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San Francisco Spotlight: January 2009
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DC Metro Spotlight: January 2009

Take a Gamble

By Washington, DC
Floyd King and Edward Gero in The Seafarer
(© Studio Theatre)
Floyd King and Edward Gero in The Seafarer
(© Studio Theatre)
The nation's capital is gearing up to welcome new neighbors at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, as well as some hot theater offerings for cold nights. An all-star cast, including Edward Gero, Philip Goodwin, and Floyd King, shares the stage for Conor McPherson's Broadway hit The Seafarer (January 14-February 22). Studio Theatre is hosting this portrait of haunted Dublin on their Mead stage. Four Irish mates, one blind and the others just blind drunk, play a Christmas Eve poker game with the devil. Arena Stage presents Irving Berlin's I Love a Piano (Lincoln Theater, January 29-February 15), an enchanting musical journey spanning seven decades of American history as seen through the perceptive and hopeful eyes of the great songwriter.

At Arlington's Signature Theatre, another local fave is starring in The Little Dog Laughed (January 13-March 8); Holly Twyford plays a hard-driving Hollywood agent in Douglas Carter Beane's comedy about a movie star who can't seem to keep himself in the closet. Nearby at Arlington's snug Theatre on the Run, Charter Theatre has brought back Am I Black Enough Yet? (January 9-February 8), the comical look at the "State of Blackness" in America. And as long as we're poking about in Arlington, it's time for Washington Shakespeare Company to say goodbye to its longtime home at the crumbling Clark Street Playhouse. The company is leaving the former warehouse just a few steps ahead of the wrecker's ball, and saying farewell with Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard (January 15-February 15).

Several short-run solo shows are among January's highlights. Theater J presents Dai (Enough) (Milton Theatre at Studio Theatre, January 14-18), written and performed by Israeli-American comic actress Iris Bahr, best known for her acerbic appearances on HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm. Bahr weaves comedy and tragic tension together in a story set in Tel Aviv, bringing to life a variety of characters and viewpoints. The piece received the 2008 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Solo Show. Giana Clarkson's solo show FEMA's 1603 (January 13-25), about the experiences of ten people hit by Hurricane Katrina, is at Flashpoint. And Mike Daisey brings his razor sharp How Theater Failed America (January 7-18) to Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company.

Atlas Performing Arts Center's InSeries is giving us a chance to see Orpheus in the Underworld (January 16-24). This is a full production of Jacques Offenbach's satirical operetta that ends in a wild bacchanal that includes the Can-Can. Not to be outdone, Constellation Theatre Company takes over Source Theatre's stage for The Marriage of Figaro (January 22-February 22), the epic farce that supposedly inspired Mozart to write the opera.

GALA Theatre has an offering from Lope de Vega, the master of Spanish Golden Age theater. El mejor alcalde, el rey/The Best Judge, the King (January 29-February 22) was written around 1620. Rarely produced outside of Spain, this tragic comedy mixes a love story with sociopolitical realism. Another late offering is at Alexandria's MetroStage. Cool Papa's Party (January 29-March 8) is the world premiere of "A 20th century musical odyssey through the eyes of the last great American hipster." The same artistic team brought Bricktop and Three Sistahs to the theater company last season.

Young ones (four and up) should be interested in the world premiere that Bethesda's Imagination Stage has in store for them. It's Zomo the Rabbit: A Hip Hop Creation Myth (January 24-March 8). Set here in Washington, it's a contemporary, high-energy take on an African tale. Zomo the Rabbit is given a series of tasks by Sky God, and invents hip-hop in the process.


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