“Iberian Suite” at the Kennedy Center, March 3 – 24
The profound and far-reaching impact of Iberian culture – that is, the culture of Spain and Portugal – will be getting a thorough, almost month-long examination and celebration at the Kennedy Center in “Iberian Suite: Global Arts Remix,” continuing the center’s practice of focusing on specific world cultures.
“There has been a tremendous amount of cross-pollinating during the course of history, sparked by Portuguese and Spanish exploration and colonization in the 15th century which had rippled effects in North and South America, in Africa and Asia and all over the world,” said Alicia Adams, festival curator and the Kennedy Center’s vice president of international programming and dance.
One of the major components is a huge exhibition (150 items) called “Picasso, Ceramics and the Mediterranean,” organized with the support of Picasso Administration, chaired by Claude Picasso. There will be numerous performances, including Post-Classical Ensemble’s multimedia program “Iberian Mystics: A Confluence of Faiths” and concerts by the National Symphony Orchestra with Portuguese fado singers Carminho and Camané, Spanish singer Concha Buika with Cuban pianist Iván “Melon” Lewis and his Continuum Quartet, the Arakaendar Choir and Orchestra from Bolivia and a host of others.
“The Originalist” at Arena Stage, March 6 – April 26
It’s hard to believe, but it looks like controversial conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is about to enter the pantheon of theatrical and pop culture. At Arena Stage, he’s the focus of “The Originalist,” a new play by John Strand, who won the Charles MacArthur Award for best new play several years ago for “Lovers and Executioners.” In “The Originalist,” in Arena’s Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle, a smart, liberal Harvard Law grad is in a highly sought-after Supreme Court clerkship with Scalia. The result is a complicated, sometimes humorous portrait of an edgy court and human relationship. You’re likely to be in good hands what with Arena Stage Artistic Director Molly Smith at the helm and Ed Gero – who’s shined in roles from Ebenezer Scrooge to Mark Rothko – starring as Scalia.
“Uncle Vanya” at Round House Theatre, April 8 – May 3
Washington theater appears to have been dominated by Chekhov, American style, lately, with director-playwright Aaron Posner bringing his versions of “The Seagull” and “Uncle Vanya” to the stage with “Stupid F-----g Bird” at Woolly Mammoth and “Life Sucks” at Theater J, respectively. Plus, there’s the Christopher Durang play “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” a mashup of several Chekhov characters, which will be directed by Posner at Arena Stage April 3 – May 3.
But if have a taste and a desire for the real thing, you probably can’t do better than the Round House Theatre production of “Uncle Vanya,” although here too you’re getting an adaptation by Annie Baker, a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright who brings a contemporary feel to the language. But what a cast, directed by John Vreeke: Gabriel Fernandez-Coffey, the astonishing Kimberly Gilbert, Mitchell Hébert, Mark Jaster, Nancy Robinette, Ryan Rilette, Eric Shimelonis, Jerry Whiddon and the incomparable Joy Zinoman, founder and former artistic director of Studio Theatre.
“Laugh” at Studio Theatre, begins March 11
Back in the 1980s, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Beth Henley was known for funny, heartbreaking plays about families in the modern South such as “Crimes of the Heart” and “The Miss Firecracker Contest.” Set in the Hollywood silent-film era, “Laugh” may be a different matter altogether, a play – billed as a slapstick comedy – full of surprises, adventures and maybe a little romance. It has live music by composer Wayne Barker and is directed by David Schweizer. The cast includes Helen Cespedes as the orphaned heroine Mabel and Creed Garnick as Roscoe.
In Series’ “Don Giovanni” at GALA Hispanic Theatre, March 14-23
One of Washington’s hidden treasures, the In Series – with a history of venturing into not-always-compatibles genres, going in a season from cabaret resurrections to opera evenings – is promising to bring something new to something old. The company’s staging of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Don Giovanni,” an opera dealing with crime, murder, seduction, love and death, comes complete with a new adaptation in English. The production has a 1920s religious-revival setting, a la “Elmer Gantry,” which, come to think about it, was all about hurly-burly and seduction. Tom Mallan directs, Stanley Thurston conducts a chamber ensemble and Andrew Thomas Pardini plays the Don.
Washington Ballet’s “Swan Lake” with Misty Copeland, April 8-12
That the Washington Ballet is staging Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” shouldn’t come as a surprise – although it’s actually the first time the company has mounted the ballet – but there are additional reasons to see this classic tale of a princess, an evil sorceress and swans both white and black. For one thing, Misty Copeland, American Ballet Theatre’s star ballerina, will be dancing the starring roles of Odette-Odile, paired with Brooklyn Mack. One of America’s most celebrated ballerinas, Copeland is only the second African American ballerina to be promoted to soloist at ABT. The production also marks the launch of a creative collaboration between the Washington Ballet and the S&R Foundation’s Evermay Chamber Orchestra, which will perform the famous score.