The weekly feature of what’s happening on Washington stages.
A textbook “Death of a Salesman” is now up at Ford’s Theatre, while “The Arsonists” and “Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train” announced extensions further into October. Need a song in your heart? Try for tickets to the hot-selling “A Little Night Music” at Signature Theatre or “In the Heights” at the Olney Theatre Center.
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“An Act of God.” The David Javerbaum comedy that featured “The Big Bang”’s Jim Parsons as God on Broadway; Tom Story plays Him here. Oct. 3-Nov. 26 at Signature Theatre, 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington. Tickets $40-$104, subject to change. Call 703-820-9771 or visit sigtheatre.org.
“Are You Now or Have You Ever Been.” A blues-poetry portrait of Langston Hughes preparing to testify before Joseph McCarthy’s committee in the 1950s, by Carlyle Brown and with music by William Knowles. Oct. 5-Nov. 5 at MetroStage, 1201 N. Royal St., Alexandria. Tickets $55-$60. Call 800-494-8497 or visit metrostage.org.
“Assassins.” The Stephen Sondheim-John Weidman musical, staged by Pallas Theatre Collective (a separate “Assassins” begins Oct. 19 at Next Stop in Herndon). Oct. 5-15 at the Logan Fringe Arts Space’s Trinidad Theater, 1358 Florida Ave., NE. Tickets $25. Call 866-811-4111 or visit pallastheatre.org.
“The Effect.” A love story in an antidepressant milieu by British “Enron” playwright Lucy Prebble. Oct. 4-29 at Studio Theatre, 1501 14th St. NW. Tickets $20-$55. Call 202-332-3300 or visit studiotheatre.org.
“I’ll Get You Back Again.” The premiere of Sarah Gancher’s 1960s-tinged play with live rock music, directed by Rachel Chavkin of Broadway’s “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812.” Oct. 4-29 at Round House Theatre, 4545 East-West Hwy., Bethesda. Tickets $36-$65. Call 240-644-1100 or visit roundhousetheatre.org.
“Love and Information.” Forum Theatre artistic director Michael Dove stages the relentlessly inventive Caryl Churchill’s 2012 drama about modern information overload. A D.C. premiere. Through Oct. 21 at the Silver Spring Black Box, 8641 Colesville Rd, Silver Spring. Tickets $18-$38. Call 301-588-8279 or visit forum-theatre.org.
“The Lover/The Collection.” Michael Kahn begins his next-to-last season as the company’s artistic director with a double bill by Harold Pinter, following his 2011 venture with Pinter’s “Old Times.” Through Oct. 29 at the Lansburgh, 450 Seventh St. NW. Tickets $44-$118. Call 202-547-1122, 877-487-8849 or visit shakespearetheatre.org.
“The Mistress Cycle.” Portraits of five women across the centuries, including Anais Nin. Music by Jenny Giering, book and lyrics by Beth Blatt. Oct. 5-29 at Creative Cauldron, 410 S. Maple Avenue, Falls Church. Tickets $30. Call 703-436-9948 or visit creativecauldron.org.
“Our Town.” Directed by Aaron Posner of “Stupid F-ing Bird” and numerous Shakespearean stagings, including a “Measure for Measure” with puppets in supporting roles (Bunraku puppets will depict the supporting townspeople here). Oct. 4-Nov. 12 at the Olney Theatre Center, 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Rd. Tickets $54-$74. Call 301-924-3400 or visit olneytheatre.org.
“She Rode Horses Like the Stock Exchange.” Taffety Punk Theatre Company presents a comedy on couples and commerce, from Amelia Roper. Through Oct. 14 at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, 545 7th Street SE. Tickets $15. Call 202-355-9441 or visit taffetypunk.com.
“Sotto Voce.” Nilo Cruz’s drama, set against the backdrop of the German ocean liner St. Louis and its 900 Jewish refugees rebuffed at Cuba and Florida in 1939, premiered 2014 in New York. José Carrasquillo directs. Oct. 3-29 at Theater J, 1529 16th St. NW. Tickets $39-$69. Call 202-777-3210 or visit edjcc.org.
