- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 21, 2005

OPENING

• Evita Warner Theatre—. Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s award-winning musical that tells the story of the most powerful woman in South America, Eva Peron. Opens Tuesday.12/2797-SEAT.

NOW PLAYING

• The Comedy of Errors — The Shakespeare Theatre Company — ***1/2 Comic anarchy rules in this riotous production featuring surreal sets and silent-movie fantasy costumes. The design echoes director Dougles Wager’s vision of the play as a world where the familiar and knowable suddenly can give way to a mind-bending parallel universe where nothing is as it seems. So much of the play depends on the inventiveness of the actors and the mad extremes to which the director is willing to go. Mr. Wager stops at nothing, even having the Marx Brothers and Dali make an impromptu appearance in the antic second act. The production does not tax the intellect, but your funny bone will get a great workout. Through Jan. 8. 202/547-1122. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• Cuttin’ Up — Arena Stage, Kreeger Theater — ***. Writer-director Charles Randolph-Wright fondly portrays the barbershop as the go-to place in the black community for news, history and fellowship. A hefty spritz of schmaltz accompanies the talcum powder in this warm and poetic look at a neighborhood institution, but a vibrant cast keeps the play from sinking into sitcom sudsiness. You may not look better after spending some time with the barbers at D.C.’s fictitious Howard’s Barbershop, but you will certainly feel better. Through Jan. 1. 202/488-3300. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• Damn Yankees — Arena Stage, Fichandler Theater — ***. The bubbly 1955 musical, about a middle-aged, rabid Washington Senators fan who sells his soul to the devil to get his team to win the pennant, is an exuberant throwback to a time of innocence. Arena artistic director Molly Smith gives us colorful, no-holds-barred choreography and high-spirited singing for a kicky, kitsch-y vision of the 1950s. And if you’re willing to excuse the era’s dismissive treatment of any woman not a vamp, “Damn Yankees” can be terrific fun. Through Feb. 5. 202/488-3300. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

• Mame — Toby’s Dinner Theatre — ***. Has your tinsel lost its twinkle? Free-spirited auntie Mame (Cathy Mundy) and her cohorts in the whoopee-driven life will put you in the proper seasonal mood with this spry production of Jerry Herman’s musical about the jazz baby from the Roaring ‘20s who is determined to live each moment to the fullest. Mr. Herman’s music and lyrics shine with a sis-boom-bah brand of optimism that wins you over with their unremitting good cheer. The show is old-fashioned in structure, melody, and its drive to deliver a feel-good musical. No sense in resisting — old timey can be timeless, particularly during the holiday season. Through Feb. 19. 800/88TOBYS. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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