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Celebrate the Virginia Opera’s 40th anniversary, see American Idol alums at the Kennedy Center, and more. By Tanya Pai
Diane Paulus directs Pippin, coming to the National Theatre December 16. Photograph by Terry Shapiro.

OPENING THIS MONTH

At Round House Bethesda through December 28 is a musical version of The Nutcracker, complete with puppets.

Beginning December 2 at Shakespeare Theatre, Ethan McSweeny directs the Bard’s magical comedy The Tempest, with Helen Hayes Award winner Geraint Wyn Davies as the sorcerer Prospero. Through January 15. Don’t forget the theater is now giving away 1,000 free tickets per production; here’s how to snag them for yourself.

Synetic Theater presents a movement-driven adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, directed by company member Ben Cunis, that goes back to the French fairy tale’s darker roots. December 3 through January 11.

The Virginia Opera celebrates its 40th anniversary at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts with a production of H.M.S. Pinafore, Gilbert and Sullivan’s first big international success. Director Nicola Bowie makes her debut with the opera. December 5 and 6.

A Drag Salute to Motown Review, created by former America’s Got Talent contestant Shi-Queeta-Lee, comprises familiar tunes by Diana Ross, Rick James, the Temptations, and more brought to life by local drag performers. December 7 at Howard Theatre.

Famous Puppet Death Scenes at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company is pretty much just what the title says: Calgary’s playful Old Trout Puppet Workshop presents death scenes “culled from the absolute best puppet shows in history.” The company promises the show will, among other benefits, “cure your fear of death.” December 9 through January 4.

Beginning December 10 at Studio Theatre is Terminus, a supernatural work by Irish playwright Mark O’Rowe (which won a Scotsman Fringe First Award at the 2008 Edinburgh Festival Fringe) that follows three characters over one frightening night in Dublin. Through January 4.

Want something different from your Dickens this year? WSC Avant Bard—performing at Theater J—offers A Klingon Christmas Carol, a staged reading of the classic tale in the fictional Star Trek language, with English supertitles. December 15.

At the National Theatre December 16 through January 4 is Pippin, the Tony-winning Broadway revival of Stephen Schwartz’s 1972 musical. Directed by Diane Paulus (The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess), it tells of a young prince on a journey of self-discovery.

Andy Blankenbuehler, a Tony winner for Broadway’s In the Heights, directs and choreographs the Biblical musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Kennedy Center. This touring production stars husband-and-wife American Idol alums Ace Young and Diana DeGarmo. December 16 through January 4.

ONGOING/LAST CHANCE

Julius Caesar is at Folger Theatre until December 7.

Sex With Strangers closes December 7 at Signature Theatre.

As You Like It closes December 14 at Shakespeare Theatre.

Bad Jews is at Studio Theatre until December 21.

A Broadway Christmas Carol is at MetroStage until December 28.

Disney’s The Little Mermaid closes December 28 at Olney Theatre.

Five Guys Named Moe is at Arena Stage until December 28.

One Man Two Guvnors closes December 28 at 1st Stage.

The Gift of Nothing is at the Kennedy Center until December 28.

The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures is at Theater J until December 28.

A Christmas Carol runs through January 1 at Ford’s Theatre.

Posted at 10:11 AM/ET, 12/03/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Highlights in museum exhibits, gallery shows, and events. By Tanya Pai
See the Virgin Mary depicted multiple ways in a new exhibit at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Image courtesy of the museum.

MUSEUM EXHIBITS

Opening December 5 at the National Museum of Women in the Arts is “Picturing Mary: Woman, Mother, Idea,” comprising more than 60 works from churches, galleries, and private collections in the US and Europe that examine the ways the Virgin Mary is depicted in art. Through April 12.

“Zen, Tea, and Chinese Art in Medieval Japan,” at the Freer Gallery beginning December 13, showcases aspects of Japanese art and culture—including tea ceremonies and ink paintings—as well as their roots in Chinese traditions through artifacts from both countries. Through June 14.

Also opening December 13 at the Freer is “Oribe Ware: Color and Pattern Come to Japanese Ceramics,” which looks at the Oribe style, characterized by vivid color and pattern, that was invented in Japan in 1605. The works include two from the museum’s permanent collection on view for the first time. Through June 14.

