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What’s Onstage in the DMV – August 2024

What’s Onstage in the DMV – August 2024

Jordan Wright
July 16, 2024
Special to The Zebra

MJ The Musical
Where: National Theatre
When: Aug 13 – Sept 8
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Soft Power
Where: Signature Theatre
When: Aug 6 – Sept 15
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Mamma Mia
Where: Kennedy Center
When: Aug 13 – Sept 1
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Where: Kennedy Center
When: Aug 2 – Aug 11
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(Image via Woolly Mammoth)

Where: Woolly Mammoth
When: July – Aug 4
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The Crucible
Where: Dominion Stage
When: Aug 9 – 24
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A Number
Where: Avant Bard Theatre at Gunston Theatre II
When: Aug 8 – Sept 1
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Where: The Arts Barn – Gaithersburg
When: Aug 2 – Aug 18
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(Image via Adventure Theatre)

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical
Where: Adventure Theatre
When: Now through Aug 18
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The Moors
Where: Faction of Fools
When: Now through Aug 10
Find more information at: Capital Hill Workshop –

Noises Off
Where: Keegan Theatre
When: Now through Sept 1
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Jersey Boys 
Where: Toby’s Dinner Theatre
When: Now through Sept 1
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Beautiful: The Carol King Musical –
Where: Olney Theatre
When: Now through Aug 25
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Where: Aug 20 & 21
When: Capital One Arena
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Where: New York Circus Project
When: July 31 – Aug 11
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Back to the Future
Where: Kennedy Center
When: July 23 – Aug 11
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(Photo via Studio Theatre)

The Colored Museum
Where: Studio Theatre
When: July 3 – Aug 11
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Where: The Little Theatre of Alexandria
When: July 20 – Aug 10
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Monumental Theatre’s Brilliant Production of American Psycho, the Musical, Taps Into the Twisted Mind of a Serial Killer

Monumental Theatre’s Brilliant Production of American Psycho, the Musical, Taps Into the Twisted Mind of a Serial Killer

American Psycho
Monumental Theatre
Jordan Wright
July 12, 2024

Kyle Dalsimer and the Cast of American Psycho (Photo/Christopher Mueller)

Set in the financial center of New York City during the high-flying, coke-fueled 1980’s when young bucks ruled Wall Street, American Psycho personifies that high-flying era of über excess and inglorious greed within a corporate coliseum. Monumental Theatre turns this story into an immersive and highly sensory experience, seating the audience within mere feet of the action. For those familiar with the stage or film version, this is a far more intense experience. I had my doubts before going, but I can say it is one of the most memorably visceral productions I’ve ever seen.

L-R Kyle Dalsimer, RJ Pavel, Jeremy Crawford, Stephen Russell Murray, and Carson Young (Photo/ Christopher Mueller)

There is an immediacy of place as soon as you enter. The walls are covered with pleated plastic sheeting as in a crime scene and there is a bar serving cocktails. Red banquettes with small tables are positioned closest to the stage. (When you go online to purchase tickets, you can decide if you want to be close or in the risers.) A stunning and quite stylish DJ, Tobi Osibodu, overlooks the scene from a raised booth. She not only plays keyboard and grooves to the beat but handles the techno club music as well as backgrounding the musical numbers using a state-of-the-art technique called Ableton Live Programming.

Kyle Dalsimer (Photo/Christopher Mueller)

Fair warning: There is blood and lots of it. The anti-hero, 26-year-old Patrick Bateman, is a serial killer extraordinaire – an obsessive-compulsive, label-obsessed (“You Are What You Wear”) freak and narcissist. He manifests as a sociopath with a grand plan for ridding the world of his competition, or in fact, anyone he disapproves of. Patrick has mommy issues, worships Donald Trump and has a fabulously wealthy girlfriend, Evelyn (Jordyn Taylor), who ignores his murderous rants and uses him as arm candy on her Hamptons’ weekend jaunts.  This is a man who dreams of slaughter when his friends dream of mistletoe. As for his friends and co-workers, they’re far too busy clawing their way to the top to take him seriously. Only his secretary, Jean, whom he abuses daily, sticks with him. This is straight up crime drama set to music. It is both emotional and cerebral, and you can’t look away for a millisecond.

