All stories by John Stoltenberg on BroadwayStars

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Actor Mikéah Jennings unpacks his powerful performance in ‘Shipwreck’ by John Stoltenberg

Anne Washburn’s Shipwreck: A History Play About 2017 is an epic, scorching, and surreal satire of white liberalism in the era of Trump. It takes place at that ominous juncture in recent Am…

Linked From DC Metro Theater Arts at 05:00PM
Saturday, February 15, 2020

In ‘Boy’ at Keegan Theatre, the anguish of a gender experiment gone wrong by John Stoltenberg

“Oh, god. Maybe it didn’t work,” the mother exclaims in alarm. It’s the moment in this hold-your-breath drama when she realizes the gender experiment done on her child, one of two id…

Linked From DC Metro Theater Arts at 06:45PM
Friday, February 14, 2020

‘The Boy Detective Fails’ is a charming success at American University by John Stoltenberg

“I’m good at finding out the truth,” says Billy Argo (Spencer Coben), the boy-prodigy detective, near the beginning of this clever, quirky, and quite touching musical. So observant of …

Linked From DC Metro Theater Arts at 12:12PM
Thursday, February 13, 2020

‘Heroine’ at The Kennedy Center tells the searing true story of a woman’s rape in the U.S. Army by John Stoltenberg and David Siegel

Post-Play Palaver is an occasional series of conversations between DC Metro Theater Arts writers who saw the same performance, got really into talking about it, and decided to continue their…

Linked From DC Metro Theater Arts at 11:55AM
Saturday, February 8, 2020

Who is Black? Signature Theatre’s ‘Gun & Powder’ hits a national nerve by John Stoltenberg

It may surprise you (as it did me) that the title of this melodic world-premiere musical does not refer to gunpowder. The word gun means there’s a pistol (which gets dramatically deployed)…

Linked From DC Metro Theater Arts at 08:13PM
Friday, February 7, 2020

Cliff Cardinal’s solo ‘Huff’ at Kennedy Center offers a theatrical high by John Stoltenberg

At the start of this brave performance, we see on a dark stage a young man who is making a suicide attempt. He is wearing cargo pants, a tee, and sneaks and has a food-storage bag over his h…

Linked From DC Metro Theater Arts at 12:05PM
Tuesday, February 4, 2020

‘The Royale’ at 1st Stage bares a Black brother’s big heart by John Stoltenberg

This play about a boxer packs so many emotional punches into its compact six rounds, you might not know what hit you. As fists fly, bells clang, terse words burst, and the cast claps out eac…

Linked From DC Metro Theater Arts at 04:30PM
Monday, February 3, 2020

‘Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson’ at Dominion Stage rethinks how racist history rocks on by John Stoltenberg

Dominion Stage has given this rowdy, irreverent, and rollicking rock musical a remarkably woke production that is as rousing as it is reflective and as satiric as it is unsettling. Set in 18…

Linked From DC Metro Theater Arts at 09:01AM
Sunday, January 26, 2020

Clayton LeBouef’s dreamy ‘RS/24’ returns to Anacostia Playhouse by John Stoltenberg

Summoning a galaxy of African American recording stars, this poignant one-act sometimes seems like a sublime dream with vintage music. There are ethereal visions, vivid Afrofuturist visitati…

Linked From DC Metro Theater Arts at 04:40PM
Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Mosaic goes rom-com with ‘Pilgrims Musa and Sheri in the New World’ by John Stoltenberg

This thoroughly delightful offering from Mosaic has all the makings of a lighthearted rom-com. Boy meets girl. He invites her to his place. She initiates sex. It’s hot. Though they come fr…

Linked From DC Metro Theater Arts at 01:54PM
Monday, January 20, 2020

In the ‘Pipeline’ at Studio Theater, a Black son’s legacy of rage by John Stoltenberg

The set for Dominique Morisseau’s Pipeline at Studio Theatre could not be any whiter. Its white walls of freshly painted concrete blocks span the breadth of the stage and extend around the…

Linked From DC Metro Theater Arts at 07:03PM
Sunday, January 19, 2020

4615 Theatre’s gripping ‘A Measure of Cruelty’ rips open three men’s wounds by John Stoltenberg

The casual cruelty that constructs men’s certainty they’re real men—and the cost of that violence to others and to themselves—comes under scathing scrutiny in Joe Calarco’s shatter…

Linked From DC Metro Theater Arts at 09:35AM
Wednesday, January 15, 2020

‘Sheltered’ at Theater J hits home in America right now by John Stoltenberg

A gathering stormcloud looms over this exquisitely wrought play by Alix Sobler. “How bad is it going to get?” a character wonders aloud. No one can answer. “It can’t go on like this …

Linked From DC Metro Theater Arts at 10:53AM
Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Step Afrika!’s ‘Magical Musical Holiday Step Show’ is a winter wonderland of joy by John Stoltenberg

Now in its eighth year, Step Afrika!’s Magical Musical Holiday Step Show has established itself as the season’s most joyful and lovable family festivity in DC. Exuberant music, adorable …

Linked From DC Metro Theater Arts at 10:02PM
Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Taylor Mac puts on the glitz in ‘Holiday Sauce’ at The Kennedy Center by John Stoltenberg

“Have you seen this before?” I heard an audience member ask his friend just before Holiday Sauce, Taylor Mac’s sold-out alt-holiday extravaganza at The Kennedy Center. “Prepare your…

Linked From DC Metro Theater Arts at 01:38PM
Monday, December 16, 2019

Isabella Star LaBlanc, who plays Tiger Lily in ‘Peter Pan and Wendy’ at Shakespeare Theatre Company, on why Native stories matter by John Stoltenberg

