- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 10, 2002

OPENING

• The Colored Museum Capital Renaissance Theatre. Satire about stereotypes and myths in the black community. Opens Wednesday at H Street Playhouse. 800/494-8497.

• Evita American University Experimental Theatre. Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical story about the life of Argentina's famed first lady Eva Peron. Opens tonight. 202/885-2567.

• The Glass Menagerie Keegan Theatre. Popular Tennessee Williams play about a son who must choose between supporting his mother and starting a life of his own. Opens Wednesday at Clark Street Playhouse. 703/527-6000, ext. 2.

• Poe and All That Jazz Charter Theatre. Jazz music provides the backdrop for a story about Edgar Allan Poe's search for love. Opens Wednesday at National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts. 202/333-7009.

• Thumbsucker Cherry Red Productions. A lovers' tryst in a posh hotel room goes terribly wrong in this dark tale. Recommended for mature audiences. Opens tonight at D.C. Arts Center. 202/298-9077.

• Ubu Roi Rorschach Theatre. A bizarre retelling of Shakespeare's "MacBeth," featuring an idiotic civil servant who becomes a violent dictator. Opens Saturday at Calvary Methodist Church. 703/715-6707.


NOW PLAYING

• Anthems: Culture Clash in the District Kreeger Theater, Arena Stage **1/2. Richard Montoya and the comedy/theatrical group called Culture Clash offer a joyous and thoughtful examination of a city interrupted by the harrowing events of September 11. A series of often hilarious vignettes, the play is based on the writers' real-life attempts to chronicle the District. However, the creators gorge on far too much history than they can digest, and the story becomes a maladroit mix of comedy and political satire. Through Sunday. 202/488-3300. Reviewed by Christian Toto.

• Love and Anger Round House Theatre ***.This gravelly, intense production of George F. Walker's play, as directed by Daniel De Raey, turns power on its head as a former fat-cat lawyer (Jerry Whiddon) uses his recent stroke as an impetus to overhaul the entire judicial system. In Mr. Walker's world of splendid, often comic, anarchy, it is the articulate poor brave, misguided little misfits who are deeply weird, deeply wounded, deeply courageous who turn the wheel and get things done. Sarah Marshall as a schizophrenic, whose moments of coherence and insight are a glorious sight to behold, is a treasure. Nancy Robinette, who plays a frazzled legal secretary, has many scenes of inspired humor. Mr. Whiddon's dying lawyer embodies twisted goodness. The show is marred by uneven pacing, some real dead spots, and unnecessary sound effects. But you come away knowing that the articulate and ticked-off poor are a force to be reckoned with. Through Sunday. 240/644-1100. 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 Nov. 3. 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.

• Three Sistahs MetroStage .**. Playwright and composer Thomas W. Jones, who also directs this production, takes vast liberties with Anton Chekhov's masterwork, "Three Sisters." Yet it works. The show sets to rollicking, gospel-inflected "smooth jazz" music the plot of three sisters returning home after a funeral and having to decide what to do with their father's house. They have a pajama party, staying up all night in the home they grew up in, drinking wine, eating popcorn and singing of their secrets and they swoop and swirl from one showstopper to the next, much of it in sublime three-part harmony. There are worse excuses for an evening of song and entertainment than a trio of enormously talented women Bernardine Mitchell, Crystal Fox and Desire DuBose getting in their PJs and getting down. As long as you are not looking for Chekhovian irony, "Three Sistahs" will delight and move you. Through Oct. 27. 703/548-9044. Reviewed by Jayne M. Blanchard.

• The Winter's Tale Shakespeare Theatre **1/2. Discussions of whether Shakespeare's "The Winter's Tale" is a tragedy, a comedy, a romance or a problem play are dispelled during the first act of this production, directed by Michael Kahn. It is simply an ordeal. The production's sluggish pulse quickens once we are whisked from the airless and cheerless Sicilia, with its death trap of a set, to the flower-bedecked Bohemia, but throughout the cast seems quite reserved. Everyone seems to be racing through the denouement, just wanting to get it over with. This a handsome production, but one that exudes a pale fire. And that makes it a long "Winter" indeed. Through Oct. 20. 202/547-1122. Reviewed by Jayne M. Blanchard.

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS


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