August 1, 2011
On the local theater scene, it’s going to be a month of happy returns and fond farewells. The lovely and talented Cate Blanchett heads back to the Kennedy Center, the annual Shakespeare Free for All arrives and Longacre Lea puts on its once-a-year summer production. Meanwhile, Cherry Red is set to stage its final show. Ever. And it will surprise no one to learn that the paragons of depraved theatrics plan to go out with a bang.
Speaking of return visits, Constellation Theater is remounting its hit “The Ramayana” from last season. The fairy tale epic of a play follows an exiled prince, Rama, in search of his kidnapped wife. In addition to the fabulously fabled plot, Kendra Rai’s spectacular costumes and Tom Teasley’s onstage music (which garnered him a Helen Hayes Award for sound design), also compete for the audience’s attention.
Ready the red carpet: The Sydney Theater Company is bringing Cate Blanchett and Hugo Weaving to town for its new adaptation of Chekhov’s play “Uncle Vanya.” The reworking, penned by Blanchett’s husband, Andrew Upton, follows a trio of dashed love affairs set on the ruins of a farm. If ticket prices to see the show are a little steep, there’s a chance to get a taste of the production without shelling out the big bucks. Members of Sydney Theatre Company will assemble at 5 p.m. Aug. 16 in the Kennedy Center’s Family Theatre for an insidery, hour-long discussion about the show ($12).
Sixty years after it premiered on Broadway, the Tony-winning musical “Guys and Dolls” is still worth a watch, not to mention a listen, thanks to a catchy soundtrack that includes “Luck Be a Lady” and “A Bushel and a Peck.” The comedy promises gangsters, gamblers and the reliably entertaining opposites attract love story.
If you want to see a Longacre Lea show, you have to act fast. The theater company puts on exactly one production per season, and this year’s selection, “Something Past in Front of the Light,” follows the devil on his quest to make a documentary. Helen Hayes nominees Alexander Strain and Christopher Henley (also the artistic director of Washington Shakespeare Company) take on the lead roles.
Shakespeare Theatre Company’s annual free production of a play by the Bard is a Washington tradition. This year’s installment is the company’s production of the tragedy “Julius Caesar,” which premiered during the 2007-2008 season. Tickets to the show — a maximum of two per person — are available the day of the performance, both through an online lottery system and at the theater’s box office.
After 15 years of bringing absurd, salacious, macabre and downright shocking plays to the stage, Cherry Red Productions is putting on its final show. Not to be outdone by previous plays, such as “Cannibal Cheerleaders on Crack” and “Baked Baby,” the company has chosen “The Aristocrats” for its swan song. The premise? A slew of Cherry Red favorites offer up their takes on the “dirtiest joke of all time.”
Washington Shakespeare Company kicks off its 2011-2012 season with Samuel Beckett’s comic play “Happy Days.” While captive audiences are a mainstay of theater performances, this show offers something a little different — the play revolves around a woman stuck in a mound of earth.
August also marks the start of the season for Signature Theatre, which is offering up two world premiere musicals in repertory, both dealing with mysterious plotlines. “The Hollow” is an adaptation of Washington Irving’s creepy classic “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” and “The Boy Detective Fails,” based on a novel by Joe Meno, follows a man examining the circumstances of his sister’s death.
The buzz surrounding “Imagining Madoff” wasn’t just born of playwright Deb Margolin’s pernicious subject. The play was initially supposed to follow an evening discussion between the imprisoned Ponzi schemer and one of his victims, Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize winner Elie Weisel. But when Weisel threatened to sue, Margolin had to rethink her story. The updated version with a fictional character standing in for Weisel, comes to Theater J.