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‘Swing!’ excites all in Pennsylvania Dutch Country

Swing 2LANCASTER, Pennsylvania – In late summer, some may be looking for a short excursion not too far from home. One such place is Pennsylvania Dutch Country, the home of the Amish – a religious minority who have kept to the old ways of dressing and farming, and who originally came from the Palatinate region of Germany (they are really “Deutsch,” not “Dutch”).

Other than seeing horse-drawn buggies, old-fashioned national costumes, and quaint farms in beautiful rolling landscapes, what else might draw one to visit the Lancaster County region of Pennsylvania? The answer may be found in the current production of “Swing!,” a Broadway musical from the late 1990’s swing revival, now playing through September 15 at the Dutch Apple Dinner Theater in Lancaster.

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A delightfully menacing ‘Dinner’ hits the spot

DinnerSILVER SPRING – “Dinner,”a fabulous and challenging play by Moira Buffini, is now appearing at Silver Spring’s The Highwood Theatre performed by the 4615 Theatre Company. The production is something of a classic British-style drawing-room mystery; the setting is the home of an upper-class English socialite, with an odd assortment of upper-class dinner guests attending, plus a servant. Guests include a writer, a celebrity TV news reporter and one member of the working class – the latter of whom may or may not be a criminal.

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‘Pirates’ and ‘H.M.S. Pinafore’ are exceptional performances

Pirates of PenzanceOLNEY – Imagine what it would be like to have a highly professional and exceedingly talented group of operatic singers and musicians act out Gilbert and Sullivan comic operas – while also jumping in kiddie pools or being dressed in pajamas and having pillow fights! Such marvelous experiences await visitors at the productions by the Hypocrites and the House Theatre of Chicago.

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'Love’s Labour’s Lost' at St. John’s College, Annapolis

Love Labours LostSt. John’s College in Annapolis, the third oldest college in the USA, is known for its program of a study of the Western classics of philosophy, literature, history and science. During the month of July, the Annapolis Shakespeare Company is performing outdoors on the lawn of St. John’s College “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” a play in whichShakespeare addresses the merits of such an approach to education. Does education come through books and study, or is it found in lived experience and love?

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'On the Town' is a musical experience with moxie

On The TownOLNEY – The year 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of American composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein. The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland in College Park has been commemorating this milestone with a series of productions such as a June concert featuring selections from his musical dramas, including “West Side Story,” “Candide,” and “On the Town.”

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A dark ‘Macbeth’ is lit at Blackfriars Playhouse

Macbeth StauntonSTAUNTON – Though we “write men’s virtues in water,” according to Shakespeare, performing plays as ever “more water glideth by” is quite another matter. The topic this week is performing Shakespeare as it was meant to be enacted, for the Hard Bargain Players of Prince George’s County in May performed Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” from May 10 to 19. It was performed in “a space where it was always meant to be played: right under our beautiful canopy of trees and starlight!” Although the Hard Bargain Players’ website waxed in this way lyrical on its Theatre in the Woods productions in Accokeek, the outdoor performance I had hoped to attend was not possible due to the heavy daily rains of last week. “To the water side, I must conduct your grace” indeed! (Shakespeare).    

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A delightfully looney ‘Barber of Seville’

Barber of SevilleWASHINGTON, D.C. – Readers may remember Bugs Bunny, in “The Rabbit of Seville” posing as a barber on the operatic stage, rubbing the hair tonic “Figaro Fertilizer” on Elmer Fudd’s bald head, only to have Fudd react angrily to the “wascally wabbit” when his head grows flowers instead of hair. Tom and Jerry also had an episode in which cat and mouse undermine each other’s efforts to sing Figaro’s famous aria. Cartoon antics testify to the enduring appeal of Rossini’s opera. They also inform the Washington National Opera’s delightful production of “The Barber of Seville,” now appearing at the Kennedy Center through May 19.

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