Photo: Scott Suchman
Jon Robin Baitz’s Other Desert Cities, Arena Stage’s season-ending production, focuses on the fictional Wyeth family. A family with an all too familiar Hollywood story.
Patriarch Lyman (Larry Bryggman) is a golden-era actor who followed in the footsteps of his friend Ronald Reagan and went into politics. Under the Reagan administration Lyman was appointed U.S. Ambassador and later became GOP chair. Matriarch Polly (Helen Carey) earned her fame writing TV shows and books with her sister Silda (Martha Hackett). Their kids Brooke (Emily Donahoe) and Trip (Scott Drummond) did pretty well too: Brooke is an acclaimed author and Trip is a successful reality television producer. A successful Hollywood couple with successful Hollywood children.
But also like celebrity families, they had their share of tragedies alongside their accomplishments. Silda was an alcoholic and Brooke was deeply depressed. The eldest Wyeth child Henry committed suicide after running away from his family and was implicated in a bombing that killed a war veteran. The Wyeth family story sounds all too familiar in American celebrity culture: great success intertwined with scandal and tragedy.
Baitz’s gripping drama takes us beyond the tabloid type and paparazzi photos and shows us conflict more real and raw than anything you’d see on those reality shows on E! or VH1.
This past weekend I was invited to celebrate Cinco De Mayo with beer instead of the traditional tequila. Sunday afternoon I went down to the Half Street Fairgrounds by Nats Park and walked around the final day of LivingSocial’s BeerFest. Craft beers, crazy party games, and a silent disco certainly made my Sunday Funday a good one.
Take a look at some photos I snapped at the festival below.
Much of No Rule Theatre’s The Personals plays out like a twisted Match.com ad. An early 40-something woman seeks a sweet and honest man. A serious reporter searches for, “an aggressive woman.” Blind man hopes to find a sighted mate. These are not the serendipitous perfect matches portrayed in those online dating commercials. That’s because the dates are part of an on-going role-playing game between a husband and wife who are hoping to repair their broken marriage.
Unable to pick up the pieces after a tragic accident, Don and Janna (Michael Kramer and Anne Kanengeiser) attempt to rekindle their lost love through their fake blind dates. The two go on dates set-up through personal ads in the newspaper. Taking on characters dictated in the personal ads, the two meet in the after hours of the bar where Don serves as both owner and headline entertainer.
The premise equates into a multitude of roles for Kramer and Kanengeiser, who both provide subtle hints of chemistry through their false personas that illustrates the love that once existed in the now vacant marriage. There are quite a few humorous moments, especially through Don’s cheesy magic act, but don’t mistake this for a stage version of Fifty First Dates. The mood is gloomy, a thick fog that separates a husband and wife who hope to find their way by pretending to be somebody else.
As I walked up to Desperados on U Street, I was greeted by a man collecting tickets who describes himself to be “5 foot, 19 inches”. He appeared to be just a guy manning the front door until I found out he was Richard Bennett, LYGO DC co-founder and host of the comedy show I was attending.
As I went into the basement bar/restaurant I immediately spotted the stage: a small black wooden crate that couldn’t have been more than two feet long with a height of probably six inches. Behind the makeshift stage was a long sheet of black plastic that resembled a shower curtain. To say the set-up of the event was no-frills would be an understatement, but it is the bootstrapping approach that has helped the local group grow from a brunch-time comedy show at to quickly growing addition to the DC comedy scene.
Spring is in the air, Cherry Blossoms are coming and going, pesky tourists return to stand on the left side of the escalator.
As the temperature goes up, the DC Theatre season is winding down. With a couple of months to go til we enter the “Summer Reruns”, the We Love DC Theater team got back together at The Passenger to look back at what we said in our earlier preview and how it all shook out.
This weekend the DC area’s finest movie palace, the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, begins a Silent Cinema Showcase. Many of the films and shorts will feature live accompaniment. While you’ve probably seen the image above, you may not know anything about the film Safety Last! itself. Even Roger Ebert hadn’t seen it before he reviewed it in 2005! He wrote:
It is by general agreement the most famous shot in silent comedy: a man in a straw hat and round horn-rim glasses, hanging from the minute hand of a clock 12 stories above the city street. Strange, that this shot occurs in a film few people have ever seen.
Your chance to be one of the few comes this weekend. A new 35mm print of Safety Last! will be presented Sunday at 7:30, with live musical accompaniment. Other films in the series include two feature films starring screen legend Mary Pickford, a collection of experimental shorts called Wild and Weird, and shorts by Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, and Buster Keaton (you get two chances for Keaton: one short is grouped with Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy, and then three Keaton shorts will be presented together).
The series starts this weekend and runs through May 4.
Photo Courtesy of Ted Garber
She/He Loves DC is a series highlighting the people who love this city just as much as we do.
Ted Garber is a DC native. These days, he’s an award-winning “BluesAmericanaRock” singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentatlist. Ted’s also a perpetual student who frequently travels the globe in an attempt to absorb as much about the world’s cultures as he can. His curiosity is contagious.
What is it about DC that makes it home to you?
