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BYT Theatre Guide: Spring/Summer 2014
March 27, 2014 | 12:00PM

All words: Morgan Fecto, Morgan Baskin, Mackenzie Bailey, Stephanie Breijo, Cara Gsell

If you’re anything like us, you’ll want to go to the theatre and throw yourself into the vortex of emotions only a live performance can provoke in you. So, to paraphrase that old theatre reviewer stand-by line “YOU’LL LAUGH, YOU’LL CRY…” we figured we’d walk you through some choice offerings this season of DC has to offer (and blessedly, no CATS in sight).

BONUS: Check out our FILM GUIDE hereour COMEDY GUIDE here and our MUSIC GUIDE here. ENJOY, and follow us on facebook and twitter (@BYT) for ongoing updates.

  01 - laugh

  • The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee @ Ford’s Theatre                                                                            March 14-May 17                                                                                                                                                                                                Combine the pain of youth with the cutthroat world of theh spelling bee and you’ll get “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” Follow 6 teens as they navigate the tough worlds of their youth and the competition of getting that word right. And if that’s not enough 4 audience members will get to participate. I’d like to see you use THAT in a sentence. – JT
  • Loveland @ Arena Stage
    March 18-April 13
    If “Airplane,” “Blazing Saddles” and “The Nutty Professor” had a lovechild on a stage, it would be “Loveland.” Ann Randolph portrays an entire cast of characters, but most notably the flippant Frannie Potts as she travels to Ohio for her mom’s funeral. You will laugh. You will cry. Speaking jive is optional. -Morgan Fecto
  • Happenings: Questfest @ Shakespeare Theatre Company
    April 2
    Do you know anything about Japanese clown performance art? Neither do I! But “A Day in the Life of Miss Hiccup” is, as you’ve probably inferred, a piece of Japanese performance art about a clown from Tokyo, and I’m thinking it’ll give you a very in-depth introduction to the genre. -Morgan Baskin
  • Two Trains Running @ Round House Theatre (Bethesda)
    April 2-27
    It’s a very inspiring and realistic depiction of life for African American families in the 1960s, and the protagonist must decide whether or not he wants to (or should) sell his dirty, run-down diner to a wealthy white businessman. It raises a lot of important questions about race, class, and social identity during a very significant time in American history, but not without a laugh or two.
  • Lawd I’m Coming Home @ The National Theatre
    April 8-13
    It’s a story about “desire” and “redemption” and “togetherness.” I put these words in quotes because, honestly, do any of us really know what those things mean? -Morgan Baskin
  •  5th Annual “Fool for All”: Tales of Heroes and Gyro @ Gallaudet University’s Elstad Auditorium
    April 13
    Treat yo’self to four plays constructed in a day, all including physical comedy, witty banter, masks, and, of course, a lot of laughs. All donations benefit Faction of Fools’ sixth season so git on out there and support some local theatre. -Stephanie Breijo
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  • Happenings: Press Play Improv @ Shakespeare Theatre Company
    April 16
    This is one of those things that you see because it’ll make you laugh and feel good and whatnot. The group performs regularly around the DMV, and they’re funny, and it’s longform improv that’ll put a big ol’ smile on your face. Happy happy happy. -Morgan Baskin
  • Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mama’s Hung You In The Closet and I’m Feeling So Sad  @ American Century Theatre
    April 21-May 12
    The playwright described it as a “Pseudoclassical Tragifarce in A Bastard French Tradition.” And in case that didn’t clear things up for you, let me continue: it’s an absurdist black comedy about an absurdly dysfunctional family; and oddly, I really want to see this. -Morgan Baskin
  • Living Out @ GALA Hispanic Theatre April 24-May 18
    Through the lens of comedy we take a closer look at class and immigration status with this tale of a Salvadoran nanny and her employer, a driven and successful lawyer. When these two meet we’re taken on a trip through the human experience, regardless of creed or color. -Stephanie Breijo
  • Student Matinees: Fiasco Theatre Company’s The Two Gentlemen of Verona @ Folger Theatre
    April 25-May 7
    This is cool because it’s a chance to see a Shakespeare play without busting your wallet- the showcase offers a Pay What You Can night as well as a Student Discount night featuring a 15% ticket price discount with a valid student ID. Plus, this theater company values spontaneous chaos onstage. So, y’know, something to look forward to. -Morgan Baskin
  • Me and My Shadow @ The Kennedy Center
    April 26-27
    It’s usually the little things–in this case, papier mâché, balloons, and shadow puppets–that make us nostalgic for our childhood. And despite the fact that this exhibit is for ages 4+, it’s a playful reminder that, yes, there are still screaming little sticky-mouthed children inside of us; and, yes, they still enjoy shadowplay and colorful lights. -Morgan Baskin
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  • Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) @ Synetic Theatre
    May 8-June 8
    The title of this might as well be “This Is What Happens When A Bro Trip Goes Seriously Wrong.” It’s a satire about traveling in boats and misadventures and nonsensical things happening to nonsensical people. -Morgan Baskin
  • A Gay Man’s Guide to Broadway – Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington
    May 18
    The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington teams up with a Tony Award winner to sing some of the most famous Broadway tunes. There will be songs that you will know; songs that you can sing along to; songs that you will like. – Mackenzie Bailey
  • The Last Days of Judas Iscariot @ Forum Theatre
    May 22-June 14
    In the comedy, Judas is in purgatory and on trial. There are appearances from the Apostles, Satan, and lawyers, and it’s just one of those things that you’d have to see to understand/justify. -Morgan Baskin
  • Ordinary Days @ Round House Theatre (Bethesda)
    May 28-June 22
    College is annoying and hard enough without shitty things like LOSING THE NOTES TO YOUR THESIS happening to you, but alas, life is life, and we gotta learn to deal. Which is pretty much the theme of this successful Off-Broadway play, all told in vignettes. -Morgan Baskin
  • Private Lives @ Shakespeare Theatre Company
    May 29-July 13
    A funny play about a divorce. No but seriously, a couple gets divorced then ends up in hotel rooms right next to each other. WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT? It’s a love thing, but it’s a funny love thing so boys shouldn’t hate it. -Mackenzie Bailey