The Yuan Dynasty was a time of high international demand for Chinese wares. In “Chinese Ceramics: 13th-14th Century,” the Freer displays 12 pieces illustrating the period’s various styles. December 20 through January 3, 2016.

GALLERY SHOWS

Through December 24 at Plan B, see the works of 30-plus artists on display in the gallery’s year-end group show.

Washington Printmakers Gallery presents “Everything That Rises Must Converge,” a collection of woodcuts and Solarplate etchings by Corcoran graduate Joan Krash, shown both separately and combined into collages. December 3 through 28.

In Touchstone’s Gallery C is “Plane Watchers,” a series of photos by Annika Haas capturing life in an Estonian shantytown after the collapse of the Soviet empire. December 5 through 28.

Opening December 11 at Target Gallery is “5x5(x5),” in which 35 artists challenged themselves to create a work in any medium that is no larger than five inches in any direction.

At Foundry Gallery beginning December 13 is the appropriately named “Come In From the Cold,” comprising winter-themed works from 17 artists including Barbara Stepura, Michiyo Mizuuchi, and Ronald Gregory. Through December 28.

Continuing its annual tradition of solo shows by local emerging artists, Transformer presents the works of painter Jameson Magrogan, a Maryland Institute College of Art graduate. December 13 through January 31.

EVENTS

This month’s Phillips After 5 happens December 4 and is themed around the museum’s “Neo-Impressionism and the Dream of Realities” exhibit. Make a reservation ($12) online.

December 6, check out a Holidays Through History open house at Tudor Place, Anderson House, Dumbarton House, and Woodrow Wilson House. Learn about American Christmas traditions through the ages, decorate your own holiday cards, and more. $16 online or $20 at the door.

December 6 and 7, Loudoun Arts Center has its grand opening. Check out free workshops and classes, see works and performances by students, and enjoy light refreshments.

December 12 through 14 at Dulles Expo Center is the Sugarloaf Crafts Festival, featuring jewelry, painting, furniture, and more by 300-plus artisans.

Take the kids to Arlington Arts Center December 13 for the Gift Mania holiday workshop, where they can learn to make creative presents by hand.

The Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington hosts a holiday boutique and craft show on December 23 for all your last-minute gifting needs.

Posted at 05:53 PM/ET, 12/02/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The grand-opening ceremony falls on the godfather of go-go's 78th birthday. By Tanya Pai
Rendering courtesy of Marshall Moya Design.

Remind yourself to take an early lunch this Friday: From 11 to 2 in Northeast’s Langdon Park, a ribbon-cutting and grand-opening ceremony will be held for the Chuck Brown Memorial Park, honoring the local music legend and “godfather of go-go,” who passed away in 2012 at the age of 75. The ceremony, which falls on what would be Brown’s 78th birthday and will be attended by Mayor Gray and several of Brown’s relatives, is open to the public.

Designed by the local firm Marshall Moya Design, the park includes a memorial wall engraved with Brown’s discography; a timeline of significant points in his life and career; a photo-mosaic tile wall showcasing images of his performances; and musical toys for children, among other features. Michael Marshall, the firm’s design director, grew up in the Langdon Park area, where the memorial is located; he and his team are also behind the redesign of the Howard Theatre, where Brown performed so many times. 

Can’t make the ceremony? This week offers two more ways to celebrate Brown: Beautiful Life, a nine-track album of his music featuring his band as well as guest spots from artists such as Doug E Fresh and Wale (for even more hometown flavor), was released Tuesday on iTunes and Amazon; the Howard Theatre is also hosting a concert in Brown’s honor on Friday at 8 PM (tickets are available online). 

Regardless of how the unveiling ceremony goes, the park’s design will doubtless go over better than the beleaguered Eisenhower Memorial, whose development process has been so complicated it caused one former federal official to quip that “winning World War II was easier.” 

Find Tanya Pai on Twitter at @tanyapai.

