September 15, 2016 at 2:24 pm EDT | by Patrick Folliard
FALL ARTS 2016: ‘Cloud Nine’ for theater lovers
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The oft-revived ‘Angels in America’ is on stage through Oct. 30 at Round House Theatre. (Photo courtesy Round House)

With its scores of transporting theatrical offerings there’s something to suit all tastes: original works, national tours of recent Broadway hits and retooled chestnuts. Here are a few.

At Gala Hispanic Theatre, Helen Hayes Award-winning out director José Luis Arellano stages the world premiere “Cervantes: El último Quijote (The Last Quixote)” in Spanish with English subtitles (through Oct. 2). The new drama focuses on the most tempestuous periods in the great Spanish writer’s life and the furious creativity of his final years. The top notch cast includes Luz Nicolas and out actors Eric Robledo and Erick Sotomayor.

Ford’s Theatre’sCome From Away,” (through Oct. 9), the uplifting Broadway-bound new musical tells the story of how a small Canadian town cared for 6,579 airline passengers stranded there on 9-11. The cast includes the exceedingly talented out Broadway veteran Jen Colletta.

Round House Theatre and Olney Theatre Center are co-producing out playwright Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning work “Angels in America: Part I: Millennium Approaches & Part II: Perestroika” (through Oct. 30). Set in mid-‘80s New York, “Angels” explores sexuality, religion and politics at the beginning of the AIDS crisis. A strong cast includes local out actors Tom Story, Jon Hudson Odom, and Sarah Marshall who plays — among other parts — Mormon matron Hannah Pitt, executed spy Ethel Rosenberg and an Orthodox rabbi.

At Studio Theatre, out director Michael Kahn is staging Caryl Churchill’s “Cloud Nine” (through Oct. 16), the work that put her on the map. This gender-bending experimental comedy is set both in Victorian era colonial Africa and post-sexual revolution 1970s London. The cast includes talented out actor Holly Twyford.

Shakespeare Theatre Company’s out associate artistic director Alan Paul is helming a much anticipated “Romeo & Juliet.”(Sept. 13-Nov. 6). After directing especially well-received musicals “Kiss Me, Kate” and “Man of La Mancha,” this is Paul’s first Shakespeare production at STC.

Theater Alliance presents the regional premiere of Kimber Lee’s “brownsville song (b-side fortray)” (Sept. 15-Oct. 9). Directed and choreographed by Paige Hernandez, Lee’s hopeful drama centers on life in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn where a senseless act of violence kills a young man and leaves his family to deal with the grief.

Urinetown” (through Oct. 9) has come to Constellation Theatre. The Tony Award-winning musical is about a town whose dire water shortage prompts its plucky population to rise up against the evil corporation that has put a ban on private toilets. Constellation’s artistic director Allison Arkell Stockman directs this seriously funny satire.

With “The Last Schwartz” (through Oct. 2), Theatre J puts the spotlight on family dysfunction. Deborah Zoe Laufer’s absurd and thoughtful comedy follows the woes of a splintering Jewish family whose chances of coming back together appear slim to none. The production marks the D.C. area directing debut of the company’s out artistic director Adam Immerwahr.

Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company’s season opener, an absurdist comedy titled “Collective Rage: A Play in Five Boops” (Sept. 12-Oct. 9), features five women all named Betty who according to Woolly Artistic Director Howard Shalwitz “represent a wide range of feminine archetypes, each of whom feels trapped in a box of some kind.”  The magic of the play lies in the transformative power of bringing them together around an absurd theatrical project and witnessing how they discover their truest selves by engaging with other women who are totally different.” Penned by Jen Silverman, the world premiere is directed by Mike Donahue and boasts a fine cast including Beth Hylton, Dorea Schmidt, Natascia Diaz, Kate Rigg and Felicia Curry as the Bettys.

Signature Theatre opens the season with local playwright Audrey Cefaly “The Gulf” (Sept. 13-Nov. 6). Billed as a provocative comedy, it’s the story of a lesbian couple played by Rachel Zampelli and Maria Rizzo whose fishing trip goes wrong when their boat breaks down and they become stranded far from shore. “The Gulf” is staged by out director Joe Calarco.

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Maria Rizzo and Rachel Zampelli in ‘The Gulf’ at Signature Theatre. (Photo by Christopher Mueller)

Theater J is offering “The Last Schwartz,” an “absurd and thoughtful comedy about a dysfunctional Jewish family,” through Oct. 2 and “The Christians,” a “big play about faith in America and the power of religion to unite or divide” from Nov. 16-Dec. 11.  Drag ensemble the Kinsey Sicks return for “Oy Vey in a Manger” there Dec. 20-28. Details at theaterj.org.

Helen Hayes-winning out actor Rick Hammerly is directing Alfred Uhry’s “Driving Miss Daisy” (Sept. 28-Nov. 6) as the Riverside Theater in Fredericksburg, Va. This tender exploration of the relationship between an elderly white woman and her black chauffeur in Atlanta stars Karen Grassle, best known as patient and resourceful Ma from TV’s “Little House on the Prairie.”Hammerly reports Grassle is lovely.

At Arena Stage, out artistic director Molly Smith is staging Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Carousel” (Oct. 28-Dec. 24) with a large cast lead by Arena veterans E. Faye Butler and talented out actor Nicholas Rodriguez. The beloved 1945 musical centered on the passionate union of bad boy carnival barker Billy Bigelow (Rodriguez) and millworker Julie Jordan, and features classic songs like “June Is Bustin’ Out all Over” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”

In October, Capital Fringe presents Fringe POP (Oct.6-9), the first of a new annual project that explores ways of blending projections and live performance. Fringe POP explores how we experience public and private spaces by pairing films with 10-minute plays to create two distinctive presentations.

Broadway comes to D.C. this fall.  The Kennedy Center presents the national tour of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” (Oct. 5-23). The multiple Tony Award-winning drama follows smart but awkward teenage Christopher who after being accused of killing a neighbor’s dog embarks on an investigation that leads to a life-changing adventure.”

And at National Theatre, the national tour of the multiple Tony Award-winning musical “Once” is slated for a short run (Nov. 25-27). Based on the Academy Award-winning film, “Once” is the story of an Irish musician and a Czech immigrant whose love of music draws them into a complicated romance.

And finally, for those who aren’t yet politically sated, Washington Improv Theater presents its fourth edition of “POTUS Among Us” (Oct. 12-Nov. 6), a satire of the presidential election process where audiences help decide who becomes the next president. Wonder if any of the candidates will have orange hair?

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