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Featured Theater Pick: Grey Gardens, Wed., nov. 12, To Sunday, Dec. 21 at the Studio Theatre’s Metheny Theatre

In Albert and David Maysles’ 1975 documentary Grey Gardens, Edith “Big Edie” Ewing Bouvier Beale and Edith “Little Edie” Bouvier Beale are depicted living in squalor, sharing their dilapidated mansion with an army of feral cats and Wonder Bread-eating raccoons. The film is both a harrowing portrait of life on the margins and the ultimate camp classic: The bickering mother and daughter sun themselves on a moldering deck, eat crackers in bed, and slowly become ever more unhinged. All of this makes Grey Gardens an unlikely candidate for a Broadway-style treatment, but playwright Doug Wright adds shape and context to Edith’s and Little Edie’s falls from grace by molding their remembrances of younger, happier, and more stable times into a more traditional first act. After intermission, the performer who portrays Edith in the first act takes on the role of middle-aged Little Edie, and Wright lets the freak flag fly with his larger-than-life ladies. Scott Frankel’s and Michael Korie’s songs—initially genial Cole Porter goofs—are unwavering in their dedication to their source: tunes about Little Edie’s bizarre fashion sense and Edith’s cooking technique spring, word for word, from the documentary itself. Grey Gardens devotees may not have much use for the comparatively flowery first act, while musical buffs may not care for the sharper-tongued and purposefully awkward second act. Still, the gravitational pull of the Beale women is undeniable, and Grey Gardens should benefit from the Studio Theatre’s traditionally gritty approach: In this story, magical moments surge unexpectedly from overwhelming, almost suffocating, ugliness. The musical runs from Wednesday, Nov. 12, to Sunday, Dec. 21, at the Studio Theatre’s Metheny Theatre, 1333 P St. NW. $TK. (202) 332-3300. —Nick Green

Theater Picks Calendar

9/12 Friday
Story Theatre Open Circle Theatre improvises on stories from Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Aesop’s Fables; to Sept. 13. Round House Theatre Silver Spring.

9/13 Saturday
Borderline The Stage Play District of Columbia Arts Center presents Malik Salaam’s one-man show about the line between rationality and insanity.
Cheech & Chong The Warner Theatre presents the stoner-comedy duo.

9/16 Tuesday
The Marriage Counselor Peachez Inc. presents Tyler Perry’s musical about relationships; to Sept. 21. Warner Theatre.

9/17 Wednesday
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents Round House Theatre Bethesda presents Karen Zacarias’ adaptation of the novel by Julia Alvarez; to Oct. 12
Please Take a Number Atlas Performing Arts Center presents Nia Orms’ one-woman show about welfare; to Sept. 21.

9/18 Thursday
The Aging of the Plum (La Edad de la Ciruela) GALA Hispanic Theatre presents Aristedes Vargas’ play; to Oct. 12.

9/19 Friday
Crossing Delancey Greenbelt Arts Center presents Susan Sandler’s play about life on the Lower East Side; to Oct. 11.
Grim Whimsy The District of Columbia Arts Center presents 4 & 9 Productions’ improvised Goth-themed show. To
Sept. 20.
Two Menus In the Court The District of Columbia Arts Center presents Sheldon Chandler’s play on the American Dream. To Sept. 20.

9/21 Sunday
Mozart’s Men Source Theatre presents a musical that draws from The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Cosi fan tutte; to Sept. 29.

9/23 Tuesday
The Lieutenant of Inishmore Signature Theatre presents Martin McDonagh’s comic play about Northern Ireland; to Nov. 16.

9/24 Wednesday
Astro-rama Squonk Opera presents this musical about otherworldly investigations; to Sept. 26. University of Maryland, Smith Performing Arts Center.
Blanche and Beyond The Kennedy Center presents Richard Thomas’ one-man show, adapted from the personal letters of Tennessee Williams; to Sept. 26.
Colorstruck Lovelife Productions presents Donald E. Lacy Jr’s one-man show. Atlas Performing Arts Center.
Menopause the Musical The Warner Theatre presents Jeanie Linders’ musical.
The Underpants Olney Theatre presents a comedy written by Steve Martin; to Oct. 19.

