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DC Metro Spotlight: June 2011

Love Is in the Air

The Kennedy Center is busy this month, with three openings. First, Penumbra Theatre's I Wish You Love (June 11-19) runs upstairs in the Terrace Theater. The new work features 20 songs made famous by singer Nat "King" Cole, and takes us behind the scenes of Cole's groundbreaking 1950s TV show as major civil rights events are sending shock waves across the nation.

Downstairs, the Opera House will be filled with things Wicked (June 11-August 21) and otherwise. Winner of 35 major awards, including a Grammy and three Tonys, the blockbuster musical takes us to the magical land of Oz as we've never seen it before. The story focuses on one girl who grows up to be the Wicked Witch of the West, while another becomes Glinda the Good. Another popular musical making a return engagement is Next to Normal (June 28 - July 10), which fills the Eisenhower Theater with the musical sounds of a family trying to take care of themselves and each other. Winner of three 2009 Tony Awards, including Best Score, and the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the musical was staged locally by Arena Stage as it made its way to Broadway a few seasons back. Tony Award winner Alice Ripley stars.

Synetic Theater starts off the sultry summer season by putting their distinctive stamp on the tale of Don Quixote (June 2 - July 3). Synetic merges its unique physical theater style with text, written by Resident Playwright Roland Reed. Lost in the mystical world of his books, the senor from La Mancha abandons his home and reality to become a wandering knight. This production draws upon the surrealistic paintings of Dali and Bosch to bring Quixote's dream world to life in a sequence of short stories.

Quixote may be one of literature's greatest dreamers, but Albert Einstein was no slouch in the visionary department, either. Spooky Action recognizes the genius with Einstein's Dreams (June 2 -26). In Alan Lightman play, adapted by Kipp Erante Cheng, 26-year-old Albert Einstein dreams possible theories of Time. The result, reached here via movement, light and sound, is a transforming vision of life.

Playwright Robert O'Hara took home a 2010 Helen Hayes Award for his provocative Antebellum at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, and they have teamed up again for his latest work, BootyCandy (June 1-26). It's described as a "kaleidoscope of sassy lessons in sex education" that explores growing up gay and African American.

Keegan Theatre turns the stage of DC's Church Street Theater into the site of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (June 4 - July 3), the light-hearted, multiple Tony-nominated musical that spotlights five eccentric kids trying to win a trip to a national spelling bee competition. Performance under pressure is also explored in Opus (June 8 - July 3) at Olney Theatre Center. A nationally televised performance at the White House looms, but a world renowned string quartet is missing their volatile fourth player.

It's time for this year's Source Festival (June 10 - July 3), as 18 ten-minute length plays and three full-length plays will be unveiled. At Studio Theatre, David Cale, a writer of songs, monologues, plays, and musicals, premieres his one-hander, The History of Kisses (June 15 - July 3) in the Metheny. Cale plays a writer in an oceanfront motel working on steamy romance stories despite interruptions.

Busy director Ethan McSweeny, who just premiered John Grisham's A Time to Kill at Arena Stage, goes across town to helm The Merchant of Venice (June 21-July 24) for the Shakespeare Theatre Company at Sidney Harman Hall. Forum Theatre takes over Round House Theatre's Bethesda stage for bobrauschenbergamerica (June 2-25), a "wild and whimsical road trip through America" inspired by painter and pop artist Robert Rauschenberg.

SCENA Theatre has the regional premiere of Purge (June 9 - July 3), Sofi Oksanen's "fable of a woman's journey to redemption in a seemingly hopeless world." It's at the H Street Playhouse. And Ain't Misbehavin' (June 3-19) is at DC's Atlas Performing Arts Center. Washington Savoyards stages this look at 1930's Harlem through the music of Fats Waller.

Bethesda's Imagination Stage has an offering for the younger kids with The Wind in the Willows (June 22 - August 14). This musical is faithful to the classic novel, an adventure in which Mr. Toad learns the meaning of friendship.

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