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DC Metro Spotlight: January 2007

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Exterior of the new Signature Theatre
(© Carol Pratt)
It's a happy new year indeed for Signature Theatre, which is finally out of the old industrial garage and into their brand new, state-of-the-art, two-theater complex in the Shirlington section of Arlington, Virginia, just across the Potomac from the capital and a few blocks from their previous location. The first show in the MAX, the 299-seat black box mainstage, will be Into the Woods (January 12-February 25), the twisted telling of Grimm's fairy tales for which the great Stephen Sondheim wrote the music and lyrics and James Lapine provided the book. Eric Schaeffer directs his twelfth Sondheim musical with a cast of Signature favorites.

Also at the top of this month's highlights is Studio Theatre's production of Neil LaBute's This Is How It Goes, (January 3-February 11), which focuses on a turbulent interracial love triangle in a small Midwestern town. Good old George and Martha will have another go at each other as the Kennedy Center offers the national tour of the award-winning Broadway revival of Edward Albee's 1962 play, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (January 9-28) with Kathleen Turner and Tony Award winner Bill Irwin reprising the roles they performed on Broadway. Meanwhile, the American Century Theater dusts off another classic, Eugene O'Neill's 1924 tragedy Desire Under the Elms (January 5-February 3), at Arlington's Gunston Arts Center.

August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean (January 26-March 18) makes its DC debut when it opens at Arena Stage's Fichandler Theater. The ninth play in the late playwright's historic ten-part series about the culture and traditions of African American life in the 20th Century, Gem takes us to 1904 where the ancient and mystical Aunt Ester conducts spiritual journeys. Wilson's work will also be featured at Ford's Theatre, which teams up with African Continuum Theatre Company to present Jitney (January 19-February 18). Set in 1970s Pittsburgh, it's the story of jitney drivers whose business is challenged by changes in their neighborhood.

Shakespeare lovers rejoice! Synetic Theater is presenting MacBeth (January 12-February 25), the Bard's classic tale of power, murder, and madness without dialogue, interpreting the work through their unique blend of acting, movement, and stagecraft. Set in "modern militaristic times," the unusual production will be staged at The Rosslyn Spectrum on the Virginia bank of the Potomac. Meanwhile the Folger Theatre has King Lear (January 11-February 18); the Shakespeare Theatre Company has Richard III (January 16-March 18) with Helen Hayes Award winner Geraint Wyn Davies in the title role; and Keegan Theatre is presenting The Tempest (January 18-February 17) at the District's Church Street Theatre. Rorschach Theatre sees something different in The Tempest with Rough Magic (January 27-February 25), the regional premiere of Roberto Aguirre Sacasa's re-telling of the classic story via comic-book fantasy.

Theater lovers seeking newer material can head to Theater J for the world premiere of Sleeping Arrangements (January 9-February 18), which Laura Shaine Cunningham adapted from her best selling book about being raised in the 1950s by two unconventional uncles in the Bronx. Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company presents Noah Haidle's Vigils (January 29-February 25), in which a woman holds on to her dead husband's soul and body while trying to have sex with a new partner.

Washington Stage Guild has the area premiere of The Countess (January 4-February 4), a drama about a scandal in Victorian England. Charter Theatre has a new satirical revue written by company actor Mario Baldessari called Fear Itself (January 5-27) that skewers current American culture. Keegan Theatre's "New Island Theatre Project" stages Mojo Mickybo (January 5-February 3) at Arlington's Theatre on the Run; it is the poignant story of two boys who cross religious barriers to form a friendship in 1970s Belfast.

Alexandria's MetroStage unveils a new musical, Bricktop (January 17- February 28), which is a biography of blues music legends Ada "Bricktop" Smith, Alberta Hunter, and Mabel Mercer. The venerable Warner Theatre will reverberate with Stomp (January 2-January 14) as the touring percussion extravaganza passes through town, to be followed there by What's Done in the Dark (January 16-28), a suspenseful tale of infidelity.

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