Sara's Showbitz

Sara’s Hot, Hot, Sizzling HOT Picks for Summer Theatre and Cabarets

By Sara Dudley Brown, Theatre Editor

Artwork Courtesy of Creative Cauldron

Whaaat? You think there’s nothing going on for the summer in our local theatres—no important openings; no good music; can’t wait for September? Well read on, gentle readers, and I shall illuminate the way through the hundreds of exciting offerings that are available right here in River City—oops—I mean Alexandria, Arlington and beyond—and you will find them in cool, comfortable theatres, as well as other cozy indoor and outdoor venues in the DMV.

Here is my highly curated list of productions and shows that I (and I expect YOU) would really really like to see, listed in order of their opening dates:

“Scottsboro Boys” John Kander and Fred Ebb’s final musical collaboration, heralded as “an absolute marvel,” playing now and continuing at Signature Theatre through July 1

“Hamilton” the much-anticipated DC premiere of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hip-hop history of America’s Founding Fathers. (Aside: if you have or know of anyone who has good orchestra tickets they want to sell, email me! Seriously! [email protected]). At the Kennedy Center June 12 through Sept. 16.

 “On the Town” Betty Comden and Adolph Green’s Broadway mega-success (there was also a movie with Frank Sinatra–go figure?) at Olney Theatre Center. June 20 through July 22.

“You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” will explore the struggles and successes of childhood as the cast sings its way through book reports, baseball games, and the trials of young love, all the while questioning what it really means to be “good.” With Erin Weaver (who was incredible as Alice in last year’s “Alice in Wonderland”) playing Sally. Can’t WAIT! Imagination Stage June 23-August 12.

Doug Bowles and Alex Hasson at Creative Cauldron July 8. Photo courtesy of Creative Cauldron

“Creative Cauldron’s Summer Cabaret Series” with some of the DC area’s biggest names in musical theater including the men of Two for a Song, Katie McManus, Jamie Eaker, Dani Stoller, Kathy Halenda, Sandy Bainum, Jim Van Slyke, Stephen Gregory Smith, Cliff Walker III, and Will Mark Stevenson! At Creative Cauldron July 8 through Sept. 23.

 “Two for a Song opens Creative Cauldron’s Cabaret Series. Pianist Alex Hassan, who boasts an archival sheet music collection of more than 40,000 titles, has thoroughly immersed himself in the musical style of the 20s and 30s. Tenor Doug Bowles has performed around the world in nearly every genre from Opera to Pop! They will be joined by special guest, David Sager. At Creative Cauldron July 8.

 “The Contemporary American Theatre Festival” in Shepherdstown, W.Va., about 90 minutes from Alexandria, always has a terrific lineup of world premieres. At Shepherd University July 6-29.

“The Capital Fringe Festival 2018” with possibly more than 100 local and international acts will be staged around Arena Stage and the Wharf in Southwest Washington. Opens July 7 and runs through July 29.

“1st Stage Logan Festival” will gather acclaimed solo performers from across the country for two weeks of performances, workshops, discussions, and events. The main stage festival schedule features three new plays which can all be seen in two days. Here they are: “The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey” by James Lecesne featuring Jeffrey Plunkett, directed by Kate Alexander. “Where Did We Sit On the Bus?” written and performed by Brian Quijada. “Brahman/I” by Aditi Brennan Kapil, featuring Aila Peck with music by Thom Dunn, directed by M. Bevin O’Gara. At 1st Stage: July 12-22.

“Dave” opening at Arena Stage July 13. Artwork by Tim O’Brien

“Dave” in which a high school teacher is recruited by the Secret Service to stand in for the president. Remember the movie? At Arena Stage July 13 through Aug. 19.

“Romeo et Juliette” The Wolf Trap Opera performs Gounod’s take on the famous love story. At The Barns of Wolf Trap July 15 through the 21st.

‘Sizzlin’ Summer Nights Cabaret Series” with well-known featured singers. This annual series includes many of my favorite Signature Theatre singers like Nova Y. Payton, Mark G Meadows, Robbie Schaefer, Erin Driscoll, Ines Nassara, Maria Rizzo, Bob McDonald, Iyona Blake, The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, Rochelle Rice, Monumental Theatre Company, Awa Sal Seka, Christopher Mueller, Revenge of the Understudies and Bligh Voth . New this year: Mason Cabaret: “An Evening of Stephen Sondheim,” which will include selections from every one of his shows. At Signature Theatre July 19 – August 4.

“Alan Cumming: Legal Immigrant” the Tony Award winner’s latest cabaret show. Who doesn’t love Alan Cumming? Book early. It was a sell-out last year. At the Kennedy Center July 28.

“The Best of Wagner’s ‘Ring’” Four first-class opera stars—Christine Goerke, Simon O’Neill, Alan Held and Eric Owens—join the NSO and conductor Patrick Summers in an evening of The Ring’s highlights. At Wolf Trap. July 28.

“The Color Purple” the musical adaptation of Alice Walker’s Pulitzer-winning novel. At the Kennedy Center through July 31 through Aug. 26.

Iyona Blake at Signature Theatre, August 3. Photo by Lita Trimmings

“Life Lessons” Iyona Blake, Helen Hayes Award winner returns to Signature Theatre to share testimonies and life’s victories and defeats from women we all know in songs of love, betrayal, and hope. Don’t miss this! At Signature Theatre, Aug. 3.

Signature Theatre’s Annual Open House” with performances every fifteen minutes, special ticket offers and an always fabulous grand finale concert. At Signature Theatre August 5 starting at noon until about 7 pm. Free, but tickets, which you can get that day, required for some performances.

“Passion” Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s musical set in 1860’s Italy and described as intense and intimate (and one of my favorite Sondheim musicals). Starring Natascia Diaz (“West Side Story”) and directed by Signature favorite Matthew Gardiner. At Signature Theatre August 14 through Sept. 23.

Free for All: “Romeo and Juliet” Shakespeare Theatre Company’s annual free production. At Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Sidney Harmon Hall, Aug. 21 through Sept. 2.

“Passion” at Signature Theatre opening August 14. Photo by Christopher Mueller

“Shear Madness” the hilarious ongoing interactive solve-the-crime comedy with new clues and up-to-the-minute improvisation. At The Kennedy Center Tues – Sunday all summer (and winter) long.

Well, folks, I’ve given you a few things to think about. In all cases please check the websites of each theatre for specific dates, times, pricing, tickets and any other questions you may have. This listing was meant to give you a taste of the wide variety of available music and theatre during the summer months in the DMV. I plan to attend as many of my “picks” as possible. Hopefully, I’ll see you around town this summer. Who needs to travel to have a marvelous time? Not me! I’m stayin’ right here where the action is! Happy summer in the theatre!

Sara Dudley Brown

Sara Dudley Brown is the Theatre Editor of The Zebra Press. She graduated with a music degree in voice from Rollins College Conservatory of Music in Winter Park Florida. After several years of professional singing and acting (Disney World and The Kenley Theatres as well as voice-over and film here in the DMV area), trying and failing miserably at being Barbra Streisand (the post was already filled), Sara decided to take her lifelong love of music and the theatre to create a profession which would use everything she had learned theatrically and musically over the years—corporate event production and management. She began with department store events, working for the May Company putting on events in 18 stores, and went on to found her own corporate event management company. She recently retired after 30 years of mounting mega events internationally and domestically for some of the world’s top aviation manufacturers. Now Sara is once again using her years of theatrical work as well as her musical training to review Metro Area professional theatre productions for The Zebra Press. She thinks this is a much more sane way to live and never tires of the excitement of a theatre opening!

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