July 10, 2014 | by Patrick Folliard
STAYCATION: Treasures from the stage
Susan Lynskey and James Konicek in ‘THE BFG’ at Imagination Stage. (Photo by Margot Schulman)

Susan Lynskey and James Konicek in ‘THE BFG’ at Imagination Stage. (Photo by Margot Schulman)

No one ever said a staycation has to be without adventure, so why not include some theater in your plans? Theater is transporting, delivering you to far off places and unfamiliar situations. And the trip is easy. You can be at home sleeping in your own bed by 11 — even earlier if you attend a matinee. This summer’s selection is huge. Here are a few choices.

Studio 2ndStage is presenting “Carrie The Musical” (through Aug. 3) based on the Stephen King novel about a high school outcast who unleashes her telekinetic powers on the student body. They’re not going to laugh at her anymore. The best-selling book was adapted to the screen in ’76 as the hit horror flick starring Sissy Spacek in the title role. The musical opened on Broadway in 1988 to dismal reviews, but the 2012 off-Broadway revival was a stunning success. Its score by Dean Pitchford (lyrics) and Michael Gore (music) includes nicely named tunes like “And Eve Was Weak” and “The Destruction.”

2ndStage’s production co-directed by Keith Alan Baker and Jacob Janssen features Emily Zickler as Carrie White and Broadway’s Barbara Walsh as Carrie’s possessive, religious fanatic mother. Walsh was terrific as Little Edie in Studio Theatre’s production of “Grey Gardens” in 2008.

With well over a hundred shows in about a dozen local venues, Capital Fringe Festival 2014 (July 10-27) will definitely add variety to your D.C. summer staycation. On stage options (theater, music, dance, puppetry, etc.) run the gamut from inspiringly risky to not so great. The fun lies in ferreting out the gems.

Offerings include works of special interest to LGBT theatergoers including “A Lesbian Belle Tells!” written and presented by out performer Elizabeth McCain. In her solo show, McCain gives her take on eccentric southern relatives and coming out both in D.C. and at a family funeral.

In Larry E. Blossom’s “As We Are” presented by Out-Side the Box Theatre, three siblings confront memories about a gay bashing incident that has haunted them for years. Christopher Henley and his husband Jay Hardee co-direct “Dracula. A Love Story,” a contemporary retelling of the vampire story. And in Patrick DiBattista and Elizabeth Laffoon’s comedy “Love Song to Miss Kitty,” a strapping villain tries to steal a gay country western bar from an old lesbian couple so he can turn it into a dance boutique.

Looking for highbrow entertainment at no cost? For its annual Free For All, the Shakespeare Theatre Company is presenting a remount of Rebecca Taichman’s production of Shakespeare’s late romantic saga, “The Winter’s Tale” (August 19-31). A Washington tradition for 22 years, Free For All offers free tickets to the general public to experience Shakespeare in the sticky late summer. Performances once took place under the stars (weather permitting) at Carter Barron Amphitheater, but in recent years they’ve mercifully been moved indoors to the comfort of STC’s Sidney Harman Hall.

Spending your staycation with wee ones? Try the musical “Pinkalicious,” (thru Aug. 31) at the Adventure Theatre Musical Theater Center in Glen Echo Park. Siblings Pinkalicious and Peter Pinkerton (played by Carolyn Agan and John Sygar) love all things pink. Sadly Peter is denied pink outfits and toys because their father thinks it’s too girly. But Pinkalicious has no such restrictions. After binging on pink cupcakes she comes down with a case of pinkitis turning her skin — what else? — bright pink. The cure is to eat greens. Adventure Theater’s leafy Glen Echo location makes a nice staycation destination. After the show, you and the kids can enjoy ice cream and a ride on the park’s historic carousel.

Bethesda’s Imagination Stage is presenting “The BFG” (through Aug. 10). Based on the book by Roald Dahl, it’s the England-set tale of a little orphan girl who befriends a big friendly giant. The production uses outsized stage puppets, masks and imaginative projections and animation.

The Lion King” is parked at the Kennedy Center Opera House though Aug. 17. It’s the national tour of Julie Taymor’s celebrated Broadway production featuring an excellent cast, magnificent puppetry and uplifting score by Elton John and Tim Rice. Tickets aren’t cheap, but it’s a memorable theater experience for the family.

During staycation why not add music to your life? Through July 26, Shirlington’s Signature Theatre  presents its annual “Sizzlin’ Summer Nights Series.” (Sizzlin’ describes the performers, not Signature’s well air-conditioned venue). The series is two-and-a-half weeks of 17 one-night cabarets performed by an exciting and eclectic mix of D.C. and New York faces.

Many of those featured are out performers including leading man Will Gartshore; Broadway’s “Tarzan” Nicholas Rodriguez; Jeffrey Johnson as his leggy, space age alter ego “Galactica,” singer-songwriter Tom Goss (“Lover,” “Bears” and “Make Believe,”); Helen Hayes Award-winner Bobby Smith; and Stephen Gregory Smith who’s slated to perform a fun salute to TV theme songs.

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington will perform “Like a Virgin,” sharing first-time experiences (ranging from funny to poignant) through story and song.

The series ends with “Revenge of the Understudies.” It’s time for those would be stars in the wings — Signature understudies from this year’s season — to step into the spotlight and sing their hearts out.

 

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