Rich Massabny is a theatre, arts, & food critic in the nation's capital. He has been quoted in the Washington Post and Washington Times. One of the most visible cable television personalities in the Washington, D.C. area, his celebrity chefs on cooking shows, his weekly reviews and his hour long talk show, reach over 1,000,000 homes.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

SYNETIC THEATER - - “Much Ado About Nothing”

     This is the 11th “silent Shakespeare” production in over a dozen years by Synetic Theater in Arlington. I’m talking about Synetic’s exciting version of Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” playing in Crystal City through March 22 at 1610 Bell Street. This show may be wordless, as the others, but the sound is so exciting. High fives to Thomas Sowers, sound master, along with sound editor, Konstantine Lortkipanidze. “Much Ado” is set in the 1950s in Las Vegas and is directed by Synetic’s founding artistic director, Paata Tsikurishvili. After temporarily splitting from Benedick (Ben Cunis), Beatrice (Irina Tsikurishvili), moves in with her  Uncle Leonato (Peter Pereyra) and his young daughter, Hero (Emily Whitworth). There’s a great and wonderfully creative scene with motorcyclists that I loved. Among the bikers is Benedick and Claudio (Scott Brown) who falls in love  with Hero. Among all the heavy-duty activity there’s time at the end for a double wedding. Don’t miss the fun at Synetic Theater and “Much Ado About Nothing.” For information and tickets, call 703-824-8060 and check the website at


     The Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in D.C. is celebrating its 35th season. Its newest production is “Cherokee,” by playwright Lisa D’Amour and directed by company member, John Vreeke.  The story is about two couples who take off to the hills of Cherokee, North Carolina to explore nature, leaving behind all the trappings of suburban life. The couples are  John and Janine, played by Paul Morella and Jennifer Mendenhall; and Mike and Traci, played by Thomas W. Jones II and Erica Chamblee. One of the group members disappears and the others meet a Native American from Cherokee played by Jason Grasl. This is a  very interesting play as we follow the psychological changes, however subtle, that occur to the couples. “Cherokee” plays through March 8 at Woolly Mammoth. For information and tickets, call 202-393-3939 and check the website at


Simulcast – “Iolanta” and “Bluebeard’s Castle”
     Last Saturday at the Regal Theatres in Ballston, the Metropolitan Opera of New York simulcast a double-bill treat,  Peter Tchaikovski’s “Iolanta” and Bela Bartok’s “Bluebeard’s Castle.” One of my favorite opera stars, Anna Netrebko, sang the title role of “Iolanta.” It’s about a woman who has been blind since birth and  her loving father, King Rene (Ilya Bannik) who has been protecting her from her surroundings. Another favorite, Piotr Beczala plays Vaudemont, who wins Iolanta’s love.  In “Bluebeard’s Castle,”  the beautiful Judith (Nadja Michael), falls under the spell of Bluebeard (Michael Petranko). Conducting both operas was Valery Gergiev. These simulcasts from the New York Met are offered through FathomEvents. Coming up on March 14 at 1 p.m. is “Rossino.”  For more information, check the website at

Friday, February 13, 2015

ARENA STAGE - - “King Hedley II” by August Wilson

     “King Hedley II” at the Arena Stage in D.C., is the ninth in a cycle of 10 plays by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, August Wilson.  Wilson is a master storyteller as his  plays explore the daily lives of black people in America. “King Hedley II” is set in  Pittsburgh in the 80’s. King is a relatively young man who has just returned from prison for killing a man.  His dream is to marry and start his own business. However, life gets in the way. The ensemble cast of six actors are indeed storytellers themselves. Great acting from Bowman Wright (King), Andre De Shields (Stool Pigeon), Kenyatta Rogers (Mister), E. Faye Butler (Ruby), Jessica Frances Dukes (Tanya) and Michael Anthony Williams (Elmore).  Timothy Douglas, who has directed most of Wilson’s plays, presented an interesting concept with all of the actors either on center stage or off on the side watching. Very effective. “King Hedley II” runs through March 8 at the Arena Stage. For information and tickets, call 202-488-3300 and check the website at

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


     The Tony Award winning Broadway musical, “Chicago,” is at The National Theater in D.C. through Sunday, February 15. As I mentioned on the shows last week, I was really looking forward to seeing it again - - and it didn’t disappoint. The musical numbers are non-stop and each is a show stopper on its own. The story is set in 1920s Chicago and features two gals in jail for homicide and the lawyer who gets them off. The gals are Velma (Terra C. MacLeod), a dancer by trade and Roxie (Bianca Marroquin), a wannabe dancer married to a schmoe and cheating on her husband. Enter lawyer Billy Flynn, played by well known TV personality John O’Hurley (Seinfeld, Dancing with the Stars). Hurley is terrific  as the handsome, self absorbed Flynn He has quite a set of pipes, too. “Chicago” is just a great, great musical with songs that will stick in your head for days.  It was written by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, music by John Kander with lyrics also by Ebb. “Chicago” should be on everyone’s top10 Broadway shows not to be missed. For information and tickets, call 202-628-6161 or check the website at