Week of March 12, 2023
1. “Pacific Overtures” at Signature Theatre
“…a talented 10-member cast, the innovative musical numbers and clear, concise direction by Ethan Heard…a memorable musical that should be seen over and over…” – Carolyn Kelemen
Synopsis: In 1853, after 200 years of stability, Japan faces an American expedition determined to open the “floating kingdom” to trade. The isolationist island’s reckoning with the unwelcome western influence is brilliantly illuminated through a kaleidoscope of stories about sailors, samurai, “someone in a tree” and two friends who choose radically different paths. This innovative epic of East meets West is one of Sondheim’s most ambitious and rarely produced musicals.
2. “Crisis Mode: Living Pilipino in America” at The Strand Theater Company
“…a searing critique of colonialism, American white knight syndrome, and the joy and passion of Filipino culture…intimate, striking, brutally honest, and genuinely kind.” – Kateri Pelton
Synopsis: In this one-person piece, Cori Dioquino explores the complexities of her own identity as she navigates through the three major identity crises of her life. “Crisis Mode” weaves Dioquino’s personal history with that of her motherland – The Philippines – and its complicated relationship to the United States through dance, movement, music and art. With each crisis, she shares her experiences growing up an immigrant in the “Land of the Free”, coping with hidden mental health issues, and her gradual transition from “Proud Pinoy” to “Generic Asian.”
3. “To Kill a Mockingbird” at the Hippodrome Theatre
“…a breathtaking and totally captivating production on every level, with a fantastic cast supported by the exemplary work of the creative team…packs a powerful, emotional punch.“ – Lynne Menefee
Synopsis: Academy Award® winner Aaron Sorkin’s adaptation of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize winning masterwork. The show follows the story of Atticus Finch, a lawyer in 1930s Alabama, as he defends Tom Robinson, a black man falsely accused of rape, as seen through the eyes of his children Scout, Jem, and their friend Dill.
4. “A Nice Indian Boy” at Olney Theatre Center
“For those seeking sweet and dramatic entertainment, ‘A Nice Indian Boy’ hits just the spot.” – Charlotte Selton
Synopsis: A meet-cute at the local temple brings Naveen face-to-face with the man of his dreams: a fellow Marathi-speaking Hindu who loves the same Bollywood films and can cook a mean dal makhani. If his parents were ever going to accept him bringing home a boyfriend, Keshav would be that boy except – he’s white, raised by Indian foster parents who adopted him. But they’re madly in-love and so off they head to the Gevaskar house, where Naveen’s white boyfriend isn’t the only surprise ready to walk through the door. This inter-generational, inter-cultural comedy presents a warm portrait of an Indian family wrestling with tradition, masculinity, and acceptance.
5. “The Storehouse” by Perisphere Theater
“McAlister hits her character’s more vulnerable moments with an authenticity that compels the audience to take a second look at a now controversial, literary figure…Beruk’s performance is truly inspirational.” – Anne Valentino
Synopsis: The Storehouse is based on the real-life interactions between the writers Harriet Beecher Stowe (Uncle Tom’s Cabin) and Harriet Jacobs (Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl). Attempting to become the first fugitive enslaved woman to publish her story by her own hand, Harriet Jacobs approaches the world-famous Uncle Tom’s Cabin author Harriet Beecher Stowe for her help, and the result alters both of their lives and legacies forever. This play explores the structural forces that prevent people from telling their own stories and what is required of writers who create from a place of privilege.
Honorable Mention: “Gloria: A Life” at Theater J
“So authentic was her performance that, throughout the evening, I had to remind myself that Susan Lynskey is not in fact Gloria Steinem…” – Jeannette Mulherin
Synopsis: Gloria: A Life is more than a play—it’s a celebration of human connection. Five decades after Gloria Steinem began raising her voice and championing the voices of others, her call for equality is as urgent as ever. In this exploration of the iconic feminist’s extraordinary legacy and the women who inspired her (including Dorothy Pitman Hughes, Flo Kennedy, Coretta Scott King, and Wilma Mankiller), the first act tells her story, and the second invites the audience to share their own. Gloria Steinem’s stirring and uplifting narrative is a necessary reminder of the importance of speaking up and speaking out.