NEW MU­SI­CALS AMONG PO­TEN­TIAL GEMS

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUMMER ARTS PREVIEW - Peter Marks peter.marks@wash­post.com

Don’t think of sum­mer as theater’s cool­ing-off pe­riod. Nowa­days there’s too much heat on too many stages to con­sider it the slow sea­son. For more ev­i­dence that July and Au­gust aren’t time to stop feed­ing your the­ater­go­ing habit, here are five lo­cales, in and out of town, with the sum­mer­time po­ten­tial to warm your drama-lov­ing heart.

HERE

Arena Stage had a big suc­cess as a mu­si­cal testing ground in 2008 with “Next to Nor­mal.” That cru­cial re­tool­ing of Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey’s show about the im­pact of men­tal ill­ness on an Amer­i­can fam­ily al­lowed the pro­duc­tion to move on to Broad­way and even­tu­ally gar­ner a Pulitzer Prize. Now the theater hopes it can fur­ther bur­nish its rep­u­ta­tion with “Dear Evan Hansen,” a new mu­si­cal star­ring Ben Platt (“Pitch Per­fect”) as a young man whose wishes come true, at a price.

The book is by Steven Leven­son, the score is by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (“A Christ­mas Story”) and the direc­tor is Michael Greif, who not only shep­herded “Rent” to Broad­way ac­claim, but also ably guided “Next to Nor­mal.” We’ll see whether Arena re­mains his lucky charm.

Dear Evan Hansen July 10Aug. 23 at Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth St. SW. 2024883300. www.are­nastage.org.

In 1998, Sig­na­ture Theatre’s artis­tic direc­tor, Eric Scha­ef­fer, took a gam­ble, stag­ing the Amer­i­can pre­miere of “The Fix,” a swing-for-the-fences satir­i­cal mu­si­cal that one of its cre­ators, Dana P. Rowe, de­scribed at the time as “The Ad­dams Fam­ily Goes to Wash­ing­ton.” It had had a lack­lus­ter de­but the year be­fore at Lon­don’s Don­mar Ware­house, and the re­sults in Shirling­ton, although bet­ter re­ceived, didn’t scare up much out­side in­ter­est in the show.

Now Scha­ef­fer is at it again. Af­ter stag­ing two other mu­si­cals by Rowe and his long­time col­lab­o­ra­tor, John Dempsey — “The Witches of East­wick” and “Brother Rus­sia” — he’s bring­ing back “The Fix” as the open­ing act of his 2015-16 sea­son. Given the re­turn of the real-life pres­i­den­tial fol­lies, this could be a well-timed reprise.

The Fix Aug. 11Sept. 20 at Sig­na­ture Theatre, 4200 Camp­bell Ave., Ar­ling­ton. 7035737328. www.sig­na­turethe­atre.org.

THERE

The sum­mer’s pre­mier the­atri­cal event oc­curs next month on Broad­way, with the ar­rival of “Hamil­ton.” Fol­low­ing a bal­ly­hooed sold-out run at off-Broad­way’s Public Theater, this re­mark­able mu­si­cal, with book and score by Lin-Manuel Mi­randa (who’s also the star), is al­ready an odds-on awards-sea­son fa­vorite. Let’s hope tourist-driven Broad­way is as re­cep­tive to the in­ven­tive de­lights of this ground­break­ing work as were the crowds that clam­ored for tick­ets in the East Vil­lage.

The sopho­more Broad­way ef­fort from Mi­randa, com­poser and star of “In the Heights,” and direc­tor Thomas Kail, “Hamil­ton” re­counts, through a vi­brant hy­brid score of hip-hop, pop and show tunes, the life and times of found­ing fa­ther Alexander Hamil­ton. It’s at once lots of fun and deeply se­ri­ous, an ex­hil­a­rat­ing con­join­ing of rap and schol­ar­ship that forges a mean­ing­ful con­nec­tion be­tween the Amer­i­cas of yes­ter­day and to­day.

Hamil­ton Per­for­mances begin July 13 at Richard Rodgers Theatre, 226 W. 46th St., New York. 8772502929. www.tick­et­mas­ter.com.

The Con­tem­po­rary Amer­i­can Theater Fes­ti­val, that pas­torally sit­u­ated an­nual pur­veyor of new work in the West Vir­ginia pan­han­dle, has on its am­bi­tious five-play agenda a piece it com­mis­sioned on the sub­ject of the dis­si­dent Rus­sian fem­i­nist group whose guer­rilla theater ran legally afoul of that coun­try’s pres­i­dent, Vladimir Putin.

“We Are Pussy Riot” is play­wright Bar­bara Ham­mond’s drama about the women of Pussy Riot, who, to hu­man­i­tar­ian out­rage, were sent to la­bor camps for their protest pieces crit­i­ciz­ing Rus­sian pol­i­tics and so­ci­ety. The direc­tor is the for­mi­da­ble Tea Alagic, who col­lab­o­rated with dra­matic Tarell Alvin McCraney on his widely praised Brother/Sis­ter play cy­cle.

We Are Pussy Riot July 10Aug. 2 at Con­tem­po­rary Amer­i­can Theater Fes­ti­val, Shep­herd­stown, W.Va. 8009993283. www.catf.org.

Call any stage that six-time Tony win­ner (!) Audra MacDon­ald chooses to ap­pear on the lo­cus of an event. In bu­colic west­ern Mas­sachusetts, site of the long-run­ning Wil­liamstown Theatre Fes­ti­val, she will be star­ring with hus­band Will Swen­son (“Hair”) in a re­vival of Eu­gene O’Neill’s bit­ter­sweet love story “A Moon for the Mis­be­got­ten.”

Gor­don Edel­stein di­rects the pair, in what is sure to be closely watched for its Broad­way trans­fer po­ten­tial. How far off, af­ter all, can Tony No. 7 be?

A Moon for the Mis­be­got­ten Aug. 523 at Wil­liamstown Theatre Fes­ti­val, Wil­liamstown, Mass. 4135973400. www.wt­fes­ti­val.org.

IL­LUS­TRA­TION BY HAT­TIE NEW­MAN / PHOTO BY BENE­DICT MOR­GAN FOR THE WASH­ING­TON POST

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