The weekly feature of what's happening on Washington stages.
Going to miss Tina Fey's hilarious "Mean Girls" after the new musical closes Sunday at the National Theatre, but bet they'll be back some day. The wide offerings this week range from the expansive airport setting of "Twelfth Night" at the Shakespeare Theatre Company to Forum Theatre's intimate Bulgarian-penned political experiment "The State."
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"The Book of Will." A new play by "I and You" author Lauren Gunderson — "the most-produced living playwright in America" for the 2016-17 season, according to American Theatre magazine — about Shakespeare's First Folio. Through Dec. 24 at Round House Theatre, 4545 East-West Hwy., Bethesda. Tickets $36-$65. Call 240-644-1100 or visit roundhousetheatre.org.
"Curve of Departure." Family members gathering in New Mexico for a funeral, by "The Wolfe Twins" writer Rachel Bonds. Through Jan. 7 at Studio Theatre, 1501 14th St. NW. Tickets $52-$90. Call 202-332-3300 or visit studiotheatre.org.
"Draw the Circle." Mashuq Deen's solo show about his transgender journey in a Muslim-American family; in rep at Mosaic Theater with "The Real Americans." Dec. 1-24 at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H Street, NE. Tickets $35-$65. Call 202-399-7993 or visit mosaictheater.org.
"The Last Night of Ballyhoo." Alfred Uhry's 1997 Best Play Tony winner about a Jewish family in 1939 Atlanta, staged by rising D.C. director Amber McGinnis. Through Dec. 31 at Theater J in the DCJCC, 1539 16th St. NW. Tickets $30-$65. Call 202-777-3210 or visit theaterj.org.
"Peekaboo! A Nativity Play." A contemporary premiere by Anne M. McCaw. Hub Theater, 9431 Silver King Court, Fairfax. Tickets $32. Call 703- or visit thehubtheatre.org.
"Private Confessions." Liv Ullmann directs a stage adaptation of her 1996 Ingmar Bergman-penned film, dealing with Bergman's mother's diary. From the National Theater of Norway, performed in Norwegian with English surtitles. Dec. 6-9 at the Kennedy Center's Eisenhower Theater. Tickets $19-$49. Call 202-467-4600 or visit kennedy-center.org.
"Amazing Grace." "The mortal sin is that it's a musical without musicians — computer software somehow 'plays' the score — but that's not all. The largely true but plodding melodrama of John Newton, the British slave trader who ultimately repented and wrote the famous hymn, is so slow-moving and cliched that you'd swap it for a windy sermon." Read the review. Through Jan. 7 at the Museum of the Bible, 409 3rd St SW. Tickets $85-$100. Call 202-848-1600 or visit museumofthebible.org.
"Annie." "The rapport between Kevin McAllister's commanding Daddy Warbucks and Noelle Robinson's plucky Annie is by far the best thing in Olney Theatre Center's dutiful revival. Annie's ballad 'Maybe' and her anthem 'Tomorrow' are American musical cornerstones that every kid should hear, but that doesn't quite vindicate Olney taking a second run at the show in seven years." (Nelson Pressley) Read the review. Through Dec. 31 at the Olney Theatre Center, 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Rd., Olney, Tickets $47-$84. Call 301-924-3400 or visit olneytheatre.org.
"The Book of Merman." A satire performed by Landless Theater Company. Through Dec. 8 at DC Arts Center, 2438 18th St. NW. Tickets $25. Visit landlesstheatre.com.
"A Child's Christmas in Wales and Other Stories." "Poetry and prose by A.A. Milne, Louisa May Alcott, Charles Dickens and Dylan Thomas, with a few tunes and Christmas-themed historical anecdotes tossed in for good measure." (Celia Wren) Read the review. Through Dec. 17 at The Undercroft Theatre, 900 Massachusetts Avenue NW. Tickets $50-$60. Call 240-582-0050 or visit stageguild.org.
"A Christmas Carol." "Craig Wallace's grand scowl anchors the holiday staple at Ford's. The show's accents don't consistently send you to Dickens's London, but the bustling ghost story is still writ large (a cast of roughly two dozen, with several big spooky effects) in Michael Baron's extravagant production." (Nelson Pressley) Through Dec. 31 at Ford's Theatre, 511 10th St. NW. Tickets $$24-$107. Call 888-616-0270 or visit fords.org.
"A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story of Christmas." "A friendly one-man show that faithfully sticks to the Dickens novella over its swift two hours. Paul Morella stands alone on a shadowy stage, looking you in the eye as cranky old Ebenezer Scrooge begins his jittery night." (Nelson Pressley) Read the review. Through Dec. 31 at the Olney Theatre Center, 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Rd., Olney. Tickets $40. Call 301-924-3400 or visit olneytheatre.org.
