- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 11, 2005

OPENING

• Dora the Explorer Live! Dora’s Pirate Adventure Warner Theatre.— Dora, her cousin Diego, Boots the monkey and the rest of their friends embark on an exciting trip to Treasure Island. Opens Wednesday.5/18397-SEAT.

• Jason and the Argonauts Synetic Theater—. Jason becomes intoxicated by the beauty and sorcery of Medea, which drives them into a tangled web of witchcraft, fiery passion and bloodstained victory. Opens tomorrow5/13he Rosslyn Spectrum. 703/824-8060.

• Mamma Mia! — National Theatre. ABBA’s greatest musical hits woven into three love stories. Opens Tuesday. 800/447-7400.

• Of a Sunday Morning — Charter Theatre Company. Can one woman’s spiritual exploration threaten national security? Find out in this tale of a futuristic society so gripped by fear that every expression of thought is monitored. Opens tomorrow at the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts. 202/333-7009.

• Pacific Overtures — Signature Theatre. The Stephen Sondheim-John Weidman musical about America’s relationship with Japan, from 1853 to the present. Opens Tuesday. 703/218-6500.

• Take Me Out — Studio Theatre. The 2003 Tony-winning comedy that takes a hard-hitting look at celebrity, homophobia and the love of baseball. Opens Wednesday. 202/332-3300.

NOW PLAYING

• Beauty and the Beast— Toby’s Dinner Theatre —*** s• Disney’s Broadway musical is notorious for spectacle, but this small dinner theater captures its show-bizzy enchantment with ingenuity, economy, style and Broadway-caliber voices. This is decidedly kiddie fare, but adults, too, will respond favorably to the sophistication of the show’s lyrics and its message: Even the most beastly and odd among us can find love and acceptance. Through July 3. 301/596-6161. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

—The Clandestine Marriage— *** Folger Theatrestars Miscued lovers, financial arrangements gone kablooey and secrets badly kept by household servants are the impetus for laughter in David Garrick and George Colman’s 1766 comedy, in which everyone falls in love with the wrong person and matrimony is nothing but a hard-bargained trade pact. Director Richard Clifford’s staging is a fairy-tale confection seemingly fashioned out of marzipan and fondant icing. The entire cast shines, and Ted van Griethuysen proves again he is one of Washington’s acting treasures. Forget true love. Marriage is a bottom-line proposition, and the more conspicuous the wealth, the better. Through May 22. 202/554-7077. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

— —Electra *** • In Frank McGuinness’ harsh, militaristic rendering of Sophocles’ classic Greek tragedy about revenge, the high-born daughter of Clytemnestra and the murdered Agamemnon is a slave and a pariah in a plastic sensor ankle bracelet and tattered combat dress. Everyone thinks she is crazy, yet she demands to be heard. Under Michael Russotto’s fury-fueled direction, Jennifer Mendenhall plays Electra as an instrument of pure, honed passion, pared down to sinew and anxiety. Not to be believed is a particularly cruel form of madness, and Miss Mendenhall’s rage carries the play. Through May 29. 800/494-8497. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.—

—Perfectly Persephone: Little Greek Myth Imagination Stage ***1/• 2 Great Zeus! Imagination Stage and playwright Kevin Kling have taken on the herculean task of adapting Greek myths to a young, modern audience. The theme here, the burden of perfectionism, takes the perfect Persephone to the underworld, but the combination of Mr. Kling’s gently comedic writing and Janet Stanford’s direction draws out the fun. Imagination Stage trumps our expectations with a cast made up of disabled actors and those with conventional abilities to bring the Greek myths to life with an ambrosial quickness and lightness. Through May 29. 301/280-1660. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.—

—***The Piano Lesson Stage, Fichandler Theater • . August Wilson’s play about a Pittsburgh family’s battle over an heirloom piano carved with the faces of ancestors whether to keep it as a reminder of the old ones’ struggles with slavery or sell it and so cast off the white man is saturated with the playwright’s bluesy poetry and vivid characters. Director Seret Scott brings out the fullness of the play’s humor and the emotional friction between the two central characters, a brother and sister. Harriett D. Foy is a powerhouse as the strong-willed sister, and the music of Mr. Wilson’s play comes through loud and clear. Through SundayMay15—. 202/488-3300. Reviewed by Jayne Blanchard.

— ****The Shakespeare Theatre This snazzy new production of Shakespeare’s play spices the Bard’s sometimes confusing drama with a bracing blend of exoticism and world politics. By re-imagining a Shakespearean spirit world populated by a pan-African Ariel and a comically Saddam-like Caliban, director Kate Whoriskeycq draws fresh attention to Shakespeare’s dominant themes of sin, forgiveness and transformative redemption. The sheer theatricality of the production’s colorful pinwheels, primitive monsters and aerial derring-do helps transform this “Tempest” into a thoughtfully entertaining evening of theater. Through May 22. 202/547-1122. Reviewed by T.L. Ponick.MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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