- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 4, 2003


• All the Great Books — Reduced Shakespeare Company. A compact compendium of the world’s greatest books. Opens Tuesday at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater. 202/467-4600.

• Blazing Red/Rojo Carmin — Teatro de la Luna. A comedy about marriage and man and woman. Opens tonight at Gunston Arts Center Theatre II. 703/548-3092.

• Chicago — National Theatre. The Tony Award-winning musical. Opens Tuesday. Tickets, 800/447-7400. Information, 202/628-6161.

• Count Basil — Horizons Theatre. World premiere of a tragedy about what happens when sensual desire intertwines with political strategy. Opens tonight at Theater on the Run. 703/243-8550.

• Don’t Sing No Blues for Me — Howard University Ira Aldridge Theatre. An abandoned boy discovers both his past and future when he travels to a small town in North Carolina that he has never visited to attend the funeral of a mother he never knew. Tonight through Sunday. 301/808-6958.

• If You Had Three Husbands — The Stanislavsky Theater Studio. Semi-autobiographical story by Gertrude Stein adapted for the stage. Opens tonight. 202/265-3748.

• Kenneth, What Is the Frequency? — Cherry Red Productions. Based upon the 1986 attack on Dan Rather and a December 2001 article in Harper’s magazine. Opens tomorrow at the Source Theatre. 202/298-9077.

• Lackawanna Blues — The Studio Theatre. The misfit characters who inhabit Nanny’s boarding house never stop talking about themselves, but ultimately the story they tell is a picture of a woman at the center of her community. Opens tomorrow. 202/332-3300.


• Bea’s Niece — MetroStage — **1/2. In David Gow’s play, novelist Anne Hirsch (Helen Hedman) has landed in the psych ward, in a deep state of depression and hallucinatory psychosis over her husband’s death from cancer the previous year. Her most vivid hallucination is an image of her Aunt Bea (Susan Ross), a vampy senior citizen who sassily clomps around the hospital room in fuschia-patterned high heels, toreador pants and a clingy leopard-print sweater. She also has a visit from her late husband, the whiny and passive-aggressive Bill (Tom Kearney), and in a revelatory scene relives with him his last day of agony. The top-notch ensemble is under the direction of Los Angeles hot shot Jessica Kubzansky, who stages the play with a crisp, impassioned theatricality that never rings false. But the play lacks the intellectual inquiry and rigor it requires, and keeps from the audience much that the audience needs to accept the plot’s twists and turns. Through Sunday. 703/218-6500. Reviewed by Jayne M. Blanchard.

• A Class Act — The Studio Theatre — **1/2. A tribute to the late Edward Kleban, the ultra-phobic Broadway composer and lyricist best known for his collaboration with Marvin Hamlisch on “A Chorus Line,” this musical revue is an upbeat coda to an often downbeat life and career. Mr. Kleban died of cancer at 48, leaving behind a trunk full of sparkling songs that were seldom — if ever — heard. Many of these songs form the basis of this show, which is structured as a memorial service to Mr. Kleban organized by his friends at New York City’s Shubert Theatre. Studio’s Serge Seiden directs with aggressive cheerfulness. There is an almost desperate — and self-defeating — insistence on Mr. Kleban’s status as a neglected genius. Relax, everybody, and just sing the songs. Through June 22. 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.

• Underneath the Lintel — Round House Theatre — ***. Glen Berger’s funny and gentle one-man play stars Jerry Whiddon, producing artistic director at Round House, in the inaugural production at Round House’s new space next door to the AFI’s Silver Theatre. Round House Silver Spring is a flexible, black box space seating 400 — and while the possibilities of the modified thrust stage are endless, the modern steel-and-black fabric chairs are a lesson in pain management. The winsome play tells the story of a once mild-mannered librarian in a small town in Holland who takes to heart a book returned 113 years overdue, seeking to track down the borrower, who he at last decides is the mythical Wandering Jew. You can see the unraveling of the librarian’s personality as he details his quest. Mr. Whiddon, directed with unfussy command by Jane Beard, brings fully to life the character’s nobility and quiet desperation. Through Sunday. 240/644-1100. Reviewed by Jayne M. Blanchard.MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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