Magic Time!

This column is named after that magical moment between life and art just before a show begins. In it John Stoltenberg explores how art makes sense of life—and vice versa—as he reflects on meanings that matter in the theater he sees.

Magic Time!: ‘Guilt’ at Scena Theatre

Sex and guilt were linked in superstition before institutional Christianity came on the scene, but thanks to the medieval Catholic Church they got hooked...

Magic Time!: “Claim All of Your Selves”: Caleen Sinnette Jennings on...

Erika Rose’s performance in Queens Girl in Africa is awesome to behold. She plays the playwright’s teenage self, named Jackie, plus her parents, school friends,...

Magic Time!: Inside ‘Amazing Grace’ at the Museum of the Bible:...

When I saw the musical Amazing Grace I praised it to the skies. A blurb being used to promote the show is lifted from my...

Magic Time!: ‘The Birds and the Bees: Unabridged’ at Mosaic Theater...

"Let's rethink sex" has suddenly become a thing. Well, not suddenly maybe. But it certainly has new pertinence in this era of full-frontal disclosure....

Magic Time!: Life Lessons of ‘The Real Americans’: A Q&A with...

Dan Hoyle’s extraordinary solo show The Real Americans is based on his travels through small-town America and the folks he met, many of them...

Magic Time!: ‘The Last Night of Ballyhoo’ at Theater J

The production is lushly beautiful; the pacing, impeccable; the music between scenes, splendid; the acting, a delight in every detail. And the warm, piquant...

Magic Time!: “My Job Is to Crack Open My Soul”: A...

Justin Weaks was recently named by the Washington Post one of DMV’s 12 “stage dynamos,” one of “the best of an emerging cadre of younger regional talent.” He...

Magic Time!: ‘Republic For Which We Stand’ at United States Capitol...

For anyone who is more than a little unnerved that President Trump might go off half-cocked and trigger a war—which he could do with...

Magic Time!: ‘A Short Series of Disagreements Presented Here in Chronological...

He might have had an interesting idea for a solo show. He hadn't written it yet. but he told Studio Theatre, which had booked...

Magic Time!: ‘Vicuña & The American Epilogue’ at Mosaic Theater Company

"Even monsters need clothing," says the bespoke tailor Anselm, an Arab Jew and immigrant, defending why he will sew a vicuña suit for a...

Magic Time!: ‘Hello, My Name Is…’ at The Welders

Having heralded five* Welders productions, I approached Deb Sivigny's Hello, My Name Is... with both eagerness and wariness. Knowing that Sivigny had chosen as...

Magic Time!: ‘Judge Me Not’ at DC Arts Center

Strong writing, passionate acting, and a meaningful purpose combined to make Judge Me Not a gem of a show. An assemblage of monologues around a...

Magic Time!: ‘Sotto Voce’ at Theater J

Among the revelatory dimensions of this lyrical play is one that caught my attention by surprise. I knew going in that Sotto Voce, by Pulitzer...

Magic Time!: ‘An Act of God’ at Signature Theatre

Rarely have I enjoyed such a perfect union of comic writing, acting, and staging with such non-stop hilarity. Just opened in the intimate Ark...

Magic Time!: ‘The Lover’ and ‘The Collection’ at Shakespeare Theatre Company

The great Irish actor Lisa Dwan is in town doing something with the playwright Harold Pinter right now at the Lansburgh Theatre that is...

Magic Time!: ‘Love and Information’ at Forum Theatre

This is a most peculiar play, but in a very good way. It's more about its form than its content. And that's what makes...

Magic Time!: ‘The Arsonists’ at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company

In a recent satire published on Medium, the San Francisco writer/actor/comedian Alison Page listed five dozen "Honest Theatre Awards." Among them was one that...

Magic Time!: Refinding the Soul of ‘Word Becomes Flesh’ at Theater...

Winner of five Helen Hayes Awards last season, Theater Alliance's production of Word Becomes Flesh is now playing at Anacostia Playhouse in an encore...

News: ‘Olityelwe (The Forgotten)’ Returns to DC in Full Production for...

I reported on this extraordinary play when it was a staged reading at Theater J last June and said at the end: "Somebody needs...

Magic Time!: ‘Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train’ at 1st Stage

There are times in the theater when the particulars of a play—its people, place, and poetics—pull you in as only an arresting, well-told story...

Never Miss Another Show! Sign Up for Our Newsletter Today!

Close