September 10, 2015 at 11:03 am EST | by Patrick Folliard
FALL ARTS 2015: D.C. theater & opera
Bad Dog, gay news, Washington Blade

From left are Naomi Jacobson, Amy McWilliams, Holly Twyford, Alyssa Wilmoth Keegan and Emily Townley in ‘Bad Dog’ at Olney Theatre. (Photo by Christopher Mueller, courtesy Olney)

This year, a huge part of D.C.’s fall theater lineup is the much anticipated Women’s Voices Theater Festival. To spotlight the scope of new plays being written by women and the range of professional theater being produced in the area, more than 50 local professional companies  are presenting at least one world premiere of a play by a female playwright throughout all of September and October.

For the festival, Shakespeare Theatre Company is doing “Salomé” (Oct. 6-Nov. 8), adapted and directed by the internationally acclaimed Yaël Farber. The company’s website says Farber “infuses this raw New Testament tale with evocative sound and physicality, drawing on ancient biblical and pagan texts, as well as Oscar Wilde’s landmark mystery play, to spin a tale as provocative as the Dance of the Seven Veils.”

Olney Theatre’s contribution is “Bad Dog” (Sept. 30-Oct. 25) by out playwright and TV writer (“Nurse Jackie”) Jennifer Hoppe-House. “Bad Dog” is the story of Molly Drexler (played by out actor Holly Twyford) who after 10 years clean and sober drives a Prius through her living room. An intervention ensues. The terrific Alyssa Wilmoth Keegan plays Abby, Molly’s wife.

And at Arena Stage it’s “Destiny of Desire” (Sept. 11-Oct. 18), a new telenovela-inspired comedy by Karen Zacarías featuring talented out actor Nicholas Rodriquez who made his Broadway debut playing the title role in Disney’s “Tarzan.”

Also as part of the Women’s Voices Theater Festival, the Highwood Theatre in Silver Spring is presenting “The Long Way Around” (Oct. 9-25) by young playwright Julia Starr. This new play explores the sometimes nebulous line between friendship and romance in female relationships.

The fall theater season is chockfull of musicals, mostly familiar but some new. Here are a few.

On the Southwest Waterfront, out director Molly Smith is staging her 30th production as artistic director of Arena Stage with a reimagined production of “Oliver!”(Oct. 30-Jan. 3). This will be a new in-the-round staging infusing a modern edge to the beloved musical based on Dickens’ classic novel, blending the chaotic worlds of 19th-century Victorian London with 2015 London.

At Signature Theatre out artistic director Eric Schaeffer is helming “Girlstar” (Oct. 13-Nov.15), a new musical by Anton Dudley and Brian Feinstein billed as “a fantastical fairytale, brimming with magic, darkness and blinding ambition.” Local actor Donna Migliaccio stars as legendary record producer Daniella Espere who in searching for the next international sensation finds her long lost niece.

Also at Signature out director Matthew Gardiner is staging the company’s first ever stab at “West Side Story” (Dec. 8-Jan. 24), the legendary Broadway musical by gay dream creative team Arthur Laurents (book), Leonard Bernstein (music) and Stephen Sondheim (lyrics). “West Side Story” reimagines Romeo and Juliet set against (what was then) the mean streets of Manhattan with lots of balletic rumbles and a genius score featuring songs like “Something’s Coming,” “Tonight,” “I Feel Pretty” and “America.”

Shakespeare will present “Kiss Me, Kate,” (Nov. 17-Jan. 3), that classical musical tribute to the Bard by the late great gay composer Cole Porter. The theater’s out associate artistic director Alan Paul directs.

Murder and chaos meet love and virtue when the Young Artists of America Youth Orchestra and Vocal Ensemble (performing alongside professional mentors) present “Jekyll & Hyde” (Nov. 14) in Concert at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at University of Maryland. The popular Broadway musical is slated to be performed by some of the most talented high school aged students in our area.

For two nights only at Cobalt nightclub, local actor Jeffrey Johnson is reprising his celebrated turn as outrageous “Little Edie” of “Grey Gardens” fame in “Edie Beale Live at Reno Sweeney” (Oct. 6-7).

At Studio Theatre out director Serge Seiden is staging the final two plays of Richard Nelson’s quartet about American life, “The Apple Family Cycle” (Oct. 28-Dec.13). The cast includes local out actor Sarah Marshall.

Gala Theatre’s season opener is “Yerma” (though Oct. 4), a contemporary adaptation of gay Spanish playwright Federico García Lorca’s classic tale about a childless Spanish peasant’s rage against the oppression of a loveless marriage and repressive  society.

Rorschach Theatre presents “Truth & Beauty Bombs: A Softer World” (through Oct. 4). A project directed and conceived by Jenny McConnell Frederick based on the popular web series “A Softer World” features scenes by different authors including out playwright Norman Allen.

Highbrow meets Hollywood at the Kennedy Center with movie star Juliette Binoche playing the title role in a contemporary take on Sophocles’ Greek tragedy, “Antigone” (Oct. 22-25).

Downtown’s busy and buzzy National Theater is hosting family friendly fare with the national tour of Broadway’s hit “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella” (Nov. 18-29), a reimagined take on the original with a new book by witty gay playwright Douglas Carter Beane who puts a girl positive twist on the age-old tale.

Beautiful: the Carole King Musical” will be at the Kennedy Center Opera House Oct. 6-25.

McDaniel College (2 College Hill, Westminster, Md.) presents “The Laramie Project” Sept. 30-Oct. 3.

And around the corner, the Warner Theatre is targeting a more grown-up crowd with “Margaret Cho – the psyCHO Tour” (Oct. 8); “Andy Cohen & Anderson Cooper” (Oct. 17); and out comic Wanda Sykes (Nov. 7-8).

In opera land, UrbanArias presents “As One,” a 70-minute work by Laura Kaminsky, Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed about a transgender person with two singers — one male, one female — playing the leads Oct. 3-10. It will be performed at the Atlas Performing Arts Center (1333 H St., N.E.).

Washington National Opera has a busy season with “Carmen” (Sept. 19-Oct. 3), “Appomattox” (Nov. 14-22) and more on the fall slate. Details at kennedy-center.org.

And the Washington Concert Opera will present “Semiramide,” a “complex and lush tale of murder, power and revenge that brings ancient Babylon to life” at the Lisner Auditorium (730 21st St., N.W.) at 6 p.m. on Nov. 22.

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