- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 17, 2005

OPENING

• Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde — Theater Alliance. Oscar Wilde, the rock star of his generation, was at the center of a battle with Victorian mores. Opens Saturday at the H Street Playhouse. 800/494-8497.

NOW PLAYING

• Hairspray — Kennedy Center Opera House — ***1/2. The musical based on Baltimore native John Waters’ 1988 film comedy won eight Tonys on Broadway. Now Washington finds out why. Can tubby Tracy Turnblad win a TV dance show’s “Miss Hairspray” contest, woo an Elvis wannabe and bring the races together on the dance floor? There’s never any doubt. The music is gleeful, the lyrics are witty and the songs are bouncing. Comedian John Pinette, in drag, does a bravura turn as mother Edna Turnblad, prancing around as if every pound of his considerable frame were a blessing. The show retains enough of Mr. Waters’ snarky side to please his loyalists and bursts with everything else a musical-theater fan could want. Through Sunday. 202/467-4600. Reviewed by Christian Toto.

• The Lion King — France-Merrick Performing Arts Center — * Director Julie Taymor’s brilliant stage adaptation of the Disney animated movie brings the entire African savanna to pulsing, heat-struck life through the use of African masks, headdresses, textiles and puppetry ranging from traditional marionettes and life-size animal figures to bunraku and shadow-puppet forms. The vibrantly beautiful musical is as visually and musically dazzling as it was when it premiered in 1997. Artistry, spectacle, a terrific score and a talented acting ensemble all combine to make it that rarest of beasts, a perfect musical. Through Sept. 4 at 12 N. Eutaw St., Baltimore. 410/547-7328. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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