- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 11, 2007

OPENING

• Coriolanus — Royal Shakespeare Company. Coriolanus’ prideful isolation becomes his downfall as he plots to unleash a bloody crusade of vengeance. Opens tomorrow at the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater. 202/467-4600.

• Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue — GALA Hispanic Theatre. Elliot Ruiz returns from his military duty in Iraq and soon realizes how his experiences unite him with his father and grandfather. In English with Spanish subtitles. Opens tonight at the Tivoli Theatre. 202/234-7174.

• I Am My Own Wife — Olney Theatre Center. A one-man show that follows Charlotte von Mahldorf and her triumph over the brutalities of both the Nazis and the Communists. Opens Wednesday. 301/924-3400.

• A Man For All Seasons — Keegan Theatre. Robert Bolt’s play about Sir Thomas More, who faces down Henry VIII in his effort to divorce Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn. Opens tonight at the Church Street Theater. 703/892-0202.

• The Merry Widow — Washington Savoyards. Franz Lehar’s operetta about a young, wealthy widow who must decide whether to stay in her home country and keep it afloat financially or follow her heart. Opens tonight at Atlas Performing Arts Center. 202/399-7993.

• Mill Town Girls — Quotidian Theatre Company. The unlikely friendship between a reluctant shutterbug and a heavy metal preacher’s child. Opens tomorrow at the Writer’s Center, Bethesda. 301/816-1023.

• The Musical of Musicals, The Musical! — MetroStage. One story becomes five different musicals in this comedic parody. Opens tonight, 800/494-8497.

NOW PLAYING

• Ah, Wilderness! — Center Stage — **. Eugene O’Neill’s nostalgic comedy about youthful rebellion and familial tolerance is largely lost in the woods in this bumpy production. Some of the cast seem to be on intimate terms with Mr. O’Neill’s wistfully autobiographical play about the Millers, an idealized family living in a seaside Connecticut town in 1906. Others seem to have first met each other shortly before curtain time. The rhythms are thrown off to such a point that when the Millers gather, you are not bathed in the glow of a loving and supportive family but glad you are sitting a safe distance away. Through Sunday at 700 N. Calvert St., Baltimore. 410/986-4008.

• Eubie! — Olney Theatre Center — **. Director Tony Parise’s revamped edition of the original 1978 Broadway production, a celebration of the legacy of the famous black Baltimorean musical pioneer Eubie Blake, sputters when it should sizzle. Just two of the nine cast members show any skill at tap-dancing. The ensemble, in ill-fitting costumes, shows so little affinity for Mr. Blake’s catchy ditties or even the complexities of ragtime music that they might as well be singing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Pitch problems, wobbly vocals and a few instances of miscasting make ragtime a drag time in this “Eubie.” Through April 29. 301/924-3400.

• Family Secrets — Theater J — ***1/2. Sherry Glaser’s solo turn exploring love and neurosis in the five members of a Jewish family became Off Broadway’s longest-running one-woman show in 1993. Now reprised, it’s still filled with hilarious and heart-catching moments. Miss Glaser transforms herself into a Buddha-bellied accountant, a housewife who mistook her son for Jesus, a frantically angry teen, a New Age daughter, and a grandma savoring a late-in-life marriage. All share a New York nasal whine, a rebelliousness and a sense of humor as dry as yesterday’s matzo. And all carry the message that love and family are all that matters, regardless of how miserable and inconvenient they may seem. Through Sunday at the D.C. Jewish Community Center. 800/494-8497.

• Meet John Doe — Ford’s Theatre — ** This uneven new work, a world-premiere musical adaptation of Frank Capra’s classic 1941 film — about a Depression-era schmo who becomes a beacon of hope when he steps into the role of a fictional Everyman cooked up by a newspaper columnist — shows how difficult it is to craft a stage musical. Theatrical artistry abounds, but music and lyrics are doggedly unmemorable, the play’s structure is awkward and neither of the lead characters is convincing. You just don’t buy it. Through April 29. 202/347-4833.

• The Pillowman — Studio Theatre — ****. The images in “The Pillowman” are ghastly enough to make even John Waters, the prince of puke, want to lose his lunch. Sick, twisted, profoundly disturbing — these are high accolades for Martin McDonagh’s Grand Guignol masterpiece about the power of story. Mr. McDonagh, a playwright who usually confines himself to squalid visions of modern Ireland, turns to the horror genre for “The Pillowman,” giving Stephen King and Clive Barker fierce competition with 10 grisly little stories he concocts as a through line for a theatrical work that moves as seamlessly as a morbid musical under Joy Zinoman’s thrilling direction at Studio Theatre. Through April 29. 202/332-3300.

• She Stoops to Comedy — Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company — ***. David Greenspan’s tongue-in-cheeky farce, a vastly entertaining gender-bending play within a play, is about the creative process of writing and staging a play as well as a riotous pastiche of allusions to Shakespeare’s cross-dressing romantic comedies; to Anton Chekhov, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf and Gertrude Stein; and to the campy drag works of Charles Busch and Charles Ludlam. Artistic director Howard Shalwitz maintains an atmosphere of carefully controlled mayhem, knowing when to hem in the cast and when to let them go brilliantly bonkers. It gets bogged down a bit in the disjointed second act, but when it’s firing on all cylinders there isn’t a funnier or more exuberantly acted show in town. Through April 29. 202/393-3939.

• That Championship Season — American Century Theater — **. Jason Miller’s hairy-chested 1972 play, about the 20th reunion of a high school basketball coach and his winning team that sinks beneath self-loathing and dissension, seethes with the acrid anger of men who blame everyone and everything but themselves. This intense and uneven production, set now in a small Southern city with an all-black cast, doesn’t try to temper the work’s salty language and vehemently anti-Semitic and misogynistic sentiments. The acting acumen varies erratically, with stumbling and sub-par performances from most of the cast. More consistent acting would have helped, but as it stands it isn’t even a contender. Through April 28 at Gunston Theater II. 703/553-8782. MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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