Monday, July 25, 2005


Two Freebies: Impossible Marriage and One Touch of Venus

A production of Actors Repertory Theatre 2005
July 29 - 31
Washington, DC

Directed by Michael Russotto

Spend an evening with a family of odd-ball southern charmers brought together by Pandora, whose unsuitable plans to marry a man twice her age sets off an array of revelations and complications. The older mans son shows up to defend his mother, the Reverend questions his faith, the sister of the bride comes to terms with her husband's rumored infidelity even as that husband dotes ever more fervently upon her. The whole family finds the groom's artistic eccentricities odd and the mother of the bride tries to maintain a sense of southern gentility amidst mounting disaster!

"True to her intellectually quirky style, the Pulitzer Prize winning Beth Henley has created a work that's as poetic and whimsical as it is dramatic and intoxicating play that sends up love and marriage." - Time Out NY

The 2005 Actor's Repertory Theatre Ensemble is made up each year of graduates of The Conservatory Program in Acting:

Matthew Eisenberg, Bronwen Grebe, Dustin Loomis, Jessica North Macie, Carrie Mercadante, Colin Smith and Doug Wilder.

Join us for Opening Night - Friday, July 29 - 8:00 pm
Opening Night Celebration to follow the show

If you are not able to join us for opening night...
July 30 and August 3, 4, 5, 6 at 8:00 pm
July 30, 31 and August 6 & 7 at 2:00 pm

All shows are free. Reservations are suggested: or 202-333-2202

The Conservatory and Theatre are located at 1556 Wisconsin Avenue, NW
(entrance is on Volta Place between Wisconsin Ave. and 33rd Street - rear of the building)

The National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts
Washington's only accredited, professional actor training studio.

"One Touch of Venus," the hit 1943 Broadway musical by the unlikely team of Kurt Weill, S.J. Perelman and Ogden Nash, will be performed next week in Theater 2 at the Gunston Art Center in a staged concert reading, and ADMISSION IS FREE TO ALL! July 28-30 8 PM, July 30 2:30, July 31st 1:30. Gunston Art Center, Theater 2, 2700 S. Lang. St., Arlington, VA. 703-553-8782

This is an installment of the American Century Theater's "Rescues" Series, which brings together top talent in the area to give grand but seldom produced shows a chance to show their stuff, which usually takes too many people and too much money for other theaters to give them full productions. "One Touch of Venus" is performed by a cast of 32, including Joanne Schmoll as Venus, the statue that comes to life and the role that made Mary Martin a star. Plus the Capital Steps' Andy Clemence, Amy Sheff, R.Scott Thomson, Carl Randolph, and many stars of past TACT musicals, such as Andrea Abrams and Brian Rodda) ("The Robber Bridegroom"), Lynn Audrey Neal and Dan Herrel ("If Only in My Dreams"), Nelson Smith ("The Cradle Will Rock") , Hans Bachman ("Hollywood Pinafore"), and Scott Kennison ("Laughter at 10 O'Clock"). With TACT musical director Tom Fuller conducting and "Danny and Sylvia" pianist Alvin Smithson.

Friday, July 22, 2005


Beauty Queen Extended, Discounted

I saw this play in New York and can say it's one of the finest plays I've ever seen. It has been extended at the Keegan and tickets are discounted if you buy two.

The Keegan Theatre's current production of
The Beauty Queen of Leenane
by Martin McDonagh
Now extended through July 30 (No Sunday Matinees)

Get the Extension Discount!
Mention this offer and get two tickets for $30.00
Call 703-527-6000 ext 2
or visit www.keegantheatre.comSusan M. Rhea
Artistic Associate

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


Awaiting Shakespeare Theater's "The Persians"

I would make a lousy theater critic. I don't like to publicly criticize a show, though I'm happy to praise something worthwhile. But an evening at the PWYC version of "The Persians" recently was something to avoid. The play, by Aeschylus, is one of the oldest surviving plays in the Western world, and is a classic anti-war play, focusing on the suffering of the Persians, defeated by the Greeks in a war initiated by the arrogant Persian prince, Xerses. The play, like so many of the best, is based on history. The playwright could afford to be generous to the Persians--he was Greek, after all, and victors can be generous.

