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DC Metro Spotlight: May 2011

The Follies of it All logo
Bernadette Peters
(© Tristan Fuge)
It's a good month for fans of composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim. Follies (May 7 - June 19), winner of seven Tony Awards and with book by James Goldman, is a bittersweet look at the follies of youth viewed through the perspective of age. Signature's Eric Schaeffer decamps for the Kennedy Center's Eisenhower Theater to direct a high-powered cast, including Bernadette Peters, Jan Maxwell, Danny Burstein, Ron Raines, Elaine Paige, Florence Lacey, and Linda Lavin.

Signature Theatre, meanwhile, explores the Sondheim songbook with Side by Side by Sondheim (May 1 - June 12), a musical revue highlighting the composer's early work. Broadway stars Nancy Anderson and Matthew Scott, along with Helen Hayes Award-winner and Signature favorite Sherri L. Edelen star on the Max stage. The music spotlights Sondheim's musicals including West Side Story, Anyone Can Whistle, Follies, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, A Little Night Music, Company, and Pacific Overtures.

Best-selling author John Grisham has seen many of his novels turned into movies, but Arena Stage has the first-ever live theater adaptation of his work with their world premiere of A Time to Kill (May 6 - June 19). Tony Award winner Rupert Holmes has crafted a stage version of Grisham's examination of justice in a small, racially divided town in Mississippi.

Memory and reality collide in Nobel Laureate Harold Pinter's Old Times (May 17 - July 3) at Shakespeare Theatre Company. Three friends recall their relationship from 20 years prior, provoking an intimate and highly-charged exploration of whether we can truly know another person. STC Artistic Director Michael Kahn is directing at the Lansburgh Theatre, with company debuts of local favorite Holly Twyford, Broadway and TV's Steven Culp, and TV and stage actor Tracy Lynn Middendorf.

Theater J has the world premiere of Sam Forman's The Moscows of Nantucket (May 11 - June 12), described as "a fast-paced comedy with its heart in Chekhov country." In it, the rich Moscow family attempts some unusual family bonding over a summer weekend in Nantucket. Swampoodle (May 19 - June 5) is a world premiere piece commissioned and produced by Solas Nua in conjunction with Dublin's Performance Corporation theater company. Written by Tom Swift, it aims to "resurrect the spirit of the former Irish neighborhood, Swampoodle," a notorious 19th century Irish shanty town in DC. It's at the Uline Building at 3rd and M Streets, NE, site of the old neighborhood.

Washington Shakespeare Company wraps up its first season in Rosslyn's Artisphere with a rep featuring two of the company's most frequently staged playwrights, Tom Stoppard and Tennessee Williams. Stoppard's Night and Day (May 12 - July 3) is a 1978 comedy about journalism and international politics set in post-colonial Africa. The company has paired Williams' one-acts Portrait of a Madonna from 1944 and The Gnadiges Fraulein from 1966 into a production they're calling Tennessee Continuum.

Briefly, about town: Round House Theatre in Bethesda has a new production of Amadeus (May 11 - June 5), Peter Shaffer's Tony award-winning tale of music, madness, and Mozart. Venus in Fur (May 25 - July 3) is David Ives' adaptation of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's novel. Studio Theatre is producing the saucy play pitting an actress against a playwright in a seductive cat-and-mouse battle for power. Lovers of commedia dell'arte have The Green Bird (May 5 - June 4), staged by Constellation Theatre Company. It combines philosophical ideas about truth, love, sacrifice and compassion with physical comedy and live music, at Source Theatre. Suzan-Lori Parks' In the Blood (Mead Theatre Lab @ Flashpoint, May 19 - June 11), based on Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, tells the story of Hester and her five fatherless children living in poverty.

Landless Theatre Company stages the dark comedy, The B Team (DC Arts Center, May 20 - June 19), about a group of "second-string terrorists from Buffalo." 1st Stage out in Tyson's Corner is presenting By Jeeves (May 20 - June 19), the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Alan Ayckbourn musical inspired by the P. G Wodehouse stories of Bertie Wooster and his quick-witted manservant Jeeves. Teatro de la Luna has the American premiere of Como si fuera esta noche (As If It Were Tonight) (May 19 - June 11) by Spanish writer Gracia Morales. A mother and daughter have an encounter in a magical decade-jumping world. It's in Spanish with English surtitles at Gunston Arts Center Theater Two in Arlington.

Adventure Theatre in Glen Echo Park has a treat for the four and older set, A Year with Frog and Toad (May 10 - June 5), a musical version of the Arnold Lobel tale of two great friends, the cheerful Frog and the grumpy Toad, learning about friendship.

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