02 - cry

  • Tender Napalm @ Signature Theatre
    March 18-May 11
    It’s kinda explicit, but the heartbreakingly beautiful romance will make up for it. Expect to leave with mental trauma, emotional dissatisfaction, and a sense that something is not quite right with the world. So clearly, it’s a must-see. -Morgan Baskin
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  • David T. Little’s Soldier Songs @ ATLAS
    May 16-18
    I’m probably not the only one who’s intrigued by the concept of soldier performance art. This piece intends to highlight the loss and devastation of war, all set to classical music. Disclaimer: it’s supposed to be extremely emotional. -Morgan Baskin
  • Cymbeline @ Folger Theatre
    May 28-June 1
    This award-winning reproduction of one of Shakespeare’s final plays features only six actors who, somehow, manage to pull the entire thing off spectacularly. And BONUS: there’s a free talk with Valerie Wayne. -Morgan Baskin

 

03 - think

  • Hamlet… The Rest is Silence @ Synetic Theatre
    March 13-April 16
    It’s Hamlet… but silent. Yeah, there aren’t any words spoken. At all. As in, keep a very close eye on the actors’ faces, because that’s going to be the only indication of what the hell is going on. -Morgan Baskin
  • Jessica Van Brakle: Industrial Paradise @ Artisphere
    March 19-June 7
    Van Brakle contrasts man made constructs of technology with more organic natural elements to present, in her words, an image of “harmony” and “balance.” The colors are interestingly pairedin a muted sort of haunting way, and its supposed to highlight the complex relationship between Man and nature. -Morgan Baskin
  • Camp David @ Arena Stage
    Mar 21-May 4
    Did you ever wonder about the Camp David Accords? Did Jimmy Carter attempt to speak Arabic? Or keep a kosher kitchen? Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright’s new play Camp David might give you some insight, but will at the very least bring you Ron Rifkin as Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. -Morgan Fecto
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  • Henry IV, Part 1 @ Shakespeare Theatre Company
    March 25-June 7
    It’s the classic Shakespeare drama full reproduced for your viewing pleasure. It’s important work and only twenty bucks, so really, there’s no reason not to go see it. -Morgan Baskin
  • Brief Encounter @ Shakespeare Theatre Company
    March 29-April 13
    It’s the ultimate in experimental live theater– it features three couples on a platform in a train station who are experiences marital problems (of course, because all dramatic relationship decisions are made in the face of some sort of train departure/other travel metaphor). But the interesting part is that the play is told partly through live theater and partly through prerecorded film projected onto the stage. Somehow, someway, the producers manage to make the transition seamless. -Morgan Baskin
  • Henry IV, Part 2 @ Shakespeare Theatre Company
    April 1-June8
    Part II of Shakespeare’s Henry IV. If ya saw the first part, there’s no reason not to see the second. -Morgan Baskin
  • Hal Holbrook in Mark Twain Tonight @ The National Theatre
    April 4-5
    There’s no reason not to celebrate the work of Mark Twain, who brought you the legendary tale of Huck Finn and created generations of cougar jokes because of it. Those southern writers know how to stir up some trouble. -Morgan Baskin
  • Louis Andriessen Festival @ ATLAS
    April 6-13
    Louis Andriessen, the acclaimed Dutch composer, is turning 75. So CLEARLY that means that there has to be a weeklong celebration of his life/art in the week leading up to the occasion. His students, friends, and colleagues are all coming together to make this shindig happen, and since it’s a week long, a busy schedule ain’t an excuse to miss it. -Morgan Baskin
  • The Literary Legacy of Seamus Heaney @ Folger Theatre
    April 7
    Heaney is a legend-not in a hyperbolic “he’s super!” way-but in a profoundly talented, simplistic, he-relates-to-us-on-a-visceral-level type of way. The event will honor him by reading from some of the award winning poet’s most important pieces, and I know for a fact I’ll be at this one. -Morgan Baskin
  • Judgment at Nuremburg @ American Century Theatre
    May 30-June 28
    It’s an emotional historical drama that reveals a lot of truths about human nature. If you like any of these things, you will like the show. -Morgan Baskin
  • The Totalitarians @ Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company
    June 2-29
    This is some real House of Cards shit right here: a wife is trying to get her husband elected/promoted as a politician. She finds the perfect campaign slogan, but it’s trite and meaningles. Which, obviously, will raise some extremely existential questions about the morality/value of politics. -Morgan Baskin
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  • Healing Wars @ Arena Stage
    June 6-29
    This may be your only chance to see Bill Pullman dancing about in bloody, Civil War garb. This man, rejected by Meg Ryan and Jeff Goldblum alike, is one of an ensemble of dancers who will portray how physical and psychological battle scars from the Civil War until now are treated. -Morgan Fecto
  • 18 10-Minute Plays @ Source Theatre
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    The title says enough. There are 18 plays, each 10 minutes long, and each compelling enough to make you wish they were longer. It’s experimental performance art at its finest. -Morgan Baskin

 