The Cast of American Psycho (Photo/Christopher Mueller)

As Patrick’s depersonalization of his world and his insatiable appetite for bloodlust increase, his ability to conjure new ways to murder becomes front of mind. Kyle Dalsimer is sensational in his portrayal of the frenzied serial killer. His performance is award-winning and riveting times a thousand. He is so utterly believable in the role I’d hate to be his real-life neighbor. The entire ensemble is tight. Their voices are like a fine choir so seamlessly do they blend in the ballads as well as the pop-rock numbers. Brilliantly directed by Michael Windsor, this production is a tour de force for this small but mighty theater company who have garnered 28 Helen Hayes Award nominations with two wins in their short nine years of operation.

Highly recommended, but not for the faint of heart!

Kyle Dalsimer and Sarah Stewart (Photo/Christopher Mueller)

With Noah Mutterperl as Paul et al, Jeremy Allen Crawford as Luis/et al, Carson Young as Van Patten/et al, Stephen Russell Murray as McDermott/et al, Kaeli Patchen as Jean, Sarah Stewart as Courtney /et al, Jessica Barraclough as Sabrina/et al, Valerie Nagel as Christine/et al, Sydne Lyons as Mrs. Bateman/et al, and Cam Powell and Deema Turkomani as swings.

Scenic Design by Michael Windsor and Laura Valenti, Music Design by Marika Countouris, Choreography by Ahmad Maaty, Lighting Design by Helen Garcia-Alton, Costume Design by Elizabeth Morton, Projection Design by Julian Kelley, Fight and Intimacy Direction by Bess Kaye, Dance Captain Jessica Barraclough.

Through July 21st at Ainslie Arts Center, 3900 Braddock Road, Alexandria, VA 22302. For tickets visit

Kennedy Center’s Funny Girl Has All the Razzamatazz of the Original

Kennedy Center’s Funny Girl Has All the Razzamatazz of the Original

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Jordan Wright
July 5, 2022

Katerina McCrimmon as Fanny Brice (Photo/Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade)

If you hadn’t noticed before, revivals are having a moment. Merrily We Roll Along, Sondheim’s early 1981 musical recently garnered a Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical, and although Cats had its final NY bow in 2017, shows like the latest B’way versions of Cabaret, Once Upon a Mattress and The Wiz are red hot.

Enter Funny Girlin its latest iteration, now on tour and spending a few months at the Kennedy Center. Until I saw it again, I had no idea how much I’d missed it. The story of a Jewish Brooklyn girl’s rise to the pinnacle of the Broadway stage to star in Flo Ziegfeld’s biggest revue, is one that inspired many a singer/actress with Barbra Streisand’s star-making performance.

Katerina McCrimmon and Stephen Mark Lukas (Photo/Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade)

I’m unapologetically predisposed to fiercely loving this story. My maternal grandmother was a Ziegfeld “girl”, as they were known. Betty Morton (née Elisabeth Mortensen and 100% Danish) wore the massive headdresses in awe-inspiring vignettes, modeled for the leading fashion magazines of the day and married a millionaire – as there were very few billionaires in that gilded era. Forget chocolates and rose bouquets, these highly sought-after beauties were courted by kings and scions of American fortunes who would send diamond bracelets and ermine coats backstage just to procure a dinner date where they could be seen with these beautiful young women. But I digress.

In true Broadway fashion, this production has a phenomenal cast of hoofers and belters – precisely the splash, dash and razzamatazz you’d expect from a show about Broadway and played by ace performers. Katerina McCrimmon plays Fanny Brice, a sassy, take-no-prisoners chorine who by dint of chutzpah and her pal, Eddie Ryan (Iziah Montaque Harris – with standby, DC local, John Manzari), a choreographer and top-drawer hoofer, quickly scratches her way to the top under at the New Amsterdam Theatre. There’s tons of schtick, a kickin’ 17-piece orchestra enhanced by the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra, and all the familiar tunes by Jule Styne and Bob Merrill. God, help me, I knew all the words and so did much of the audience who properly refrained from singing aloud.

