When planning your staycation, don’t forget to include some of the tempting selections offered by D.C.’s never ending theater season. Here are a just a few must-see summer productions.
A trip to Olney Theatre Center’s (olney-theatre.org) rambling campus of leafy trees and white clapboard buildings makes a perfect staycation outing. But make no mistake — the longtime company’s upcoming production of “A Chorus Line” (Aug. 1-Sept.1) is more a trip to Times Square than the countryside. When Olney’s new artistic director Jason Loewith took the reins earlier this year, he made a few changes. Tweaks included adding the musical about 17 hoofing hopefuls vying for eight spots in a Broadway musical. Throughout the grueling auditions, the candidates open up, revealing not only battered pasts and heartaches but also the unbridled joy and fulfillment they’ve found in dance. Stephen Nachamie directs and choreographs.
Studio 2ndstage’s (studio-theatre.org) summer production has typically been a highpoint of staycations past. In recent years, they’ve taken audiences from Studio’s 14th Street location to old Kentucky (“Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson”), Los Angeles (“Passing Strange”) and a Chicago television studio (“Jerry Springer: The Opera”). Now it’s a visit to a lonely castle with “Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Picture Show” (through Aug. 4). Mitchell Jarvis stars as that sweet transvestite Dr. Frank N. Furter. Cast includes Sarah Marshall, Matthew DeLorenzo and Will Hayes. Keith Alan Baker and Alan Paul direct. Costume designer Collin Ranney (also known around town as his outré drag persona Birdie LaCage) has been assigned the task of dressing the cast in what promises to be some provocative getups.
Featuring well over a hundred shows in about a dozen or so local venues, Capital Fringe Festival 2013 (capitalfringe.org; July 11-28) adds a kick to your D.C. summer staycation. Like the Fest’s performance spaces that range from cool and comfy to hot as Calcutta in May (though with increasingly improved venues that’s less and less the case), the options onstage (theater, music, dance, puppetry, etc.) are wide and varied, inspiringly risky to flat-out bad. Though quality is on the rise, the delight still lies in finding the gems among the clunkers.
In Silver Spring, Forum Theatre (forum-theatre.com) presents the world premiere of “The T Party” (July 17-27), a celebration of gender transformation in the nation’s capital. Written and directed by versatile Forum company member Natsu Onoda Power, “The T Party” is comprised of two very different acts. The first invites the audience to join interactive small groups: a bridal shower, a prom, a karaoke party or a super bowl party; while the second consists of a series of performed vignettes including songs, dance numbers, video projection, as well as more traditional “scenes” and monologues. Audience participation is not required. Whew.
For its annual Free For All, Shakespeare Theatre Company (shakespearetheatre.org) is reviving its Cuba-themed production of the Bard’s romantic comedy “Much Ado About Nothing” (Aug. 20 – Sept.1) featuring Derek Smith and Kathryn Meisle as witty lovers Benedick and Beatrice. A popular Washington tradition for 22 years, Free For All offers free tickets to the general public to experience Shakespeare in the late summer. These performances formerly took place under the stars at Carter Barron Amphitheater, but now it all goes down indoors in the comfort of STC’s Sidney Harman Hall. No rain. No mosquitoes. No humidity.