Tag Archives: Signature Theatre

The Squeaky Gun Gets the Grease: Assassins at Signature Theatre, reviewed.

The lineup of killers and would-be killers. (Photo: Christopher Mueller)

Whether a production of Assassins uses period-accurate prop guns doesn’t matter. Whether the director of a 2019 Assassins has thought about how our relationship to gun violence, mental illness, & presidential politics has changed since 1990 matters a lot. My review of Signature Theatre’s second, and weaker, 21st-c. take on Stephen Sondheim’s scandalous late-20th century musical is in this week’s Washington City Paper.

Continue reading

Honey, Believe Me: Girlfriend, reviewed.

GFD_7683My review of Signature Theatre’s production of Girlfriend, wherein book writer (and songwriter, though not here) David Almond takes a (then) 20-year-old album Matthew Sweet wrote about his divorce and retcons it into a minimalist musical about two boys falling in love in Nebraska the summer after high school, is in this week’s Washington City Paper. A fine little show. Nothing wrong with that sort of appropriation. But everyone I’ve heard from who really loves it has never heard the album from which Almond borrowed its music.

Less Is More: John and Underground Railroad Game, reviewed.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Criticism imitating art imitating life: My Washington City Paper review of Annie Baker’s John at Signature Theatre is three times as long as my review of the touring Underground Railroad Game at Woolly Mammoth, just as John is three times as long as Underground Railroad Game. And roughly a third as rewarding.

Your mileage, as ever, may vary.

Enhanced Interrogation: 4,380 Nights, reviewed.

CSH_3844

Annalisa Dias’s world premiere Gitmo detainee drama 4,380 Nights is a strong offering in the Womens’ Voices Theatre Festival. My review is in this week’s Washington City Paper.

Ahmad Kamal and Lynette Rathnam (C Stanley Photography)

Unsinkable? Unthinkable! Signature Theatre’s all-singing, all-dancing Titanic, reviewed.

id3a0868Signature Theatre has revived Titanic, a multi-Tony Award-winning musical from 1997 that almost no one remembers. Apparently it was upstaged by some movie? My Washington City Paper review is here.

All that (Inventor of) Jazz: Jelly’s Last Jam and The Lonesome West, reviewed.

My reviews of Signature Theatre’s new production of George C. Wolfe and Susan Brikenhead’s early-90s Jelly Roll Morton bio-musical Jelly’s Last Jam, and Keegan Theatre’s production of Martin McDonagh’s late-90s black comedy The Lonesome West, are in today’s Washington City Paper.  Notice is served.

Gay for Play: La Cage Aux Folles, reviewed.

455A2076

My review of Signature Theatre’s robust revival of Jerry Herman and Harvey Fierstein’s beloved Reagan-era musical farce La Cage Aux Folles is in this week’s Washington City Paper. I like the show, but I don’t like my review as much as the one I wrote of the Goodspeed Opera House’s production about a year ago, as part of my coursework for the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center’s National Critics Institute. Which is odd, because I remember thinking I was producing mostly unpublishable copy while I was there. I’ve never been a fast writer. Most days we had copy due at 8:30 or 9 a.m. about the show we’d seen the night before. Anyway, the Critic Class of 2016 starts their two-week term on Saturday. Good luck, you guys. I envy you, sort of — just not your early-a.m. deadlines or your accommodations or your on-campus meals.

Actually, the coffee was pretty decent. I drank a lot of it, at any rate.

Losin’ It: All the Way and The Mystery of Love and Sex, reviewed.

Jack Willis as President Lyndon Baines Johnson and Bowman Wright as Martin Luther King, Jr. (Stan Barouh)

Prince is all I’ve thought about in the can-it-really-be-only-a-day since the world learned of his death, but here are the two theatre reviews I filed earlier in the week for the Washington City Paper. Arena Stage does Richard Schenkkan’s 2014 Tony winner All the Way, and Signature Theatre stages Bathsheba Doran’s The Mystery of Love and Sex.

Continue reading

Popcorn Psychology: Signature’s The Flick, reviewed.

Thaddeus McCants, Laura C. Harris, and Evan Casey in Signature Theatre's "The Flick."

I review Signature Theatre’s production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning comic drama The Flick in this week’s Washington City Paper. It’s the fourth Annie Baker play I’ve reviewed — five if you count her translation of Uncle Vanya — and the second in which I’ve quoted a heckler. Maybe I wouldn’t have done that had I remembered doing it in my review of Studio Theatre’s The Aliens three-and-a-half years ago.

Further reading, if you really want to see me struggle not to repeat myself: Circle Mirror Transformation, from 2010, and Body Awareness, from 2012.