9/26 Friday
HERstory The District of Columbia Arts Center presents this show about six women’s views on sex and hip-hop; to Sept. 28.
Host and Guest Synetic Theater presents Roland Reed’s play based on the epic poem by Vazha Pshavela; to Nov. 9.
Julius Caesar The Rude Mechanicals presents a staging of Shakespeare’s play set in the year 2044; to Sept. 27. District of Columbia Arts Center.

9/28 Sunday
The Punany Poets The District of Columbia Arts Center presents an evening of “erotic reality theater.”

9/30 Tuesday
The Phantom Tollbooth The Kennedy Center Theatre for Young Audiences presents an adaptation of Norton Juster’s novel; to Sept. 25.
The Way of the World Shakespeare Theatre Company presents William Congreve’s Restoration-era classic; to Nov. 16.

10/1 Friday
The Grand Inquisitor The International Centre for Theatre Research presents Peter Brook’s adaptation of The Brothers Karamazov; to Oct. 3. University of Maryland, Smith Performing Arts Center.

10/2 Thursday
Broadway: Three Generations The Kennedy Center presents selections from Girl Crazy, Bye Bye Birdie, and Side Show; to Oct. 5.
Second Line Tribute Productions presents the story of two black college students who define themselves against the backdrop of the ’60s; to Oct. 26 at Atlas Performing Arts Center.

10/3 Friday
Barbara Cook’s Spotlight: Betty Buckley & Kenny Werner The Kennedy Center presents a cabaret performance by Tony winner Buckley; to Oct. 4.
George Lopez Warner Theatre presents the comedian on his “America’s Mexican” tour; to Oct. 5.

10/4 Saturday
Hamlet Shakespeare & Company celebrates its 30th anniversary with a staging of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedy. George Mason University, Center for the Arts.

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10/5 Sunday
24, 7, 365 African Continuum Theatre Company presents a reading of Jennifer L. Nelson’s play. Atlas Performing Arts Center.

10/6 Monday
Anyone Can Whistle Signature Theatre presents Stephen Sondheim’s cult classic.

10/8 Wednesday
Intelligence Studio Theatre. A writer challenges the head of national security over the fate of a leftist rebel. To Nov. 9.
Mac Homer Woolly Mammoth Theatre presents Rick Miller mixing equal parts Matt Groening and Shakespeare; to Oct. 12.
1 Henry IV. Folger Shakespeare Library to Nov. 16.

10/9 Thursday
Citizen Josh Arena Stage presents Josh Kornbluth’s one-man show; to Oct. 26.
Drunk Enough to Say I Love You Forum Theatre presents an allegorical play challenging the political seduction of Britain by the United States; to Nov. 2 at H Street Playhouse.

10/12 Sunday
A Soft Escape African Continuum Theatre Company presents a reading of Sherry Shepard-Massat’s play. Atlas Performing Arts Center.

10/16 Thursday
Pearl Bailey…By Request MetroStage presents Roz White’s tribute to the singer; to Nov. 9.
To Be Young, Gifted and Black The University of Maryland Department of Theatre presents Lorraine Hansberry’s play; to Oct. 26. University of Maryland, Smith Performing Arts Center.

10/17 Friday
Fat Pig Dominion Stage presents Neil La-Bute’s play about gender and body issues; to Nov. 2. Gunston Arts Center, Theatre I.
House Upon a Rock The Starving Artist Theatre presents a comedy about modern living; to Oct. 26 at District of Columbia Arts Center.

10/18 Saturday
Sinbad Warner Theatre presents the actor-comedian.

10/19 Sunday
Holly Down in Heaven African Continuum Theatre Company presents a reading of Shirley Serotsky’s play. Atlas Performing Arts Center.

10/22 Wednesday
As American As Journeymen Theater Ken Prestininzi’s story of three mistaken identities; to Nov. 15 at Church Street Theatre.
DRUID: The Shadow of the Glen and The Playboy of the Western World The Kennedy Center presents two works by John Millington Synge; to Oct. 25.
Honey Brown Eyes Theater J presents Stephanie Zadravec’s play set in Bosnia in 1992; to Nov 30 at Washington District of Columbia Jewish Community Center, Goldman Theater.

10/30 Thursday
President Harding Is a Rock Star Landless Theatre presents this musical about the controversial President; to Nov. 30. District of Columbia Arts Center.

10/31 Saturday
The Rocky Horror Show Greenbelt Arts Center presents the musical that inspired the 1975 cult film; to Nov. 22.

11/3 Monday
Boom Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company presents John Vreeke’s play about a quiet
grad student who introduces a journalism student to the world of fish sleep cycles; to Nov. 30.

