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DC Metro Spotlight: November 2008

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Barbara Walsh in Grey Gardens
(© Joan Marcus)
It's Thanksgiving month, with lots of openings on the theater menu to be thankful for, and with luck, few turkeys.

Studio Theatre is tackling a challenging work with Grey Gardens (November 12-December 21), the musical exposing a dark side of American royalty. Grey Gardens was the East Hampton mansion of Edith "Big Edie" Beale and her daughter Edith "Little Edie" Beale, the aunt and first cousin of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. The two women lived there together in squalor and seclusion, their lives detailed by documentary filmmakers Albert and David Maysles in a startling 1973 film that served as the basis for this Scott Frankel-Michael Korie-Doug Wright tuner. Barbara Walsh stars.

There probably aren't many musicals about manic depression, but Arena Stage has one this month at their temporary digs in Crystal City. Next to Normal (November 21-January 18) is Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey's look at an "almost average" family navigating an over-stimulated, over-medicated world. The cast includes Alice Ripley, J. Robert Spencer, and Aaron Tveit, under the direction of Michael Greif.

Richard Nixon avoided expressing remorse over Watergate until he was interviewed by David Frost, the British journalist known in the U.S. chiefly for a syndicated talk show. How that happened is recounted in Frost/Nixon (November 11-30), ironically at the Kennedy center's Eisenhower Theater. Alan Cox and Stacy Keach lead a cast of ten in the national tour of this Tony-nominated drama about one of television's most riveting interviews.

One of Nixon's Republican predecessors, President Warren G. Harding is almost forgotten now, but he was a handsome and popular figure in the early 1920s. He also burned up the headlines with massive political and sexual scandals during his brief presidency. Landless Theatre Company has the local premiere of President Harding is a Rock Star (DC Arts Center, November 1-30), a rock musical from Kyle Jarrow.

Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company hopes you'll get a bang out of Boom (November 3-30), Peter Sinn Nachtrieb's comedy about a global catastrophe that wipes out everyone except a graduate student who anticipated the crisis and the "randy journalism coed" who answered his personal ad for "intensely significant coupling." Does the future of the human race depend upon this mismatched couple? Speaking of challenging relationships, can Bertram and Helena's romance last in director Joe Banno's twisted take on Shakespeare's All's Well That Ends Well (November 6-December 7)? Washington Shakespeare Company stages the play at Arlington's Clark Street Playhouse.

There is plenty to get your Irish up in November. Quotidian Theatre Company has Conor McPherson's Dublin Carol (Bethesda Writer's Center, November 14-December 14). It's Christmas Eve in Dublin and assistant funeral director John Plunkett has a lot to consider about the past, present, and future of his alcohol-clouded life. Keegan Theatre has the American premiere of Irish playwright Liam Heylin's Love, Peace, and Robbery (November 28-December 21) at Arlington's Theatre on the Run. Heylin's play mixes hilarity and drama as two ex-cons try to go straight. Keegan is also reprising its production of David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross (November 28-December 20) at DC's Church Street Theater.

Another brief reprise comes to us courtesy of Bouncing Ball Productions, which is restaging its 2007 DC Fringe Festival hit, Cautionary Tales for Adults and The Many Adventures of Trixie Tickles (November 28-30), at Round House Theatre's Silver Spring Annex. The show is two mini-musicals, with the first featuring an unhinged librarian teaching unsuspecting adults about the injustices of life, and the second about a high-strung children's TV star who learns valuable lessons, like "being pretty is all that matters." Back at Round House's Bethesda mainstage, it's something for the kids: the world premiere of Alice (November 26-December 28), Mary Hall Surface's new musical take on Lewis Carroll's book, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Also running: Alexandria's MetroStage presents Isn't It Romantic (November 20-December 21), featuring the tunes of Jerome Kern, Rodgers & Hart and George & Ira Gershwin. If you like your theater visceral, Molotov Theatre Group specializes in the Grand Guignol French-style "theatre of horror," and are presenting Closet Land (November 15-December 13) at DC's 1409 Playbill Café. The American Century Theater stages the 1890's family comedy Life With Father (November 25-December 7 and January 8-25) at Arlington's Gunston Arts Center. And Tyler Perry's The Marriage Counselor (November 11-16) has office hours at the Warner Theatre, presenting "stories of the essence of marriage."

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