- The Washington Times - Friday, September 19, 2008

NOW PLAYING

AceSignature Theatre — ★★ This new musical by composer Richard Oberacker and lyricist Robert Taylor, which seems destined for an aviation museum theater rather than the Broadway stage, depicts the shedding of emotional and past burdens so one can soar freely. Yet the show is weighed down with too many ambitions and subplots and an overriding sense of angst and malaise that keeps it from gaining altitude. “Ace” mainly suffers from an identity problem. Is it a singing recruitment poster for the Air Force? A mood piece about a sullen boy named Danny (Dalton Harrod) and his relationship with his suicidal mother, Elizabeth (Jill Paice)? Or is it a musical whodunit about Danny’s aeronautical heritage — which not coincidentally parallels the pioneering history of America’s air service during the two world wars? Even a top-notch cast; vibrant costumes by Robert Perdziola; a snazzy, streamlined steel set by Walt Spangler; and the gifted director Eric Schaeffer can’t make a Gulfstream jet out of this bucket of bolts. The score seems largely standard, and the lyrics are of the conversation-mimicking variety that fails to tell a story or reveal character through song. In order to fly right, “Ace” needs to straighten up and lighten the load. Through Sept. 28. 703/573-7328.

Wishful DrinkingArena Stage at the Lincoln Theatre — ★★★★ Carrie Fisher’s winning one-woman show, “Wishful Drinking,” is part Hollywood confessional, part astutely wry observation on a life roaringly spent. In her 51 years, she has left few stones unturned. There was that Princess Leia thing, a tempestuous marriage to Paul Simon, a second marriage to a gay man that produced her daughter Billie, drug and alcohol addictions, a bipolar diagnosis after a stay in a mental institution, a career as a successful author. Then, a few years ago, a male friend died in her bed (a gay Republican who OD’ed on OxyContin), upon which she remarks that “he not only died in his sleep, he died in mine.” Tales of her mother’s (movie star Debbie Reynolds) rather eccentric outlook on life and her father’s (crooner Eddie Fisher) multiple marriages and face-lifts are interspersed with anecdotes from Miss Fisher’s decades of charmed hard living. What emerges in this freewheeling autobiographical evening is not just that Miss Fisher’s life has produced a wealth of material, but that she knows how to use it. Through Sept. 28. 202/488-3300

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

Compiled by Jayne Blanchard

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