmetshofer; the play explores old friendships and relationships. Tickets to all three readings are available for free at the Goethe Institut's Web site.

Signature Theatre's resident director Matthew Gardiner directs the company's last performance of the season; Broadway Duets featuring music by Stephen Sondheim, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Irving Berlin, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and more. F
elicia Curry, James Gardiner, Jake Odmark, and Bayla Whitten perform celebrated duets from Broadway history in a cabaret setting. Tickets ($35) available at Signature Theatre's Web site.

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