- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 30, 2004

OPENING

• Copenhagen — Olney Theatre Center for the Arts. During World War II, two longtime friends on opposite sides of the war arrange a secret meeting, and the contents of that meeting have mystified scholars and historians for years. Opens Tuesday. 301/924-3400.

• Everyman — Journeyman Theater Ensemble. The 15th-century play known as the best surviving example of the medieval morality play. Opens Wednesday at the Church Street Theatre. 800/494-8497.

NOW PLAYING

• Beehive: The ‘60s Musical Sensation — Kennedy Center Terrace Theater — ***. If musicals such as “Hairspray” have whetted your appetite for ‘60s music, girl groups and hairdos that look like ice cream cones shellacked with Aqua-Net, then “Beehive” is the show for you. Six singers and a six-piece band thunder through more than 40 top-40 hits from the ‘60s and early ‘70s, pausing only for breath and an impressive number of costume and wig changes. The frenetic-paced salute to girl power is a tuneful and totally mindless trip down the old AM radio dial. Through Aug. 8. 202/467-4600. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• The Blue Room — Signature Theatre — **. British playwright David Hare’s one-act work 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 a 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 Sunday. 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.

• 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.

• Planet Claire — Maryland Ensemble Theatre — ***. 1980s nostalgia hits a laughing-gas high with Tad Janes’ disheveled and effervescent tribute to that shiny, happy pop group, the B-52’s. The show hangs 12 hits by the B-52’s on a Necco-wafer-thin plot about a Goth waitress who, after a car crash, winds up on the planet Topaz, whose inhabitants sport the towering day-glo bouffant hairdos and the wacky-tacky ‘60s and ‘70s togs made famous by the B-52’s. The low-budget show is far from perfect, but it’s fun and as sunny as the group that inspired it. Through July 10 at the Theatre Project, 45 W. Preston St., Baltimore. 410/752-8558. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• The Producers — Kennedy Center Opera House — ***1/2. The feel-great Mel Brooks musical that won a record 12 Tony Awards in 2002 arrives in Washington with all its jovial kitsch intact, and the bang-up team of Lewis J. Stadlen and Alan Ruck in the starring roles created by Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick on Broadway. Sieg-heiling pigeons, characters named “Touch Me Feel Me” and “Carmen Ghia,” an ersatz musical version of “Hamlet” and a song-and-dance extravaganza celebrating “Springtime for Hitler” are just some of its vulgar delights. What a relief to just laugh. Through Aug. 22. 202/467-4600. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• The Radiant Abyss — Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company — **. Angus MacLachlan’s new play takes place in a strip-mall property-management office in North Carolina, where a businesswoman seduces her young lover and his girlfriend to commit a petty crime. The play taps into America’s mistrust of foreigners; our quest for spirituality; our obsession with sex, racism and morality; and other hot-button topics. But these concepts never take flight. “Radiant” is a sputtering mass of ideas, some of which are intriguingly presented, but never developed. Through July 18 at the Kennedy Center Film Theater. 202/467-4600. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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