- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 6, 2002

OPENING
Brasil: As Coisas do Samba (The Soul of Samba) GALA Hispanic Theatre. Musical that captures five decades of Brazil's history and culture through song and dance. In Spanish. Simultaneous English translation available. Opens tonightat the Warehouse. 202/234-7174.
The Gondoliers Victorian Lyric Opera. Gilbert and Sullivan's comic musical about two gondoliers who rule a country jointly after one is discovered to be a king. Opens tomorrow at F. Scott Fitzgerald Theater. 301/545-5660.
Not as Cute as Picture Trumpet Vine Theatre Company. One-man show about an aspiring actor who longs to become a movie star. Opens tonight at the D.C. Arts Center. 202/462-7833.
Saturday Night Fever National Theatre. An ambitious dancer from Brooklyn hopes to become a star in this stage adaptation of the popular film. Opens Tuesday. 800/447-7400.
Sylvia The Little Theatre of Alexandria. A dog comes between husband and wife in this comedy. Opens tomorrow. 703/683-0496.

NOW PLAYING
Candida Olney Theatre Center for the Arts ***Like many late-19th-century British love triangles, George Bernard Shaw's play presents the beautiful housewife starved for love, the overbearing husband who is increasingly wrapped up in his work, and the ardent younger poet whose arrival sets the household on its ear. But "Candida" also explores illusions of love and license, of art and artlessness, all wrapped up in a veritable cloak of conventions. That can be a difficult thing for any play to dance around, and the Olney's production at times strays from subtlety into mere slapstick. But the cast is strong and so is the production. Through June 23. 301/924-3400. Reviewed by Lisa Rauschart.
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 get with the program and find a bride. Lynn Redgrave adds bite and class as the well-to-do WASP Joanne. Mr. Mathias keeps "Company" firmly in the swinging '70s, with the group caught between the dizzying new freedoms of the 1960s youth-quake wave and the old construct of marriage. "Company" has some rough spots, but it is a rich experience because of its sense of recklessness and exhilaration. This is one walloping musical. Through June 29. 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 the nurse. The whole show, which runs a bit longer than an hour, is essentially musical banter and a couple of monologues. But these guys are good at it. The weaknesses of the production are a slight lack of depth and Mr. Branyan's high-pitched imitations of his character's wife, who never appears onstage. Through June 30. 703/535-8022. Reviewed by Jon Ward.
Hot Mikado Ford's Theatre ****. Ford's Theatre hits the jackpot with this adaptation of Gilbert and Sullivan's classic musical. The jazz score (inspired by Duke Ellington and other jazz greats) swings, the funny lines crackle, the singing soars, and the acting and dancing are brilliant. The 20-member cast is tight in all of their 22 dance and song numbers. The land of Titi-Pu, the fairytale Japanese-inspired town where the story unfolds, is expertly created by stage designer Daniel Proett. Director and choreographer David Bell has created a slammin' production, with lots of goodies for both eye and ear. Through June 16. 703/218-6500 tickets; 202/347-4833 information. Reviewed by Gabriella Boston.
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. Under director J.R. Sullivan, the play is like a powerful locomotive hurtling toward its inevitable destination. Deeply funny observances and small talk temper its heft. None of the characters can extricate themselves from the web of circumstance holding them together in this complex and demanding morality play. Through July 7. 202/332-3300. Reviewed by Carol Johnson.
Mamma Mia National Theatre **. The musical "Mamma Mia," inspired by songs from the 1970s Swedish pop phenomenon ABBA, is one of those cute, screamingly bright shows, similar to "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" in its mishmash of styles and high-octane zestiness. But it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. The show takes place in the now on a mythical Greek island as a fiercely independent single mother, a free spirit from the 1970s, prepares for the wedding of her daughter. The daughter, obsessed with finding out who her father is, steals her mother's diary and draws from it three prospects, whom she then invites to the wedding. Mirth and mayhem ensue. You must have a sweet tooth for disco and inane lyrics in order to fully appreciate "Mamma Mia." Through Saturday. 800/477-7400. Reviewed by Jayne M. Blanchard.
A Moon for the Misbegotten Kreeger Theater Arena Stage ****. Director Molly Smith's transcendent production of Eugene O'Neill's play has many elements of romantic comedy. The first act is full of playful banter between Josie Hogan (Janice Duclos), a rough-tongued Irish-American farmer's daughter, and Jim Tyrone Jr. (Tuck Milligan), a fading and alcoholic actor, with liberal helpings of blarney from Josie's Irish rascal of a father, Phil, played with rapacious glee by Robert Hogan. But O'Neill takes the conventions of comic romance and goes for something more tremendous and beautiful, in a second act that sees Josie and Jim shedding their fake skins under the midnight moon and expanding into love. This is possibly one of the most devastatingly lovely love scenes in American drama. Miss Duclos, in a luminous performance, allows us to witness Josie's transformation from a "cow" of a woman to a lover. Mr. Milligan combines a matinee idol's profile with the wry cynicism of a confirmed drunk and failure in his masterful performance as James Tyrone. It's a big, gnarled love and a haunting play. Through June 16. 202/488-3300. Reviewed by Jayne M. Blanchard.
Othello Folger Theatre ***. Director Aaron Posner's production of Shakespeare's dark play about jealousy, love and betrayal builds dramatic tension through plot and pacing, instead of reaching for the emotional hot button of race. Craig Wallace as Othello is a formidable actor with a commanding stage presence. Yet he does not come across as the honest, dutiful military man with a childlike trust of his own that we know Othello is. Nor do we see the hotheadedness of character we expect. Trey Lyford's Iago is almost droll, even attractive, which almost makes up for the lack of dramatic heft. The estimable Holly Twyford plays Iago's wife, Emilia, one of the more subtle characters in the play, and Miss Twyford captures her weakness and divided loyalties nicely. Dwayne Nitz excels at playing the wronged, virtuous Cassio. Suli Holum, as Desdemona, has an appropriately virginal look to her and a mellifluous singing voice. This "Othello" has no low points, and no major flaws. With a bit more energy it could be near-perfect. Through June 16. 202/544-7077. 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. Continues indefinitely. 202/467-4600. Reviewed by Nelson Pressley.
Sweeney Todd Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater ****. You haven't seen "Sweeney" until you've seen this "Sweeney." The kickoff to the summerlong 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. Director Christopher Ashley reinvigorates the masterwork impeccably. Brian Stokes-Mitchell captures the obsessive menace of Sweeney, the barber whose best friends are his razors, but he also imbues him with a grim allure. His sublime baritone and bearing are thunderous. Christine Baranski's Mrs. Lovett, the pie maker who dices Sweeney's victims into her pastries, is daffy and flirtatious, with diction and timing perfectly suited to Mr. Sondheim's tongue-twisty lyrics and rapid stylistic changes. The other roles also are beautifully cast, with some outstanding performances. Performances are sold out, but if you could you would want to see this again, and again and again. Through June 30. Sold out. 202/467-4600. R eviewed by Jayne M. Blanchard.
MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS


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