Posted at 01:14 PM/ET, 08/19/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
High tea, arts festivals, tours of historic homes, and more. By Vicky Gan, Tanya Pai
Celebrate Mom with high tea, a trip to an arts festival, and other culture-focused events. Image via Shutterstock.

Bethesda Fine Arts Festival

Peruse paintings, ceramics, photography, jewelry, and more by local artists at this two-day festival at Bethesda’s Fine Arts Festival. You can also catch live jazz, reggae, and rock from bands throughout the day, and there’ll be a kids’ activity area for youngsters. Free; Saturday 10 to 6 and Sunday 10 to 5. 

History and Fashion

Novelist Nicole Mary Kelby heads to Politics & Prose to read from The Pink Suit, her new novel based on the true story of the Irish immigrant who created the iconic pink suit Jackie O. was wearing on the day President Kennedy was assassinated. Free; 5 PM.

High Teas

Tudor Place’s annual Mother’s Day tea is sold out, but you can head to other local spots for some quality pinkies-up time with Mom. The Grille at Morrison House in Alexandria offers a high-tea menu for $44, featuring Champagne cocktails, teas, and snacks such as house-made scones with jam and smoked Scottish salmon. The Greenhouse at the Jefferson offers a tea either with Champagne ($55) or without ($39). The Mandarin Oriental’s Empress Lounge hosts tea Friday through Sunday from 2:30 to 4:30; the Willard InterContinental’s runs the same days from 1 to 4 ($59 with Champagne, $45 without); and the Park Hyatt in DC’s West End offers tea and sweet or savory snacks on weekends from 2:30 to 4 ($40 per person). 

Garden Tours

To celebrate National Public Gardens Day on Friday, May 9, Alexandria’s River Farm has a coupon for $10 off an American Horticultural Society membership and a free children’s potting party from 10 to noon. Tudor Place offers free admission to the gardens and 10 percent off merchandise from the museum’s shop (good through May 11). Hillwood Estate opens its gardens for tours on May 11 from 1 to 5 (reservations can be made online for a suggested donation of $15). Coupons for both are available online. And, of course, the National Aboretum, the US Botanic Garden, and the Smithsonian Gardens are always free. 

Capitol Hill Tours

The Capitol Hill Restoration Society offers walking tours of homes and gardens in the neighborhood, showcasing how the architecture and decor has evolved throughout the decades. Tours (covering about a mile and a quarter) are available Saturday, May 10, from 4 to 7 and Sunday the 11th from noon to 5. Tickets ($25 in advance, $30 the weekend of) are available online and are valid for both days. 

Gadsby’s Tavern Tours

Treat your mom to lunch at Gadsby’s Tavern in Alexandria, which once hosted such notable dinner guests as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, then take a tour of the tavern’s museum (free for moms, $5 for others) between 1 and 5 on Mother’s Day. 

Brunch at Mount Vernon

Get a taste of history at Mount Vernon, where “Martha Washington” and her granddaughters will reminisce about family memories and share advice with visitors. Mothers can receive a free lavender sachet with their visit; the program is included in the entry fee to Mount Vernon ($17). You can also book a Mother’s Day brunch buffet at the Mount Vernon Inn ($29.84 per person). A sample menu is available online.

Mother’s Day Family Festival

Take the kids to the American Art Museum’s Kogod Courtyard for the Mother’s Day Family Festival, where you can paint portraits inspired by the exhibit “Ralph Fasanella: Lest We Forget,” create bouquets of paper flowers, see a puppet show, and other fun activities for all ages. 11:30 to 3. 

Classical Music

For the music-loving mom, the Mendelssohn Piano Trio presents its annual Mother’s Day performance. This year’s includes Beethoven’s Variations Op. 44 in E-flat Major, Piano Trio in C Minor, Op. 1, No. 3, and the Archduke Piano Trio Op. 97. The free concert starts at 3 PM in the American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery; tickets will be available in the lobby beginning at 2:30. 

Smithsonian Garden Fest

This annual festival, which began in 2006, this year has the theme Water, Water, Everywhere, and explores the importance of readily available sources of clean water. On the schedule: live music, creation of a “water-themed community art project,” and other nature-focused activities. Free; 10:30 to 3 in the Enid A. Haupt Garden behind the Smithsonian Castle. 