“Widowers’ Houses.” George Bernard Shaw is the Washington Stage Guild’s house playwright, and this is his first staged play, characteristically class-conscious. Through Oct. 22 at the Undercoft Theater, 900 Massachusetts Avenue, NW. Tickets $50-$60. Call 240-582-0050 or visit stageguild.org.
“The Arsonists.” “An unmistakable response to the stunning — and, to many, alarming — Trump electoral victory last fall, and it’s clear why director Michael John Garcés and Woolly Mammoth Artistic Director Howard Shalwitz (playing a nebbish whose home is invaded by arsonists) decided to stage it almost as soon as the November results were tallied. Max Frisch’s 1958 play, which evolved over nearly a decade and was a response to European countries succumbing to varieties of odious political domination, isn’t an explicit knockoff of a single party, ideology or leader. Its real target is any citizenry that rather lazily doesn’t respond.” (Nelson Pressley) Through Oct. 15 at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, 641 D St. NW. Tickets $34-$69, subject to change. Call 202-393-3939 or visit woollymammoth.net.
“Clover.” “Written by Laura Rocklyn and Ty Hallmark, ‘Clover’ is an informative and bustling but formally stodgy bio-drama about Marian ‘Clover’ Hooper Adams, the wife of Henry Adams. The play recounts Clover’s career as a society hostess in Washington, the solace she found in photography, and her eventual suicide. In the title role, Rocklyn suggests Clover’s intelligence, wit, nagging depression and frustration with life as a public figure.” (Celia Wren) Through Oct. 28 at Caos on F, 923 F St. NW. Tickets $25. Visit allytheatrecompany.org.
“Death of a Salesman.” “A serious performance, full of furrowed brows and impassioned arguments as Willy blusters about being ‘well liked,’ wife Linda soothes his rants, unemployed son Biff chafes at his dotard dad and the womanizing youngest son, Happy, pretends he’s happy. If you’ve never seen it, director Stephen Rayne’s staging feels textbook. The substantial wrinkle is the question posed by casting African American actor Craig Wallace in the lead role. Do the systemic capitalist pressures that Arthur Miller dramatized operate differently on this Willy Loman? Rayne’s production does not italicize the issue, but the show is not indifferent, either.” (Nelson Pressley) Through Oct. 22 at Ford’s Theatre, 511 10th St. NW. Tickets $17-$64. Call 202-347-4833 or visit fords.org.
“In the Heights.” Lin-Manuel Miranda’s 2008 Tony-winning musical, co-produced by the Olney Theatre Center and Round House Theatre. “An enjoyably faithful, warmhearted facsimile of the original Broadway show. As this incarnation, directed and choreographed by Marcos Santana, so replicates the sound, look and feel of its Broadway predecessor, you’re always comfortably aware of Miranda’s spirit circulating through the house … Robin De Jesús steps with pleasing confidence into Miranda’s own shoes to portray Usnavi, the lovelorn bodega owner who narrates the story of an eventful Fourth of July in Washington Heights.” (Peter Marks) Through Oct. 22 at the Olney Theatre Center, 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Rd., Olney. Tickets $37-$84. Call 301-924-3400 or visit olneytheatre.org.
“Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train.” “A bravura play, and perhaps 1st Stage’s finest work yet. The dialogue can be ear-scaldingly profane, and the heaven-or-hell speeches soar like theological arias. The show’s five actors consistently deliver Stephen Adly Guirgis’s high drama with an inspired mix of saltiness and soul.” (Nelson Pressley) Through Oct. 15 at 1st Stage, 1524 Spring Hill Rd., McLean. Tickets $15-$33. Call 703-854-1856 or visit 1ststagetysons.org.
“A Little Night Music.” “What director Eric Schaeffer and crew get so right here are all the risible wry personalities in a delightful waltz through the amorous follies of Swedish aristocrats and other randy, needy mortals. Justice to Sondheim’s most conventionally romantic musical goes unserved if the characters aren’t revealed to be robustly funny. Led by Holly Twyford as a most beguiling and comically self-aware Desiree Armfeldt —
vivacious touring actress and singer of ‘Send in the Clowns’ — Schaeffer’s cast meets the formidable challenge of behaving foolishly in high style.” (Peter Marks) Through Oct. 15 at Signature Theatre, 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington. Tickets $40-$104, subject to change. Call 703-820-9771 or visit sigtheatre.org.
