- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 27, 2002

OPENING
Greater Tuna
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater. Comedians Joe Sears and Jaston Williams bring to life the small town of Tuna, Texas, through 21 characters. Opens Tuesday. 202/467-4600.

NOW PLAYING

Born Guilty
Theater J ***. Ari Roth's haunting play, which is based on the 1988 book by Austrian Jewish journalist Peter Sichrovsky, investigates the legacy the Nazis left for their children. It asks hard questions and appropriately gives few answers. Protagonist Sichrovsky (Rich Foucheux) pursues the characters as a journalist. Herman Schmidt (Irving Jacobs) is the most compelling. Schmidt, who bought a house formerly owned by Jews from the Nazis for a reduced price, lives with the guilt of doing so. One shortcoming is that eight persons play about 30 roles, and it is not immediately clear whether someone is continuing a role or introducing a new one. This confusion may represent the overall theme of the play, which shows that children with Nazi parents faced similar battles. Through July 14. 800/494-TIXS. Reviewed by Jen Waters.
Company
Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater ****. Director Sean Mathias makes this gorgeously retro, witty production of the 1970 Stephen Sondheim musical soar. John Barrowman brings charm and a terrific voice to the character of Bobby, the commitment-shy 35-year-old New Yorker besieged by his friends, five affluent married couples who want him to find a bride. Lynn Redgrave adds bite and class as the well-to-do WASP Joanne. "Company" has some rough spots but is full of recklessness and exhilaration. This is one walloping musical. Through Saturday. 202/467-4600. Reviewed by Jayne M. Blanchard.
Crazy Love
Old Town Theater ** 1/2. Mark Anderson thinks comedy today is too raunchy. His antidote is this humorous celebration of the differences between men and women that illustrates the value of long-term commitment. Mr. Anderson, who plays a psychologist, and co-producer John Branyan, who plays his patient, share the stage for most of the production. Gilly Conklin plays a nurse. The whole show is essentially musical banter and a couple of monologues, but these guys are good at it. Through Sunday. 703/535-8022. Reviewed by Jon Ward.
The Diaries
Signature Theatre **. Playwright John Strand's exploration of the character of Stefan Altsanger (Edward Gero) a brilliant German scientist and novelist reborn as revered entomologist Steve Alton after the war is sympathetic yet fascinating and complex. The play's inspiration is, in part, Ernst Junger, a German writer, entomologist and Nazi captain assigned to occupied Paris who kept a diary of his time in France and on the Russian front in the Caucasus. Years later, Alton is confronted by a historian (Daniel Frith) with the diaries Alton thought were destroyed along with his past. Alton dissolves away to Altsanger as he explains the diaries and their motivations to the historian and to himself. Mr. Strand goes to great lengths to exonerate Stefan. But taking no action is an action in itself. Through July 14. 800/955-5566. Reviewed by Jayne M. Blanchard.
The Little Foxes
The Shakespeare Theatre ** 1/2. The Hubbard clan, the nouveau-riche Southern family detailed in Lillian Hellman's play, gives greed a bad name. Miss Hellman's play is a melodramatic hoot meant to make us see the monsters in ourselves while watching the Hubbards plot and steal money from one another. But director Doug Hughes' production is almost camp, with nearly every line delivered with a sneer. And the cast gnaws on every stick of scenery. As long as you relax into the overwrought quality of the show, you can have a walloping good time. Through July 28. 202/547-1122. Reviewed by Jayne M. Blanchard.
Lobby Hero
Studio Theatre *** 1/2. Kenneth Lonergan's play, set in the lobby of a Manhattan apartment building, is a richly tangled tale of four people struggling to balance obligation and self-interest. The play brings together a front-desk security guard, his mentor boss, a cock-of-the-walk beat cop and his female partner, a rookie officer. Each has an angle to exploit and a duty to honor, and when those intersect, the play really takes off. Through July 7. 202/332-3300. Reviewed by Carol Johnson.
Lypsinka: The Boxed Set
Studio Theatre ***. With a brassy auburn wig, sparkling ruby lips and eyelashes that would make Tammy Faye Bakker envious, John Epperson lip-syncs to old standards, mixing in dialogue from classic movies and some inspired physical comedy. He embodies the character Lypsinka with the glamour and graciousness of a bygone era then pokes holes in that image with unexpected outbursts of hysteria and raunch. Mr. Epperson's one-man show is a dizzying, hilarious glimpse of what happens when a performer's polish cracks and reveals a bit of insanity underneath. Through Sunday 202/332-3300. Reviewed by Carol Johnson.
Mandy Patinkin in Concert: Celebrating Sondheim
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater ***. So what's not to like about Mandy Patinkin and his new solo show-plus-one? Almost nothing. The man is a wizard with voice changes and vocal gestures, offering up no fewer than 36 smoothly fashioned Stephen Sondheim tunes in a little less than 90 minutes. Mr. Patinkin's longtime piano accompanist is Paul Ford, who is credited with the arrangements and who remains discreetly in the background. Seldom have Mr. Sondheim's lyrics been heard so clearly or expressed so well. Through Sunday.. Reviewed by Ann Geracimos.
Our Town
Round House Theatre ** 1/2. Thornton Wilder's folksy and contemplative "Our Town," a staple of the world stage since its debut in 1938, offers something comforting and beautifully dignified. Director Jerry Whiddon smartly does not impose the Norman Rockwell aspects too thickly. Pat Carroll, who plays the Stage Manager (or narrator), is a solid delight from start to finish. The pace is sleepy, but there are bright spots, and we do want to linger with the people of Grover's Corners, N.H. Through Sunday. 240/644-1100. Reviewed by Jayne M. Blanchard.
Peter and the Wolf
Theater J * 1/2 Ari Roth's sequel to "Born Guilty," with which "Peter and the Wolf" is playing in repertory, unsuccessfully attempts to examine the choices of Peter Sichrovsky, a Jew who becomes general secretary of the far-right Austrian Freedom Party. As a panel debates the motives of the characters and their attitudes, the playwright assumes that the audience is already familiar with the first show and its characters. Mr. Roth has made this play more like a therapy session for his angst than a form of entertainment. Through July 14 at the D.C. Jewish Community Center. 800/494-TIXS. Reviewed by Jen Waters.
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. Continues indefinitely. 202/467-4600. Reviewed by Nelson Pressley.
Sunday in the Park With George
Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater *** 1/2. The French painter Georges Seurat has no trouble connecting the light-filled dots for his masterpiece "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte" in Stephen Sondheim's coolly luminous 1984 musical. His problem is connecting with people, most notably his mistress, Dot, a lovely artist's model. The play centers on the creation of the masterpiece and the sacrifices made to bring such a work into the world. "Sunday" is not easy to warm up to it is a cerebral show. But if you enter the musical the way an artist lives in the painting, the show glimmers like no other. Through tomorrow. 202/467-4600. Reviewed by Jayne M. Blanchard.
Sweeney Todd
Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater ****. You haven't seen "Sweeney" until you've seen this "Sweeney." The kickoff to the summer-long Sondheim Celebration at the Kennedy Center, this bold, thrilling and impeccably sung and acted production of Stephen Sondheim's dark musical makes you feel as though you are seeing it for the first time. Through Sunday. Sold out. 202/467-4600. Reviewed by Jayne M. Blanchard.

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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