Things to Do

Heavy Metal Parking Lot, Memorial Day Events, and Virtual Concerts: Things to Do in DC, May 27-31

Plus: The Britney Spears musical is coming to DC.

Illustration by Hannah Good.

Hi folks!

It’s a holiday weekend and we’ve got Memorial Day events, concerts, and a virtual cookout.

Gary Sinise is very aware that he’ll be hosting the National Memorial Day Concert.

Here’s what you should check out this holiday weekend:

True crime: Christina McDowell’s The Cave Dwellers is a dark look at the privileged class of Washington elite, complete with a grisly murder plot based on the real “mansion murders” tragedy in 2015. Washingtonian politics and culture editor Rob Brunner talked to McDowell about how her own DC-area upbringing inspired this satire and why she decided to incorporate a real family’s trauma. The author will speak with former White House staffer Elias Alcantara in this virtual book event from Politics and Prose. Thursday 5/27 at 6 PM; Free, register here.

Run this town: As the weather begins to warm, you might be looking for opportunities to take your gym time in the fresh air. We’ve got suggestions for where to find outdoor workout classes.

Broadway on the couch: The American Pops Orchestra, led by founder Luke Frazier, will be featured in two filmed performances on PBS as part of the new series “One Voice: The Songs We Share.” The first installment focuses on showtunes with a group of Broadway performers; the second centers church songs and other classics by Aretha Franklin, Elvis, and Johnny Cash. Both episodes, which will air back to back, were filmed at Trinity Lutheran Church in Hagerstown. Friday 5/28 starting at 10 PM (also available to stream online here).

For the watch list: Based on James Reston’s history book Luther’s Fortress: Martin Luther and His Reformation Under Siege, a new play follows the Catholic Church’s persecution of Martin Luther. The filmed performance of Luther’s Trumpet, from George Mason University, features Edward Gero as Luther, Craig Wallace as Pope Leo X, and even US Court of Appeals Judge David Tatel playing the Devil. Friday 5/28 at 8 PM (available to stream through June 4); Free, register to watch it here.

The Good Book: Listen to Insecure actor and author Yvonne Orji talk about her faith-focused book Bamboozled by Jesus at Black-owned bookstore MahoganyBooks. Orji will discuss her takes on Biblical tales with rapper/singer Tobe Nwigwe, and MahoganyBooks owner Ramunda Young will take questions from the audience. Friday 5/28 at 8:30 PM; Free, register here.

Flora and fauna: Flower shop She Loves Me is driving its mobile flower shop down to Milk Bar’s Logan Circle location for a Pups, Peonies & Pie event. The flower boutique is donating some of the peony profits to Lucky Dog Animal Rescue—expect some adoptable pooches at the pop-up. Saturday 5/29 from 12 PM to 2 PM; Free, learn more here.

National Memorial Day Concert: Tune into a pre-taped TV celebration on PBS, with a lineup that includes Sara Bareilles, Gladys Knight, the National Symphony Orchestra, and bands from various branches of the military. Actors Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise will host; other speakers include Colin Powell, Steve Buscemi, and Joe Morton. The ceremony will honor nurses who served in the Vietnam War, and mark the 70th anniversary of the Korean War and 20th anniversary of 9/11. Rising country star Mickey Guyton will sing the National Anthem. Sunday 5/30 at 8 PM; Watch it on PBS or stream it on the PBS website here.

National Memorial Day Parade: The parade honoring military members who have died in service will go on this year in DC, but is not open to the public for Covid safety reasons. Viewers can instead watch the TV special on ABC to see the parade and catch performances by Lee Brice, the U.S. Air Force Band, the U.S. Army Field Band, and the U.S. Navy Ceremonial Band. Other appearances include George W. Bush, Magic Johnson, Matthew Broderick, Kathy Bates, and more. Monday 5/31 at 8 AM and 2 PM on ABC.

More Memorial Day events: If you’re looking for ways to celebrate the holiday around DC, including wreath-laying ceremonies, historic tours, and more, check out my roundup here. For a look at the brunches, grill kits, and other food-related fun for the three-day weekend, explore our list here.

Jazz it up: Made up of former Howard students who have busked around DC, DuPont Brass is throwing a virtual concert for Memorial Day called the “Rhythm & Grills: The DuPont Cookout.” Jam to the big brass sound, including a DJ set, on the holiday. Monday 5/31 at 8 PM; $15 and up, buy tickets here.

Memorializing George Floyd: Last year, in response to George Floyd’s murder last year and the subsequent protests, the Alexandria Black History Museum began collecting submissions from the public to chronicle the moment through photographs, poetry, artifacts, and more. Now the Preserving Their Names archive is accessible online, and the digital exhibition is a snapshot of last summer through the community’s eyes. Free, learn more here.

Metal memories: Commemorate the 35th anniversary of rock doc Heavy Metal Parking Lot with a Zoom screening of the ‘80s film about a Judas Priest concert outside Landover’s Capital Centre. Organized by the Found Footage Festival, the screening will feature additional footage from directors John Heyn and Jeff Krulik. Monday 5/31 at 9 PM; $8, register here.

Something new:

Me, hearing the Britney Spears musical news.
This is not a drill—the Britney Spears musical is coming to DC. Shakespeare Theatre Company announced today that Once Upon a One More Time will premiere in November! Here’s my story:

She’s so lucky: DC will be the star city that hosts the premiere of Britney Spears musical Once Upon a One More Time. Shakespeare Theatre Company announced the news that it will produce the show’s pre-Broadway run starting in November as a family-friendly holiday offering.

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The show marries Spears hits (including “Toxic,” “Stronger,” and “Oops! I Did It Again”) with traditional fairytale characters, and was created by Jon Hartmere, who co-wrote the off-Broadway rock musical Bare. The story follows princesses like Cinderella and Snow White on their journey, basically, to wokeness. The princesses—inspired by reading The Feminine Mystique in a book club (I am not making this up)—take charge of their own lives to the sound of Spears’s songs. (Indeed, the phrase “smashing the glass slipper” is part of the show description.)

The production was originally slated to premiere in Chicago in April 2020 before the pandemic canceled it. Now it’s set to run at Penn Quarter’s STC—and it’s the first time in the theater’s history that it will present a Broadway-bound commercial musical. The show will be choreographed and directed by the wife-and-husband duo Mari and Keone Madrid, whose previous credits include choreographing for BTS and Justin Bieber.

It’ll almost certainly be a big-seller, especially considering the resurging popularity of the pop star following the high-profile case of her conservatorship, which prompted the #FreeBritney movement and the recent documentary Framing Britney Spears. The press release from STC quotes Spears, too: “‘I’m so excited to have a musical with my songs – especially one that takes place in such a magical world filled with characters that I grew up on, who I love and adore.’ As she said in a  previous statement, ‘This is a dream come true for me!’”

Shakespeare Theatre Company will premiere Once Upon a One More Time at Sidney Harman Hall (610 F St., NW) from November 30 through January 2.

Thanks for reading! Tell me what you’re up to at home by dropping me a line at rcartagena@washingtonian.com.

Web Producer/Writer

Rosa joined Washingtonian in 2016 after graduating from Mount Holyoke College. She covers arts and culture for the magazine. She’s written about anti-racism efforts at Woolly Mammoth Theatre, dinosaurs in the revamped fossil hall at the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum, and the horrors of taking a digital detox. When she can, she performs with her family’s Puerto Rican folkloric music ensemble based in Jersey City. She lives in Adams Morgan.

Daniella Byck
Assistant Editor

Daniella Byck joined Washingtonian in August 2018. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she studied journalism and digital culture.