"Christmas at the Old Bull and Bush." "Carol singalongs, sketches, World War I songs, music-hall tunes and cheerfully creaky jokes ('You've heard of King Lear? I played his brother: Chandelier'). 'Me Little Yo-Yo,' about a marital crisis triggered by the loss of a toy, is one example of the show's abundant, not-very-naughty double entendres." (Celia Wren) Read the review. Through Dec. 24 at MetroStage, 1201 N. Royal St., Alexandria. Tickets: $55-$60. Call 703-548-9044 or visit metrostage.org.
"A Coffin in Egypt" and "St. Nicholas." Horton Foote's "Coffin," about a 90 year old widow, plays on alternate nights with Connor McPherson's "St. Nicholas," about a drama critic's adventures. Through Dec. 17 at The Writer's Center, 4508 Walsh Street, Bethesda. Tickets $30. Call 301-816-1023 or visit quotidiantheatre.org.
"Crazy For You." "The razzmatazzy 1992 remake of George and Ira Gershwin's 'Girl Crazy.' Signature's production offers up some heady demonstrations of tap, and there's
even one heavenly number in which the ensemble wittily takes up washboards, saws, hooch jugs and emery boards to keep the beat. But you're given too much opportunity on this occasion to examine plastic emotions under a microscope." (Peter Marks) Read the review. Through Jan. 14 at Signature Theatre, 4200 Campbell Ave., Shirlington. Tickets $40-$108, subject to change. Call 703-820-9771 or visit sigtheatre.org.
"Misterman." "The rawness of this loft is right for Enda Walsh's twisted story of personality disorder fueled by isolation and anguish. Thomas Keegan easily conjures a sense of Magill's innocence, yet this vigorous actor is not able to surround himself as convincingly with demons." (Peter Marks) Read the review. Through Dec. 9 at Dance Loft on 14, 4618 14th Street NW. Tickets $35-$45. Visit solasnua.org.
"My Name Is Asher Lev." Aaron Posner's adaptation of the Chaim Potok novel, directed by Nick Olcott. "Illuminates the stubborn bravery of the title character, a young Hasidic Jewish artist who must flouts the values of his devout community to realize his vision. Asher's courage is cheering, yet you reel at the emotional and spiritual cost of his choice." (Celia Wren) Read the review. Through Dec. 17 at 1st Stage, 1524 Spring Hill Rd., McLean. Tickets $15-$33. Call 703-854-1856 or visit 1ststagetysons.org.
"Nina Simone: Four Women." "The blasted wreckage of Birmingham's 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963 is the setting for this gripping play with music, and it's the perfect frame for the simmering, imperious fury of Harriett D. Foy as singer-activist Nina Simone. Christina Ham's script can be diagrammatic, but the Civil Rights-era how shall we resist arguments still slice into the audience, as do the intermittent musical performances." (Nelson Pressley) Read the review. Through Dec. 24 at Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth St. SW. Tickets $40-$111, subject to change. Call 202-488-3300 or visit arenastage.org.
"Nothing to Lose (But Our Chains)." "A memoir by performer Felonius Munk, and it's funny. It's Munk's a tell-all about dealing drugs, shooting a man and serving six years in prison, and his conscience keeps popping up to contradict some of the evidence — so it's serious, too. That double-barreled approach makes 'Nothing to Lose' arguably the finest work the busy Second City has done in D.C." (Nelson Pressley) Read the review. Through Dec. 31. at Woolly Mammoth, 641 D St. NW. Tickets $49-$69, subject to change. Call 202-393-3939 or visit woollymammoth.org.
"The Pajama Game." "Doesn't make the mistake of trying to change the musical comedy's vintage stripes. The mere appearance of 'A Chorus Line' Tony winner Donna McKechnie as office secretary Mabel gives the audience a lift, and choreographer Parker Esse has playground fun in the picnic dance bonanza. But the exacting machinery isn't quite there." (Nelson Pressley) Read the review. Through Dec. 24 at Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth St. SW. Tickets $40-$120, subject to change. Call 202-488-3300 or visit arenastage.org.
"The Real Americans." "A heartland mosaic channeled through solo writer-performer Dan Hoyle's inquisitive (and liberal) perspective; the wiry Hoyle plays people he met on the road over the past several years of political tumult. When it clicks, it's just what you want to hear: all-over-the-map voices making sense of what seems to be the country's spinning compass." (Nelson Pressley) Read the review. Through Dec. 17 at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE. Tickets $45-$65. Call 202-399-7993 or visit mosaictheater.org.
"The State." "An absorbing theatrical experiment. The politically acute Forum Theatre presents Bulgarian writer Alexander Manuiloff's concept: no actors. No director. An audience of about 50 sits in a circle. There is a script and one important character: Plamen Goranov, a real person who in 2013 fatally set himself on fire as a public protest of Bulgarian poverty and corruption." (Nelson Pressley) Read the review. Through Dec. 3 at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company's Rehearsal Hall, 641 D St. NW. Tickets $30-$35. Visit forum-theatre.org.
