Onstage, Georgetown: Plays Are Blooming

By Mark Edelman

April showers may come your way, along with the tail end of those lovely cherry blossoms. Meanwhile, these plays are blooming in the coming months at theaters in and around Washington, D.C.

Jessica Phillips in “Penelope.” Photo by Daniel Rader.

‘Penelope’ — Signature Theater, Now through April 21

Mrs. Odysseus is fed up and has some things she wants to say about those 20 years waiting back in Ithaca, while hubby got all the ink in Homer’s “Odyssey.” This world premier musical flips the script on the dutiful wife, as Penelope steps out of the background to claim her share of the spotlight. Tickets at www.sigtheatre.org.

‘At the Wedding’ — Studio Theatre, Now through April 20

Carlo crashes her ex’s wedding with three simple goals: Don’t get drunk. Don’t make any kids cry. Don’t try to win back the bride, no matter how boring the groom is. Studio offers up a new comedy about loneliness, estrangement and a slow-burn romance with being alive. Tickets at www.studiotheatre.org.

‘Nancy’ — Mosaic Theater, Now through April 21

It’s 1985, and two women are hard at work steering their futures — Nancy Reagan using astrology to orchestrate her hubby’s political career and Esmeralda, a Navajo mother, advocating for her community. Their worlds converge when they discover Nancy is a descendant of Pocahontas in this very D.C. play about ancestry and ambition. Tickets at www.mosaictheater.org.

‘Hester Street’ — Theatre J, Now through April 21

The world premier of the stage adaptation of Joan Micklin Silver’s 1975 film tells the uplifting tale of a young woman from Eastern Europe who arrives with her little boy in New York’s Lower East Side circa 1890 where she discovers that her husband, who journeyed ahead of her, has already embraced a new American life she does not understand. Faced with the disintegration of her marriage, Gitl must find her voice, protect her son and redefine herself in this strange land. Tickets at www.edcjcc.org/theatre-j.  

‘Unknown Soldier’ — Arena Stage, Now through May 5

The photo of an anonymous recruit, hidden among her grandmother’s keepsakes, sends a woman on a sweeping musical journey to discover the secrets of her family’s past. With Broadway talent and a name producer attached, this one looks like another Arena pre-Broadway transfer. Tickets at www.arenastage.org. 

‘Little Shop of Horrors’ — Ford’s Theatre, Now through May 18

That big old scary plant returns to Ford’s in this musical theater favorite. Doo wop and Motown infuse a classic boy-meets-girl, boy-introduces-girl-to carnivorous, blood-thirsty plant story with a great score by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, who went on to save Disney animation with “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast.” Tickets at www.fords.org.

“Beauty and the Beast.” Photo by Jeri Tidwell.

‘Beauty and the Beast’ — Toby’s Dinner Theatre, Now through June 16

A tale as old as time—what more can you ask of the Disney juggernaut? The Mouse House’s first Broadway hit, it revitalized not only the Great White Way but big screen animation, too. With a Tony Award-winning score by Alan Menken and lyrics by the too-soon-taken-from-us Howard Ashman, “Beauty” is one for the ages and all ages. Tickets at www.tobysdinnertheatre.com.

“Stomp.” created by Luke Cresswell and Steve McNichols. Courtesy Steve McNichols.

‘Stomp’ — Capital One Hall, April 5 to 7 

Head out to McLean with your trash can lid and ear plugs for this international percussion sensation that uses matchboxes, wooden poles, brooms, Zippo lighters, hubcaps and more — to fill the stage with magnificent rhythms. Tickets at www.capitolonehall.com.

‘Webster’s Bitch’ — Keegan Theatre, April 6 to May 5

Gender and obscenity in the age of social media threatens to bring down that most sacred of institutions: Webster’s Dictionary. Office politics collide with ambition, morality and lexicography in this dark comedy — a Washington area premier — about vulgar words and the people who define them. Tickets at www.keegantheatre.com. 

‘Macbeth’ — Shakespeare Theatre Co. at 1301 W St. NE, April 9 to May  5

In the theatrical event of the season, “English Patient” star Ray Fiennes and Indira Varma (she of “Game of Thrones” fame) play the unmentionable Scottish prince and his ruthless wife in a production of the Shakespeare tragedy that’s wowing them in the West End on its way across the pond. Performed immersively on a soundstage that formerly housed BET Studios, the Scottish play cautions that our minds may deceive us, but a guilty conscience will undo us all. Tickets at www.shakespearetheatre.org.

‘Peter Pan’ — National Theatre, April 9 to 21

If you believe in fairies, you know what to do: clap your hands so that Tinker Bell survives, the Lost Boys defeat Captain Hook and the Darling children return from Neverland to their nursery and beloved pooch Nana. Playwright Larissa FastHorse has adapted this musical chestnut, removing the racist elements and giving Wendy and Tiger Lily their due. And — spoiler alert — Peter is finally played by a boy! Tickets at broadwayatthenational.com. 

‘A Jumping Off Point’ — Round House Theatre, April 10 to May 5

A promising Black female writer lands her first deal with HBO, only to be confronted with a White male from her grad school who accuses her of stealing his work. Their conflict forces us to consider sources, privilege and who gets to tell what kind of stories in this incendiary, provocative world premier. Tickets at www.roundhousetheatre.org.

‘Islander’ —  Olney Theatre Center, April 11 to 28

Only one child lives on tiny Kinnan Island and the Scottish government plans to resettle the rest of the population. But, one day, a baby whale beaches itself and, miraculously, a young girl appears. The two children bond and take us on a magical journey that won the Best Musical award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Tickets at www.olneytheatre.org.

‘Hair’ — Signature Theatre, April 16 to July 7

The American tribal love-rock musical returns in all its psychedelic glory. When some long-haired hippies on the cusp of adulthood cry out for freedom, peace and joy, they are confronted instead with a world thrown into chaos when one of them receives a draft notice for the Vietnam War. Oh, and there’s a love-in, too. Tickets at  www.sigtheatre.org.

Mark Edelman is a playwright who loves writing about theater. He is a lifetime member of the Broadway League and a Tony voter.


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