Unfortunately, the version I saw [by the Scena Theatre] in the GALA Tivoli Theater was heavy-handed propaganda. Even if you strongly opposed the war in Iraq, you would find your nose rubbed a bit raw. The acting is strong and the scenery interesting--oil pipelines, a puddle of oil that people kept walking through, and a real Greek chorus that shrieks, interrupting my dozing. The references to TV were grating, not integrated into the beautiful poetic text.

But the Shakespeare Co. is scheduled to do "The Persians" next year, so no need to go out of your way for this version. It was wonderful to meet old friends there, brave "Pay What You Can" souls from the legal world, and a special thrill to put a face onto Gary Meeker and his partner Paul (alias Pablo), whose theatrical e-mails are a lot more dramatic than this production was.

Meanwhile, a New York company, new to me, called "Waterwell" is doing the play in New York City at the Perry Street Theater. New York Times critic Miriam Horn wrote, "It's implausibly funny and entertaining as promised by its subtitled, 'a comedy about war with five songs,' alive enough to surprise even the performers themselves." Frustratingly, the review doesn't give the run dates of the performance (this might be an editing error). The rest of her review, which ran July 18 and is entitled, "An Aeschylus Antiwar Play Adapted in Reality TV Style," is free online for a week or so, available at:

Sunday, July 17, 2005


A round up of cheap seats, tho' caveat cheaptor

Lorraine Sampson has rounded up a lot of free, discount and pay-what-you can shows. Amazing amount of research. Now, she hasn't tried each and every one of these, and your mileage may vary, but this is a real service. Remember, though, that the view from the cheap seats, especially in Ford's Theater and the Shakespeare Theater, may be as poor as you feel. Sometimes, it pays to pay. Still, we are fortunate to have these offers available--thanks, Lorraine, for forwarding them!

DISCOUNT THEATER TICKETS (Avoid phone orders -- they charge $3-5 extra) as of 5/05

Fichandler Theatre (650 seats 2006); Kreeger Theatre (450 seats); & The Cradle (200 seats) half-price HOTTIX sold 90--30 minutes (or until sold out) before show at each theater's box office (cash only); $10 standing room tix for sold-out shows. $10 same-day tix for people under age 26 (before 5:25pm via phone or box office). Check website/call 488-3300 re: "Epilogue Discussion Series" 3 Tues or Thurs post-show, & $3 "Molly's Salon" 7pm Monday before show opens

742 seats. $16 obstructed-view seats (behind columns). half-price for students under 22 for same-day tix. Check website or call 347-4833 about a post-show discussion

Concert Hall (~2500 seats); Opera House (~2200 seats); Eisenhower Theatre (~1100 seats); Terrace Theatre (513 seats); Theater Lab (400 seats); Family Theatre (~335 seats).
$15-20 standing room tix (but not in Concert Hall) sold in advance (incl. by phone) when performance is sold out. Opera House has 40 standing room spaces, Eisenhower Theatre has 12 spaces.
$20 "chorister seats" (63 total) in Concert Hall directly above upstage for concerts w/ no chorus.

WASHINGTON NATIONAL OPERA's cheapest seats: ~$45 for 2nd tier 2 (side). Performs Sept.--May,
WASHINGTON BALLET's cheapest seats: $48 for rear balcony. Performs Feb., April & Oct., half-price tix for students under 22: buy anytime from box office before a show opens; after that from box office same day only starting at noon for matinees & 6pm for weeknight only shows - bring student ID. Not available for Fri-Sun evening shows. $12--15 pre//post-show & rehearsal discussions 467-4600,

~1600 seats. A few $20 same-day tix sold at 10am, or else 2 hours before show - cash only, arrive early! $20 standing room tix sold in advance when performance is almost sold out (only single seats left). Half-price tix for students under 22 sold at box office (only for Tues & Wed. nites & Sun. matinees)
Call 783-6854 or 628-6161 about BACKSTAGE TOURS M-F 10am

Mainstage (440 seats); Xxxxxxx stage (440 seats); M--G Theatre Lab (~120 seats).
Same-day half-price tix ($15--17) at box office starting 1 hour before curtain.
$15 or so obstructed-view seats (mainstage only). PAY-WHAT-YOU-CAN usually the Tuesday preview.
$10 same-day or Tues. tix for people under age 31 -- you may be able to reserve that morning.
Check website or call (301) 924-3400 re: "Talkback Night" usually on the 3rd Wednesday of the run AND "Afterwords" following the 1st Saturday matinee

