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Arts and Culture (Theatre Reviews)

Is it real … or just virtual?

       First, the elephant in the room: Sex with Strangers is not about sex with strangers. Rather, it is about the author of a book, Sex with Strangers, created from a blog written by young millennial Ethan, then bedding a different woman each week for a year, on a dare. The play is about Ethan, his attitudes, his trustworthiness and his generation’s seeming inability to connect without being “connected.”

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This theater tells its stories in dance, music and fashion
      It’s a Friday afternoon and opening night for Ballet Theatre of Maryland’s Aladdin is just a week away. Artistic Director Dianna Cuatto is working the company, Maryland’s sole professional ballet, on Act II and tweaking little things — the kinds of gestures, head positions and facial expressions — that will make the performance sing.
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The acting is tight, the pace is fast, the one-liners fly and people die

      Take some Neil Simon-like one liners, add a dash of the door-slamming slapstick of Noises Off, mix with some World War II political intrigue, a bunch of mistaken identities and hidden passages in a dark mansion, and what do you get? The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940, running through February 24 at the Bowie Playhouse. 
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The Colonial Players’ Quartet

        January has its own distinctive doldrums, and above a certain latitude (not everyone retires to the sunny south) and beyond a certain age, these doldrums can feel especially bleak. Talents diminish, good friends move away or pass over, and if those talents and friends were an integral part of your life purpose — especially if they were more of a goad — you can feel quite lost.

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A beautiful fairy tale for fish out of water 

     Orphan Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins: Maudie) knows hard times. Mute since a childhood throat slashing, she works as an unnoticed janitor at a secret government facility in Baltimore. 
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The grand classic turns intimate 

      Fiddler on the Roof, which hit Broadway in 1964, set longevity records, won nine Tony Awards and has been performed thousands of times by high school and community theaters across the country. It’s usually a big musical with big casts. This month, Compass Rose Theater gives Tevye and his family a more intimate treatment that, in the hands of director Lucinda Merry-Browne, gives us a nice new perspective.

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The Colonial Players’ fresh take on this classic offers laughs, emotion and good doses of nostalgia

       What’s Christmas season without nostalgia? What’s nostalgia except a look back at how things were? Or, for George Bailey of Bedford Falls, a look back at how things might have been?

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Grief makes monsters in this funny, savage film

     In the seven months since Mildred Hayes’ (Frances McDormand: Hail, Caesar!) daughter was murdered, no progress has been made in the case. Furious, Mildred decides to shame the corrupt, small-town police department into action. She uses her meager savings to rent three dilapidated billboards on the lonely road to her home. 
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Theater like you’ve never seen it 

     The U.S. Naval Academy’s Masqueraders chose a daring format for their fall play, The Infinite Wrench: USNA Style
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What’s old is new again

     In 1925, the so-called Scopes Monkey trial adjudicated creationism versus evolution in a battle of legal titans. John Scopes, a substitute teacher in Tennessee, had been charged with breaking a local law that banned the teaching of evolution. Allowing himself to be used as a test case, he became the subject of one of the most closely followed trials in American history, broadcast across the country by radio....