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DC Metro Spotlight: August 2008

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As August's tropical heat and humidity send DC area residents scurrying to cooler climes, those who stay behind are rewarded with fresh, cool new work on stage. Signature Theatre debuts Ace (August 26-September 28), an epic musical from Robert Taylor (book & lyrics) and Richard Oberacker (music). In 1950s America, ten year old Danny (newcomer Dalton Harrod) receives a toy plane from his foster parents (Emily Skinner and Duke Lafoon) that propels the lad back through time with the help of an ace pilot (Matthew Scott), helping the troubled youngster come to terms with his past, present, and future. The principal cast also includes Angelina Kelly, Florence Lacey, Christiane Noll, Jill Paice, and Jim Stanek. Eric Schaeffer takes the controls for this ambitious new show, and it will be interesting to see how he manages the challenges of staging World War I dogfights over Europe and the exploits of World War II's Tiger squadrons above Southeast Asia. Hopes are high the next landing will be on Broadway.

We have to wait almost until Labor Day for Arena Stage's Resurrection (August 29-October 5). The world premiere drama is written by 2007 OBIE Award winner Daniel Beaty, with music by Daniel Bernard Roumain. Using a blend of music, poetry, and dance, the show highlights African-American identity and relationships.

Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company presents Maria/Stuart (August 18-September 14) for its debut staging. This new play from Jason Grote is described this way: "Stuart fights to keep the lid on his mother's and aunts' simmering angst. But the family's secrets channel themselves into a bizarre shape-shifter that guzzles soda and chatters German verse. Friedrich Schiller's classic tale of warring queens inspires a macabre romp." Company members Naomi Jacobson and Sarah Marshall lead the cast.

Longacre Lea Productions has brand new work from local actor/director -- and now playwright -- Kathleen Ackerley. Her absurdist fantasy Theories of the Sun (Catholic University's Callan Theatre, August 13-September 7) is another one where we're best off relying on the theater company's description: "Ancient sun mythologies. Ritual lies. Urine samples. Dancing and death. A small hotel in 1963 France hosts a grieving Tennessee Williams, a questing Tom Stoppard, and a mysterious young woman who ignites every heart but her own."

It's not a world premiere, but it's still pretty new: Olney Theatre Center stages David Lindsay-Abaire's 2007 Pulitzer Prize winner for Drama, Rabbit Hole (August 6-31). Becca and Howie Corbett try to reclaim their once-happy lives after a shattering accident turns them upside down. Meanwhile, Becca's well-meaning mom and odd sister attempt to lift their spirits. Critics hailed the play for searching out hope, comfort, and forgiveness in dark moments.

The pioneering Open Circle Theatre is back in residence at Round House Theatre Silver Spring this summer, staging Paul Sills' Story Theatre (August 22-September 13). Sills adapted tales from the Brothers Grimm and Aesop's Fables, utilizing transformation, mime, and dance in a "play with music" that did nicely on Broadway back in 1970-71. Director Suzanne Richard has assembled an ensemble of 16 actors, both with and without physical challenges and disabilities, who are using improvisational techniques and theater games.

Keegan Theatre's New Island Project takes us back to the old island, actually, as an Irish village plays host to a Hollywood film company in Marie Jones' Stones in His Pockets (Arlington's Theatre On The Run, through August 23). Eric Lucas and Matthew Keenan play over a dozen roles, in this hyperkinetic satire of clashing cultures. Winner of London's Olivier Award for Best Comedy in 2001, Stones in His Pockets also received several Tony nominations that year.


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