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DC Metro Spotlight: April 2011

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Sybil Lines, Nancy Robinette and Jennifer Mendenhall
star in The New Electric Ballroom
(© Scott Suchman)
New Ireland: The Enda Walsh Festival continues for a second month at Studio Theatre with two more plays from the Irish playwright. The Walworth Farce (April 6 - May 1) is in the Milton, twisting the concept of farce with the chilling tale of a family's endless troubles. In the Mead, The New Electric Ballroom (April 13 - May 1) focuses on three aging sisters in an Irish village whose lives have been defined by one unfortunate moment in their younger days.

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has a couple of short-run but enticing offerings. C.I.C.T./Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord's production of Fragments (April 14-17) is an evening of four short plays by Samuel Beckett: Rough for Theatre I, Rockaby, Act Without Words II, and Come and Go, as well as the poem "Neither." This adult-oriented program is in the Eisenhower, while in the Family Theatre, kids can enjoy Doktor Kaboom! (April 1-10). The show explores modern scientific methods, using comedy while demonstrating "spectacular applications of the physical sciences."

Arena Stage has a new look for Ruined (April 22 - June 5), the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Lynn Nottage. Charles Randolph-Wright is directing the searing drama of the hopelessness of war, in the round for the first time, at the Fichandler. In a more comic vein, Landless Theatre Company takes a skewed look eastward as they present the Outstanding Musical winner at the 2008 New York Fringe Festival, China: The Whole Enchilada (through April 24). Three Caucasian men sing, dance, and irreverently march their way through 4,000 years of Chinese history at the DC Arts Center.

The American Century Theater takes us to 1936 and the Edna Ferber and George S. Kaufman Broadway hit Stage Door (Gunston Theatre II, April 8 - May 7). The rarely seen stage version of the comedy follows 16 young women in a boarding house for aspiring New York actresses. Magnificent Waste (April 9 - May 8) by Caridad Svich gets its world premiere at Flashpoint, Mead Theatre, courtesy of Factory 449. It's the first DC exposure for Svich, winner of the National Latino Playwriting Award. In a decadent world of sex, booze, and pills, three friends experience explosive events that will change their lives.

Keegan Theatre also has a planetary debut, with National Pastime (Church Street Theater, April 9 - May 13), one of two shows this month set in the Great Depression. This one is a musical comedy about a radio station in Iowa that tries to stave off bankruptcy by broadcasting coverage of a winning, but fake, baseball team. Meanwhile, it is the summer of 1930 in Harlem, as African Continuum Theatre Company stages Blues for An Alabama Sky (April 14 - May 8) at Atlas Performing Arts Center. The creative euphoria of the Harlem Renaissance has given way to the harsh Depression and Pearl Cleage's play brings together characters who explore the conflicting currents of the time.

The average American spends more than 80 minutes per day in an automobile, and it seems like more than that on the DC area's clogged roadways. Taffety Punk focuses on that with The Car Plays, (April 13-23), a trio of one-act plays that share one familiar element: the automobile. Walk on over to Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, or drive, if you dare.

This is Washington, and we love our politics. Olney Theatre Company takes us behind the closed doors of a presidential campaign with Farragut North (April 27 - May 22). It's from Washington's own Beau Willimon, a veteran of high-profile campaigns, who explores the drive to win at Olney's Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab. Washington Stage Guild, meanwhile, has George Bernard Shaw's The Apple Cart (April 28 - May 22) ready to roll at DC's Undercroft Theatre. Shaw's political extravaganza, written in the past and set in the future, remains topical and funny.

Alexandria's MetroStage is switching from cabaret-style entertainment to a classic English manor house mystery this month for Tom Stoppard's The Real Inspector Hound (April 20 - May 29). Over in Fairfax, Hub Theatre also dabbles in the mystery genre with The Clockmaker (John Swazye Theatre, April 29 - May 22), the comic love story of a race against time to solve a murder. It's the allure and romance of 17th-century swashbuckling France as Folger Shakespeare Theatre presents Edmond Rostand's Cyrano (April 26 - June 5). Cyrano loves Roxanne but fears she could never share the sentiment because of his legendary nose. So he helps his tongue-tied friend Christian woo her. Who will win her heart?

It's a month of returning favorites in DC. GALA reprises its 2003 comedy hit Divorciadas, evangélicas y vegetarianas ( April 7 - May 1) by Venezuela's Gustavo Ott. Three women on the verge of existential crises struggle but ultimately find comfort and salvation in each other. It's in Spanish, with English surtitles. Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company has the return of Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind (30 Plays in 60 Minutes) (April 20 - May 1) by Chicago's The Neo-Futurists. Audiences decide the order of the plays, guaranteeing that every performance is unique. And The National Theatre welcomes back The Color Purple, (April 12-24), this time with "special guest star" Lil' Mo as the Church Soloist.

For the kids, Imagination Stage has the world premiere of George and Martha: Tons of Fun (April 9-28). A musical inspired by the George and Martha stories of James Marshall and adapted by Joan Cushing, the show shares the whimsy and camaraderie of best friends.

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