Bethesda (370 seats); Silver Spring (~125 seats)
2 PAY-WHAT-U-CAN shows preview week (1 Sat.
Matinee, 1 evening: distributed 1 hour before show - queue up beforehand) $10 tix for people under 31. Free childcare 3 Sat. or Sun. matinees (must reserve); 2 post-show "talk backs." 2 pre-show talks preview Wed & Fri. Post-show talk w/coffee on preview Thurs (240) 644-1100,

450 seats, $23 ($13 preview week) Row BB seats, 16 per show, in advance at box office. Harman Ctr: 800 seats (in 2007) 1-2 PAY-WHAT-U-CAN perfs on sale that day at 12 (arrive early!) Half-price for students under 22 for preview week (advance sale) AND 1 hour before curtain during rest of the run. See website/call 547-1122 re: post-show talk, usually 2nd Wednesday of run

38%-off same-day & some advance tix. Credit cards only - NO cash or checks TU-FRI 11-6
(Sunday tix are sold Sats. 10-5) Popular shows may sell out by 1pm. Prices (& theatre PWYCs) at T-Sat (and via 202-TIC-KETS [# 2] T-Sat 11-6) $2 fee for online sales

Ticketplace's tix cost more than & are for seats farther back than a theater's own same-day half-price tix, so only use Ticketplace for the following theaters that do NOT offer their own half-price tix (& call theatres about their student discounts):

American Century Theatre (VA, 75 seats at Theatre On The Run; 125 seats at Gunston II [both general seating] Kids under 18 often free with paid adult ticket);
Bethesda Theatre (~700 seats [opens 9/05]); Classika Theatre & Synetic Theatre (VA, 80 seats; 380 seats at Rosslyn Spectrum); Folger Theatre (253 seats. $10 standing rm for sell-outs); Imagination Stage (400? & 150 seats) $10 balcony seats; Kennedy Center (6 stages); National Theatre (~1600 seats); Rep Stage at Howard CC (250 seats [general seating], $10 tix one Thursday of each run. Free post-show talk the 2nd Friday);

Round House Theatre (2 stages), Shakespeare Theatre,
Signature Theatre (VA, 250 seats in The Max; 99 seats in The Kogod] sometimes has same-day half-price tix: (703) 218-6500);

Source Theatre (150 seats [general seating] 2 PAY-WHAT-YOU-CAN shows during preview week);

Stanislavsky Theatre (125 seats at Church Street Theatre),

Studio Theatre (200 seats in Mead Theatre, 200 or so in Milton Theatre, 200 in Metheney Theatre, 1 PAY-WHAT-U-CAN show, usually a Saturday matinee);

Theater J (250 seats), Warner Theatre (2000 seats), a few PWYC early in the run;

Washington Shakespeare Co. (VA, 88 seats at Clark Street Playhouse [general seating] Saturday Matinees are usually PAY-WHAT-YOU-CAN;

Woolly Mammoth Theatre (265 seats. first 2 previews, usually Mon & Tues, are PAY-WHAT-YOU-CAN)

Stages For All Ages ( Jan.-June: FREE for kids under 18 w/ 1 paying adult

Thursday, July 14, 2005


It's Unanimous: Woolly's "Clean House" is a Must See

At least five people have told me that "The Clean House," by Sarah Ruhl, playing at Woolly Mammoth, is superb. One person who told me rarely goes to the theater, but decided to go to the Pay What You Can because he was in the neighborhood; another was visiting from Germany and presumably doesn't get all the cultural references and said the show was perfect for her. How a show that concerns two sisters and a cleaning lady stirs up all this enthusiasm I don't know, but I don't think I've heard this kind of spontaneous word of mouth for any show for quite a while, including "Take Me Out." (Which carries caveats for nudity, non-sports fans, etc.)

There are no caveats for this show. People with whom I don't usually discuss theater just spontaneously erupt and say, "This show was great."

The Clean House was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize--this is usually a good omen for my taste. I'm wary of going to Woolly unless it's a show that's proven its worth elsewhere. This one has.
I'll try to leave my house, that needs cleaning, to go during the week and grab a stampede seat. Details below.


