- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 7, 2002

OPENING
Bring In 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk Warner Theatre. Savion Glover returns to his role in the ensemble musical that uses tap dance to tell the history of "the beat." Opens Tuesday, runs through Nov. 17. 202/783-4000.
The Christmas Carol Rag Signature Theatre. New musical that spices up Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" with tunes from Irving Berlin and George M. Cohan. Opens Tuesday. 703/218-6500.
A Doll's House Quotidian Theatre Company. Ibsen's classic play is transported to 1918 Galveston, Texas. Opens tomorrow at the Writer's Center. 301/816-1023.
El Gran Deschave/Final Feliz (The Cat's Out of the Bag) Teatro de la Luna. A couple that has been taken one another for granted sees things differnetly once their television set breaks. In Spanish with simultaneous English interpretation. Opens tonight at Gunston Arts Center. 202/882-6227.
Medea Abbey Theatre. Fiona Shaw stars in Euripedes' tale of a woman who murders her children out of rage. Opens tonight, runs through Saturday at Kennedy Center Terrace Theater. 202/467-4600.

NOW PLAYING
Kiki and Herb in Pardon Our Appearance Woolly Mammoth Theatre ***1/2. Kiki (Justin Bond) and her weepy piano player Herb (Kenny Mellman) are two veteran entertainers who have barreled their way through the decades, growing boozier but certainly not more mellow by the year. They haul us through the best of the '70s through today in this decidedly off-kilter evening that is wildly and inappropriately hysterical. Think Steve and Eydie with an anger management problem. But under Doug Wright's direction "Kiki and Herb" becomes more than campy spoof. If you like your humor sharp and disturbing, "Kiki and Herb" is one act you definitely want to catch. Through Nov. 17 at the Source. 202/393-3939. Reviewed by Jayne M. Blanchard.
Man of La Mancha National Theatre ***. Director Jonathan Kent has a treasure in his limber restaging of this play with Brian Stokes Mitchell in the title role of Cervantes' Don Quixote. It is a role Mr. Mitchell seems born to play. His performance of the song "The Impossible Dream" is a shivers-inducing moment in a production filled with gorgeous moments. The set by Paul Brown (aided by Paul Gallo's chiaroscuro lighting) is jaw-dropping. The cast is up to every challenge: As Sancho Panza, Ernie Sabella is the ideal foil to Quixote's idealism. As the tough cookie Aldonza, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio is scarily convincing. The chorus and dancers cavort nimbly around the set. Numerous sound-projection problems cropped up opening night, but once the technical glitches are sorted out, "La Mancha" ought to hit its stride. Through Sunday. 800/447-7400. Reviewed by Jayne M. Blanchard.
Privates on Parade Studio Theatre ***1/2. This 1977 musical play by Britain's Peter Nichols (with music by Dennis King) is a grand way to start the theater season. Dashingly directed by Joy Zinoman, who handles it with silliness and sophistication, it combines the broad humor of English music halls and pantos with carefully wrought commentary on racism, miscegenation, homosexuality and homophobia, and the casual cruelties of wartime. The play is based on Mr. Nichols' experiences as a member of a song-and-dance touring unit similar to the USO dispatched to Southeast Asia in 1948 to cheer up British troops mired in a Malaysian guerrilla war. The unit is led by Terri Dennis, a flamboyant queen, played by Floyd King, that most supple of clowns and there is no more joyous sign that the seasons are changing than the sight of Floyd King in a dress. If every show this season is as energetic and inspired as "Privates on Parade," then we needn't concern ourselves with the inevitable letdown after this summer's Sondheim Celebration. Through Sunday. 202/332-3300. Reviewed by Jayne M. Blanchard.
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. File review by Nelson Pressley.
MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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