- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 23, 2004

OPENING

• Anything Goes — Renegade Theatre Company. Set sail on the USS American with a cast of colorful characters in this revival of the Cole Porter musical. Opens Wednesday at the Warehouse Theater. 301/871-1487.

• Oh, the Innocents — Theatre J. Three musicians try to make honest music in a corrupt music industry in this musical comedy. Opens Saturday at the D.C. Jewish Community Center. 800/494-8497.

• Oklahoma! — Wolf Trap Filene Center. The Rodgers and Hammerstein classic that revolutionized musical theater. Opens today. Information 703/938-2404. Tickets 703/218-6500.

• The Rocky Horror Show — The Actors’ Theatre of Washington. The cult classic with a new look and more of a punk/glam rock soundtrack. Opens tomorrow at Nation. 800/494-8497.

NOW PLAYING

• The Blue Room — Signature Theatre — **. British playwright David Hare’s one-acter is a free adaptation of Arthur Schnitzler’s 1897 play “La Ronde,” which depicted the myriad bed-hoppings of Viennese residents at the turn of the 20th century. Here Deborah Hazlett and Rick Holmes, looking fantastic in their scanties, simulate intercourse in 10 brisk, ultimately soulless encounters that are flashed up on screens flanking the stage. It should be red-hot play, but it emerges as clinical and depressing. Not suitable for young people. Through July 11. 703/218-6500. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• Cat On A Hot Tin Roof — Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater — ***. Mark Lamos’ charged production of Tennessee Williams’ story of ambition and disgust on a seething Southern plantation breaks no new ground, but George Grizzard’s gritty, towering portrayal of the biggest tom of them all, Big Daddy, shows there’s more than one way to skin this “Cat.” Through July 4. 202/467-4600. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• Cats — Toby’s Dinner Theatre — ***. Toby’s is one of the first theaters to try to re-create the kittenish allure of this Andrew Lloyd Webber musical warhorse, which premiered on Broadway in 1982. The intimacy of the space makes the show less of an empty spectacle and aligns it more closely with its source material, T.S. Eliot’s book “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.” Through Aug. 8. 410/730-8311. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• The Cripple of Inishmaan — Studio Theatre — ***. Irish playwright Martin McDonagh’s mean and funny play dashes the idea of Ireland as the land of sweetly singing tenors and twinkly-eyed natives. The people on this barren western Irish island in the 1930s are a cruel and violent lot. But gallows-humor comedy springs from their plight, and the black humor is brought to bouncy and bawdy fruition in this production. Through Sunday. 202/332-3300. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• Cyrano de Bergerac — The Shakespeare Theatre — ****. Edmond Rostand’s classic romantic play, directed with goose-feather silliness and high spirits by artistic director Michael Kahn, gets a boisterous production that’s full of surprises and delights. Geraint Wyn Davies gives an elegant performance as Cyrano, the witty hero whose homeliness goads him to outfight and outthink everyone in an effort to overcome what he considers an obscene deformity — a prominent nose that he believes makes him a romantic pariah. An outstanding cast completes this intensely moving treatise on the power of love and the beauty of sacrifice. Through Aug. 1. 202/547-1122. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• Mahalia, a Gospel Musical — MetroStage — ***. Hankering for some of that old-time religion? Look no further than this soul-stirring show, charting the life of gospel great Mahalia Jackson — which bears more of a resemblance to a gospel revival meeting than to theater. The incomparable Bernardine Mitchell stars with S. Renee Clark and William Hubbard. Through July 11. 800/494-8497. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• A Monday Night With Bess and Tess — The African Continuum Theatre Company — … It’s a treat to see Beverly Cosham and Jewell Robinson, Washington favorites, together onstage. In Caleen Sinnette Jennings’ new comedy, they play black actresses of a certain age. Bess (Miss Cosham) wants to retire; Tess (Miss Robinson) wants to keep performing. Tess decides the two should make a video audition tape, acting characters in original scenes in the styles of legendary playwrights from Shakespeare to Lorraine Hansberry, to impress casting directors and invigorate Bess into staying onstage. However, most of the faux scenes fail to approach the polish or feel of something that might have been written by the legends. The patter between the set pieces is not terribly compelling, either. Through Sunday at the H Street Theater. 800/494-8497. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• Necessary Targets — Olney Theatre Center for the Arts — *. There is something gallingly offensive about plays like playwright Eve Ensler’s ego-driven piece, which transports the self-indulgent American culture of “me, me, me” to Bosnia. Using other people’s tragedies to “get real” with yourself is an abomination. Through Sunday. 301/924-3400. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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