641 "D" Street, NW DC

Individual Ticket Purchases
Tickets may be purchased:
1. By phone at 202-393-3939
Mon. - Fri. 10am - 6pm and Sat. - Sun. 12 - 6pm
2. Online,
3. In person begining on May 1.
Ticket Prices:
Wed, Thurs, Sun evening . . . $30 & $38
Fri evening, Sun matinee . . . $36 & $44
Sat evening . . . $40 & $48
Fees: $2.50 per ticket by phone, $3.50 per ticket online. Tickets can be exchanged for most performances, subject to availability. Fees may apply.
25 & Under Tickets
Patrons who are 25 or under may purchase tickets for $10 for any performance
of all Woolly productions (with I.D., based on availability). To purchase in
advance or check availability: 202-393-3939. Tickets are also available online;
you must show proper I.D. when tickets are picked up.

Stampede Seats
If a performance is not sold out, available seats will be sold for $10 each
15 minutes prior to showtime, on a first-come, first-served basis.
Metro: Woolly is one block from Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter
(Yellow/Green) & two blocks from Gallery Place/MCI Center (Red/Yellow/Green).

Sunday, July 10, 2005


"The Last Five Years" at MetroStage

I was so pleased that a friend invited me to see this lovely musical, The Last Five Years, that traces the break-up of a relationship, almost entirely in song. But even though I had known that the two characters began from opposite ends of the time spectrum--Catherine (Tracy Lynn Olivera) begins at the poignant end of their relationship, and Jamie (Mark Bush) begins at the hopeful beginning--I still found the plot/s a bit hard to follow. Such a shame, because if the action had been clearer, this musical would be much more successful.

It reminded me at times of Steven Sondheim's "Merrily We Roll Along," which begins at the end and rolls, merrily, backwards, until the characters at the end are young and idealistic. You see the choices they make and how things might have gone differently for the main character. Despite yourself, you leave on a hopeful note, because the characters at the end were so hopeful. I wish this show had ended hopefully. The scenes were just ordinary scenes from their relationship (one hilarious audition song for the heroine; one romantic fable from the hero) and I was hoping they'd reconcile or something if their paths ever crossed after he proposed.

These are weaknesses in the book. The music was wonderful and the musicians were superb. MetroStage attracts such fine musicians! I saw "Three Sistahs" there and the music still resonates with me (again, the ending needed to be re-written, but the music, acting and staging were perfect). The mikes bothered me at first (MetroStage is so small--do they really need mikes?) but I know how annoying it is, particularly for older people in the audience, when they can't hear, so I'd rather see the mikes than miss a line.

They say it's not what you do, but who you do it with. I was with wonderful people and was so grateful to be taken to such a musical evening, far from a Metro, despite the theater's name. I guess the lawyer/editor in me is always re-writing and revising the book. I know the Ushers saw the show---I wonder what they thought of it.

Speaking of the Ushers, Joel Markowitz criticized the Washington Jewish Week's lukewarm review of the show because it pointed out that the female character, dubbed a "shiksa [non-Jewish] goddess" dresses in a very slovenly way. I happen to agree with the WJS reviewer--even though the character was in her twenties, I assume, at the beginning of their relationship, the actresses I know dress with flair and style and a little pizzazz. Joel is fiercely loyal to a show he loved, and I admire that.

The Washington Jewish Week's review, by Lisa Traiger, did say the show was "perfect for this age of alienation and disorientation."

The review continued: "It's an intriguing concept driven by the music, which, in the hands of writer-composer Brown, features an unabashedly melodic score borrowing freely from the genres of pop, folk, classical and jazz. Brown's work is certainly worth a listen; he's smart, funny, poignant, refreshing, and he's trying assiduously hard to avoid the sound-alike syndrome to which so many post-Golden Age musical composers fall victim."

The show is worth seeing for the music alone. But it, like the characters' relationship, needs a bit of work.

The WJW review is online at:
If this link doesn't work or is too long, go to and search for "MetroStage."

Thursday, July 07, 2005


Reading on Saturday: What is the Purpose of a Reading?

