- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 17, 2002


• As It Is In Heaven Catholic University Department of Drama. Settlers disturb a Shaker community in 19th century Kentucky with claims they see angels. Opens tonight, runs through Sunday at Callan Theatre. 202/319-4000.

• Come Back, Little Sheba Fountainhead Theatre. A beautiful stranger adds tension to an already crumbling marriage in William Inge's acclaimed tale. Opens Saturday at Clark Street Playhouse. 703/920-5923.

• The Tale of the Allergist's Wife Mechanic Theatre. An upper-class New Yorker's mid-life crisis is deepened after a mysterious visit from her childhood friend. Opens Tuesday. 202/432-SEAT.


• The Misanthrope Arena Stage **. There are many fine aspects to this production of Moliere's pointed satire about artifice vs. sincerity in 17th century Paris. It is a shame the overall feeling is of flatness. The pace lurches and stalls, and when something finally does get going, it is over before you know it. Moliere's message that the world is a hypocritical and truth-allergic place is as timely as ever; you only wish that the messenger had more gusto. Through Nov. 3. 202/488-3300. 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 Sunday. 202/547-1122. Reviewed by Jayne M. Blanchard.


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