11/6 Thursday
All’s Well that Ends Well Washington Shakespeare Company’s production of scorned lovers and jealous siblings. To Dec. 7 at Clark Street Playhouse.

11/7 Friday
The Comedy of Errors The Aquila Theatre Company presents the comical story of twins separated at birth.

11/8 Saturday
Barbara Cook’s Spotlight: Rebecca Luker Kennedy Center. Cabaret performance curated by Barbara Cook.

11/11 Tuesday
Frost/Nixon The Kennedy Center presents a play about the famous tussle between a president and a talk-show host; to Nov. 30.

11/12 Wednesday
Grey Gardens Studio Theatre presents a musical based on the lives of the two most reclusive Kennedys; to Dec. 21.

11/13 Thursday
Between Trains The University of Maryland Department of Theatre presents Juanita Rockwell’s play on Buddhism; to Nov. 23. University of Maryland, Smith Performing Arts Center.

11/19 Wednesday
Peter Pan Olney Theatre presents J.M. Barrie’s story of a boy who refuses to grow up; to Jan. 4, 2009.

11/20 Thursday
Isn’t it Romantic MetroStage presents David Koch’s tribute to romantic classic song; to Dec. 21.

11/21 Friday
Next to Normal Arena Stage presents Michael Greif’s story of a suburban family’s efforts at normalcy; to Jan. 18, 2009.

11/25 Tuesday
Life With Father The American Century Theater presents the classic play by Howard Lindsey and Russell Crouse. To Dec. 7 at Gunston Arts Center Theater II.

11/26 Wednesday
Alice Round House Theatre Bethesda presents an adaptation of the Lewis Carroll novel; to Dec. 28.

11/28 Friday
Love, Peace & Robbery Keegan Theatre presents the American premiere of Liam Heylin’s play; to Dec. 21 at Theatre on the Run.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Keegan Theatre presents an adaptation of the Ken Kesey novel; to Dec. 20 at Church Street Theatre.

12/2 Tuesday
A Christmas Carol Shakespeare Theatre Company presents Charles Dickens’ classic tale.; to Dec. 28.
Twelfth Night Shakespeare Theatre Company presents the Bard’s tale of shipwrecked twins; to Jan. 4, 2009.
The Wizard of Oz Warner Theatre presents
a musical version of the iconic 1939 film;
to Dec. 7.

12/3 Wednesday
Blackbird. Studio Theatre presents David Harrower’s play; to Dec. 21.
The Butterfingers Angel, Mary & Joseph, Herod the Nut & the
Slaughter of 12 Hit Carols in a Pear Tree Rep Stage presents an interpretation of the Christian story; to Jan. 4 at Studio Theatre.

12/4 Thursday
Last Days of Judas Iscariot Forum
Theater presents Stephen Adly Guirgis’
play about Judas standing trial in
purgatory; to Dec. 21 at H Street
Playhouse.

12/6 Saturday
Barbara Cook’s Spotlight: Victoria Clark The Kennedy Center presents a cabaret performance by the Tony winner.

12/10 Wednesday
An American Century Christmas Jack Marshall and Tom Fuller direct; to Jan. 4, 2009, at Gunston Arts Center Theater II.

12/15 Monday
Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind The Neo-Futurists present 30 plays in 60 minutes; to Jan. 4 at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company.

12/16 Tuesday
Legally Blonde The Kennedy Center presents a musical adaptation of the popular film; to Jan. 11, 2009.

12/17 Wednesday
Sholom Aleichem Theater J presents a world premiere of Theodore Bikel’s play; to Jan. 11, 2009.

Now Playing
Ace Signature Theatre. To Sept. 28.
Dr. Cook’s Garden Gunston Arts Center Theater II. To Oct. 4.
Maria/Stuart Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. To Sept. 14.
The Road to Mecca Studio Theatre. To Oct. 12.
1984 Atlas Performing Arts Center. To Oct. 5.
Peace Washington Clark Street Playhouse. To Sept. 28.
Resurrection Arena Stage. To Oct. 5.
Romeo and Juliet Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Harman Center for the Arts. To Oct. 12.
Sandra Bernhard’s Without You I’m Nothing Theater J. To Sept. 28.
Trumbo: Red, White and Blacklisted Studio Theatre. To Oct. 22.
Wishful Drinking Arena Stage. To Sept. 28.