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DC Metro Spotlight: November 2010

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Phylicia Rashad
The brand new Mead Center for American Theater, home to Arena Stage, continues its busy roll-out in November with the world premiere of Marcus Gardley's every tongue confess (November 9 - January 2). Director Kenny Leon leads Tony Award-winner Phylicia Rashad and an ensemble cast for the inaugural production in Arena's third stage, the 200-seat venue called the Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle. Gardley blends ancient myth with magical realism, Biblical allegory, and local TV news as residents of a backwater Alabama town deal with blistering summer heat by conjuring up spirits.

Arena is also hosting a brief run of the touring The Laramie Project and The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later, presented by Tectonic Theater Company, and examining the effects of the 1998 murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard on the community of Laramie, Wyoming both at the time, and a decade later.

Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company has the world premiere of House of Gold (November 1-28) from Gregory S. Moss. It's described as "a twisted farce" that proves "the suburbs are a dangerous place for a beautiful blonde." In this case, the blonde is a six-year-old beauty queen. Sarah Benson helms the production.

Studio Theatre presents the dark comedy Superior Donuts (beginning November 10 in the Metheny Theatre), the latest work from Pulitzer Prize- winning playwright Tracy Letts of August: Osage County fame. In it, an offbeat friendship in an old Chicago neighborhood grows between a cranky white shop owner and an ambitious young African-American man with something to hide. Clifford Odets' biggest hit, Golden Boy (Church Street Theater, November 20 - December 19) gets a new outing onstage from Keegan Theatre. Young Joe Bonaparte sets aside his dream of becoming a violinist for the promise of a lucrative boxing career. The lure of big money competes with the fear of a hand injury which could destroy any chance of a musical career.

The American Century Theater has an evening dedicated to the original "funny girl" herself, staging One Night with Fanny Brice (November 5-27) at the Rosslyn Spectrum. Brice starred in burlesque, vaudeville, the Ziegfeld Follies, radio and films, and introduced hit songs. Chip Deffaa stars in the "one-woman" show as Brice, telling her stories and singing twenty of her famous songs, including "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows," "Second Hand Rose," and her calling card, "My Man." Synetic Theater takes over the Shakespeare Theatre Company's Lansburgh Theatre for a reprise of their hit The Master and Margarita (November 11 - December 12). The production reunites Paata and Irina Tsikurishvili onstage in title roles in this original adaptation of Mikhail Bulgakov's masterpiece about the devil's visit to Stalin's Moscow. The metaphorical play exotically fuses text, astonishing visuals, physicality, and humor, and was a smash hit in 2004.

DC theater companies are getting an early jump on the holiday season this year, beginning with A Broadway Christmas Carol (November 18 - December 19) at Arlington's MetroStage. It blends the classic Dickens tale with song parodies of Broadway show tunes, and springs from the minds that brought us the hilarious The Musical of Musicals (The Musical). Ford's Theatre takes the more traditional approach with the Dickens' tale, with its annual presentation of A Christmas Carol (November 20 - January 2, 2011). Local favorite Edward Gero reprises his work as Scrooge, the miser who goes on a on a journey of transformation and redemption. Adventure Theatre presents a live stage version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (November 19 - January 2), based on the children's television classic. And Olney Theatre Center is presenting a holiday season family production of Annie (November 17 - January 2), the classic Tony Award-winner for Best Musical about never giving up hope.

Quotidian Theatre Company sees the holidays through the prism of Conor McPherson and his West End and Broadway hit The Seafarer (November 12 - December 12). McPherson mixes comedy and the occult when a mysterious stranger joins a Dublin card game on Christmas Eve. It's at The Writer's Center in Bethesda. For a different take on the holidays, Washington Improv Theater has Seasonal Disorder (November 26 - January 1) over at Source Theater. WIT promises "chaos and heightened emotions" in this completely improvised exploration of holiday insanity." The cast take suggestions from the audience, making every show a one-of-a kind event.

The Kennedy Center has commissioned the world premiere of a modern version of an old Brothers Grimm tale. Snow White, Rose Red (and Fred) (November 26 - December 19) updates the story of equally beautiful sisters and places it in "a self-absorbed high school drama class." Teamwork and collaboration ultimately prevail in this musical comedy about sharing the spotlight. Opening the same day is Leonard Bernstein's Candide (November 26 - January 9) at Shakespeare Theatre Company's Sidney Harman Hall. It's a musical take on Voltaire's satire, newly adapted by director Mary Zimmerman. Candide goes on a hilarious journey of misfortunes and obstacles which challenge his optimistic outlook.

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