A B C D E F G H I J L M N O P R S T U Y

Chestnuts Playing it safe on local stages

Among the D.C. area’s more than 70 troupes, you’ll find just about every kind of theater. Still, when local companies unveiled their 2012-13 seasons this spring, some of the area’s biggest presenters took flak for their reliance on chestnuts—frequently staged mainstream musicals like My Fair Lady and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas that are sure to fill theaters. Writers for the Washington Post and Washington City Paper argued that D.C.’s repertory companies, like Arena and Signature, were founded as alternatives to the kind of safe, entry-level fare they now book many seasons; responding to the Post<:cstyle>, an Arena Stage staffer blogged that no play, ever, is safe due to their cost, and that chestnuts are an important gateway drug for young theatergoers. Well, yes—and it’s useful that we can catch them each year at the National Theatre, the Kennedy Center, and the local high school auditorium. But following three years in which Arena’s Kogod Cradle for new works has barely shown any new works but each season has a familiar musical tentpole, it’s easy to begin worrying about the form—no matter how many other bright spots the theater manages each year.

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