- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 24, 2005

OPENING

• The Disputation Theatre J—. A British play, set in 13th-century Barcelona, that re-createsAPtime when faith-based missionary zeal challenged the existence of a questioning, nonconformist community. Opens Wednesday at the D.C. Jewish Community Center. 800/494-8497.

• My Fair Lady — Wolf Trap Filene Center. A new production of the award-winning Lerner and Loewe Broadway classic. Opens Tuesday. Information 703/938-2404, tickets 703/218-6500.

• Othello — The Shakespeare Theatre. Shakespeare’s tragedy of a love destroyed by jealousy. Opens Tuesday. 202/547-1122.

NOW PLAYING

• The Lion King — France-Merrick Performing Arts Center— **** sTaymor’s brilliant stage adaptation of the Disney animated movie brings the entire African savannawebster sted -ah to pulsing, heat-struck life through the use of African masks, headdresses, textiles and puppetry ranging from traditional marionettes and life-size animal figures to bunraku and shadow-puppet forms. The vibrantly beautiful musical is as visually and musically dazzling as it was when it premiered in 1997. Artistry, spectacle, a terrific score and a talented acting ensemble combine to make it that rarest of beasts, a perfect musical. Through Sept. 4 at 12 N. Eutaw St., Baltimore. 410/547-7328. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• —The Miracle Worker— Olney Theatre Center for the Arts **1stars Olney opens its splendid new Mainstage theater with a perfectly respectable production of William Gibson’s 1959 play, starring adult actress Carolyn Pasquantonio as the blind and deaf Helen Keller as a child and MaryBeth Wise as her fiery, opinionated young teacher Annie Sullivan. The battle of wits between teacher and pupil is sometimes dynamic, but Miss Pasquantonio is a bit too mature to be convincing as a child monstrously frustrated by her limitations. The same goes for Miss Wise, who projects sophistication and wisdom when, in fact, Annie was not much more than a girl herself. The whole idea of two young people leading each other to knowledge gets lost. You never get the sense of a deep, symbiotic connection between Helen and Annie, and so much of the emotional intimacy is compromised. Through Sept. 11. 301/924-3400. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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