- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 10, 2002

Fences Everyman Theatre. Family tension grows after a son is scouted by college football teams in August Wilson's award-winning play. Opens tonight. 410/752-2208.
The Graduate Morris A. Mechanic Theatre. A young college graduate embarks on an affair with an older, married woman. Opens tonight. 410/625-4230 or 800/638-2444.
Master Class The Little Theatre of Alexandria. An Opera diva teaches her students, and the audience, the finer points of singing. Opens tomorrow. 703/683-0496.
Middle Finger Asian Stories in America Theatre. Two Catholic schoolboys try to rebel against their parents and teachers in this coming-of-age tale. Opens tonight at the Rosslyn Spectrum. 703/979-0875.
On the Jump Arena Stage Fichandler Theater. A bride is abandoned on her wedding night only to find happiness with a new love. Opens tomorrow. 202/488-3300.
Three Tall Women Center Stage. A 92-year-old woman reminisces with two other, mysterious women about her life. Opens tomorrow at the Pearlstone Theater. 410/332-0033.

Blues in the Night Arena Stage ***. This Sheldon Epps creation directed by Kenny Leon is a solid two hours of music that combines a little bit of plot with a whole lot of singing and gets a fantastic mix. This is not a staid, studied revival show, but an exuberant eruption of riotous music, drawing on blues songs from the era between the world wars. The production centers on a run-down hotel in 1930s Chicago, where three women commiserate about their difficulties in life: men, work, men, money, men. The women Bernardine Mitchell, Cynthia Hardy and Chandra Currelley are in great voice. Susan E. Mickey's costumes are a gaudy array of pinks and oranges and are gloriously flamboyant and trashy. Vicki R. Davis' set design is a similar hodgepodge of clutter. The band supports the singers with inspired tunesmanship and grace. A warning to those thinking about bringing younger spectators: The play contains quite a bit of bawdy humor nothing obscene, but a good dose of innuendo, invariably played for laughs. Through Feb. 3. 202/488-4377. Reviewed by Eric M. 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. The audience-participation murder-mystery farce (set in a Georgetown hair salon) is well-played, though, 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.
The Thousandth Night MetroStage Theatre ***. Playwright Carol Wolf's one-act, one-man show has nothing but some meager props and actor Ron Campbell's work to sustain it, but that's enough. Mr. Campbell's gift for evocative acting is so expert that he inhabits 38 characters throughout "Night's" potent span, set in 1943 occupied France near the German border. His nomadic actor Guy de Bonheur, clad in a garish, eggplant-purple striped suit, is being held by French police officers on charges of propagating subversive material through his art. To clear his name and avoid a one-way ticket to the nearest concentration camp, he performs snippets of his act to illustrate its benign nature. Each story is meant to delight the officers and prove his point, but the revealing nature of art, we learn, is more subversive than he realizes. As directed by Jessica Kubzansky, Mr. Campbell sweats, but he makes each jarring transformation look easy and reminds us of the power of one-man theater. Through Jan. 20. 703/548-9044. Reviewed by Christian Toto.

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