- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 9, 2003

OPENING
The Exonerated Warner Theatre. Stories of six death row inmates who were later found not guilty. 8 p.m. Opens Tuesday. 202/432-SEAT.
Son of a Distant Moon Zebra Stage. A drama about the lives of two very different black sisters and the complexities of family life. Opens tonight at Theater on the Run. 800/494-TIXS.
The Unexpected Man Washington Stage Guild. A play about what happens when a famous author and a dedicated fan encounter each other riding a train. Opens tonight at Arena Stage. 240/582-0050.

PLAYING
The Day Room Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company ***. Don DeLillo's existential farce was a big hit for Woolly Mammoth in 1989, and now the hilarious feast of language and ideas is back, revved up and retooled for 2003 and directed by artistic director Howard Shalwitz. Grover Gardner, Jennifer Mendenhall and Rob Leo Roy return to the Woolly Stage in this signature piece that begins in a hospital room talk about the human condition. Through Sunday at the Kennedy Center's AFI Theater. 202/393-3939 or 202/467-4600. Reviewed by Jayne M. Blanchard.
South Pacific Arena Stage ***. So many songs from this Rodgers and Hammerstein classic have been burned into the collective memory that Arena Stage has to warn the audience before the performance not to sing along. That's OK, since you won't want to miss the fine voices and ebullient energy exuded by this production. Artistic Director Molly Smith's staging is fluid and fetching. Baayork Lee contributes lissome choreography. Richard White's stage-filling turn as Emile de Becque shows off an imposing physique and a gorgeous matinee-idol singing voice. Kate Baldwin as Nellie Forbush proves a delightful foil, though her vocal inflections could be better. The production is not so exuberantly on fire as it might be, but it's hard not to like an R&H; musical. Through Feb. 2. 202/488-3300. 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.
Tell Me on a Sunday Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater **1/2. The vivacious Alice Ripley, a familiar and Tony-nominated Broadway talent, brings a lot of panache to the role of the man-chasing Emma, the sole character of this Andrew Lloyd Webber musical that debuted in 1979. Most of the songs are arresting (a couple are even delightful) and Miss Ripley is appealing, yet the production is strangely sterile and lacking in warmth. Through Sunday. 202/467-4600. Reviewed by Christian Toto.MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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