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Posted at 9:56 AM ET, 09/30/2010

On stage in October

By Stephanie Merry

"Hair" brings flower power and free love to the Kennedy Center. (Joan Marcus)

Along with cooler temperatures and flashy foliage, fall ushers in some big changes for local theater companies. Synetic Theater finds a new home in Crystal City, Arena Stage returns to Southwest and Washington Shakespeare Company upgrades to Artisphere in Rosslyn.

Synetic Theater -- whose imaginative, often-silent performances have bounced from the Rosslyn Spectrum to Lansburgh Theatre to the Kennedy Center -- is taking advantage of the space left vacant by Arena Stage, now called Crystal City Theater. The company begins a less nomadic era with "King Arthur," which opens today. (Through Oct. 31)

Samuel A. Taylor's Broadway play "Sabrina Fair" has had no shortage of remakes, from Billy Wilder's 1954 film starring Audrey Hepburn to Sydney Pollack's 1995 incarnation with Harrison Ford and Julia Ormond. But Ford's Theatre is breathing new life into the Cinderella story, starting Friday. In this version, Sabrina is played by African American actress Susan Heyward, turning a story about social status into one about race as well. (Friday through Oct. 24)

Those who meet recent comedic plays with the lament "They don't make them like they used to" might want to give Signature Theatre's upcoming world premiere a chance. Ken Ludwig's "A Fox on the Fairway" harks back to the farcical slapstick productions of the 1930s and '40s and, to sweeten the deal, it stars local treasure Holly Twyford. (Oct. 12-Nov. 14)

What could Oscar-nominated actor John Lithgow possibly be doing in McLean? Celebrating Alden Theatre's 35th anniversary, of course. He will perform his acclaimed one-man show "Stories by Heart" for the occasion. (8 p.m. Oct. 16)

Washington Shakespeare Company has left the decaying confines of Clark Street Playhouse for a space that's Metro-accessible, recently renovated and, best of all, has a sturdy roof. The company is celebrating its residency at Rosslyn's Artisphere (the globelike building that once housed the Newseum) with a couple of plays in repertory -- "Mary Stuart" and "Richard III." (Oct. 21-Dec. 12)

After years of work, Arena Stage opens the Mead Center this month with the old favorite "Oklahoma!" The shimmering new complex will be feted Oct. 23 with a free day of activities that includes performances by the tap dancing Manzari Brothers and music by Elk Soldiers. (Oct. 22-Dec. 26)

The Kennedy Center stage will serve as a time machine to the days of peace signs and free love when Broadway's "Hair" comes to town. The musical scored the 2009 Tony for best revival, giving credence to this celebration of the countercultural zeitgeist of the '60s. (Oct. 26-Nov. 21)

-- Stephanie Merry

By Stephanie Merry  | September 30, 2010; 9:56 AM ET
Categories:  Theater  
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