Spring Arts Preview: Performance

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Mia Ellis in James Baldwin's "The Amen Corner." Courtesy Shakespeare Theatre Company.

Theater

If you want to know what’s up at the Shakespeare Theatre Company under new Artistic Director Simon Godwin, you can get a fair idea with two current productions: “The Amen Corner,” a rousing gospel play by James Baldwin, directed by Whitney White, at Sidney Harman Hall (through March 15); and Godwin’s directorial debut, the rarely performed Shakespeare tragedy “Timon of Athens,” at the Michael R. Klein Theatre, formerly the Lansburgh (through March 22). Chocolate-infused musical comedy “Romantics Anonymous,” written and directed by Emma Rice, with music by Michael Kooman and lyrics by Christopher Dimond, will follow at the Michael R. Klein (April 7 to May 17).

Speaking of Shakespeare, Folger Theatre’s production of “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” director by Aaron Posner, is the last “at-home” production before the Folger Shakespeare Library closes for a major renovation (through March 1).

The August Wilson Festival winds up at Arena Stage with “Seven Guitars,” one of the finest plays in Wilson’s Century Cycle of 10 — one per decade, this one about the 1940s — depicting African American life in a corner of Pittsburgh (April 3 to May 3). In a somewhat similar but later vein: Antoinette Nwandu’s “Pass Over,” directed by Psalmayene 24, at Studio Theatre (March 4 to April 12).

At Woolly Mammoth, “There’s Always the Hudson” by Paola Lázaro, directed by Jess McLeod, concerns a sexual abuse support group (April 6 to May 3).

“The Wanderers” by Anna Ziegler, directed by Amber McGinnis at Theater J, is about an arranged marriage in the Satmar Hasidic community (through March 15). Then Mark St. Germain’s “Becoming Dr. Ruth,” as in Westheimer, is due to return (March 27 to April 19).

Round House Theatre, in its renovated Bethesda home, will present “Cost of Living,” directed by Artistic Director Ryan Rilette, in which Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Martyna Majok interweaves two narratives of disability (April 1 to 19).

Coming up at GALA Hispanic Theatre: José Zayas directs “Tía Julia y el Escribidor (Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter),” by Caridad Svich, based on a novel by Mario Vargas Llosa set in the Peru of the 1950s (April 23 to May 17).

“Inherit the Windbag,” a Mosaic Theater Company production directed by Lee Mikeska Gardner at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, centers on a volatile political debate in 1968 between the liberal, tart, acidic Gore Vidal and the conservative, tart, acidic William F. Buckley. Washington familiars John Lescault and Paul Morella star as Buckley and Vidal, respectively, in this world premiere by Washington Post humor-and-politics columnist Alexandra Petri (March 11 to 29).

Tennessee Williams is back. Avant Bard has mounted “Suddenly Last Summer,” directed by Christopher Henley, at the Gunston Arts Center. The film version is still remembered for Elizabeth Taylor in a white bathing suit (through April 5).

Ford’s Theatre is bringing us Frank Loesser’s “Guys and Dolls” with Bueka Uwemedimo as Sky Masterson (March 13 to May 20). More musicals: Rice and Lloyd Webber’s “Jesus Christ Superstar” in the Kennedy Center Opera House (April 14 to 26) and the Tony Award-winning musical “Bandstand,” from “Hamilton” choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler, about the return of American soldiers from World War II, at the National Theatre (March 3 to 8). Later on, the National will have a fling with Sting (yes, that Sting), as playwright and director of “The Last Ship” (March 27 to April 5).

Opera

Bass-baritone Ryan McKinny will portray the libidinous antihero in Washington National Opera’s production of “Don Giovanni,” one of Mozart’s most ambitious, defiant and powerful works, with a libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte, conducted by Evan Rogister in the Kennedy Center Opera House (Feb. 29 to March 22). Also in the Opera House: Saint-Saëns’s “Samson and Delilah,” with rising star J’Nai Bridges as Delilah and Roberto Aronica as Samson (March 1 to 21). In the second half of March, in the Eisenhower Theater, Kenneth Kellogg will star in “Blue,” a tale of a black Harlem police officer whose son is killed by a white police officer, with music by Jeanine Tesori and a libretto by Tazewell Thompson (March 15 to 28).

Washington Concert Opera’s spring production, conducted by Artistic Director Antony Walker in George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium, is “Simon Boccanegra,” Verdi’s political-historical opera about a doge (chief magistrate) in 14th-century Genoa. The singers are baritone Lester Lynch in the title role, soprano Marina Costa-Jackson, tenor Kang Wang, baritone Musa Ngqungwana and bass Andrea Silvestrelli (April 5).

The In Series brings us something traditional — Verdi’s “Rigoletto” — in a totally new and different way, decked out in an immersive circus production at the Atlas Performing Arts Center. Victoria Gau of Capital City Symphony will conduct (April 11 to 19).

Choral

The Cathedral Choral Society will mark the centennial of the 19th Amendment with “March of the Women,” a program conducted by Music Director Steven Fox of works by women composers, including three newly commissioned pieces (March 22). The day before, there will be a panel discussion and a composition master class at Live! at 10th & G (March 21).