First National Touring Company of Funny Girl (Photo/Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade)

First there’s the mavens, Mrs. Brice, Mrs. Strakosh (Eileen T’Kaye) and Mrs. Meeker (Christine Bunaun) – a group of well-meaning mothers who pass the time meddling in the affairs of the neighborhood, and especially laser-focused on Fanny’s future. You’ll never guess in a million years who plays the part of Mrs. Brice – Melissa Manchester. Yes! That Melissa Manchester – the R&B songstress, actress and Carole Bayer Sager co-composer, who sang the hit song “Midnight Blue” back in the 80’s and “Come in From the Rain” in the 70’s. I was gobsmacked! She’s still got the stuff in spades.

When romance comes to Fanny, it comes in the form of gambler, Nick Arnstein (Stephen Mark Lukas), a slick, handsome mountebank who charms her, marries her and enjoys her new-found wealth as the biggest star on Broadway.

Melissa Manchester and Izaiah Montaque Harris (Photo/Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade)

So many of the numbers from this show are not only memorable but unforgettable – “I’m the Greatest Star”, “If a Girl Isn’t Pretty”, “His Love Makes Me Beautiful”, “Sadie, Sadie”, “Don’t Rain on My Parade” and the iconic “People” covered by, well, nearly every female singer in the world and made famous by, of course, Barbra.

So, if you’ve a mind to see fabulous costumes – feathered headdresses worn by sexy showgirls dripping with diamonds – the best hoofers and belters on stage today and a story that will melt the hardest heart – this one’s for you. God knows, it was for me!

Stephen Mark Lukas (Photo/Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade)

Leah Platt as Emma/Mrs. Nadler, Ryan Rodino as John, David Foley, Jr. as Tom Keeney, Jackson Grove as Piano Player/Tenor/Actor/Porter, Jack Bianchi & Jackson Grove as Cornet Men, Jordon Taylor as Polly, Missy Marion as Bubbles, Dot Kelly as Maude, Walter Coppage as the iconic impresario, Florenz Ziegfeld, Kate E. Cook as Virginia, Alex Hartman as Vera, Sean Thompson as Bartender/Mr. Renaldi, Jack Bianchi & Travis Ward-Osborne as Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat Men.

Book by Isobel Lennart based on Directed by Michael Mayer, Tap Choreography by Ayodele Casel, Choreography by Ellenore Scott, Scenic Design by David Zinn, Costume Design by Susan Hilferty, Lighting Design by Kevin Adams, Sound Design by Brian Ronan & Cody Spencer, Orchestrations by Chris Walker, with Music Director/Conductor Elaine Davidson.

Highly recommended!!!

Through July 14th at the Kennedy Center, 2700 F Street, Washington, DC, 20566. For tickets and information call the box office at 202 416-8000 or visit  

Alexandria’s Sam Landa Brings an Electrifying Acrobatic Hamlet to the DMV

Alexandria’s Sam Landa Brings an Electrifying Acrobatic Hamlet to the DMV

Jordan Wright
Special To The Zebra 

Alexandra Bilder and the ensemble of Hamlet. (Photo Emily Lord)

Twenty-four-year-old Alexandria, VA native Sam Landa will bring his New York Circus Project to our area to perform an electrifying acrobatic HamletStarting its DC run on July 31, he describes the interdisciplinary theater and circus company he founded in 2023 in this way. “Both circus and Shakespeare are perceived as aged forms. By matching the heightened sense of risk that circus delivers to a high-stakes narrative like Hamlet, the show exceeds the original intentions of each of the forms, delighting the audience in the process.” Landa, who will act as director for this groundbreaking show, continues his work as a consultant of acrobatic and aerial elements on Broadway productions.

