Theater Shorts: Shakespeare, Sinatra, O'Neill and Twist
Two Shrews, a mock Shakespeare trial, Sinatra and a tango or two, O’Neill still running strong and Arias with a Twist. That’s a few of the things on stage or on tap in Washington’s performing arts scene.
Here’s a look:
SINATRA AND THARP — Tony Award winner and American choreographer and legend Twyla Tharp feels a move coming on as she marries dance to the music of Frank Sinatra, arguably one of the country’s greatest interpreters of the American Songbook in “Come Fly Away.”
The production, now at the Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater through April 29, marries the vocals of Sinatra, with a live on-stage big band and 24 of the world’s finest dancers.
“Come Fly Away” hit Broadway on the heels of Tharp’s successful theater homage to the music of Billy Joel in “Movin’ Out.” In “Come Fly With Me,” four couples fall in and out of love during the course of one night at a nightclub saturated with Sinatra’s love songs, ballads and rueful takes on loving and losing. The show’s score combines familiar hits, such as “My Way” and “That’s Life,” with newly discovered vocal performances from the Sinatra archives.
THE SHREW, TWICE TAMED, LOUDLY AND IN SILENCE — There’s still a chance to see Synetic Theater’s singular and silent take on “Taming of the Shrew,” part of its Shakespeare without words effort through April 22 at the Lansburgh Theater. But if you want some words to go with the battling Petruchio and Kate, there’s a more traditional, if no less visceral, version coming to the Folger’s Elizabethan Theater on May 6, directed by Aaron Posner.
TWIST AND O’NEILL FESTIVALS NOT OVER YET — There’s still a chance to catch the unique, one-of-a-kind sensibilities of puppet master Basil Twist in two locations. His magnificent showcasing of the ancient art of Japanese puppetry, “Dogugaeshi,” remains at the Studio Theatre through April 22. “Arias with a Twist,” his hip and wild, abundantly inventive collaboration with Joey Arias, described as a “trippy, madcap, musical fantasia of ecstatic and eye-popping enchantments,” remains at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre through May 4.
Meanwhile, two key parts of Arena Stage’s Eugene O’Neill Festival remain on stage and provide an opportunity to see the master American playwright’s most ambitious plays. That would be “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” O’Neill’s through-the-sharp-looking-glass autobiographical play about the Tyrone family at Arena’s Kreeger Theater, directed by Robin Phillips through May 6. At the Shakespeare Theater, Michael Kahn provides his take on O’Neill’s challenging “Strange Interlude” through April 29.
A MOCK TRIAL: CLAUDIO V. HERO — In “Ado, I Do, Adieu: Claudio V. Hero,” the high court of Messina will gather at the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Sidney Harman Hall April 30 with a dinner, followed by a trial, as it should be.
Hearing the case: quite an all-star bench cast, with Supreme Court justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg (presiding), Samuel Alito and Elena Kagan along with other judges: Merrick Garland, Douglas Ginsburg, Brett Kavanaugh and David Tatel.
The case—another in a series of mock trials on Shakespearean issues and themes which began in 1994—centers around the young lovers of “Much Ado About Nothing, Claudio and Hero, in which Hero is seeking divorce from her husband Claudio, he being no hero after disavowing his bethrothed based solely on rumors and false charges.
PLAYING POKER WITH THE DEVIL, IRISH-STYLE — “The Seafarer,” Conor McPherson’s rich, language-driven comedy-drama gets the Scena Theatre and Robert McNamara treatment at the H Street Playhouse through May 20 at 1365 H St., NE.
The play is a gathering of verbose Irish have-nots, full of the blarney and battling for the soul of one of their own in a drawn-out, drunken poker game, which is fueled by Sasheen, a potent form of Irish whiskey that might even addle Satan.
A BIG MEAL — For foodies and theater folk, “The Bit Meal” by Dan LeFranc is a family saga that follows five generations from the vantage point of a single restaurant table.
LeFranc wrote the Studio Theatre 2nd Stage Hit, “Sixty Miles to Silver Lake,” which was performed in 2010. So, it’s fitting that “The Big Meal,” directed by Johanna Gruenhut, will be a part of the 2nd Stage season at the Studio Theater this year, running April 25 through May 20.