Arena Stage is conjuring up the sunny Tuscan countryside of Italy with their take on the Craig Lucas/ Adam Guettel adaptation of The Light in the Piazza (March 5 - April 11, in Crystal City). Director Molly Smith promises an intimate, chamber version of the musical (Guettel has scaled back the orchestrations to be performed by a five-piece ensemble), which won a Tony for its score. Based on the film and novel of the same name, the show is set in the 1950s, and follows an American woman and her daughter on a tour in Italy. When the younger woman falls into a whirlwind romance with a dashing Italian, her mother struggles to conceal a family secret which may test the limits of family love.
Direct from its Off-Broadway premiere, Clybourne Park (March 15 - April 11) is at Woolly Mammoth. Bruce Norris' often funny and sometimes poignant play studies race in the same Chicago home which was the setting for 1959's A Raisin in the Sun. Then, a black family moved into an all-white neighborhood. Half a century later, a white family wants to move into what became an all-black neighborhood. Also, we finally get to see part three of Neil LaBute's trilogy examining our fascination with physical appearance: Reasons to be Pretty (March 24 - May 2) at Studio Theatre. This dark comedy is set in a blue collar world where a twenty-something couple explores physical beauty and its effect on relationships.
Two Jewish artists are under the spotlight. Bethesda's Round House Theatre is offering My Name is Asher Lev (March 17 - April 11), Aaron Posner's adaptation of the Chaim Potok novel set in post-World War II Brooklyn. Born into a Hasidic family, Lev is a painter whose work drives a wedge between him and his family. Ever ponder this question: Andy Warhol--Good for the Jews? (March 6 - March 21). If not, don't worry, as Josh Kornbluth has done it for you. Theater J is staging Kornbluth performing his one-hander which considers the pop-art star's motives, style, and religious identity.
Is Brian Friel good for the Irish? He certainly is good for Irish drama and one of his most wistful works is onstage. Busy little Keegan Theatre is keeping the lights burning at DC's Church Street Theatre, opening Dancing at Lughnasa (March 18 - April 18). We meet the five unmarried Mundy sisters and several men folk in the summer of 1936 through the memories of a then-seven year old boy. We stay in Ireland (this is St. Patrick's month, after all) with Olney Theatre Center's production of the Tony Award-winning play Da (March 24 - April 25). Now we're in Dublin for Hugh Leonard's look at a successful writer who returns to his boyhood home after the death of his adoptive father.
Elsewhere about town, Little Shop of Horrors (March 12 - May 22) is open for business at Ford's Theatre, telling the musical tale of a nerdy flower shop employee and his wisecracking, carnivorous plant. The American Century Theatre presents Stalag 17 (Gunston Arts Center, March 26 - April 17), a look at life for Allied POWs in a German camp, the inspiration for the classic film.
And for the kids, Synetic family Theatre has The Fool at the Circus (March 27 - May 16), a wordless show based on movement in the style of silent films. Set in a circus, it's for ages four and up.