Sam Landa (Photo Carrie Kizuka)

Apart from his parents’ lifelong support of his creative interests, Landa’s early influences in our region include his study with The Washington School of Ballet’s legendary Artistic Director and Choreographer Septime Webre. “When I danced at The Washington School of Ballet as a child Septime Webre was a very big influence on me. He used classic novels and great works of literature and turned them into ballets, sourcing from traditional stories that you wouldn’t expect to see a ballet come out of. The idea of working with non-traditional stories influenced me to choose Hamlet because it’s a bold choice. I wanted to look back and say, it might be risky, but I pulled it off.”

Other influences stem from his early education in Alexandria schools where he attended George Mason Elementary, GW Middle School and Alexandria High School before going to The National Circus School [École Nationale de Cirque] in Montreal where he studied under Cirque du Soleil’s masters. He told me one of his biggest influences here was his elementary school PE teacher. “Julie Westcott was always very supportive of me, even at a young age and especially for a boy interested in non-traditional performance art.” Another strong influence was his dance teacher Luis Torres at the Washington School of Ballet and now the Ballet Master of the Hong Kong Ballet, “He taught me to work hard. Every chance I get to see him I feel invigorated afterwards.”

The aerialist is Angela Zhang (Photo Emily Lord)

Many of the company’s performances are free outdoor performances– offering local communities the opportunity to experience live theater coupled with aerial acrobatics. Two years in the making, Landa’s version of Hamlet was his senior project at Columbia University. When I asked him why Shakespeare and why Hamlet, he replied, “I wanted to pick something that would intrigue people when they heard there was a circus based on Hamlet. I wanted people to not know what they were walking into, and Hamlet is a notoriously complex play. I didn’t want something that had been done in circuses. In the case of Hamlet, everybody knows the story and I can focus on the themes that I want to.”

Landa has owned the company’s rigging system since he first began to perform in circus eight years ago. “One thing that is really important to me is trying to change circus as an art and entertainment form. I see ballet and opera performances with sweeping and emotional stories, where singing and dance tell the stories, and I want audiences to view circus in the same way. This show is grounded in a narrative with a beginning, middle and end.”

The aerialist is Julia Baccellieri. (Photo by Maya Shkolnik)

A number of the company’s performers are alums from Cirque du Soleil. Costumes are by Designer Lily Cunicelli who works in film and theater on- and off-Broadway as do many of the performers.  Lighting Designer Nate Files has worked on American IdolDancing with the Stars and Blue Man Group as well as concerts for Miley Cyrus and Blackpink.

The contortionist is Ilse Baryshnikov. (Photo Howard Sherman)

Selecting Union Market Dock 5 to mount this production, Landa plans to build out the space to resemble a traditional theater setting. The Union Market District is entering a new phase in the development of entertainment arts, nightlife and theatrical shows and he is able configure the space to suit his needs. “I’m hoping this production with them is the start of a new relationship, because I would love to come back to the area.”

Hamlet poster designed by Sawyer Sadd, featuring Ilse Baryshnikov, Jacob Crow, and Madi Ward. (Courtesy photo)

Performances begin July 31 and run to August 11 at Union Market, Dock 5, 1309 Fifth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20002. For tickets and information visit or email [email protected]

The Kite Runner at Kennedy Center Proves Relevant and Compelling

The Kite Runner at Kennedy Center Proves Relevant and Compelling

The Kite Runner
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Jordan Wright
June 28, 2024

The Kite Runner (Photo Via The Kennedy Center)

‘I became what I am today at the age of twelve,” recalls narrator and protagonist, Amir (Ramzi Khalaf) in the The Kite Runner. It opens in 1973 when Ari was a child living in a large house in Kabul with his father, Baba (Haythem Noor), a successful businessman. Young Hassan (Shahzeb Zahid Hussain also in the role of Farid) lived on the grounds in a nearby hut and was close to Amir’s age. The boys become inseparable, until Amir betrays him, abandons him and suffers from the guilt.

For a production that has enjoyed numerous versions since 2007, The Kite Runner is surprisingly relevant. This latest version landed at the Kennedy Center at the end of its national tour with a very short four-night run. If you didn’t catch it (there are two more nights) or have never seen it, I hope you can snag a few tickets. Set in Afghanistan after the fall of the monarchy, the Russian army’s ten-year occupation and battles against the mujahideen and other foreign factions, and the subsequent occupation by the ultra-conservative religious Taliban, who found new ways to suppress the culture while claiming they were helping the country get back to its roots, it recalls the struggles of a country that already had suffered from internecine religious and tribal conflicts.

