- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 15, 2006

OPENING

• Katie Couric’s ‘The Brand New Kid’ — Kennedy Center Theater Lab. It’s the first day of second grade for Lazlo Gasky, and Ellie McSnelly risks being ridiculed to spend the afternoon with him in this adaptation of Katie Couric children’s book. Opens tomorrow. 202/467-4600.

• Legends — National Theatre. Two aging movie stars are courted to co-star in a Broadway show despite the fact that they have hated each other for decades. Opens Tuesday. 202/628-6161.

• The Producers — Warner Theatre. Mel Brooks’ Tony-winning musical about two corrupt producers attempting to stage the worst musical ever. Opens Tuesday. 202/397-SEAT.

• She Loves Me — Arena Stage, Fichandler Theater. The Broadway classic musical about unlikely Budapest sweethearts and the eccentric colleagues who aid and abet them. Opens tomorrow. 202/488-3300.

NOW PLAYING

• Equus — Washington Shakespeare Company — ***. Director Lee Mikeska Gardner takes a stylized approach to Peter Shaffer?s oft-performed 1973 play — a psychological detective story in which a child psychiatrist grapples with his own lack of passion as he tries to uncover the reasons why an adolescent blinded six horses with a metal spike. It’s powered by a pair of compelling performances: Christopher Henley?s itchy, fevered turn as the psychiatrist who has lost his sense of purpose, teamed with a volatile Jay Hardee as an adolescent whose pathological passion for horses has robbed him of peace. Signs posted at the theater warn of the use of ?nudity, fog and hay,? but don?t let a little hay keep you from savoring Miss Gardner?s high-pitched vision. Through Nov. 26. 703/418-4808.

• A Midsummer Night’s Dream — Folger Theatre — ***. Director Joe Banno’s glammed-up, 1930s-style take on Shakespeare’s classic is a delectable art deco fantasy with a Tinseltown feel, with sets that evoke a streamlined sumptuousness and exquisitely tailored, body-conscious costumes. Mr. Banno also borrows from more contemporary sources in his ironic use of 1930s hit parade ditties lip-synched by the actors. The cast is outstanding and the show’s look — like something Noel Coward would whip up for Gertrude Lawrence — draws you in. Through Dec. 3. 202/544-7077.

• Spring Forward, Fall Back — Theater J — **1/2. Esteemed critic Robert Brustein packs a lot of regret into this world-premiere 90 minutes as he embarks on a nostalgic, frequently unsparing, journey into his childhood, fatherhood as he experienced it and his own son’s early foray into child rearing. A sense of deep loss runs through the play: an ebbing away of life, the loss of Jewish culture and of a strong sense of family, a dwindling appreciation for the classical arts. It’s a noble and honest effort at making sense of one man’s life as he questions his upbringing and the way he raised his child. Through Nov. 26. 800/494-8497.

• Throat — Mead Theatre Lab — ***1/2. Mando Alvarado?s new play — a fearless, raw look at returning Iraq war veterans directed by Michael Ray Escamilla — focuses on two Marine vets, living catch-as-catch-can on the streets of Brooklyn, who face nightmares and the trauma of adjustment. Three exemplary actors — Raul Castillo and Todd Spicer as the vets and Lisa Sauber as a vibrant boozehound picked up in a bar — do more than justice to Mr. Alvarado’s slangy, profane, staccato dialogue. The play has its share of cliches and improbable occurrences, but it will get you in the gut. Though Saturday at Flashpoint. 212/352-3101. MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS


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