- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 27, 2003

OPENING • Nijinsky’s Last Dance — Signature Theatre Company. A one-man play starring Jeremy Davidson that tells the story of the ill-fated dancer through a series of flashbacks. Opened yesterday at the Kennedy Center, Terrace Theater. 202/467-4600. • The Page-To-Stage New Play Festival — Kennedy Center. More than 30 Washington area theater companies will present free readings, open rehearsals, and discussions about upcoming plays and musicals. Part of the 2nd annual Prelude Festival. Opens Sunday. 202/467-4600. • Topdog/Underdog Fresh from off-Broadway, this original work examines race, family and the weight of America’s collective history. Opens Wednesday at the Studio Theatre. 202/332-3300 • Worm Girl Cherry Red Productions. Worm girl is not just a worm, she is also a girl. Follow her as she drags along her three friends to the Pakistan Winter Olympics, a day at the beach and her first prom. Opens tomorrow at the Source Theatre. 202/298-9077. NOW PLAYING • Footloose — Toby’s Dinner Theatre — ***. Toby’s rollicking production, based on the 1984 hit movie musical starring Kevin Bacon and John Lithgow, may induce a need for ‘80s pop detox. But no matter how you feel about the decade of big hair and ingratiating synth-pop hooks, this turbocharged, highly likeable production — about a Chicago teenager who moves to Bomont, a rural town where dancing, rock music and other adolescent pleasures have been banned — could make you an ‘80s convert. Director Toby Orenstein, choreographer Ilona Kessell and musical director Douglas Lawler resourcefully invent myriad ways for the actors to dance and perform in Toby’s intimate setting. There are some overdone moments and some of the effects are a mite cheesy. Yet, no matter how corny it seems, you cannot help but cheer on “Footloose” and the hero’s efforts to bring some liberating footwork to the fun-starved citizens of Bomont. Through Sunday . 410/730-8311. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard. • The Master and Margarita — Rorschach Theatre — ***1/2. The hyperkinetic Rorschach Theatre company’s over-the-top take on Mikhail Bulgakov’s “The Master and Margarita, or the Devil Comes to Moscow.” Originally penned as a novel, the work was suppressed by the author in the 1930s for fear of Stalin. Its reconstruction and publication in 1967 created a sensation in the Soviet Union. The novel was adapted faithfully and impressively for the stage by Jean-Claude van Itallie, based on a translation by Sergei Kobiakoff. Bulgakov’s work is an anguished indictment of Stalin’s repression of self-expression. Bulgakov himself clearly identified with the Master who worships Margarita, his Muse, and eventually is saved by the Devil in a world that has permanently reversed polarity. Staged with eerie appropriateness in a high-beamed former sanctuary, this production crackles with manic energy. The acting is superb, and director Jenny McConnell keeps this circus of mayhem coherent, entertaining, and thought-provoking. Tim Getman as Woland/Satan is a fantastic Master of Ceremonies, evolving from a dapper tourist into a garish blend of Joel Grey and Tim Curry at their worst. This might be one of 2003’s most astounding theatrical adventures. At least it will have you arguing at a coffeehouse or bar well past closing time. Through Saturday at Calvary Methodist Church. 703/715-6707. Reviewed by T.L. Ponick. • The Power of the Dog — Longacre Lea Productions — *1/2. Playwright Howard Barker is known as the enfant terrible of British contemporary drama, and his “theater of catastrophe” is on full display in “Dog” as he free-associates Stalin, Churchill and various soldiers, photographers and filmmakers into an unpleasant melange of postmodernist moral equivalency — all commented upon by an irritating Scottish comic who scampers about doing a poor imitation of Lear’s Fool. Ably directed by Kathleen Ackerly, this production is briskly paced, sharply acted and at times quite funny. But alas, Mr. Barker’s 2½ hours of surface profundities will appeal mostly to academics, semioticians and alienated students of lit crit who will find great intellectual amusement in the deconstruction of mass murder. Through Sept. 7 at the Callan Theatre, Catholic University. 202/332-3300. Reviewed by T.L. Ponick. • 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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