04 - sing

  • Hair @ Keegan Theatre
    March 15-April 12
    This is the dawning of the age of free love and expression, of phenomenal costumes and the peace movement at Keegan Theatre. This classic musical takes us back to the ’60s in a whirlwind of sex, drugs and rock and roll, so it’s no surprise that children under 14 won’t be admitted at all. (NUDITY AND CURSING, AHOY.) Keegan’s never a company to halfheartedly put on a period show so expect full-blown ’60s zeitgeist. -Stephanie Breijo
  • Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington: Forte @ Various Locations
    April 11 and April 19
    Get ready to hear a broad mix of classics both familiar and new to you as GMCW teams up with both Rock Creek Singers and Potomac Fever on not one but TWO nights. Our favorite fabulous choir and friends dish out hits like “Take Me Home Tonight,” “Danny Boy,” “I Dreamed a Dream” and more so ready your ears (and maybe even bring a box of tissues). -Stephanie Breijo
  • Smokey Joe’s Cafe @ Arena Stage
    April 25-June 8
    If you’re a Dapper Dan man (or otherwise) then get your pompadour ready. Smokey Joe’s Cafe will transport you to a golden age of Elvis Presley and cigarrette packs rolled up into shirt sleeves. This longest-running musical revue in Broadway history has earned seven Tony nominations and is sure to have you singing along. -Morgan Fecto
  • Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington’s A Gay Man’s Guide to Broadway @ The Kennedy Center
    May 18
    The Gay Mens Chorus of Washington teams up with a Tony Award winner to sing some of the most famous broadway songs. Meaning there are songs that you will know. Songs that you can sing along to. Songs that you will like. Songs that you. – Mackenzie Bailey
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  • NSO Pops: Rajaton: The Music of ABBA @ The Kennedy Center
    May 30-31
    Ok. You had me at ABBA. Rajaton and NSO Pops collaborate to perform a totally fab set that’ll have you humming along if not belting every word to the best ABBA hits such as “Dancing Queen”, “Mamma Mia”, and “Gimme Gimme Gimme”. So why not “Take a Chance” on this unique tribute show? We say go and sing your heart out.- Cara Gsell
  • West Side Story @ The National Theatre
    June 3-8
    Always a fan of this play. Always. The songs are classic and the plot is a beautiful wonderful thing. Despite what you may want to hear, Natalie Wood will not be in the theatre version of the story, but it’s bound to be good nonetheless. -Mackenzie Bailey
  • Cloak & Dagger @ Signature Theatre
    June 12-July 6
    It’s a clever satirization of standard crime/mystery plays that features four actors playing twenty characters, one of whom races through every single neighborhood in New York on his whodunit quest. If you like ’50s film noir, this one’s for you. -Morgan Baskin
  • One Night with Janis Joplin @ Arena Stage
    June 21-August 11
    It takes the woman who plays Joplin over a hour to get into character–and she takes her role incredibly seriously. Expect to hear classics like “Summertime,” “Piece of My Heart,” and “Mercedes-Benz” in the style of Joplin’s signature howl. -Morgan Baskin
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  • Carrie: The Musical @ Studio Theatre
    July 9-August 3
    Ah, “Carrie.” The movie that caused many a high school student’s heart to shatter and body to whimper in fear and disgust. And now, the gory bloodfest is set to music in a bizarre moment of levity, all for your listening/viewing pleasure. -Morgan Baskin
  • Sunday in the Park with George @ Signature Theatre
    August 5 – September 21
    This classic dramedy is musically complex (but then again, what else is new, Sondheim?) and for those who wonder about the importance of art and artistic merit, this one’s for you. Based on Seurat and his famous painting in the park–A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jette–this show is all about love, longing, creative fulfillment and alienation. In essence, it’s everything and shouldn’t be missed. -Stephanie Breijo

 

