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DC Metro Spotlight: May 2010

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Marc Kudisch and Tony Yazbeck
star in Sycamore Trees
(© Chris Mueller)
May is offering adventuresome theatergoers an unusual amount of new and edgy work, such as Signature Theatre's world premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon's new musical, Sycamore Trees (May 18 - June 13). In it, the composer explores a half century of his own family's struggles and accomplishments. The Broadway-heavy cast features Marc Kudisch, Judy Kuhn, and Tony Yazbeck.

Recent Pulitzer Prize finalist Rajiv Joseph's latest, Gruesome Playground Injuries (May 17 - June 13) makes its regional bow at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. Two eight-year-old kids meet in the school nurse's office, and their lives intersect for decades. Joseph combines humor and tender moments as the pair matures from accident-prone kids to self-destructive adults. Meanwhile, theHegira theater group's Paige in Full (May 11 - 29) uses hip-hop to tell the tale of a multicultural girl growing up in Baltimore, MD. Sister-and-brother team Paige Hernandez (writer and performer) and Nick tha 1da (musician) developed the story, presented with multimedia projections at Flashpoint's Mead Theatre Lab in DC.

Theater J presents the world premiere of an English version of Israeli playwright Hadar Galron's Mikveh (May 5 - June 5). The contemporary drama deals with evolving roles of women in Israeli society through the stories of eight women in an insular religious community. From India, it's the tale of The Ramayana (May 6 - June 6), which Constellation Theatre Company is staging at Source Theatre on 14th Street. This sweeping tale of romance, abduction, friendship and war is told by an ensemble of goddesses, demons, monkeys and heroes, exploring the heart of Hinduism.

Keegan Theatre has the DC debut of Terry Johnson's adaptation of the novel and iconic film, The Graduate (May 1 -23). Company member Sheri S. Herren plays the notorious Mrs. Robinson at Church Street Theater. It's the area premiere of Around the World in 80 Days (May 5 -30) at Bethesda's Roundhouse Theatre. In this Off-Broadway hit, five actors use lightning -fast costume changes to play 39 characters in the frantic comedy based on Jules Verne's story, set in 1872.

Landless Theatre Company stages Perez Hilton Saves the Universe (Or At Least the Los Angeles Area) (DC Arts Center, May 14 - June 5), the winner for Outstanding Musical at the 2008 New York Fringe Festival. The show has the celeb blogger battling terrorists and angry celebrities and wonders about a hot date "for Britney's wake." Taffety Punk Theatre Company presents the world premiere of Burn Your Bookes (May 1 - 22) at Capitol Hill Arts Workshop. It's a play from DC writer Richard Byrne that digs into the legends surrounding infamous 16th century English alchemist Edward Kelley.

The Amazing Sophie (Arlington's Gunston Arts Center, May 27 - June 19) explores the defeats and triumphs of trailblazing journalist and playwright Sophie Treadwell in The American Century Theater's world premiere production, written by DC's own Allyson Currin. In the Gunston's Theatre Two space, Spanish-language (with English surtitles) theater Teatro de la Luna presents Rifar el Corazón (Heartstrings) (May 6 -29) by popular Uruguayan playwright Dino Armas. In it, two sisters spend their last day together before one moves away, along with a disabled daughter who cannot speak.

Washington Stage Guild gives us a full production of The Best of Friends (May 6 -29), by Hugh Whitemore. It's mostly the words of George Bernard Shaw, along with eminent museum curator Sidney Cockerell and Dominican Abbess Dame Laurentia McLaughlin. It's at The Undercroft Theatre of Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church. Wonder what another big thinker had to say? Arena Stage looks into our possible future on the planet with R. Buckminster Fuller: The History (and Mystery) of the Universe (May 28 - July 4). D. W. Jacobs adapted the writings of Fuller, the inventor, architect, engineer, mathematician, poet and cosmologist, and directs a multimedia performance at Arena's temporary home in Crystal City.

Also of note: 1st Stage in Tyson's Corner has Jason Robert Brown's The Last Five Years (May 7 - 23); David Mamet's American Buffalo (May 5 - June 13) is at Studio Theatre; and The Heritage-O'Neill Theatre Company in Bethesda stages Eugene O'Neill's 1922 Pulitzer Prize winning play, Anna Christie (May 13 - June 5).

The Kennedy Center has something new for kids age four and up, the world premiere musical Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical (May 8 - 23) in the Family Theater. Grammy Award-winning composer Michael Silversher puts music to Mo Willems' stage adaptation of his children's book about a toddler who misplaces her beloved stuffed bunny.

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