- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 4, 2004


• Mary’s Wedding — Theater Alliance. Two young lovers must battle for their relationship during the chaos of World War I. Opens tonight at the H Street Playhouse. 800/494-8497.


• Beehive: The ‘60s Musical Sensation — Kennedy Center Terrace Theater — ***. If musicals like “Hairspray!” have whetted your appetite for ‘60s music, girl groups and hairdos that look like ice cream cones shellacked with Aqua-Net, then “Beehive” is the show for you. Six singers and a six-piece band thunder through more than 40 Top 40 hits from the ‘60s and early ‘70s, pausing only for breath and an impressive number of costume and wig changes. The frenetic-paced salute to girl power is a tuneful and totally mindless trip down the AM radio dial. Through Sunday. 202/467-4600. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• The Best Man — Potomac Theatre Project — *** . Gore Vidal’s cynical, incisive 1960 play is a standout political play, its wit and insight untarnished 40 years later. And this production is the most sprightly offering of the summerlong Potomac Theatre Festival. Directed with vinegary energy by Richard Romagnoli, Mr. Vidal’s dialogue crackles and remains remarkably topical. Yet the production is wildly uneven, with a few top-notch performances among others that are glaringly meager. The costumes are shoddy and not reflective of the era. The play, however, rises above the distractions and shortcomings. Through Sunday at Olney Theatre Center for the Arts. 301/924-3400. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• Cats — Toby’s Dinner Theatre — ***. Toby’s is one of the first theaters to try to re-create the kittenish allure of this Andrew Lloyd Webber musical warhorse, which premiered on Broadway in 1982. The intimacy of the space makes the show less of an empty spectacle and aligns it more closely with its source material, T.S. Eliot’s book “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.” Through Sunday. 410/730-8311. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• Copenhagen — Olney Theatre Center for the Arts — *** . Under the astute direction of Jim Petosa, Michael Frayn’s cerebral play is much warmer, passionate and involving than its cold and distancing Broadway version. “Copenhagen” takes place in the afterlife, as German physicist Werner Heisenberg (Christopher Lane) meets with his old mentor, Danish physicist Niels Bohr (Alan Wade) and Bohr’s wife Margrethe (Valerie Leonard). They rehash a day in late September 1941, when Heisenberg met with Bohr in German-occupied Copenhagen, and try to uncover the truth of what happened at that meeting. This is a coldly academic, grandly talky play, but these three bring it to warm life. Through Sunday. 301/924-3400. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• Measure for Measure — Potomac Theatre Project — . This is known as one of Shakespeare’s “problem plays” because of its queasy mix of unspeakable callousness and the trappings of romantic comedy. Director Chris Hayes tackles its oddities by shortening it to a snappy 90 minutes and taking whopping liberties with the ending. The bizarre result — a violent coup that involves a quadruple murder, and a rendition of “If You’re Happy and You Know It” — is more baffling than the original. The production is not helped by amateurish performances and cheesy, ill-fitting costumes. It leaves you with the question, “What were they thinking?” Through Sunday at Olney Theatre Center for the Arts. 301/924-3400. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• Merlin and the Cave of Dreams — Imagination Stage — ***. For the real scoop on Arthurian fables, forget the movie “King Arthur.” Instead, take in Imagination Stage’s moody and mystical play by British playwright Charles Way, who lives in a part of Wales not far from Merlin’s reputed birthplace. “Merlin” takes us back to a time when King Arthur was a glum and baffled adolescent, unsure of his true parentage and pressed by the wizard Merlin to step up to his kingly duties. The play conjures magic that goes beyond what can be performed with a wand and incantations. Through Sunday. 301/280-1660. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• Perfect Pie — Potomac Theatre Project — ****. This intriguing work by Canadian writer Judith Thompson is a memory play with a twist: A farmwife named Patsy kneads pastry dough and conjures the memory of a childhood friend, Marie, who saved her from a railway crash when both were 15. You are never sure whether Marie is dead or living the rich life Patsy has created for her. The play works either way but is a richer experience if you are comfortable imagining Marie as Patsy’s greatest confection, a life that might have been, and there is a certain beauty in their exchange, a life for a life. The play could use some judicious editing, but remains a moving and mysterious testament to the power of love and memory. Through Sunday at Olney Theatre Center for the Arts. 301/924-3400. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• The Producers — Kennedy Center Opera House — …1/2. The feel-great Mel Brooks musical that won a record 12 Tony Awards in 2002 arrives in Washington with all its jovial kitsch intact, and the bang-up team of Lewis J. Stadlen and Alan Ruck in the starring roles created by Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick on Broadway. Sieg-heiling pigeons, characters named “Touch Me Feel Me” and “Carmen Ghia,” an ersatz musical version of “Hamlet” and a song-and-dance extravaganza celebrating “Springtime for Hitler” are just some of its vulgar delights. What a relief to just laugh. Through Aug. 22. 202/467-4600. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.


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