- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 27, 2003


• Lord, All Men Can't Be Dogs Warner Theatre. Gospel musical that takes a humorous look into an unsuspecting couple's life and home, revealing a war of emotions, control and betrayal. Opens Tuesday. 202/432-SEAT.

• The Tale of the Allergist's Wife National Theatre. A culture-obsessed upper-middle-class New Yorker's mid-life crisis deepens when her glamorous childhood friend reappears for a mysterious visit. Opens Tuesday. Tickets 800/447-7400, information 202/628-6161.

• Tick, Tick, Boom Mechanic Theatre. A young composer pursues his dream of writing the great American musical amidst struggles. 8 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday. Opens Tuesday. 202/432-SEAT.


• 110 in the Shade Signature Theatre ***1/2. Director Eric Schaeffer has revived and revitalized this musical version of N. Richard Nash's 1954 play "The Rainmaker." When it premiered in 1963, this musical was sunk in part by a bloated production featuring a huge cast, numerous set changes and gaudy costumes. Mr. Schaeffer, with composer Harvey Schmidt and lyricist Tom Jones, has slashed the cast, simplified the orchestra and orchestrations (with the help of Jonathan Tunick) and minimized the scenery. The result marred only by schmaltzy, creaky choreography is a lean, melodic, emotionally charged paean to heartland America and small-town values that refuses to diminish its rural characters by sentimentalizing them. Through Sunday. 703/218-6500. Reviewed by Jayne M. Blanchard.

• The Pavilion Round House Theatre ***. This haunting work about time and memory, and the murky tricks both play on our minds, takes place at a high school reunion in a fictional Minnesota town. The setting is an old dance pavilion, set to be razed at midnight to make way for a concrete amphitheater. The focus is a couple who haven't laid eyes on each other in 20 years and as the two rifle through the detritus of their past, you are caught between the romantic dream that maybe they are destined to be together and the reality that time has been both their wings and their jailer. Playwright Craig Wright is agile at combining simple life dramas with soaring, overarching meditations on science and metaphysics. This is not your typical, cozily emotional reunion play, and it's given a passionate rendering under the direction of Jerry Whiddon. Through Saturday. 240/644-1099. 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.

• The Silent Woman The Shakespeare Theatre ***1/2. The spirit of the whoopee cushion, joy buzzer and squirting flower rules in artistic director Michael Kahn's production of Ben Jonson's elaborate 1610 farce. It's raucous and raunchy, its humor permeated with double entendres, sexual innuendo, and frank boudoir talk. It's so much fun to look at that you could forget there is a plot. The plot is there, yet it's a mere pretext for comeuppances of all stripes. Practically everyone in the play is duped. This gives the production a feeling of good-natured joy, as all are the butt of a joke at some point or another, and every character is shown up to be either vain, a fool, or a bit of both. Mr. Kahn keeps his sights squarely on the bedroom, barroom and bathroom, refusing to be distracted by more elevated concerns. His purpose, after all, is not high art, but low comedy. To achieve that, Mr. Kahn has assembled a cast of fine comedic actors and just let them rip, and they ham it up without shame. "The Silent Woman" has rarely been staged in the past 100 years and never in America. It was a long wait, but Jonson's bawdy, witty sendup of snobs and slobs was worth it. Through March 9. 202/547-1122. Reviewed by Jayne M. Blanchard.

• Theophilus North Arena Stage **. Arena turns the clock back with its congenial new adaptation by Matthew Burnett of Thornton Wilder's 1973 novel. Written two years before Mr. Wilder's death, the novel is a wonderfully detailed account of a young man set loose in 1920s Newport, R.I., after ditching his respectable job as a schoolteacher. Theophilus, played with sunny buoyancy by Matthew Floyd Miller in Mr. Burnett's adaptation, has much in common with George Bailey, the protagonist in Frank Capra's "It's A Wonderful Life." But "Theophilus North" is leisurely, episodic and nothing really happens. It's pretty enough, and it floats by like a dandelion burr on a river. But have you ever watched a dandelion burr float down a river for two hours? We see so little of Theophilus' interior struggles with the challenges of entering adulthood that we care little for him. He seems like just another young American male who is in no hurry to grow up. And we've seen enough of the Peter Pan syndrome, thank you very much. Through Sunday. 202/488-3300. Reviewed by Jayne M. Blanchard.


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