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Theatre Reviews

An entertaining transposition of Shakespeare to the 1950s

Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing endures because audiences love smart love stories. Twenty years ago, Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson revived it on film. Joss Whedon’s critically acclaimed remake — now showing at the West End Cinema in D.C. — is set in modern-day California.

I loved every minute and may go back for more

It’s hard being special. Just ask the contestants in Dignity Players’ 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, the 2005 Tony Award-winning musical about five over-achieving basket cases and an accidental also-ran.

Meet these award-winners at Twin Beach Players Kids Playwriting Festival

Love, not money, sparked 21 kids to seek spots in Twin Beach Players’ annual Kids Playwriting Festival.     Lots of love as each had to write a play.     The $100 prize money was a bonus, all six finalists agreed.     But competing in this festival is the highpoint of the theater life for stage-smitten elementary, middle and high schoolers in Chesapeake Country.

Once more … with spectacle, grand singing and clever choreography.

Three generations of movie lovers have loved She Loves Me. But each has known Miklos Laszlo’s 1937 play The Parfumerie by a different name, and with different stars. Jimmy Stewart turned the story of haters in love into The Shop Around the Corner in 1940. Judy Garland reprised it as In the Good Old Summertime in 1949. And Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks did it again — with the help of Nora Ephron as screenwriter and director — in 1998’s You’ve Got Mail.

A little Neil Simon and a little Seinfeld, it’s a lively summer diversion.

When The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife debuted on Broadway in 2000, one reviewer called its three leads the only three reasons to see Charles Busch’s breakthrough Tony-nominee. It’s not hard to see why.

With dinner and drinks, Comedy in the Courtyard is your ticket to Tuesday night fun

Sitting under the towering magnolia of the Reynolds Tavern courtyard, I sip a spiked summer Tavern Tea and munch fried green tomatoes with shrimp and corn relish, all the enticement I need to come out on a warm weeknight. But there’s more. Listening to the gentle strains of a harpsichord, I am transported back in time — way back to 1664 for Moliere’s Tartuffe, the Annapolis Shakespeare Company’s first production in the new Comedy in the Courtyard series.

How to be nine people’s favorite thing

[title of the show] is a musical about two men writing a musical about two men writing a musical. Think of seeing M.C. Escher’s optical puzzles dramatized.     At Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre, you’ll see the clean version. Apparently there is also a racier adult version.

A trivial comedy for serious people

“I practice my English accent for at least 15 minutes before the show starts,” says Jeffrey Thompson. The 16-year-old plays Jack Worthing in Twin Beach Player’s all-teen production of in Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Ernest.     The teens’ hard work and weeks of practice paid off for the all-teen cast. Focused and on cue in every scene, they’re a team.     A stage veteran at 19, Brianna Workcuff makes her directing debut in this production.

Country music’s most popular woman singer still awesome after all these years

Always … Patsy Cline offers remarkable singing and terrific acting in the service of country legend.     Patsy Cline met ardent fan Louise Seger at a Houston concert in 1961. A brash sort, Louise introduced herself and invited Patsy to her home for a late-night breakfast. The meal turned into an overnight stay and that stay turned into several years of correspondences always signed by Patsy with the closing that gives this show its title.     I wish the story gave us as much.

This frothy farce reflects on commitment as characters at crossroads take literal and figurative steps

British farces are not usually my cup of tea; I find madcap, bawdy romps to be silly and exhausting. But Alan Ayckbourn’s Taking Steps is a delightful summer infusion of iced chai: more cool and spicy than hot and saucy, with suspenseful plot twists to make it fun. Colonial Players’ production delivers on its promise to present “a set of very probable, though quite amusing characters in a series of improbable situations that uncover a treasure trove of truth about human nature.”