- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 27, 2006

OPENING

• This Is How It Goes — Studio Theatre. Neil LaBute’s tension-filled play about a tumultuous, interracial love triangle. Opens Wednesday. 202/332-3300.

• Stomp — Warner Theatre. The sound fest that makes noise with everything but traditional percussion instruments. Opens Tuesday. 202/783-4000.

NOW PLAYING

• The Boys From Syracuse — Centerstage — ***1/2. Baltimore’s Centerstage brings out your inner vaudevillian with a pun-intended, bawdy and completely nutty production of the 1938 Rodgers and Hart musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Comedy of Errors” featuring unapologetic burlesque by George Abbott. The musical is warm, hearty and a little bit naughty — while leaving some things to the imagination. Don’t overthink it. Just put on your pasties and go. Through Jan. 14 at 700 N. Calvert St., Baltimore. 410/332-0033.

• Cinderella — Olney Theatre Center — ***. Sparkly accessories and sparkling performances rule the night in writer-director Mark Waldrop’s version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic. This smartened-up, modern take contains the cherished fairytale elements of the Disney movie and the television versions, but also keeps in mind that times and attitudes have changed. And it moves like an intricately designed children’s toy, bright and ingenious. Plus, Cinderella and the prince sign autog***

• The Light in the Piazza *** Composer Adam Guettel, the grandson of Broadway great Richard Rodgers, gives us a museum-quality musical in this chamber work, adapted by Craig Lucas from Elizabeth Spencer’s 1954 novella about an ultraprotective Southern matron touring Italy with her beautiful young daughter — who falls for a Florentine even as romantic hope blooms anew for her mother. The musical possesses a subdued and sophisticated beauty and a kind of delectable languor. Its intimacy is sometimes lost in the broad space of the Opera House, but there is no lovelier place to be this season. Through Jan. 7. 202/467-4600.

• The Long Christmas Ride Home — Studio Theatre — *. Too much ho, ho, ho? Dim that seasonal delight by seeing Paula Vogel’s interminable wretchedness-fest, a depressing one-act holiday memory piece that looks back on a dysfunctional family’s Christmas visit to grandma’s. With elements of Noh theater, Bunraku puppetry and Japanese woodblock art, the production looks beautiful and the acting is solid. But this is not really a play; it’s just reworked snippets from older works, random thoughts and a sampling of the playwright’s interests — a bizarre and dreary My Space page. Through Sunday. 202/332-3300.

• The Santaland Diaries — Rep Stage — ***. Satirist David Sedaris turned his real-life stint as a hired elf in the Macy’s New York version of the North Pole into “The Santaland Diaries,” the reading of which has become a subversive holiday tradition on National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition.” Now Rep Stage turns the radio essay into an uproarious one-man show starring Bruce Nelson as the slacker forced to wear a belled cap and curly-toed felt slippers in order to make an honest buck. Under the gifted direction of Joe Brady, Mr. Nelson’s gleefully manic energy is perfect for Mr. Sedaris’ sardonic tale about the dark side of manufactured yuletide cheer. Through Jan. 7 at Howard County Community College. 410/772-4900.

• She Loves Me — Arena Stage, Fichandler Theater — ***. Arena’s production of the old-fashioned, melodic 1963 musical — a tale of two employees of a Budapest perfume shop in the 1930s who clash at work but fall in love through pseudonymous letters — is flowery and romantic. Rather than fiddle with it, director Kyle Donnelly taps into its enduring vitality with young, new talent and a smattering of old pros. It’s old school in the best sense, in which songs convey character and lightly push the plot to a satisfying ending that takes place on that giddiest of days, Christmas Eve. Who could ask for a better wrapped package? Through Sunday. 202/488-3300.

• Son of a Bush — Gross National Product —**. Gross National Product’s new political comedy show is a sometimes endearingly low-tech deflation of inside-the-Beltway maneuvers, election-year posturing and the Bush administration. GNP does not bring anything new to the table, instead resorting to Dick Cheney’s gun mishap and Bushisms we have seen parodied a million times before. Extended indefinitely on Saturdays at the Warehouse Theater. 202/783-7212.

• TempOdyssey — Studio Theatre Secondstage — ***. If playwright Dan Dietz’s hilarious, disquieting comedy is any indication, he must have put in more than his share of time in the bizarro world of the office temp, a queasy alternate universe where temps are invisible, yet blamed for every mistake. Directed with acerbic zest by Christopher Gallu, this is a deluxe revenge fantasy, fiendish and subversive, and is particularly savory for anyone who has been a temporary employee. Yet the play’s lack of meaning or substance keeps it on the level of parody and merely presents a procession of amusing workplace psychos. Through Sunday. 202/332-3300. MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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