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Posted at 5:54 PM ET, 02/25/2009

On Stage in March

By Stephanie Merry

At this point of the year, I'm desperate for ways to distract myself from the fact that it's still winter. Luckily, looking through the list of upcoming performances, it should be pretty easy to sidetrack myself from daydreaming of sandal weather. I wouldn't say that March will be a particularly hilarious month for plays -- the performances seem to mainly fall into the buckets of politics, war and Shakespeare -- but it should be pretty entertaining nonetheless.

History buffs will appreciate the powerful World War II drama "King of the Jews," on its way to Olney. The play, based on the 1979 book of the same name, recounts the lives of the residents of a Jewish ghetto in Poland, including those who were chosen as ghetto leaders and expected to collaborate with the Nazis. (March 11-April 12)

Plays about Israel and the West Bank are particularly timely, and on the heels of productions like "Alive from Palestine" at the Kennedy Center and "Dai" at Studio comes Theater J's "Plonter (Tangle)." The satire follows the interweaving lives of nine Israelis, both Arabic and Jewish, and will be performed in Arabic and Hebrew with English surtitles. (March 14-29)

Kerry Waters Lucas stars as Queen Elizabeth in "Elizabeth Rex." (Ray Gniewek)

Keegan Theatre brings a historical soap opera of a story to Church Street Theater with "Elizabeth Rex." On the night before the execution of the Earl of Essex (who was rumored to have had an affair with Queen Elizabeth I), the Virgin Queen demanded that Shakespeare's theater company perform a play for her. Was this to get her mind off the heartbreak of putting her former lover to death? Speculation ensues in the fictionalized account of the events of that night. (March 19-April 18)

For a more light-hearted performance, Jon Spelman performs in the solo piece "Digging Into Shakespeare" at Round House Silver Spring. Spelman has taken his experience as a Shakespearean actor and turned it into a comedy about some of the more disastrous productions he's been a part of, as well as the unfortunate co-stars he has endured. (March 26-29)

The ultra-physical actors from Synetic Theater will be bringing a taste of ancient Greece to both Georgetown's Gonda Theater and the Rosslyn Spectrum. The troupe will be performing Aristophanes's political satire "Lysistrata," in which the women of Athens come up with a convincing way to get their husbands to end the Peloponnesian War: a sex strike. (March 26-April 26)

A Tony-nominated musical, "The Civil War," will be the second play to come to the post-renovation Ford's Theatre. Appropriate for the Lincoln Bicentennial, this play uses the words of Frederick Douglass and Walt Whitman, among others, to recount the war between the North and the South. (March 27-May 24)

Those who prefer happy endings should hit up Atlas where the Washington Savoyards will perform their light opera "Iolanthe." The comedic Gilbert and Sullivan play follows the title character, a fairy, who deals with the consequences of her decision to marry a mortal. (March 27-April 5)

And to round out the month, Woolly Mammoth will showcase a world premiere with "Antebellum." Set in 1939, while the South is still dealing with the after-effects of the Civil War and World War II is just beginning, the play follows interweaving stories from a Hollywood movie premiere to a concentration camp to a cabaret and beyond. (March 30-April 26)

Looking for some old standbys? One-time Broadway blockbusters are also headed our way with "A Chorus Line" (March 10) and "Chicago" at National Theatre (March 31), and "Jesus Christ Superstar" at Warner (March 17).

-- Stephanie

By Stephanie Merry  | February 25, 2009; 5:54 PM ET
Categories:  Theater  
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