July 6, 2017 at 12:30 pm EDT | by Patrick Folliard
Life is a ‘Cabaret’ old chum
summer theater, gay news, Washington Blade

Philip Fletcher as God in ‘The Mark of Cain.’ (Photo courtesy Synetic)

You’ve heard it before and I’ll repeat it here: Theater is transportive; it can take you places you’ve never been. And while two hours in “Cabaret’s” Berlin or 90 minutes with a new singer may not be two weeks on the Dalmatian coast, live performance will add excitement and adventure to your D.C. staycation.

The Kennedy Center continues its summer of musicals — all national tours of Broadway revivals. Next up is Kander and Ebb’s “Cabaret” (July 11-Aug. 6), a backstage story of life and love in Berlin’s decadent Kit Kat Club during the last gasp of Germany’s Weimar Republic. The original source material is gay writer Christopher Isherwood’s enjoyable “Berlin Stories,” a perfect poolside read. And then comes Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “The King and I” (July 18-Aug. 20), the beloved musical about an English governess’ relationship with a strong-willed monarch and his many children.  The score includes “Shall We Dance?,” “Getting to Know You,” “Something Wonderful” and more. Details at kennedy-center.org

Studio Theatre’s summer production is “Wig Out!” (July 17-Aug. 17) penned by out playwright Tarrell Alvin Mcraney’s whose “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue” inspired the Academy Award-winning film “Moonlight.”  “Wig Out!” explores the experiences of an unsuspecting young man whose new boyfriend draws him in the storied world of African-American drag ball culture. Directed by Kent Gash, the play’s 10-person cast includes out actors Jaysen Wright, Alex Mills and Desmond Bing, and local trans actor/author Dane Edidi. Details at studiotheatre.org.

Woolly Mammoth is reprising last season’s “An Octoroon” (July 18-Aug. 6) by playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and directed by Nataki Garrett. It’s a provocative and still timely riff on a 19th century melodrama that helped shape the debate around the abolition of slavery. The cast includes talented out actor Jon Hudson Odom. Details at woollymammoth.net.

Olney Theatre’s summer musical is a nontraditional take on Lerner and Loewe’s old chestnut “My Fair Lady” (through July 23). Danny Bernardy stars as phonetics professor Henry Higgins who on a bet makes over Cockney flower seller Eliza Doolittle played by Brittany Campbell. The score includes familiar favorites like “The Rain in Spain,” “On the Street Where You Live,” and “Get Me to the Church on Time.” Details at olneytheatre.org.

1st Stage in Tysons is presenting the Logan Festival of Solo Performance (July 6-16). The one-person works include second generation Columbian immigrant Juan Francisco Villa’s “Empanada for a Dream,” an exploration of what it means to be an American; E.M. Lewis’ “The Gun Show,” an entertaining glimpse into the divisive issue of gun control in America; and “Hick: A Love Story,” drawn from actual letters revealing trailblazing journalist Lorena Hickok’s romantic relationship with then-first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Written and acted by lesbian playwright Terry Baum. Details at 1ststagetysons.org.

Out Helen Hayes award-winning actor Philip Fletcher is playing God in Synetic Theatre’s “The Mark of Cain” (July 19-Aug. 13). An original work from the movement-based company renowned for its inventiveness and fit actors, “The Mark of Cain” is described as neo-surrealist distillation of human history, seen through the eyes of Cain, the world’s first criminal. Details a synetictheater.org.

For cabaret lovers, there’s Creative Cauldron’s Summer Cabaret Series (July 8-Sept. 23) in Falls Church, featuring an eclectic collection of seasoned artists. Included in the lineup are “People” with Helen Hayes Award-winner, Iyona Blake, who takes a look at life through another’s perspective; “Somewhere Over the Rose,” a celebration of Judy Garland and Bette Midler with Kathy Halenda; “Sedaka is Back!” with Jim Van Slyke; and Stephen Gregory Smith’s “Moment,” a look back on the out actor’s career. Details at creativecauldron.org.

If keeping kids engaged plays into your staycation, there are plenty of quality youth theater offerings. Imagination Stage in Bethesda presents “Wonderland: Alice’s Rock & Roll Adventure” (through Aug. 13), a musical take on the classic Lewis Carrol classic. In this updated version by Rachel Rockwell (book and lyrics) and Michael Mahler (music and lyrics), Alice (played by Helen Hayes Award winner Erin Weaver) finds herself in a battle of the bands and triumphantly proves hers worth on keyboard and drums.

Also at Imagination is “¡Ratón en Movimiento!  A New Bilingual Version of Mouse on the Move!” (through July 30). Performed in English and Spanish, the play follows the adventures of two mice as they explore the world out of their mouse-hole. Details at imaginationstage.org.

And at Adventure Theatre MTC in Glen Echo Park there’s Allison Gregory’s “Junie B. Jones Is Not a Crook” (through Aug. 14) based on the book series by Barbara Park and staged by out director/actor Rick Hammerly. Junie (played by Megan Graves) is forced to confront some moral issues after her favorite black mittens disappear. Details at adventuretheatre-mtc.org.

There’s also, as usual, LGBT content at this year’s Capital Fringe Festival, which runs through July 30. Among highlights are “Last Ditch Playlist” by Brad Baron about a “rocky romance between two young men.” It runs in Lab II at Atlas Performing Arts Center (1333 H St., N.E.) through Wednesday, July 12.

Drama/mystery “Repentance” by Michael E. Hammond tells of a fallen priest being tormented by a demon. It opens on Thursday, July 13 and runs through Saturday, July 22 at Shopkeepers (1231 Florida Ave., N.E.). Full Capital Fringe details at capitalfringe.org.

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