"Twelfth Night." "Ethan McSweeny's production turns the Shakespeare Theatre Company's Harman Hall into an airport departure lounge, and the transportation calamity that dumps into Illyria the resourceful Viola (here, played vibrantly by Antoinette Robinson) is one movingly redolent of contemporary dread. A marvelous, comprehensive atlas of the comic world Shakespeare offers up." (Peter Marks) Read the review. Through Dec. 20 at the Shakespeare Theatre Company's Sidney Harman Hall, 610 F St. NW. Tickets $25-$118, subject to change. Call 202-547-1122 or visit shakespearetheatre.org.
"The Ugly One." Nu Sass Productions takes on the satire about what happens when a man gets plastic surgery, by German writer Marius von Mayenburg. Through Dec. 17 at Caos on F, 923 F St. NW. Tickets $30. Visit nusass.com.
"The Dog in the Manger." From the small-scale classics troupe We Happy Few. "Lope de Vega's 17th-century comedy about love and rank. The directors fail to adequately reconcile the cast's hodgepodge of acting modes, which include some antic and slapstick choices, not to mention rampant mugging." (Celia Wren) Read the review. Through Dec. 2 at Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, 545 7th St. SE. Tickets $15. Call 757-999-0418 or visit wehappyfewdc.com.
"Mean Girls." "A jolt of super-energized adolescent hyper-viciousness, with a snazzy video screenscape thrown in, along with a big chorus of Red Bull-powered hip-hopping high school dancers. The musical has some shoring up to do, principally in a score with too little melodic variation. Still, a witty groundwork has been effectively laid." (Peter Marks) Read the review. Through Dec. 3 at the National Theatre, 1321 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Tickets $48-$128. Call 202-628-6161 or visit thenationaldc.org.
"Top Girls." "Caryl Churchill's 1982 'Top Girls' is still breathtaking as women ranging from the 9th-century Pope Joan to 13th-century concubine Lady Nijo and Victorian-era explorer Isabella Bird gather for a vivacious dinner party hosted by a modern employment agency manager who is celebrating a promotion. The acting is notably sensitive and
intelligent, especially in the imaginative opening act and during the earthy realistic sisterly showdown of Act 3, which crackles with surprisingly up-to-the-minute political friction." Read the review. Through Dec. 2 at Keegan Theatre, 1742 Church St. NW. Tickets $45. Call 202-265-3767 or visit keegantheatre.com.
"Vicuña & The American Epilogue." "The first top-drawer political play of the Trump era. Even though it's satire, it takes the presidential contender, here named Kurt Seaman, deadly seriously. And it portrays those close to him not as cardboard-cutout toadies, but as desperate comic characters spinning around the drain of an enveloping cataclysm." (Peter Marks) Read the review. Through Dec. 3 at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE. Tickets $20-$65. Call 202-399-7993 or visit mosaictheater.org.
TYA: Theater for Young Audiences
"Charlotte's Web." The E.B. White classic about Wilbur the pig, with live music and aerial silks. Through Jan. 7 at Imagination Stage, 4908 Auburn Ave., Bethesda. Tickets $14-$32. Call 301-280-1660 or visit imaginationstage.org.
"Frosty the Snowman." An adaptation for all ages, directed by Flying V's Jason Schlafstein. Through Dec. 31 at Adventure Theatre, 7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo. Tickets $19.50. Call 301-634-2270 or visit adventuretheatre-mtc.org.
"Me . . . Jane: The Dreams and Adventures of Young Jane Goodall." A premiere about the renowned animal rights activist, with a top-flight cast (including Sam Ludwig, Erin Weaver and Tracy Lynn Olivera), songs by Andy Mitton and choreography by Christopher d'Amboise. Nov. 18-Dec. 10 at the Kennedy Center's Family Theater. Tickets $20-$25. Call 202-467-4600 or visit kennedy-center.org.
READ MORE: A guide to current youth-friendly shows
The Capitol Steps. The longtime political satirists, tearing laughs from the headlines. Fridays and Saturdays in the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center Amphitheater, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Tickets $40.50. Call 202-397-7328 or visit www.capsteps.com.
"Holiday Follies." Signature Theatre's musical cabaret package, this year with Ines Nassara, David Rowen and Katie Mariko Murray. Dec. 5-16 at Signature Theatre, 4200 Campbell Ave., Shirlington. Tickets $35. Call 703-820-9771 or visit sigtheatre.org.
"Twist Your Dickens." The return of last year's holiday attraction from the comic troupe Second City. "Journeys not only through Scrooge's past and future, but also to the cutting-room floor where (we learn) an uncharacteristically pugnacious segment of 'A Charlie Brown Christmas' met its off-the-record end." (Celia Wren) Dec. 5-31 at the Kennedy Center's Theater Lab. Tickets $49-$59. Call 202-467-4600 or visit kennedy-center.org.
PROFILES OF THIS WEEK'S KENNEDY CENTER'S HONOREES:
NEW YORK NOTES:
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