James Moye in Meet John Doe
(© Diane Sobolewski / Goodspeed Musicals)
James Moye in Meet John Doe
(© Diane Sobolewski / Goodspeed Musicals)
March proves to be an exciting month for musical lovers in the nation's capital. The venerable Ford's Theatre offers the world premiere of Eddie Sugarman and Andrew Gerle's musical version of Meet John Doe (March 16-April 29), in a co-production with Connecticut's Goodspeed Musicals, and based on the classic Frank Capra film. A desperate Depression-era reporter invents a fictional hero who protests against an unfair political and social system to keep her job. But, as he sparks public imagination, she is forced to produce the man and hires a tramp to play the part. He begins to preach civic virtues, becoming a national figure. Can the charade be maintained indefinitely? Signature bigwig Eric Schaeffer directs a cast that includes Heidi Blickenstaff, James Moye, Patrick Ryan Sullivan, and Joel Blum.

Elsewhere in town, it's time for another round of "Memory" at the Warner Theatre as the 25th anniversary tour of Cats (March 6-18) purrs into town with Andrew Lloyd Webber's music. Broadway biggies Audra McDonald and Barbara Cook join their magnificent voices at the Kennedy Center's Concert Hall for one afternoon concert (March 17). And the Broadway musical Eubie! (March 28-April 29), featuring the work of African-American musical pioneer Eubie Blake, is being "reconceived" in collaboration with its original Broadway creators for this run at the Olney Theatre Center in Maryland.

On the non-musical front, the National Theatre is hosting Cherry Jones as she reprises her Tony Best Actress winning role in John Patrick Shanley's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Doubt (March 13-25). The play is set in a Catholic school in 1964 where strong-willed Sister Aloysius has to come to grips with her doubts about a male priest who may -- or may not - have abused the school's sole African-American student.

Woolly Mammoth Theatre serves us David Greenspan's critically acclaimed She Stoops to Comedy (March 26-April 22) a gender-bending comedy set in a low rent production of As You Like It. Charter Theatre has 37 Stones (March 9-31), about a man with 38 problems -- his 37 recurring kidney stones and his mother -- at Arlington's Theatre on the Run. Nearby, American Century Theater stages That Championship Season (March 30-April 28), Jason Miller's 1973 Tony Award winner about the reunion of four high school basketball teammates with their coach, at the Gunston Arts Center's Theater Two.

Journeymen Theater Ensemble offers up After Darwin (March 7-31), a time-bending play dealing with science and faith, at DC's Church Street Theatre. Meanwhile, Theater Alliance has its own time-warped offering: Insurrection: Holding History (March 1-25) is the story of a 189-year-old former slave who wants a final visit to Virginia and ends up going back in time to Nat Turner's slave-led revolution.

Elsewhere around town, Washington Stage Guild offers Shaw's Shorts (March 1-April 1), an evening of three short plays from George Bernard Shaw, at the Arena Stage annex. Theater J. presents Sherry Glaser's award-winning solo show Family Secrets (March 7-April 15), a hilarious and pointed look at a Jewish family transplanted from the Bronx to Southern California. Studio Theatre has Martin McDonagh's The Pillowman (March 14-April 22) about a writer whose horror stories start coming true, while Studio's SecondStage mounts Nightmares and Pillow Tales (March 24-April 1), which they're calling a collection of "ghastly childhood stories and gruesome cautionary tales."

"Beware the ides of March," Shakespeare warned in Julius Caesar, but that isn't stopping the Shakespeare in Washington festival. Highlights this month include the Cameri Theatre of Tel Aviv in a production of Hamlet (March 6-11) performed in Hebrew at Signature Theatre; a high-tech treatment of The Tempest/La Tempête (March 22-24) by Quebec multimedia artists Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon at the Kennedy Center's Eisenhower Theater; and Mary Ann Jung performing Queen Elizabeth Tudor I of England on March 19 at the National Theatre.

And speaking of the Bard, families should head over to the Kennedy Center on March 4 for the National Symphony Orchestra's concert Wherefore Art Thou, Shakespeare, featuring a mix of classical music, new music by Daniel Kellogg, a libretto by Hairspray co-author Mark O'Donnell -- and, best of all, narration by Tony Award winner John Lithgow.