- The Washington Times - Friday, January 30, 2009

NOW PLAYING

Les MiserablesSignature Theatre — ★★★ The turntable? You hardly miss it in Signature Theatre’s emotive, blood-and-guts staging of the megamusical “Les Miserables,” directed by Eric Schaeffer and scaled down to fit in the 280-seat Max Theatre. Mr. Schaeffer’s visceral approach to the material differs from the unfolding magisterial spectacle of the Broadway show. At Signature, there’s no distance between you and the action, so you can almost smell the gunfire, the sweat of the great Gallic unwashed and the scent of spilled blood and red wine. Through Feb. 22. 703/573-7328

The Little Dog LaughedSignature Theatre — A delectably caustic comedy of manners that satirizes the movie industry and our citizenry’s relentless pursuit of happiness. Playwright Douglas Carter Beane is a throwback to such noted wordsmiths as Noel Coward and S.J. Perelman in the sophisticated sparkle of his writing. Adding to the fizz of Signatures production of “Little Dog,” directed by Michael Baron, is a dandy ensemble cast, including Holly Twyford, Matthew Montelongo, Casie Platt and Ivan Quintanilla, who are more than up to the physical and mental gymnastics the comedy demands. Through March 8. 703/573-7328

Zomo the Rabbit: A Hip-Hop Creation MythImagination Stage — ★★★½ This hare-raisingly entertaining show, written and directed by District hip-hop artist Psalmayene 24, features a main character who is a natural successor to the wisecracking coolness of Bugs Bunny. Clever rapper Zomo (Baye Harrell, adroitly playing a rascal with an upright side) is plagued not by the likes of Elmer Fudd and Wile E. Coyote, but by his conscience. After being “dissed and dismissed” by a barnyard clique, Zomo seeks the help of the Sky God (a composed and radiant Tuyet Thi Pham, who reveals comedic chops in a bit where she performs “Flamingo-yoga” at a downtown studio). Some of the aspects of turning African lore into contemporary street culture seem like a stretch, but Psalmayene 24 shows an abundance of creativity and bigheartedness in his rapping dialogue and his evocation of the District as a hip-hop paradise. Through March 8. 301/280-1660

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

Compiled by Jayne Blanchard

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