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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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Visiting Joseph in Laurel, Kate in Annapolis

Kiss Me Kate Kate and PetruchioLAUREL – “Take you the lute, and you the set of books,” writes Shakespeare in his raucous comedy “The Taming of the Shrew.” Two area shows take up both classic books and, if not the lute, then indeed a variety of instruments to bring vividly to life two classic stories which are so universal that they continue to speak to us today.

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Thoroughly modern retro musicals

SEABROOK – Two very different musical theater productions are in our midst – productions that have little in common at first other than being written early in the 2000s. At a closer view, however, both “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” performed by the Prince George’s Little Theatre and “Thoroughly Modern Millie” enacted by the Reston Community Players are – to adopt the title of the latter – “thoroughly retro modern musicals,” blending venerable broadway traditions with a dose of modern cynicism. 

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Circus with a heart at National Harbor

Ringmaster Ty c Maike Schulz previewOXON HILL – “The dust of distant travel, exotic animals, peanuts and popcorns, and acrobats and clowns in flashy costumes. Such are flip-card views of the world of the circus, a staple of Americana.” So I wrote a week ago in these pages, anticipating my visit to Big Apple Circus at National Harbor. Big Apple, which hails as its name suggests from New York and is celebrating its 40th year, a circus with a heart.

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