“Native Gardens.” “An out-loud situation comedy rife with tiresome antics and characters that telegraph American tics minted circa 1957. The premise of Karen Zacarías’s utterly predictable play concerns the bruising battle over a property line in a Washington neighborhood. Fastidious gardening nut Frank (Steve Hendrickson) and volatile wife Virginia (Sally Wingert) face off against the new younger homeowners next door, lawyer Pablo (Dan Domingues) and expectant graduate student Tania (Jacqueline Correa). Yes, it’s the White Couple vs. the Latino Couple, together scrounging for broad yuks in a pair of back yards that might as well be seeded with trigger warnings.” (Peter Marks) Through Oct. 22 at Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth St. SW. Tickets $40-$111, subject to change. Call 202-488-3300 or visit arenastage.org.
“Skeleton Crew.” “The output of playwright Dominique Morisseau has finally found a Washington home — and on the evidence of ‘Skeleton Crew,’ it’s high time it occurred. Autoworkers of color in a cutthroat economy provide the characters and premise of Morisseau’s well-made play, set in the plant’s employee break room and dexterously mounted by director Patricia McGregor. Theatrical embroidery is mercifully kept to a minimum: this is ethics-driven meat-and-potatoes drama, in the Arthur Miller vein.” (Peter Marks) Through Oct. 8 at Studio Theatre, 1501 14th St. NW. Tickets $20-$85. Call 202-332-3300 or visit studiotheatre.org.
“Stones in His Pockets.” “Marie Jones’s two-actor comedy about rural Irish townspeople coping with a big budget Hollywood film crew is cleverly designed and performed in Abigail Isaac Fine’s staging. Josh Sticklin and Matthew J. Keenan winsomely embody everyone from town elders to an American starlet, and the live video feed when they play extras is reliably good for a laugh.” (Nelson Pressley) Through Oct. 5 at Keegan Theatre, 1742 Church St. NW. Tickets $35-$45. Call 202-265-3767 or visit keegantheatre.com.
“The Wild Party.” “Allison Arkell Stockman directs the musical that Andrew Lippa based on the 1928 narrative poem by Joseph Moncure March. The story centers on two vaudeville performers who, in hopes of reigniting their once-sizzling sexual relationship,
throw a rowdy shindig that ends in violence. Choreographer Ilona Kessell makes ingenious use of the small stage area, devising Roaring Twenties dance sequences that express the characters’ restlessness.” (Celia Wren) Through Oct. 29 at Source Theatre, 1835 14th St. NW. Tickets $25-$55. Call 202-204-7741 or visit constellationtheatre.org.
“Word Becomes Flesh.” Theater Alliance revives its hit staging, winner of five Helen Hayes Awards earlier this year, of Marc Bamunthi Joseph’s hip-hop fugue. “‘Word Becomes Flesh’ started as a solo show more than a decade ago and then was adapted for five men; under Psalmayene 24’s direction it pops like an energetic concert. The actors fuse as a tight unit, giving voice to a 27-year-old man’s fear, anger and hope as expressed to an unborn son.” (Nelson Pressley) Through Oct. 8 at the Anacostia Playhouse, 2020 Shannon Pl. SE. Tickets $14-$40. Call 202-290-2328 or visit theateralliance.com.
“Algaonike’s Tiger.” “Claudia Barnett’s daring, poetic and dryly funny play imagines the life of Aglaonike, the ancient Greek female astronomer. Championing science when her contemporaries swear by mysticism and magic, Aglaonike confronts hucksters, visits the underworld and befriends a tiger (Matthew Marcus). Ann Fraistat is delightful as a no-nonsense Aglaonike.” (Celia Wren) Through Oct. 1 at Venus Theatre, 21 C St., Laurel. Tickets $40. Call 866-811-4111 or visit venustheatre.org.
