- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 28, 2002

OPENING
Julie Scena Theatre. An upper-class woman starts a disastrous flirtation with the family chauffeur in the 1920s American South. Previews begin Saturday at Warehouse Theatre, 703/684-7990.
Madea's Family Reunion Warner Theatre. Madea's family is drawn together after her sister dies the same weekend as a family wedding. Opens Tuesday. 202/628-1818.
Mama Mia National Theatre. A mother relives her early years as her daughter plans to wed in this musical set to the tunes of ABBA. Opens tonight. 800/477-7400.
Polk County Arena Stage. A previously unstaged play from Zora Neale Hurston about black life and song in a Florida sawmill camp in the 1930s. 7:30 p.m. Opens tomorrow. 202/488-4377.
Sea Marks Metrostage. An Irish fisherman and a Welsh spinster are united through words. Opens Wednesday. 703/548-9044.
Shakespeare, Moses and Joe Papp Round House Theatre. Fictional reimagining of producer Joe Papp's battle to bring Shakespeare to Central Park. Opens Wednesday. 240/644-1100.
Surface Transit Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. One-woman show starring Sarah Jones Charges that explores the diversity of New York City through eight characters. 8 p.m. Opens tonight at the Kennedy Center's AFI Theater. 202/467-4600.

NOW PLAYING

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 each of its 22 dancing and singing 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.
The Marriage Classika Theatre **. Russian literary star Nikolai Gogol's play contains many funny insights and lines about the timeless, fierce apprehension people have about getting married. However, in the hands of Classika Theatre's eight-member cast and director Yuri Kordonsky, the comedic pacing is so off and the dramatic tension so lacking that one wonders whether the play is a comedy or a tragedy. Through Sunday in the Village at Shirlington. $15-$20. 703/824-6200. Reviewed by Gabriella Boston.
Oleanna Source Theatre ***-1/2. "Oleanna" is quite possibly David Mamet's most anti-woman play. Still, director Wendy C. Goldberg manages to make this story of a perceived-victim-turned-victimizer palatable absorbing, even. Holly Twyford as Carol, a confused college student struggling for survival in one of her classes, does a good job of transforming Carol from a dazed supplicant to a feminist mouthpiece with the help of a women's group. Rick Foucheux, who was so explosive in Source Theatre's production of Mr. Mamet's "American Buffalo" last year, is convincing as her initially condescending professor who, once the roles have shifted, must plead for an explanation. The strength of Miss Goldberg's direction and the performances are what make this slippery game so engaging. Through April 7. 202/462-1073. Reviewed by Carol Johnson.
She Stoops to Conquer Folger Theatre **-1/2 Oliver Goldsmith's "She Stoops to Conquer," considered one of the masterpieces of 18th-century theater, is a breezy commentary on English life circa 1773. Although director Richard Clifford's pacing is steady, several spirited but ultimately disappointing performances weaken the production. Through April 7. 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 one another up. Continues indefinitely. 202/467-4600. Reviewed by Nelson Pressley.
True West Arena Stage **-1/2. Sam Shepard's 1980 play once gave off hints of danger in its tale of dysfunctional brothers competing as screenwriters in Hollywood. We've seen so much dysfunction since then that it's not surprising that Arena Stage with Woolly Mammoth Artistic Director Howard Shalwitz directing the production goes for the laughs. The production has no element of danger or duel-to-the-death energy that once made Mr. Shepard's play dark as well as darkly funny. The two losers don't seem particularly terrifying, either to the world at large or to each other and there's no reason we should take their antics seriously. Through April 7. 202/488-4377. Reviewed by Jayne M. Blanchard.
MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS


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