The Choral Arts Society of Washington will keep the women’s suffrage theme going with “Music by Women on a Mission,” conducted by Artistic Director Scott Tucker and guest conductor Gisèle Becker at Live! at 10th & G (March 28).

But there’s more! Also at Live! at 10th & G, the Washington Chorus, directed by Christopher Bell, will team up with the Heritage Signature Chorale, led by Stanley J. Thurston, for “The Future Is Female” (April 4).

Orchestral and Chamber

Among the National Symphony Orchestra’s spring performances at the Kennedy Center will be two concerts conducted by Louis Langrée at which Stephen Hough will play Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto. Also on the program: Brahms’s First Symphony and Julia Wolfe’s “Fountain of Youth” (April 16 and 18).

Washington Performing Arts will present the Philadelphia Orchestra under the baton of Stéphane Denève, principal guest conductor, in a Kennedy Center appearance with mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor singing Peter Lieberson’s “Neruda Songs” (April 15). The following month, two rising-star pianists will perform in the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater in the same week: Beatrice Rana (May 12) and Igor Levit (May 15).

Beatrice Rana. Photo by Marie Staggat.

PostClassical Ensemble, conducted by Angel Gil-Ordóñez, will give the world premiere in the Great Nave of the National Cathedral of Kevork Mourad’s “Armenian Odyssey,” a multimedia meditation featuring Jivan Gasparyan and Jivan Gasparyan Jr., performers on the duduk, a double reed instrument made of apricot wood; cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan; and composer Vache Sharafyan (March 4).

Japanese koto virtuoso and composer Yumi Kurosawa will perform with violinist Emil Israel Chudnovsky and Chinese flute (dizi) virtuoso Yimin Miao at the National Museum of Asian Art (April 3).

With guest singers, Ensemble Caprice will perform excerpts from the recently unearthed Vivaldi opera “Motezuma” at Dumbarton Oaks (April 5 and 6).

The Russian Chamber Art Society’s season at the Embassy of France will conclude with “Tchaikovsky and His Contemporaries,” featuring soprano Inna Dukach and bass Denis Serov (April 17).

Dumbarton Concerts will wrap up its season at Dumbarton United Methodist Church with a performance by PUBLIQuartet, a foursome dedicated to performing new works for string quartet (April 18).

In conjunction with the exhibition “Riffs and Relations: African American Artists and the European Modernist Tradition” at The Phillips Collection, the museum’s Music Room will welcome the ensemble Castle of Our Skins, led by violist Ashleigh Gordon (April 19).

The Smithsonian Chamber Music Society will present the Axelrod String Quartet performing quartets by Haydn and Bartók and, with the Omer Quartet, Mendelssohn’s Octet in the National Museum of American History’s Taubman Hall (May 9 and 10).

Jazz, Pop, Rock and Hip Hop

Blues Alley will present some of the best guitarists in jazz this spring: Kevin Eubanks (March 19 to 22), Lee Ritenour (April 2 to 5) and John Pizzarelli (April 30 to May 3). With the Embassy of Italy, the famed Georgetown club will also host an Italian Jazz Series (April 20 to 24).

Kevin Eubanks. Photo by Anna Webber.

Returning in June, as always, all over town: DC JazzFest (June 12 to 20).

Spring highlights at Wolf Trap: Ladysmith Black Mambazo (March 16 and 17), the Fifth Dimension (March 20), Joan Osborne (April 16 and 17) and Jim Messina (April 21 and 22).

The Birchmere keeps making it hard to choose, with acts like the Oak Ridge Boys (March 6), Graham Nash (March 10), 10,000 Maniacs (March 20), Rosanne Cash (March 31 and April 1, sold out), Kathy Mattea (April 5), Sinead O’Connor (April 7, sold out), Jonny Lang (April 21), Shawn Colvin (April 30) and Ann Wilson (May 12).

Five-time Grammy winner Lauryn Hill and the DMV’s own Alice Smith will perform as part of the Kennedy Center’s Black Girls Rock! Fest (March 6 and 7).

A few more people you’ve heard of: Celine Dion (March 11) and Billie Eilish (March 18) are coming to Capital One Arena, the Beach Boys will land at The Anthem (April 7) and Strathmore will welcome Tony Bennett (March 15) and Lea Salonga (April 17).

Dance

This spring, The Washington Ballet will dance “Swan Lake” in the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater to live performances of Tchaikovsky’s classic score by the Washington Ballet Orchestra. Additional staging and choreography by Artistic Director Julie Kent and Associate Artistic Director Victor Barbee will meld with the original choreography by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov (April 9 to 19).

Spring performances by Bowen McCauley Dance in the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater will feature an expanded collaboration between choreographer Lucy Bowen McCauley and Turkish composer Erberk Eryilmaz (March 27 and 28).

Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company will present “Reflections of Sargent,” exploring the works and life of painter John Singer Sargent, at the National Portrait Gallery (April 5 and 7; May 10).

Anchors Aweigh! Diane Coburn Bruning’s Chamber Dance Project will hold its 2020 gala on two yachts anchored at the Capital Yacht Club at the Wharf (March 29). The company’s “New Works 2020” program, including four world premieres, will be presented in the Michael R. Klein Theatre (June 18 to 27).

 

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