When Playwright Lauren Gunderson took on the challenge of adapting J. M. Barrie’s 1904 Peter Pan, she knew she had to fix what she has called the “deeply harmful misrepresentation of Ind…

Linked From DC Metro Theater Arts at 02:53PM
Sunday, December 15, 2019

At Mosaic’s ‘Eureka Day,’ a class in laughs and spats is in session by John Stoltenberg

The five adults seated onstage in a children’s classroom each have a kid enrolled in this  private day school, which like the play we’re watching is named Eureka Day. These earnest pare…

Linked From DC Metro Theater Arts at 07:22PM
Tuesday, December 10, 2019

‘Peter Pan and Wendy’ at Shakespeare wows with wonder in a woke dream by John Stoltenberg

J. M. Barrie imagined a lot when he wrote his 1904 play about the boy who wouldn’t grow up, but he could not have imagined how many childhoods have been etched by its enchantment. Now in P…

Linked From DC Metro Theater Arts at 04:17PM
Sunday, December 1, 2019

5 reasons Christopher Boone liked ‘Curious Incident’ at Round House better than on Broadway by John Stoltenberg

My name is Christopher Boone and I am 15 and I am brave and I can do anything. I know that because I traveled by train by myself from Swindon to London and I solved the mystery of a neighbor…

Linked From DC Metro Theater Arts at 01:58PM
Friday, November 29, 2019

In ’19: The Musical,’ women sing and dance their way to suffrage by John Stoltenberg

On the day I was to see 19: The Musical—which is about how the amendment granting women the right to vote came to pass in 1920—our Constitution Denier in Chief made a perfectly timed gaf…

Linked From DC Metro Theater Arts at 12:28PM
Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The bad romance at the heart of Studio Theatre’s ‘White Pearl’ by John Stoltenberg

Anchuli Felicia King’s White Pearl is a hilarious, fast-paced satire set in the Singapore office of a cosmetics startup called Clearday that sells skin-whitening cream to Asian women. As t…

Linked From DC Metro Theater Arts at 02:43PM
Wednesday, November 13, 2019

In uproarious ‘Airness’ at Keegan Theatre, the rock ‘n’ roll is unreal by John Stoltenberg

In the competitive national and international air guitar scene, contestants vie for championships and prizes by pretending to play (or “shred”) imaginary guitars to 60-second tracks from…

Linked From DC Metro Theater Arts at 04:57PM
Tuesday, November 12, 2019

In Edward Albee’s first-rate ‘Occupant’ at Theater J, a gutsy woman sculptor creates herself by John Stoltenberg

“True if interesting” is Louise Nevelson’s byword in Occupant, Edward Albee’s witty and wise bioplay about the famous sculptor. She was quite the character. For Nevelson, in the hagi…

Linked From DC Metro Theater Arts at 01:58PM
Sunday, November 10, 2019

‘Agnes of God’ at Factory 449 glories in a trinity of divine performances by John Stoltenberg

Following on Factory 449’s electrifying production two years ago of Lela & Co.—which earned Helen Hayes Awards for both its director (Rick Hammerly) and star (Felicia Curry)—the co…

Linked From DC Metro Theater Arts at 11:10AM
Saturday, November 9, 2019

What’s Beneath the ‘Sea’ at Scena Theatre? by John Stoltenberg

“It feels unknown. This is nowhere somehow,” says a character in this intriguingly cryptic poetic play by the acclaimed Norwegian playwright Jon Fosse. Indeed, where are we? And what is…

Linked From DC Metro Theater Arts at 05:21PM
Friday, November 8, 2019

Uplifting ‘Veils’ at Restoration Stage honors Black women in mourning by John Stoltenberg

Four African American women address the audience as if speaking to a department store clerk. Each is shopping for a dress—a dress, they stress, that must be “special.” As they turn to …

Linked From DC Metro Theater Arts at 02:59PM
Thursday, November 7, 2019

A powerhouse ‘Protest’ and a vague ‘Vaněk Unleashed’ from Alliance for New Music-Theatre by John Stoltenberg

In honor of the Czech dissident, political prisoner, and playwright Václav Havel, Alliance for New Music-Theatre has served up a two-course theatrical repast in DC’s most outré new arts …

Linked From DC Metro Theater Arts at 08:08AM
Monday, November 4, 2019

Rainbow Theatre Project’s ‘Blue Camp’ shows its lavender heart by John Stoltenberg

This world premiere comic drama about gays in the military takes us back to July and August of 1964 when LBJ was ordering American ground troops into Vietnam in response to the Gulf of Tonki…

Linked From DC Metro Theater Arts at 10:33AM
Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Magic Time!: Mosaic’s brazenly brainy ‘Theory’ is both a treatise and a treat by John Stoltenberg

Academia has inspired several thematically penetrating plays featuring female protagonists—the two teachers falsely accused of being lesbian lovers, for instance, in Lillian Hellman’s 19…

Linked From DC Metro Theater Arts at 01:03PM
Monday, October 28, 2019

Magic Time!: Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Simon Godwin on conscience in ‘Everybody’ and himself by John Stoltenberg

On the day after opening night of Everybody, the first show in Simon Godwin’s much heralded first season as artistic director of Shakespeare Theatre Company, I visited him in his office to…

Linked From DC Metro Theater Arts at 11:00PM

Michael Burgos’s ‘Tiramisù’ is one hilarious trip by John Stoltenberg

Tiramisù—the caffeinated confection from Italy—translates as “pick me up” or “cheer me up,” which makes it the perfect name for the hilarious new solo show Michael Burgo brought…

Linked From DC Metro Theater Arts at 01:35PM

All that Chat

Oct 06: Slave Play
Feb 01: The Minutes
TBA: Blue