Washington-area theatres haven’t unveiled their 2018-2019 seasons yet, but there are already a bushel of fun plays worth looking forward to in the first half of the new year.
Old stand-bys, new adaptations, and world premieres, comedies and dramas, musicals and Shakespeare: Whatever you’re looking for at the theatre, you’ll find it below. Here are our official, sight-unseen recommendations for 2018.
When the 2017-2018 season selections were announced, no choice seemed like a better fit — none got me more excited — than the Constellation Theatre Company’s planned production of The Skin of Our Teeth. Constellation, at Source Theatre on 14th Street, excels at telling big stories writ small, and that’s Skin all over. Thornton Wilder’s 1943 Pulitzer Prize winner presents the history of the human race through the pseudo-absurdist antics of one squabbling family — huddling up during the Ice Age, bracing for The Flood (in Atlantic City), and picking up the pieces after The War. I would truly be shocked if Constellation fucked this one up. One red flag, however: Their website lists only one intermission. I do hope they haven’t cut too much from the other three-act masterpiece by the author of Our Town.
Runs Jan. 11-Feb. 11
No lie, I typically hate one-person, all-monologue shows, but at least Dr. Ruth is someone people are used to hearing talk for hours and hours. And the life story of Ruth Westheimer truly is thrilling: escaping Nazi Germany, training as a sniper in Israel, teaching Americans the phrase “get some.” Theatre J’s forthcoming production will live or die based on Naomi Jacobson’s performance. Let’s talk about sex, baby.
Runs Feb. 21-March 18
Local favorite Aaron Posner directs a cast crammed with stand-out performers in one of the Bard’s weirder “romances.” The Folger Library has been embracing Shakespeare’s off-center “problem plays” in recent years — Timon of Athens, Pericles — and if anyone can ace Winter’s Tale, it’s these guys.
Runs from March 13-April 22
“It is 1833, and change is coming to County Donegal,” Studio Theatre’s website says while describing what sounds like a very ambitious play. New borders are drawn while old Greek and Latin classics are translated and reexamined, “kindling romance and inciting violence.” British meets Irish. History meets military. Ass meets theatre seat.
Runs March 21 to June 22
Arena Stage hosted the debuts of Dear Evan Hansen and the revamped version of Next to Normal (not to mention 2016’s rapturous Nina Simone: Four Women), so when they have a musical’s world premiere, you’d better damn well pay attention. This one, about a couple struggling with grief in the Alaskan wilderness, sounds unique and beautiful. The story is adapted from a Pulitzer Prize finalist novel. The score is influenced by back-country string bands. And the director is Molly Smith, capping off her 20th season as Arena’s artistic director. To Alaska we go!
Runs April 13-May 20
Most shows put on by the Shakespeare Theatre Company fall into one of two categories: actual Shakespeare (duh) or high-brow literary (their current season includes both Pinter and Godot). So it’s something of a surprise to see Camelot, a high-quality but decidedly middle-brow musical, on the docket. A surprise, but a pleasant one; who better than the technical wizards at Sidney Harman Hall to tackle the sights and sounds of Lerner and Loewe’s Arthurian romance? I practically have “How to Handle a Woman” and “What Do the Simple Folk Do?” stuck in my head already — and it even opens in the lusty month of May! Best-case scenario: It’ll be the most fun you have at a D.C. theatre this year. Worst-case scenario: You still get to see Camelot.
Runs May 22-July 1
Woolly Mammoth is the hungriest, most restless theatre in Washington, and this American premiere sounds like a feast. Sandro Botticelli and Leonardo da Vinci take on a conservative Catholic Church in Florence, amid the painting of “The Birth of Venus”? Sign me up.
Runs May 28 to June 24
You had me at “a run-down bar in the Florida Panhandle,” Round House.
Runs June 6-July 1