- The Washington Times - Friday, April 25, 2008


• Antony and Cleopatra — The Shakespeare Theatre at Sidney Harman Hall The ill-fated love affair, one of Shakespeare’s last great tragedies. The “Roman” series; in repertory with “Julius Caesar.” Opens tomorrow. Through July 6. 202/547-1122

m Julius Caesar — The Shakespeare Theatre at Sidney Harman Hall The life-and-death struggle for power in Rome in Shakespeare’s political thriller. The “Roman” series; in repertory with “Antony and Cleopatra.” Opens Sunday. Through July 6. 202/547-1122


• Death of a Salesman — Arena Stagein Crystal City — *** Rick Foucheux embodies the tragic aspects of Willy Loman in a towering, gutsy performance. Nancy Robinette as Willy’s helpmate wife, Linda, is as watchfully aware and resourceful as she is caring. Jeremy S. Holm’s staggering, Stanley Kowalski-like Biff isn’t trapped merely in his father’s inflated ambitions for him, but in his own brutal physicality as well. The tangled dreams of father and son; their intense, injured love for each other; and the family’s legacy of lies and aggrieved loyalty imbue “Death of a Salesman” with weary transcendence. Through May 18. 202/488-3300

• The Happy Time — Signature Theatre — *** Signature’s winsome chamber-musical revival of the seldom seen 1968 Kander and Ebb show “The Happy Time” is both a coming-of-age story for a young boy (the excellent Jace Casey) and the end of a protracted adolescence for the show’s hero, Jacques (Michael Minarik), a jaunty reprobate. Directed by Michael Unger, this revision brings back four numbers snipped from the original Broadway production (a Tony winner for star Robert Goulet and director-choreographer Gower Champion). “The Happy Time” is about nostalgia and smudged memory, and the score is appropriately Old World and sentimental, from the carousel strains detected in the waltz rhythms of the catchy title tune to the can-can naughtiness of “Catch My Garter” and the bittersweet tinge of “I Don’t Remember You.” Through June 1. 703/573-7328

• The History Boys — Studio Theatre — ***1/2 Alan Bennett’s play considers in a hugely enjoyable and thought-provoking fashion the question of whether the purpose of education is inspiration or a leg up on life. A hit on both London’s West End and Broadway, “The History Boys” gets the Joy Zinoman treatment at Studio Theatre in a fluid, stirring production that emphasizes the social and political aspects of the play. Taking a subdued, reserved approach to the beloved Hector, the kind of teacher one never forgets, Floyd King provides the audience with one emotional high after another. Through May 18. 202/232-3200.

• Looking for Roberto Clemente Imagination Stage*** This world-premiere children’s musical features a buoyant rock score that harkens back to the days of the Jackson Five and 1970s supergroups with tuneful lessons that delve into the nature of heroism. Set in Pittsburgh in 1972, it centers on the impact Clemente’s 3,000th hit has on the life of Sam, an 11-year-old fan, and his friends. Sam is a slugger in his mind and nervous on the field, so when a baseball crashes through his window while he’s listening to the landmark game on his transistor radio, he believes it is Clemente’s ball and imbues it with magical powers. Baseball lovers will find this show irresistible, and the music and engaging and effervescent performances will captivate even the sports-shy. Through June 1. 301/280-1660.

• 1776 — Olney Theatre — ***1/2 Life, liberty, and the pursuit of zestiness mark this production without a whit of the wax-museum mustiness that sometimes clings to restagings of this 1969 Founding Fathers musical. Director Stephen Nachamie and an exuberant cast bring fire and passion to this seminal chapter of American history charting the epic struggles leading to the Continental Congress’ decision to declare independence from Britain. It’s more of a docudrama with songs than a sung-through musical, and you may find your eyelids growing leaden during protracted scenes in which John Adams tries to get a majority rule or the Congress debates various issues. Happily, these trapped-in-American History-class moments pass pleasantly and are leavened by the flag-waving production numbers. Through May 11. 301/924-3400

• The Stephen Schwartz Project — MetroStage — ** The cast’s youthful appeal and skill with the demands of full-out Broadway-style singing are a plus, especially if you are a fan of the uncomplicated, emotional bombast of Mr. Schwartz’s compositions in the shows “Godspell,” “Pippin” and “Wicked.” Conceived and directed by Michael J. Bobbitt, the show is a bloated grab bag of tap-dancing (inept and clunky), interpretive dance, artistic flinging of glow-in-the-dark sticks, hip-hop, disco, cane-twirling and roller-skating. Taking it down a few notches would make this musical something that does not bring tears to your eyes for all the wrong reasons. Through May 25. 800/494-8497

• A View From the Bridge — Arena Stage in Crystal City — ***1/2 Obsessive love taints the family dynamic and modest ambitions of Eddie Carbone (Delaney Williams), a Brooklyn longshoreman and the injured heart of this searing, startlingly alive production of Arthur Miller’s play. The dark depths of Eddie’s attraction for his niece Catherine (the disturbingly guileless Virginia Kull) boil over when his wife’s illegal Sicilian immigrant cousins, Marco (a brooding, tightly coiled Louis Cancelmi) and Rodolpho (blond, dapper and charming David Agranov) join the household and Catherine falls in love with the latter. Mr. Williams unforgettably portrays Eddie as a big palooka struggling to express himself in words and disintegrating before our eyes. Daniel Aukin’s direction emphasizes the effect of too many bodies crammed into tight spaces. Through May 17. 202/ 488-3300


Jayne Blanchard

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