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DC Metro Spotlight: December 2007

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Donna Migliaccio and Dan Manning in Shlemiel the First
(© Stan Barouh)
The holiday season in DC brings a schlemiel, a Scrooge, a shepherd, the rain in Spain, and plenty of pirates to area stages. One of the highlights of last season's residency by famed playwright, director, and critic Robert Brustein at Theater J was a concert presentation of his comic klezmer musical Schlemiel the First featuring Donna Migliaccio and Dan Manning. Director Nick Olcott is bringing the duo back to head the cast in a full production of the musical (December 18-January 20), which is based on Isaac Bashevis Singer's stories.

Playwright Kia Corthorn, emerging as an important voice in contemporary African-American Theatre, has never had a full staging of her work in DC, but Studio Theatre is changing that. Studio's 2ndStage kicks off its 20th Anniversary Season with Breath, Boom (December 12-January 6), a gritty story of a 16-year-old girl's journey from gang queen to 30-year-old woman.

Two national tours hit the area this month: Monty Python's Spamalot (December 11-January 6) comes back to the National Theatre, whole the Kennedy Center presents the British-based revival of the Lerner & Lowe classic My Fair Lady (December 27-January 20), which won five Olivier Awards in London a few seasons back.

Arlington's Washington Shakespeare Company takes on a pair of clever recent works for their Contemporary Play Repertory this month. The title Kafka's Dick (December 1-January 13) neatly captures a plot reference in Alan Bennett's sharp 1986 satire about history and fame. Imagine surrealist writer Franz Kafka showing up at the home of a present day insurance agent and ironically ending up as a defendant in a trial. That play rotates with Wendy McLeod's outrageous and disturbing black comedy The House of Yes (December 6-January 13), in which family dysfunction, incest, and obsession with the JFK assassination help turn fantasy into appalling reality for an upper-class family.

Ford's Theatre may be closed for renovations this season, but the show goes on. Their annual production of A Christmas Carol (December 6-29) takes place this year at the Shakespeare Theatre Company's Lansburgh Theatre, a few blocks away. The Ford's production is a traditional adaptation of the Charles Dickens story of Scrooge and the Christmas ghosts who help him renew his soul. Both traditional and unusual is The Folger Consort's The Second Shepherd's Play (December 12-30). Staged at the Folger Elizabethan Theatre on Capitol Hill, it is a medieval mystery play that creates a distinctive point of view on the Nativity through use of sacred music and medieval dance, mixed with storytelling.

Charles Ross is back with his One-Man Star Wars Trilogy (December 11-30), which returns to Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. Ross plays all the characters, recreates the effects, sings the music, and performs all the battles scenes from the original Star Wars films.

For the kids, there's Treasure Island (through December 30) at the Round House Theatre mainstage in Bethesda. Local playwright Ken Ludwig adapted Robert Louis Stephenson's 1833 adventure tale of pirate ships, swordfights, and buried treasure for the stage.

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