Posted at 04:31 PM/ET, 05/07/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Jazz Appreciation Month, baseball, and cherry blossoms galore By Mollie Reilly

Monday, March 28
The Washingtonian editor Garrett Graff (no conflict of interest here!) will read from and sign copies of his new book, The Threat Matrix: The FBI at War in the Age of Global Terror at the National Press Club tonight at 6:30. Call 202-662-7523 for reservations; $5 charge for non-members.

Tuesday, March 29
Jose Luis Merlin and Brian Baumbusch, also known as the Cacho Ensemble, are performing a set of classical guitar music and sharing traditional Argentinean folktales at the University of Maryland’s Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. 5:30.

Wednesday, March 30
In honor of Smithsonian Jazz Appreciation Month, the museum is hosting “A Women in Jazz Tribute to the International Sweethearts of Rhythm” at Artisphere. The program begins with a discussion of jazz and civil rights, led by Radio One’s Cathy Hughes, followed by a preview of the new documentary Girls in the Band. Finally, there’ll be swing dancing with live music by an all-female jazz quartet. 7 to 11.

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Posted at 10:38 AM/ET, 03/28/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
Cherry blossoms, classical cello, and trips to the Library of Congress By Mollie Reilly

Monday, March 21
Catch four short films at the Carnegie Institution, presented by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Each piece looks at global water and population issues. A reception and panel discussion follow the screening. Register on Eventbrite. 6 PM.

Tuesday, March 22
Strathmore Artist-in-Residence Alicia Ward plays contemporary and classical pieces at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage. The young cellist started performing solo at age 12, and has since won numerous awards and competitions. 6 PM; free.

Wednesday, March 23
The National Portrait Gallery’s Pop Quiz: Women’s History Month Challenge is on Wednesday evening. Test your knowledge of women featured in the gallery’s portrait collection. 6:30.

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Posted at 11:05 AM/ET, 03/21/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
From Ireland to India in the arts By Mollie Reilly

Monday, March 14
Jazz keyboardist Will Rast, a Fairfax native who has performed with R&B musician Mya, is playing a free show at Tryst from 8 to 10.

Tuesday, March 15

Michael Farquhar, author of Behind the Palace Doors: Five Centuries of Sex, Adventure, Vice, Treachery, and Folly from Royal Britain, is speaking and signing books at Politics and Prose. His latest book looks at British royalty going back to the Tudors and chronicles their most fascinating and unexpected moments. 7 PM.

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Posted at 05:07 PM/ET, 03/11/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
Italian movies, live talk shows, and Big Band swing By Mollie Reilly

Monday, March 7
The talk show “You, Me, Them, Everybody Live!” returns to Looking Glass Lounge from 8:30 to 10. Hosted by Brandon Wetherbee, the show’s guests include standup comedian Patrick Palafox, musician Ian Walters, and other local luminaries.

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Posted at 10:53 AM/ET, 03/07/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
From Venice’s streets to Shakespearean theaters, here’s the week in Washington’s culture scene By Mollie Reilly

Monday, February 28
The 19th-century Shakespearean actor Ira Aldridge comes to life in the latest installment of the National Portrait Gallery’s Culture in Motion series. Hosted in conjunction with the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the play Ira Aldridge: The African Roscius looks at the man’s life and explores how he was able to transcend racial divides and become one of his generation’s most acclaimed actors. The play is in the museum’s McEvoy Auditorium. Seating is limited; call 202-633-8520 to reserve a spot. 7 PM.

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Posted at 11:16 AM/ET, 02/28/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
Valentines, ocean explorers, and tiger mothers this week in culture By Mollie Reilly

Monday, February 14
It doesn’t matter if you have a Valentine or not at the Black Cat’s free dance party tonight, featuring oldies music from the ’50s and ’60s. In the Red Room bar at 8 PM.

Tuesday, February 15

Explorer, architect, and film producer Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of famed ocean explorer Jacques, speaks at the National Museum of Natural History about his four decades of exploring the planet’s waters. 5:30 PM.

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Posted at 08:10 AM/ET, 02/14/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()