“The Devil’s Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith.” “The huge reservoir of outrage from which Smith draws her profane interpretive power — and on which she focuses her lung power — comes through in Miche Braden’s subversively raunchy portrayal. In such numbers as ‘T’aint Nobody’s Bizness If I Do,’ ‘St. Louis Blues,’ ‘I Ain’t Got Nobody’ and ‘I Need a Little Sugar in My Bowl,’ the expressions of tragedy, pain, passion and seduction allow an audience to sense the presence of Bessie’s devils as well as her better angels.” (Peter Marks) Through Oct. 1 at Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE. Tickets $40-$60. Visit mosaictheater.org or call 202-399-7993.
“Disgraced.” “Ayad Akhtar’s incendiary 90-minute drama about a wealthy, powerful, young Wall Street Muslim American derailed by discrimination and self-deception was sharply acted at Arena Stage just last year. The shock-value laughs and affronted gasps are fewer and further between in this version; this respectful performance is missing the play’s intensely keen social sonar.” (Nelson Pressley) Through Oct. 1 at Next Stop Theatre, 269 Sunset Park Dr., Herndon. Tickets $35. Call 866-811-4111 or visit nextstoptheatre.org.
“Don Juan Tenorio.” “Carnival masks look right at home in this melodramatic but visually arresting production, directed by José Carrasquillo from Nando López’s world-premiere script. In this iteration of the Don Juan legend, the notorious womanizer plans and executes his conquests amid dramatic shadows and gothic floods of light. It puts an eye-catching sheen on the play, which Spanish dramatist López has adapted from an 1844 work by José Zorrilla.” (Celia Wren) Through Oct. 1 at GALA Hispanic Theatre, 3333 14th St NW. Tickets $20-$55. Call 202-234-7174 or visit galatheatre.org.
“I Killed My Mother.” “Erica Chamblee plays Bernadette, who is raised as an orphan in institutions where she is cruelly treated. Some sequences seem to be filtered through a child’s confused perception or fantasy, and one major character may be imaginary, or possibly dead. Natália Gleason Nagy had directed the play in London and Budapest, so she has obviously devoted considerable time and thought to the its workings. The Romania-based writer Andras Visky is obviously an eminent artist. It’s too bad this manifestation of his work is so irksome.” (Celia Wren) Through Sept. 30 at Spooky Action Theater, 1810 16th St. NW. Tickets $25. Call 202-248-0301 or visit spookyaction.org.
“Lela and Co.” “Cordelia Lynn’s two-hander is writerly, unflinching and often grim. All of the play’s male figures are channeled by Renaldo McClinton, whose characterizations are distinctive and robust, if less mesmerizing than Felicia Curry’s heart-rending Lela. ‘Lela & Co.’ is based on a true story, and its descriptions can be harrowing.” (Celia Wren) Through Oct. 1 at the Anacostia Arts Center, 1231 Good Hope Rd. SE. Tickets $22. Visit factory 449.org.
“Neverwhere.” “Neil Gaiman’s tale, adapted by Robert Kauzlaric, sucks an ordinary Londoner into the flamboyant world of London Below, which is full of mystics and pirates, angels and assassins. Rorschach Theatre’s performance seemed bracing in 2013, but a second look reveals how repetitive and cliched the script is. There may be a ripping two-hour show submerged here, one that doesn’t seem to put so much emphasis on scampering through the space and hoping the cast can sustain the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’-style drollery from London Below’s cutthroats and heroes.” (Nelson Pressley) Through Oct. 1 at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE. Tickets $30-$45. Call 202-399-7993 or visit rorschachtheatre.com.
“How I Became a Pirate.” A musical based on Melinda Long’s book. Through Oct. 22 at Adventure Theatre MTC, 7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo. Tickets $19.50. Call 301-634-2270 or visit adventuretheatre-mtc.org.
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.
“Shear Madness.” The indestructible interactive comedy whodunit, at 12,000-plus performances. Ongoing in the Kennedy Center’s Theater Lab. Tickets $50-$54. Call 202-467-4600 or visit kennedy-center.org.
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