Democracy Dies in Darkness

Theater & Dance

What you should be seeing in D.C. theater this week

By Nelson Pressley

June 28, 2018 at 12:45 PM

Jawan M. Jackson, James Harkness, Jeremy Pope, Derrick Baskin and Ephraim Sykes in Berkeley Repertory Theatre's Production of "Ain't Too Proud." (Doug Hamilton/)

Ain't Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations

You’ll love the way they move, the quintet of men (and sometimes more) who make up the fractious membership of one of the mightiest of all Motown R&B; singing groups in “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations.” The music, of course, is divine, but it’s Sergio Trujillo’s choreography, full of dazzling splits and hypnotically synchronized unisons, that lifts this jukebox musical above the ordinary. The story itself, though, is exactly what you’ve come to expect in this increasingly crowded corner of musical theater’s answer to Madame Tussauds: the ups and downs and ups and downs, onstage and off, of a platinum-plated pop phenomenon. Through July 22 at the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater. $59-$175. kennedy-center.org — Peter Marks

Will “Ain’t Too Proud” be better than other jukebox musicals?

Camelot

Staging the musical now in a Washington in turmoil gives it a deeper resonance. It helps that this altogether pleasurable Shakespeare Theatre Company revival recruits so many exceptional voices for a score rich in melodic treasures. The songs — “Camelot,” “C’est Moi,” “How to Handle a Woman,” “What Do the Simple Folk Do?” — belong to that joyfully transporting, velvety variety of Golden Age show tune that goes a long way to shoring up a show’s dramatic shortcomings. Through July 8 at the Shakespeare Theatre Company. $44-$118. — Peter Marks

“Camelot” breaks box office records at the Shakespeare Theatre Company

Related: [Theater listings]

Hamilton

Hamilton” may have taken three years to reach the Kennedy Center Opera House from its birthplace off-Broadway, but it feels as if Lin-Manuel Miranda’s masterwork had an appointment on the Potomac from the start. When Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson start rapping about the national debt and states’ rights, you know this hip-hop musical is so made for Washington that it could occupy its own monument on the Mall. And it’s not just any musical, but a work that’s both cool and wonky and without a doubt one of the great musicals of all time. Through Sept. 16 at the Kennedy Center. $99-$625. 202-467-4600 or kennedy-center.org. — Peter Marks

How Lin-Manuel Miranda commands the public platform

The Legend of Georgia McBride

The hugely enjoyable Round House Theatre production offers two particular pleasures. One is the thrill of watching a novice drag queen find her feet (and matching stilettos). The second is the delight of watching a drag queen who’s at the height of her glittery powers. In Matthew Lopez’s comedy, the show’s drag-spectacular and backstage-drama scenes dovetail with a sweet if slightly creaky story about art, honesty, open-mindedness, and being true to oneself. Through July 7 at Round House Theatre. $45-$65. — Celia Wren

More Elvis: Signature Theatre presents “Entirely Elvis,” a cabaret of hits

Rick Hammerly in “The Legend of Georgia McBride.” (Kaley Etzkorn/)

Other Life Forms

An amiable getaway — cheerful, bouncy, and with a bright sci-fi twist that once upon a time might have earned writer Brandon McCoy a scriptwriting invitation from “Mork and Mindy” or “Third Rock From the Sun.” McCoy isn’t blazing any new trails, but he’s earning his laughs in the brisk Keegan Theatre premiere directed by Shirley Serotsky; the wrinkle in the plot is that one of the play’s five characters is indeed an alien. Through July 7 at Keegan Theatre. $45. — Nelson Pressley

LAST CHANCE

Dancing in My Cockroach Killers

Less of a traditional musical than a dramatized poetry collection with accompaniment, this interesting, edgy, sometimes funny piece showcases six confident actors ­interpreting Magdalena Gómez’s striking texts, which riff on the Puerto Rican and Nuyorican experience. Featuring infectious Latin music by Desmar Guevara, “Dancing in My Cockroach Killers” is impressively idiosyncratic and bristles with feminist and anti-establishment attitude. Through July 1 at GALA Hispanic Theatre. $30-45. — Celia Wren

The Scottsboro Boys

The Kander and Ebb musical has its ardent admirers, many of whom decry the short shrift it got from Broadway theatergoers: It closed in 2010 after only 49 performances, a hugely disappointing outcome from the songwriting team that brought us “Chicago” and “Cabaret.” It now gets a polished revival at Signature Theatre that reinforces some of its melodic strengths but also, more broadly underlines its tiresome, repetitious preachiness. Through July 1 at Signature Theatre. $40-$110. — Peter Marks

Navigating minstrelsy in “The Scottsboro Boys”

“The Vagrant Trilogy” at Mosaic Theater Company. (Stan Barouh/)

The Vagrant Trilogy

You’ll have to set aside a goodly chunk of time — and for some, your preconceptions — to navigate all the compelling twists of Mona Mansour’s passionate, rewarding account of a Palestinian poetry professor buffeted by the disasters of statelessness. In the riveting performance of Hadi Tabbal as Adham, an ambitious academic of poignantly wavering self-belief — and unreliable documents — the production has its charismatic touchstone, a necessity in a work beseeching you to experience it as your most open-minded self. Through July 1 at Mosaic Theater Company. $20-$65. — Peter Marks

READ MORE:

Israeli playwrights turn to U.S. stages

“On the Town” at Olney Theatre Center

Jennifer Mendenhall’s play “#poolparty” at Ally Theater

Second’s City’s “Generation Gap” at Kennedy Center

Ethan McSweeny to head Staunton’s American Shakespeare Center

DC’s Forum Theater closes its doors

Washington summer theater guide

“Tempest” at WSC Avant Bard

“Swimming with Whales” at 1st Stage

Washington’s predictable patterns

Taking a shot at “Hamilton” tickets

NEW YORK NOTES:

The 2018 Tony Awards

Hits and misses from the Tonys, including DeNiro’s f-bomb

The year’s best plays — not on Broadway, so no Tony chances

“The Band’s Visit” is the little musical that could

“Harry Potter,” the Broadway version

“Mean Girls”: Better on Broadway

“Frozen,” the stage musical

The $20 million “SpongeBob” musical

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Nelson Pressley has covered theater for The Washington Post since 1999. His first Post byline was in 1992. His book "American Playwriting and the Anti-Political Prejudice" came out in 2014.

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Theater & Dance

What you should be seeing in D.C. theater this week

By Nelson Pressley

June 28, 2018 at 12:45 PM

Jawan M. Jackson, James Harkness, Jeremy Pope, Derrick Baskin and Ephraim Sykes in Berkeley Repertory Theatre's Production of "Ain't Too Proud." (Doug Hamilton/)

Ain't Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations

You’ll love the way they move, the quintet of men (and sometimes more) who make up the fractious membership of one of the mightiest of all Motown R&B; singing groups in “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations.” The music, of course, is divine, but it’s Sergio Trujillo’s choreography, full of dazzling splits and hypnotically synchronized unisons, that lifts this jukebox musical above the ordinary. The story itself, though, is exactly what you’ve come to expect in this increasingly crowded corner of musical theater’s answer to Madame Tussauds: the ups and downs and ups and downs, onstage and off, of a platinum-plated pop phenomenon. Through July 22 at the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater. $59-$175. kennedy-center.org — Peter Marks

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