- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 20, 2001

Agatha Sings Ellipse Arts Center. Musical follows the life of the famed mystery writer Agatha Christie. Opens tomorrow. 703/836-8643.
Dangerous Corner Classika Theatre. J.B. Priestley's tale of a group of publishers who discover dark secrets about a recently deceased friend. Opens Saturday 703/824-6200.
Danny and Sylvia American Century Theatre. Musical biography of entertainer Danny Kaye and his songwriter wife, Sylvia Fine. Opens tonight at the Bethesda Writer's Center. 703/553-8782.
Far East The Studio Theatre. A rich American officer and a bored military wife strike up a friendship in Japan during the Korean War. Opens Wednesday. 202/332-3300.
Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus D.C. Arts Center. New adaptation of Mary Shelley's novel about a disturbed student who brings to life a monster. Opens tonight. 202/462-7833.
J.B. Rorschach Theatre at Millennium Arts Center. A modern retelling of the Book of Job pitting God and the Devil against one another. Opens Saturday. 703/715/6707.
Picasso at the Lapin Agile Port City Playhouse. Picasso, Einstein and a host of other famous thinkers and artists meet in a Paris cafe in comedian Steve Martin's first play. Opens tomorrow at the Career Center Stage. 703/838-2880.
Grand Hotel Signature Theatre **-1/2. The 1989 musical depicting the revolving-door lives and fortunes of guests in an elite European establishment gets the grubby, world-weary "Cabaret" treatment in this production, directed by Eric Schaeffer. Granted, the setting is 1928 Berlin, but some aspects of life were still light and hopeful then. The show boasts gorgeous singing. Yet in the end, the relentless starkness and desperation in all guises seen in this production make it more of the Bates Motel than "Grand Hotel." Through Oct. 7. 800/955-5566. Reviewed by Jayne M. Blanchard.
Late Nite Catechism West End Theatre ***. The chalkboard is littered with terms such as "Immaculate Conception," "stigmata," "Easter duty," "limbo" and "purgatory," and the classroom is filled with people of all ages. Jodi Capeless stars as the instructor in this motley classroom, in which audience members serve as the students. She combines doses of the rigid discipline of the habit pre-1950s with some 21st-century understanding, if not tolerance. She isn't quite brusque enough, though. Despite its shortfalls and much of the script's predictability, "Catechism" offers a refreshing, somewhat lighthearted look at otherwise serious subject matter. Through Sept. 16. 703/573-SEAT, 202/432-SEAT or 301/808-6900. Reviewed by Stephanie K. Taylor.
Rocket to the Moon Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company and Theater J ****. Times are tough for everyone during a steamy New York summer in 1938, especially for a middle-aged dentist with a paralyzing fear of doing the wrong thing. Trapped in a loveless marriage to a shrewish wife but teased by the possibility of an affair with his young secretary, he gives in but not before struggling mightily. Clifford Odets' play is an indictment of marriage, which it likens to death. But this fabulous co-production, crisply paced under director Grover Gardner, looks at more than the moral struggles of a marriage on the rocks. What is the moral obligation people have to themselves? To love? And what is the obligation of a government when children and sick old women are going hungry? The play makes broad social commentary and small observances about husbands and wives, but does it with belly laughs and those ripple over an undercurrent of despair. Who knew such lyricism could exist in a dentist's office? Blessed with a standout cast, "Rocket to the Moon" is a wild ride, one that deserves a return ticket. Through Oct. 7 at the D.C. Jewish Community Center. 800/494-8497. Reviewed by Carol Johnson.
Shear Madness Kennedy Center Theater Lab **. This corny, hokey tourist trap now in its second decade is doubly maddening because the Kennedy Center displays it as art to the cultural center's unsuspecting pilgrims. But the audience-participation murder-mystery farce (set in a Georgetown hair salon) is well-played when the actors refrain from mugging and cracking up one another. The audience rambunctiously analyzes evidence and chooses the murderer in this campy, shtick-filled goof. Continues indefinitely. 202/467-4600. Reviewed by Nelson Pressley.

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