Women were beaten in the streets if any parts of their bodies or hair were showing, school for females was shot down, flouters of the new rules were decapitated in public stadiums where attendance was required, dancing, radios and TV were banned and one of the nation’s most popular pastimes, kite flying was forbidden, which is what brings us to this compelling story from best-selling author, Khaled Hosseini.

The Kite Runner (Photo Via The Kennedy Center)

The parallels to current religious wars, massive refugee horrors, internecine tribal warfare and the slaughter of innocent civilians are all too familiar. In this gripping drama we have the advantage of gallows humor to ameliorate the horrors of war.

If you’re a news hound and have followed the trajectory of these stories over the years, you will find yourself satisfied and even amused by how everyday people navigate the most horrific situations. It’s somehow rewarding to appreciate the bravery and resilience of the ordinary citizen caught up in a insidious battle by forces craving domination of an entire culture.

The Kite Runner (Photo Via The Kennedy Center)

With a remarkable cast, several from the original Broadway cast, this production is a can’t miss. Compelling, gripping, slyly acerbic and, above all, necessary. You’ll wonder how Ari, a most unlikely hero, was able to escape the war, find a new life in America, a loving wife, Soraya (Awesta Zarif) and redemption from his past cowardliness under the most dangerous conditions.

With Jonathan Shaboo as Rahim Khan/Dr. Schneider/Omar Faisal; Haythem Noor as Baba; Hassan Nazari-Robati as Ali/Farid; Wiley Naman Strasser as Assef; Danish Farooqui as Wali/Doctor; Jade Zian as Kamal/Zaman; Sophie Zmorrod Ensemble/Pomegranate Lady/Andrews; Kevin Stevens Ensemble/Merchant/Russian Soldier; James Rana as General Taheri; Salar Nader as Tabla Artist.

Adapted by Matthew Spangler; Directed by Giles Croft; Scenic and Costume Design by Barney George; Lighting Design by Charles Balfour; Sound Design by Drew Baumohl; Projection Design by William Simpson; Composer & Music Supervisor Jonathan Girling.

Through June 30th at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F Street, NW, Washington, DC 20566. For tickets and information call the box office at 202 467-4600 or visit

Bye Bye Birdie Knocks It Out of The Park With Broadway Headliners at the Kennedy Center

Bye Bye Birdie Knocks It Out of The Park With Broadway Headliners at the Kennedy Center

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Broadway Center Stage
Jordan Wright
June 11, 2024

Christian Borle and Krysta Rodriguez (Photo/Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman)

Music publisher slash songwriter, Albert Peterson, is in love with his secretary, Rose Alvarez. Head of Almaelou Music Corp. Named after his mother Mae, Lou his beloved dead dog and Al his late father, Albert’s a momma’s boy and as much as he loves Rosie, his super savvy, gorgeous Latina girlfriend, he has commitment phobia. After eight years of devotion to Albert, Rosie is ready to move on.

Albert’s biggest star is rocker Conrad Birdie, an utterly unmanageable sot with a massive fan club of nubile teens. Dreaming up a clever publicity stunt, Albert orchestrates a press event culminating with Conrad kissing the president of Conrad’s fan club on the Ed Sullivan Show. From a stack of fan mail, he chooses the beautiful but recently pinned, Kim Macafee, proud resident of Sweet Apple, Ohio, and President of the Conrad Birdie Fan Club.

Ephram Sykes and Company (Photo/Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman)

Predictably, things go south, but not before we meet Alberts’s mother, Mae, Kim’s mom, Doris Macafee, her cranky, authoritarian  dad, Harry Macafee, little brother, Randolph, her fellow fan club members, her steady, Hugo Peabody, and a host of truckers in Charles Maude’s low-down bar in Sweet Apple, fondly known as “The Bellybutton of America”.