05 - Dazzle

  • Washington National Opera: The Elixir of Love @ The Kennedy Center
    March 20-29
    Its a romantic comedy opera–yes, you read that correctly. There’s a mixup over table wine-slash-love potion and a lot of flirtatious banter, plus some tenor arias that are supposed to be v haunting and beautiful. An opportunity to get cultured in a non boring way. -Morgan Baskin
  • Max Major’s THINK: An Evening of Mind Reading and Magic @ ATLAS
    March 22
    I don’t care how old you are, every person on this planet is mesmerized by the psychic law-altering bullshit that happens in a magic show. Major is supposed to be one of the nation’s greats, so get your ticket because you know you want to (even if it’s born of a gross fascination). -Morgan Baskin
  • Aparna Ramaswamy @ ATLAS
    March 29-30
    She’s “forming the continuous pulse of the universe” by bringing back traditional Indian dance. The piece features traditional vocalists, double-headed drum players, and guru worshipping. It’s an award winning show and a rare exhibition, so catch it while you can. -Morgan Baskin
  • Camille Brown @ ATLAS
    April 4-6
    Brown aims to highlight the strength of African American performers by basing her choreography on social issues. She’s a magical storyteller, and the piece has garnered a bunch of nods from publications like New York mag. -Morgan Baskin
  • American Ballet Theatre: Don Quixote and a Mixed Repertory Program @ The Kennedy Center
    April 15-20
    Cervantes’ classic tale gets a cool update. I’ve never seen the behemoth novel translated into a live performance, but if it’s anywhere near as enchanting or charming as the book, it’s more than worth seeing. -Morgan Baskin
  • The Washington Ballet: Peter Pan @ The Kennedy Center
    April 16-27
    A non-verbal rendition of Peter Pan. There are people dancing while also fighting Captain Hook and the Lost Boys are there BUT ALL DANCING GRACEFULLY. It’s a classy twist on the classic story. Sounds good to me. – Mackenzie Bailey
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  • Yvonne Rainer’s ASSISTED LIVING: GOOD SPORTS 2 ASSISTED LIVING: DO YOU HAVE ANY MONEY? @ American Dance Institute
    April 25-26
    Do you want more from dance? A bunch of people flailing around in American Apparel not good enough for you? Well this is your show. ASSISTED LIVING: GOOD SPORTS 2 and ASSISTED LIVING: DO YOU HAVE THE MONEY? are two dances from choreographer Yvonne Rainer, woven with monologues, political incite, famous quotations, and inspiration from a New York Times photo series. -Morgan Fecto
  • Blue Man Group @ The National Theatre
    May 6-11
    The Blue Man Group is loud and it’s interesting and it keeps the viewer awake which is an important aspect in most on-stage performances. Banging on drums with neon paint and doing all kinds of freaky mind-tricky acts and weird shit that everyone loves, go to this. – Mackenzie Bailey
  • Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society @ ATLAS
    May 10
    This is an *eighteen* member orchestra. Eighteen. Bringing you a cacophony of jazzy goodness from all sides of the room, bringing back swing, and bringing you some old-school dancin’ tunes. -Morgan Baskin
  • Tere O’Connor’s Bleed @ American Dance Institute
