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DC Metro Spotlight: August 2009

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Emily Skinner in Dirty Blonde
(© Thomas Hoebbel Photography)
Arlington's Signature Theatre gets a head start on the 2009-2010 season with the area premiere of Dirty Blonde (August 11-October 4). Tony Award nominee and Signature veteran Emily Skinner stars as cinema siren Mae West, as well as one of West's obsessed fans. A New York hit back in 2000, Blonde was nominated for a Best Play Tony. It blends a modern love story with key incidents in the life of Mae West, the stage and film legend who celebrated her sexuality with a public persona based on provocative double entendres.

Ever wonder what Elsinore Castle might have been like five years after Hamlet wreaked his revenge? No? Well, playwright Qui Nguyen did it for you. The very strange result is Living Dead in Denmark (Georgetown University's Gonda Theatre, August 2-23), which you can see courtesy of Rorschach Theatre. Even if you had wondered about the aftermath of the Danish bloodbath, you probably would not have imagined the place populated by vampires. Nguyen brings back from the dead such notables as Lady Macbeth, Juliet, and a still-crazed Ophelia to stage an epic zombie battle with the new vampire king.

If that's not unusual enough for you, there's always Edward Albee's Seascape (Gunston Arts Center, August 1 and 2), staged by The American Century Theatre. Even devoted fans of Albee may never have seen this rarely-produced 1975 work. It won a Pulitzer, but lasted only 63 performances on Broadway. The format is familiar Albee territory: two older couples sequestered in a comfortable setting and discovering universal truths via lacerating conversation. Albee weaves drama, satire, and philosophy together with a powerful and surreal dose of science fiction. Oh, and let's note that one of the couples is a bit unusual.

A cubist radio play from Tom Stoppard and the world premiere of an absurdist one-act are combined for the latest show from the Longacre Lea theater group, to be presented August 19-September 13 at DC's Callan Theatre. The progam joins Stoppard's murder mystery Artist Descending a Staircase and The Oogatz Man, written and directed by DC's popular actor/director Kathleen Akerley.

Alexandria's MetroStage has an end-of-summer rerun ready to go. The Musical of Musicals. The Musical! (August 7-October 18) is back again, featuring three of the four performers from the last time MetroStage rolled out this non-stop parody: Donna Migliaccio, Bobby Smith, and Janine Gulisano-Sunday. Migliaccio and Smith both earned Helen Hayes nominations for their work in this parody of musical theater, in which one story is re-worked in the distinctive, idiosyncratic styles of Rodgers and Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Kander & Ebb, Jerry Herman and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Those who are familiar with their work will get the jokes; newcomers will probably just enjoy the music.

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