When You’re a Jet Something Something: West Side Story, reviewed.

west-side-story2-1780x1254I brought my folks to Signature Theatre’s reverent, rapturous production of the Broadway classic West Side Story the week before Christmas, but due to vagaries related to two issues falling on holidays between then and now, my Washington City Paper review is only now surfacing. I filed on time, dammit. At least I think I did. Who can remember anything from before Christmas now? Holiday-time usually brings a conventional but deeply satisfying revival of a proven crowd favorite, and this winter, West Side Story is the one to beat.

Continue reading

Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps): Girlstar and Avenue Q, reviewed.

In this week’s Washington City Paper, I size up a pair of musicals: Signature Theatre’s Girlstar is a confused mess borne aloft by a strong cast, and Constellation Theatre’s revival of the hit Sesame Street parody Avenue Q is funnier and more soulful than The Muppets. (The dour 2015 version, not The Muppet Show.) More words, if not necessarily more insight, on these subjects here and here.

Video

On Around Town, talking Laugh, Man of La Mancha, The Originalist, and Soon.

Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 1.02.20 PMMy regimen of smiling and sentence-speaking practice continues as I join host Robert Aubry Davis and Washington Post arts writer Jane Horwitz for another Around Town panel discussion of what’s happening on stage here in Our Nation’s Capitol and its close suburbs. In this batch of videos, which have also been airing irregularly on your public television, we discuss three shows I reviewed for the Washington City Paper and one I didn’t: Beth Henley’s homage to silent film comedies Laugh, the Shakespeare Theatre’s new production of the classic musical Man of La Mancha, Arena Stage’s world premiere play about divisive Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, The Originalist, and Soon, a new musical about the end of the world, kind of, at Signature Theatre.

Continue reading

Judgment Days: Signature Theatre’s Soon, reviewed.

Alex Brightman and Jessica Hershberg in "Soon." (Teresa Wood)My review of all-rounder Nick Blaemire’s world premiere apocalypse musical Soon is in today’s Washington City Paper. Or you can save an already-killed tree and read it here.

 

The Hard Sells: Back to Methuselah, Part 2 and Kid Victory, reviewed.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In today’s snow-day edition of the Washington City Paper, I review the second installment in Washington Stage Guild’s three-part, three-year presentation of George Bernard Shaw‘s Back to Methuselah and of the world-premiere John Kander-Greg Pierce musical Kid Victory. Around Town videos wherein Robert Aubry Davis, Jane Horwitz, the gigantic lapels of my shirt, and I dissect these differently taxing shows are here and here.

Video

On Around Town, talking In Praise of Love and Diner

http://watch.weta.org/viralplayer/2365398431

New year! Lightly refurbished attitude! Same old trouble smiling when announced and speaking in complete sentences!I am always happy to be invited to join host Robert Aubry Davis and Washington Post arts writer Jane Horwitz to talk theatre on WETA’s Around Town. Continue reading

On Around Town, talking Sex with Strangers, Julius Caesar, and How We Got On

For more on how abysmal I am at looking into a camera and smiling when someone says my name, we take you now to the studios of WETA, where I was pleased to join Around Town host Robert Aubry Davis and Washington Post arts writer Jane Horwitz last week for very brief discussions of three shows I recently reviewed for the Washington City Paper, starting with my favorite of 2014, Signature Theatre’s production of Laura Eason‘s Sex with Strangers.

Continue reading

The Good Books: Sex with Strangers and Elmer Gantry, reviewed.

This is my last pair of Washington City Paper theatre reviews to be edited by departing managing editor Jonathan L. Fischer, who as I mentioned last week is moving on to become a senior editor at Slate. I’ll miss having him edit me every week but I know he’ll do great things there. Godspeed, Jon.

Hard (Nineteen Twenty-)Eight: The Threepenny Opera and Failure: A Love Story, reviewed.

And now, two plays with music, one from 1928 and one set in 1928. My reviews of Signature Theatre’s new production of The Threepenny Opera as well as the hub theatre’s local premiere of Philip Dawkins’ Failure: A Love Story, are in today’s Washington City Paper. Continue reading

Tête-à-Tête Offensive: Tender Napalm and The Carolina Layaway Grail, reviewed.

Laura C. Harris and Elan Zafir in Signature Theatre's "Tender Napalm" (Teresa Wood)

In one of the the shows at Signature Theatre right now, a woman (named “Woman”) tells a man (“Man”) in precise, step-by-step detail how she plans to sever his penis and scrotum.

In the theater next door, Beaches: The Musical is playing. Six of one…

I review Philip Ridley’s Tender Napalm in this week’s Washington City Paper. Plus Allyson Currin’s The Carolina Layaway Grail, the inaugural production from DC playwriting collective The Welders.

Continue reading

Too Past for Love: Signature’s Dying City and Spooky Action’s Reckless, reviewed

Rachel Zampelli & Thomas Keegan in DYING CITY (Scott Suchman)

Hear ye, hear ye: My reviews of new productions of Christopher Shinn‘s somber 2006 drama Dying City and Craig Lucas‘s surreal 1983 comedy Reckless are in today’s Washington City Paper.