Nick Dalton stars in
And the Curtain Rises
Nick Dalton stars in
And the Curtain Rises
Signature Theatre opens two shows this month, including the world premiere of And the Curtain Rises (March 17 - April 10). The musical comedy is set in 1866 and imagines the backstage bedlam surrounding the making of the first American musical. Nick Dalton stars as novice producer William Wheatley. The music is composed by Joseph Thalken, recipient of one of Signature's Musical Theatre Composer Grants, with book by Michael Slade and lyrics by Mark Campbell. Tony Award nominee Kristin Hanggi directs in the MAX theater. Over in the ARK, Yasmina Reza's Art (March 29 - May 22) focuses on three friends in Paris, who find their previously solid friendship getting shaky when one of them invests in a new painting, a simple white canvas.

Theater J also mounts two productions, beginning with The Chosen (March 8-27), Aaron Posner's adaptation of the Chaim Potok novel of two boys, two fathers, and two very different Jewish communities in Brooklyn. The company is "in residence" at Arena Stage's Fichandler Stage for the play, which it first mounted ten years ago. Back at their 16th Street venue, Theater J has a new play by Anna Ziegler, Photograph 51 (March 23 - April 24). It's described as the "funny and moving" story of scientist Rosalind Franklin and her effort to map the DNA molecule.

Synetic Theatre is back in residence at the Lansburgh Theatre for the seventh play in its "Silent Shakespeare" series, an adaptation of King Lear (March 24 - April 24). Helen Hayes Award-winner Irakli Kavsadze plays the title role of the aging king whose test of his daughters' love threatens his kingdom. There's another world premiere musical on the way, as Ford's Theatre debuts Liberty Smith (March 23 - May 21). It's described as a "madcap musical romp through Revolutionary America" which focuses on an imaginary founding father, Liberty Smith.

Bethesda's Round House Theatre has a first, too: a production of Horton Foote's The Trip to Bountiful (March 16 - April 3) performed by a primarily African-American cast. Trapped in a cramped Houston apartment with her son and self-absorbed daughter-in-law, widow Carrie Watts dreams of returning to her former home in the Gulf Coast town of Bountiful.

Michelle Williams, formerly with Destiny's Child, stars as a woman who doesn't realize she's not fulfilled in her marriage until she meets an attractive young man in What My Husband Doesn't Know (March 1-6), at the Warner Theatre; later in the month, the Blue Man Group (March 23 - April 3) tour stops by the Warner with its convergence of comedy, multi-media technology, and live music band and what promoters promise is a new physical design featuring a massive LED curtain and high-resolution screen.

Like festivals? Studio Theatre celebrates the month of St. Patrick with New Ireland: The Enda Walsh Festival (opening March 15), featuring productions of three Enda Walsh plays. They are Druid, Ireland's production of Penelope, and Studio's own productions of The Walworth Farce and The New Electric Ballroom. Meanwhile, Arena Stage stages its two-month Edward Albee Festival (March 5 - April 24), featuring free staged readings of all of the great playwright's works. And the Kennedy Center has maximum INDIA (March 1-20), featuring dance, music, and theater performed by prominent artists from India.

Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company welcomes back storyteller Mike Daisey with his new show, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs (March 21 - April 17). In this "wickedly funny" one-hander, Daisey looks at the technology titan while analyzing the human price we pay for high-technology. It's at the Undercroft Theatre of Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church. The Shakespeare Theatre Company presents Oscar Wilde's social and political satire, An Ideal Husband (March 8 - April 10) at Sidney Harman Hall. It's the story of Sir Robert Chiltern, a well-regarded politician whose life is challenged when a past crime threatens his status as the "ideal husband." The Washington Stage Guild has Michael Hollinger's zany spy-versus-spy comedy, Red Herring (March 3-27). Set in America's Red Scare years of the 1950s, it's a film-noirish spoof on the politics and culture of the period, at the Undercroft Theatre.

Uruguay con Humor / From Uruguay with Laughter (March 3-26) brings two famous acts from South America to Teatro de Luna. From March 3-12, Graciela Rodríguez will perform in Cómo Evitar Enamorarse del Hombre Equivocado (How to Avoid Falling in Love with the Wrong Man) and from March 17-26, Petru Valenski stars in A3vidos (Atrevidos / The 3 Rascals). It's in Spanish, with live English translation at all performances at Gunston Arts Center's Theater Two in Arlington.

Elsewhere around the area: Quotidian Theatre Company examines racial tension in South Africa in 1950 with Master Harold...and the Boys (March 18 - April 17) by Athol Fugard, at the Writer's center theater in Bethesda; Scena Theatre takes over the H Street Playhouse for The Weir (March 19 - April 24), Conor McPherson's night of tale-weaving in a remote Irish pub; and 1st Stage in McLean has Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie (March 25 - April 17).