At 1:00 this Saturday, July 9, Woolly Mammoth is hosting a free reading as part of its "Second Saturdays" series. Readings are all at the Touchstone Gallery at 406 7th Street, NW in the Penn Quarter. All readings are FREE (no reservations), begin at 1pm and feature a Q&A with the playwright afterwards. There are two short full-length new plays being read this Saturday...I'll try to make 'em. Details are below and on the free calendars. (Links at left).
I wonder what purpose readings serve. On a basic level, they allow the playwright to hear the words spoken out loud, which is a different experience than just seeing them on the page. Super. But sometimes I've heard playwrights get caught in a loop of endless readings. Note that the first play that Woolly is reading this Saturday has already had a previous reading. At some point, doesn't a theater have some kind of obligation to produce it or cut bait? They form a relationship with the playwright. But if that relationship just consists of having the playwright twist in the wind, re-writing and reading and re-writing, is that a good thing?
Of course, the audience gets a freebie, perhaps a play that is not perfectly appropriate for the theater's season or ensemble. I'm not AGAINST readings! I just think the relationship should be clear. If the theater is not going to produce the play, or help it be produced elsewhere, then TELL the playwright that rather than send her or him back to endless rewriting.
The reading July 9 is of: "HELP WANTED: A PERSONAL SEARCH FOR MEANINGFUL EMPLOYMENT AT THE START OF THE 21ST CENTURY" by Josh Lefkowitz An epic, comic tour-de-force solo performance piece about a young man's discovery of what it means to be an Artist. From Ann Arbor, MI to Washington, DC, from Minneapolis, MN to New York, NY, from parking attendant to actor to astronaut to waiter, Josh Lefkowitz searches for peace of mind, a sense of self, and Spalding Gray.
THE BROOKLYN UNWASHED by Laura Zam A play about rotting fun houses and the wild water that sits just beyond. In 1971, a young father goes to Nathan's Famous, a Coney Island icon, for some French fries and never returns home.
Josh Lefkowitz is an actor, writer, and performer. He has acted with Woolly Mammoth, Center Stage, Signature, and Olney. He has collaborated with Eric Bogosian and Holly Hughes, among others. "Help Wanted" is Josh's first full-length solo show; it received a reading at Center Stage this past February. Laura Zam is a playwright and performer.

Saturday, July 02, 2005


Coming Up in July

If you have some event, any theater-related event in the DC area, please post it here. At the bottom of this message there will be something that reads, "O Comments" (or 1 Comment or however many) and you click on that, choose an identity (you may post anonymously--many of us are still searching for our identities, have fun) and then click on "publish post." I'm trying to figure out how to invite people to initiate their own threads, but this entire experience is a mixture of Alice through the Looking Glass ("It's EASY--EVERYONE has a blog") and Rube Goldberg on the Web.
And now, curtain up in July on:

This looks fascinating:

"The Answer is Horse" Written by Joya Scott:
A Teacher, A Learner, and 450 Volts of Electricity. In the early
1960s, psychologist Stanley Milgram took dozens of unknowing subjects
through a controversial experiment designed to test the limits of
their obedience as they committed acts of cruelty on other human
beings. The results shocked the world. Scott's play explores the
ethical issues that linger to this day.

The PTP After Dark Series supports emerging Directors, Playwrights,
and Actors in the Washington DC Metropolitan Area by providing them
with all the tools necessary to experiment and create fully staged
productions at absolutely no cost. ALL SHOWS ARE FREE OF CHARGE,
please come and support up-and-coming talent in the DC Theater Scene.

AUGUST 4TH @ 10:00 PM

OLNEY, MD 20832



Friday, July 01, 2005


DC Internationals Formed to bring Foreign Performers to DC

A friend just sent this along. Sounds terrific, especially if the performances are affordable and Metro accessible! So far a musician is scheduled for Friday, July 1, at 8 PM at Lisner Auditorium. I couldn't find the price of the tickets. DC has a lot of international performances, especially at the Kennedy Center and similar places. But not too many AFFORDABLE international performances. Will this be different? Hopefully, Wendy
Friends and colleagues, I wanted to tell you about DC Internationals, an organization I founded to bring together the DC community. DC Internationals' mission is to bring foreign musicians, dancers, folklorists, and an array of international performers to the United States, and especially to the DC community, to share the rich cultural heritages of the world. It aims to foster an appreciation of foreign cultures for the DC community through performances of renowned and rising figures.

Please visit our website at:
Thank you,
Ross Kaplan
PresidentDC Internationals

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