Four Big-Risk Musicals, and Three Low-Risk Ones The fall's best musicals

Parade

4 Big-Risk Musicals

The Hollow and The Boy Detective Fails at Signature Theatre To Oct. 16

The only thing riskier than opening one new musical is opening two new musicals at the same time and running them in repertory. That’s what Arlington’s Signature Theatre is doing through Oct. 16. The Hollow, based on Washington Irving’s legend of galloping pumpkins in upstate New York, is by Hunter Foster and Matt Conner. Conner’s on his third Signature musical (Nevermore and Partial Eclipse are the other two), while Foster is best known as the Tony-nominated brother of Tony winner Sutton Foster. Boy Detective author Joe Meno adapted his novel for the stage, while Adam Gwon wrote the music and lyrics. The repertory cast includes D.C. regulars Stephen Gregory Smith, Sherri L. Edelen, and Harry A. Winter.

Fela! at Shakespeare Theatre Company To Oct. 9

When Shakespeare Theatre Company announced that the Harman Center for the Arts’ Sidney Harman Hall would be the first stop on the Fela! world tour, reaction was a mix of “Wow! That’s awesome,” and “That’s… just…wow.” One of D.C.’s most rarefied theaters, hosting an Afro-beat musical, for nearly a month? Mercurial choreographer Bill T. Jones won his second Tony for this show about Fela Kuti, the Nigerian musician known as much for spreading his music as spreading his—well, he did have 27 wives.

Parade at Ford’s Theatre Sept. 23 to Oct. 30

Not an Easter parade, not “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” but Parade, a 1998 show that won two Tony Awards but only ran on Broadway for 10 weeks. This joint Theater J/Ford’s Theatre production is slated to run in D.C. for five. Scottish Tony Award nominee Euan Morton stars as a Jewish man accused of murdering a teenage girl at a Confederate pride parade in early-20th century Marietta, Ga.

3 Surefire-Hit Musicals

Oklahoma! at Arena Stage To Oct. 2

Oklahoma! has sold more than 100,000 tickets to its remount of last fall’s Helen Hayes-winning production. Promotions abound as the end of the run nears, so if you haven’t seen it yet, there’s still time to go on the cheap. City Paper-approved for Rodgers & Hammerstein novices—and your parents.

Les Misérables at the Kennedy Center’s Opera House Sept. 28 to Oct. 30

Why will the 25th anniversary tour of Les Misérables sell? Because my dentist is taking his wife for the third time. Because you’ve been singing “On My Own” in the shower since you were 16 and didn’t get asked to the junior prom. Because labor union protesters in Wisconsin belted out “Do You Hear the People Sing?” while camping out at the state’s capitol building last spring.

Jersey Boys at the National Theatre Nov. 10 to Jan. 7

As far as jukebox musical revues go, critics tend to agree that Jersey Boys is the one worth your 50 cents. Expect to pay more if you are, say, Christmas shopping for your folks, but they should be happy watching Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons sing their way through the 1960s.

PLUS

State of the Arts: 2011 Fall Arts Guide

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