    May 16-17
    Before you go thinking that Bleed is some sort of Carrie recreation or an off-shoot of the Vagina Monologues, here are some fun facts: Bleed will blend three dances from choreographer Tere O’Connor (hence the name) into one night of gyrating goodness. Bleed will adapt based on each tour venue and includes audience interaction. Wear leggings. -Morgan Fecto
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  • Christopher K. Morgan’s By The Inch @ American Dance Institute
    May 30-31
    Light, dark. Hot, cold. Man, woman. No this isn’t a Katy Perry performance (and thank God because we’ve had enough pagan ritual). This performance begins with CKM&A’s In The Cold Room, an examination of darkness, isolation and temperature through dance. Christopher K. Morgan’s The Measure of a Man will cap off the night and will beg the question: what DOES make a mighty good man? -Morgan Fecto
  • Puro Tango II @ GALA Hispanic Theatre
    June 5-22
    My friends from Miami like to joke about their “hispanic hips,” but since I’m just a little white girl I’ve never learned how to properly tango. But I’d like to. And if I can’t learn, I’d at least like to admire people who can. -Morgan Baskin
  • Disney’s The Lion King @ The Kennedy Center
    June 17-August 17
    Disney’s throwing it back to 1994 for this one, bringing back the 6-time Tony award-winning theater spectacular The Lion King. Emotionally prepare yourself for the Elton John-influenced costume goodness and, obv, “The Circle of Life.” Kleenex suggested. -Morgan Baskin

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06 - BYT Tips

  • Check out the League of Washington Theatres website for updates on specials.
  • If You Are Under 35 and have a valid ID to prove it, tickets to Shakespeare Theatre Company are only $15 for you. Start using and abusing that fact NOW.
  • Kennedy Center MyTix -you need to be 18‒30 years old or an active duty member of the armed services, but the discounts/offers/giveaways/special events are amazing.
  • in August-keep an eye out for SHAKESPEARE’S FREE FOR ALL, which is exactly what it sounds like: SHAKESPEARE THEATRE’S FREE OUTDOOR PERFORMANCE SERIES
  • if you are under 30, Arena Stage offers $20-per-show subscriptions for either 4 or 8 of their plays every season. SCORE.
  • speaking of Arena stage-also check out the KOGOD Cradle series dedicated to emerging and experimental work. Tickets are $10 only.
  • Before each show in DC opens, there is inevitably one or two of pay-what-you-can nights. Tickets are usually only available for in-person purchase but just keep an eye out (the calendar on top should come in handy here).
  • Studio Theatre, one of our favorites in town offers all sorts of useful discounts: Student Rush: $15 tickets day of show, must present Student ID when picking up.  or just plain Rush Tickets: $30 tickets on sale 30 minutes before curtain time as available. or Nov 2, Dec 1, Feb 29, May 23, Jun 13. Ticket Price: $20 for patrons who live or work in the Studio District, with proof of address. Tickets only available day of event. What is the Studio District? The area between 11th and 17th Streets NW, and from N ST NW to Florida Ave NW.
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