The Capital Fringe Festival (July 8 - July 25) fills a variety of venues around Penn Quarter and Mount Vernon Square with 134 groups and nearly 2,000 individual artists. New works this year include Chlamydia dell'Arte: A Sex-Ed Burlesque, Evolutionism, or Dammit We Took a Shortcut!, The Imaginary Autopsee, and Things I Wrote Before My First Kiss. Other new pieces with pop culture leanings include Carrie Potter and the New Moon Prom, Superheroes Who Are Super!, and When ET Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Revivals of contemporary plays include Christopher Durang's Beyond Therapy, Lee Blessing's A Walk in the Woods, and Bert V. Royal's Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead. Classics include W.S. Gilbert's Engaged and H.M.S. Pinafore, and new takes on Macbeth, Medea, 'Tis Pity She's a Whore, and a musical version of Lysistrata.
In a show that seems a bit fringy, Woolly Mammoth is giving us a squeezed-down version of an epic film series. One Man Lord of the Rings (July 5 - August 1) is exactly what it sounds like: Charles Ross' solo act shoehorns 11 hours and 23 minutes of film into a 65 minute performance, with 42 characters, the familiar theme music, and sound effects.
Meanwhile, Mary Poppins (July 1 - August 22) pops off the silver screen and lands at the Kennedy Center's Opera House in the Broadway touring production that features some new songs, as well as many original classics from the film, including "Chim Chim Cher-ee," "A Spoonful of Sugar," and "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious." For additional national tours: It's the sounds of 1960s Motown as Dreamgirls (July 28 - August 8) returns to the National Theatre, the sounds of ABBA in the 70s as Mamma Mia! (July 7 - July 11) makes a brief stop at Wolf Trap, and the sounds of today as Tony Award winning Avenue Q (July 15 - August 15) is back in town at the Lansburgh Theatre.
Isn't sultry summer weather the perfect time for Tennessee Williams? Quotidian Theatre thinks so, and is staging A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur at the Writer's Center in Bethesda (July 9 - August 8). Set in St. Louis in the mid-thirties, a lakeside picnic explores the meaning of loneliness, human connections, and life's compromises. It sorta sounds like a Williams play, but Passing Strange (July 14 - August 8) is the musical story of a young black musician rebelling against his mother and his church-going upbringing in South Central Los Angeles. Studio Theatre's 2nd Stage rocks with the show that won the 2008 Tony Award for Best Score, following the musician on a journey through various musical styles from gospel to punk, blues, jazz, and rock.
The American Century Theater opens a relatively unfamiliar work from Lanford Wilson this month. Serenading Louie (July 23 - August21) examines marriage in suburbia at Gunston Arts Center's Theater II in Arlington. Keegan Theatre has a world premiere from one of Northern Ireland's most promising new playwrights, Rosemary Jenkinson. Stella Morgan (Church Street Theater, July 27 - August 18) presents intermingling monologues examining the lives of a fortune teller and her drug dealing son in today's Belfast.
Olney Theatre Center's Forever Plaid (July 7 - August 1) spotlights some of the lesser music of the 1950s as sung by a quartet of unknown, dead singers. That's on the original "Historic Stage." Later, Olney has the comedy The Savannah Disputation (July 28 - August 22) on the Mainstage. A Pentecostal missionary gets more than she bargained for when she visits two Catholic spinsters and ignites a crisis of faith.
There's an opportunity to see theater with the kids that you may think is cool, too, as local fave and Helen Hayes Award winner Holly Twyford makes an unusual foray into children's theater. She's starring in If You Give a Pig a Pancake (July 2 - August 15) at Adventure Theatre in Glen Echo, Maryland, just over the DC line. Based on the book by Laura Joffe Numeroff, it's the tale of a little girl with a challenging piglet.