If you hit the link at the bottom of this article, you will reach a machine designed to tell you how much fun you’ll have next season. For maximum effect, sort by date, and imagine yourself seeing shows through the year.
You can also use it to put your theater budget together. Since next season is particularly juicy, you might wish to supplement your regular ticket-buying with discounts gleaned from this table, or to schedule yourself to usher, thus assuring yourself of a seat at no cost. (And, if it seems that a theater has several must-see shows, you can realize substantial savings through a subscription.)
What do I mean by “particularly juicy”? Well, today (August 4) Constellation begins a revival of its wildly successful The Ramayana; shortly afterward, Longacre Lea stages Something Past in Front of the Light, by the intelligent and provocative local playwright Kathleen Akerley. Because Longacre Lea produces only once a year – in August – it doesn’t always have the same following that some other companies have. But the savvy ticket-buyer (that’s you, of course) will take advantage of their affordable ticket prices and strong theatrical reputation to see what new ideas Akerley has brewed up.
Speaking of affordable, Shakespeare Theatre Company is doing a revival of its Julius Caesar at my favorite price – free. Take a look at their website for details. Signature is, ambitiously, doing a musical double-header (The Hollow and The Boy Detective Fails) more or less simultaneously. Washington Shakespeare is taking on Beckett’s mordant and hilarious Happy Days, staged in 2007 (at a much higher price) to great effect at the Kennedy Center. In Columbia, Rep Stage is mining Or. Theater J opens with Imagining Madoff, with Rick Foucheux as the criminal poster boy for the 2008 recession. You may remember that Imagining Madoff originally included a fictionalized Elie Wiesel, but the Nobel laureate objected so vociferously that playwright Deborah Margolis, on the advice of Theater J Artistic Director Ari Roth, replaced him with a completely fictional character.
What else? Faction of Fools – the Commedia dell’ arte company – is doing a play by Niccolò Machiavelli. (You remember Machiavelli. He wrote The Prince and currently advises both sides of Congress). Venus Theatre reestablishes itself in a big way with the world premiere of The Stenographer. And Toby’s Dinner Theatre of Columbia – surely one of the most theatrically ambitious dinner theaters in the country – is staging Chicago (accompanied, I hope, by real Chicago food.)
That takes us up to Labor Day.
I feel a little like a food reviewer assigned to describe a 500-course meal: the job is too much, so I will quit with the appetizers. With all due respect to the – and I mean this literally – hundreds of highly-anticipated shows in the 2011-2012 season, I want to bring two to your special attention.
I sit on a committee which recommends awards for the best new plays staged in American regional theaters. This season both the 2009 winner and the 2010 runner-up will appear on the Washington stage. They are exquisite plays. On November 18, Arena will begin production of Equivocation, which imagines that the sinister Sir Robert Cecil commissioned Shakespeare to write a play about the supposed Guy Fawkes gunpowder plot, in order to make Catholics more hated in England. The more old Bill researches, though, the less plausible the plot seems. And on June 6 of next year, Theater J will start its run of The History of Invulnerability, in which Superman, along with his creator Jerry Siegel, explains his origin in the cauldron of 1930s anti-Semitism. The final scene is one of the most moving I have ever read in any play, ever.
How’s your appetite? Well, then, dig in.