This huge revival with its 50’s costumes, 50’s mores and 50’s technology is just as relevant today as it was when it opened on Broadway in 1958, one year after Elvis was drafted into the U. S. Army. So, yes, it has elements of the phenomenon of crazed teenage fans high on their idol, but this Tony Award-winning blockbuster has brilliant choreography, buckets of laughs, unforgettably catchy numbers by the Tony Award-winning collaborators – Composer, Charles Strouse and Lyricist Lee Adams and a Broadway cast that delivers in spades.

Sweet Apple Teens (Photo/Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman)

You’ll either recall or swoon to the big numbers – “A Healthy, Normal American Boy”, Rosie’s big song-and-dance solo, “Spanish Rose”, “Honestly Sincere”, “One Last Kiss”, “A Lot of Livin’ to Do”, “Kids”, and the beautiful ballad sung by Albert to Rosie “Baby, Talk to Me”.

Backed by the Kennedy Center’s Opera House Orchestra, 22-strong members who remain onstage, it is a song and dance fest, featuring some of the most amazing voices from both stage and screen. The acting chops are spot on, the comedic timing unparalleled, the dancing hyper-energetic and the story – absolutely irresistible. This tremendously loveable musical has everything, and I adored every minute of it.

Miguel Gil and Ashlyn Maddox (Photo/Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman)

You’ll recognize many of the cast – Christian Borle as Albert, who has garnered several “Best Actor” Tony Awards and starring TV roles (he reminded me of the mega-star Dick Van Dyke the ace dancer and comedian); Richard Kind as Kim’s dad, Harry, whom you’ll recognize as the award-winning character actor from stage and screen with his memorable roles in A Serious ManYoung SheldonThe ProducersCurb Your EnthusiasmThe Goldbergs and many more; Krysta Rodriguez, a brilliant hoofer with a mega-watt smile who has starred on Broadway, TV sitcoms and film in such blockbusters as Argo and Tick, Tick… Boom.

Ditto for multi-Tony, Drama Critic and Outer Critics Circle nominee, Ephraim Sykes, as Conrad who was seen on Broadway in Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations, Hamilton and Newsies.

1Ephraim Sykes and Company (Photo/Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman)

And featuring the queen of the slow burn, Caroline Aaron, who plays Mrs. Mae Peterson, Albert’s mother and the consummate “New Yawker” Jewish mother whom you’ll recognize as Shirley Maisel in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, plus far too many top roles on stage and screen to mention here.

It’s not just a host of big-time singers, hoofers and comedians, but a cast that meshes magnificently in one cohesive, laugh out loud, crazy-wonderful show.

Five Stars (if I gave out stars which I don’t) for Best of the Best Musicals on a DC stage!

Christian Borle and Caroline Aaron (Photo/Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman)

With the stunning voice of Ashlyn Maddox as Kim Macafee, Sarah Chu as Helen, Dori Waymer as Nancy, Kelly Lomonte as Margie, Jalen Michael Jones as Freddie, Luke Kolbe Mannikus as Karl, Maria Cristina Posada Slye as Penelope, Victor De Paula Rocha as Harvey, Rennell Taylor as Charlie, Evan Kinnane as Mike, Jackera Davis as Ursula Merkle, Miguel Gil as Hugo Peabody, Jennifer Laura Thompson as Mrs. Doris Macafee, Kevin Ligon as Mayor, Allison Blackwell as Mayor’s Wife, Kevin McAllister as Mr. Merkle and Charles F. Maude, Linda Muggleston as Mrs. Merkle, Megan Sikora as Gloria Rasputin and Mrs. Johnson, and Henry Kirk as Randolph Macafee.

Director Marc Bruni, Music Director John Bell, Choreographer Denis Jones, Music Director John Bell, Book by Michael Stewart, Scenic Design by Lee Savage, Costume Design by Linda Cho, Lighting Design by Cory Pattak, Sound Design by Haley Parcher, Production Design by Nathan Scheuer, Hair & Wig Designer Tom Watson.

Through June 15th at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F Street, NW, Washington, DC 20566. For tickets and information call the box office at 202 467-4600 or visit