That’s an easy one. I was born in DC at Washington, DC hospital. My late father made his living all his too-short life playing music in and around DC. I grew up in and around DC. My mother worked at the Justice Department. In spite of a few fascinating years in New Orleans, West Virginia, and L.A., DC will always be the place where both my family and I are from. I mean, my Dad sang on the now-defunct official Redskins Singers choir. It was commensurate to blasphemy to take the ‘Skins name in vain or to disparage them in any way, especially during a losing game. That particular violation usually resulted in a grounding or a night spent taking dinner alone in my room. To be fair though, I am an Orioles fan. The Nats did not exist when I was growing up here, so we drove to Memorial Stadium and later Camden Yards for games. (That’s probably going to bring me grief for admitting, I know).
Photo by Rodney Bursiel
When I first met singer-songwriter Grace Pettis this past October, I was standing outside The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, Tennessee. The airline had left my bags in D.C. so I was on the phone with them for a good hour while soaking up the southern sunshine in my cowboy boots. It was my first time at the legendary Bluebird. It’s a special place to the songwriting a community. It’s a place where some of the finest songwriting talent in this country has played at least a song or two. And that’s also the night I learned that “timing is everything.”
While on the phone with the airline, a car pulled into the lot and a group got out to start loading in for the night. That was Grace Pettis and her band. It was the night of a CD release show for her most recent album “Two Birds.” Like I said, timing is everything.
As they unloaded for the gig, I held the door open for them a few times. What else did I have to do? I was on hold without any of my luggage in Music City, USA with just my phone and wallet. After load-in, they sound checked and what I heard was worth getting to the Bluebird early for.
Grace returns to Washington for a set at Ebenezers Coffeehouse this Friday and took some time over e-mail to answer a few of our questions. Here’s what she had to say. Continue reading
(Photo: Melissa Blackall)
The setting of Lauren Yee’s A Man, His Wife, and His Hat is unknown. Looking at the actual set of The Hub Theatre production, one might guess that it takes place in the 80s based upon the telephone and television. The dialects and accents hint that it takes place somewhere in old Europe where hat-making is still a feasible profession. The overall feel of the show reminds me of the fictional land of Mypos from Perfect Strangers. It wouldn’t have surprised me if Balki Bartokomous burst through the door to the tunes of Jesse Frederick’s Nothing’s Gonna Stop Me Now.
The foreign land, the somewhat distant past, and the physics that are meta in both scientific and poetic terms come together to form a fairy-tale world. In Yee’s universe golems live underneath your floorboards, memories are kept in glass jars, and all-knowing walls possess the secrets of the world on printed pages.
Yee’s story, with direction from Shirley Serotsky, is a whimsical one — with a message of love that’s heartwarming yet not too sugar-coated.
Photo Courtesy of Paint The Music
Today We Love DC is giving away a pair of tickets to Paint The Music, a live art series bringing together local musicians and area painters for a showcase where visual artists paint an entirely new piece — on stage – inspired by the first song of a singer-songwriter’s set in real-time. Paint The Music will be at The Dunes this Saturday night April 13th and features music from event creator and singer-songwriter Dan Fisk as well as Nita Chawla and Zahra Universe with artwork by Sardar, Nadia Janjua, and Margret Kroyer.
For your chance to win a pair of tickets to Paint The Music at The Dunes, simply leave a comment on this post using a valid email address until 6pm today. One entry per email address, please.
For the rules of this giveaway…
Comments will be closed at 6pm and a winner will be randomly selected. The winner will be notified by email. The winner must respond to our email within 24 hours or they will forfeit their tickets and we will pick another winner.
Tickets will be available to the winner at The Dunes on the day of the event. The tickets must be claimed with a valid ID.
(Photo: Scott Suchman)
On the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, less than two miles from a new monument erected in honor of the late civil rights leader, Katori Hall’s The Mountaintop opened at Arena Stage. The show is a bold imagining of the last night of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life that not only takes us inside Room 306 at the Lorraine Motel where he stayed, but into the mind, heart, and soul of the great man.
However in Hall’s vision, we do not see an infallible leader, the perfect picture of leadership and integrity that we like to bestow upon the great leaders of our time. Instead we see MLK as a man with real weaknesses, vulnerabilities, hopes, and fears.
There are pirates in Washington.
If you doubt, head over to the National Geographic Museum between now and September 2; the Jolly Roger flag hanging from the flagpole should convince you. If you need more persuasive evidence, head inside and wander through the museum’s latest exhibit Real Pirates.
From fore to aft, this exhibit rolls up the past, present, and future of the pirate vessel Whydah. Originally designed and used as a slave ship along the American-African slave routes, the Whydah was captured by pirate captain Sam Bellamy and used in his fleet to pillage more than fifty prizes across the Carribean. On a course for a New England harbor, the Whydah, her captain, and her crew ran into a violent nor’easter near Cape Cod and sank beneath the waves. With it went a hold full of pirate treasure and most of the men on board.
National Geographic chose to feature the Whydah exhibit for a number of reasons. According to Richard McWalters, Director of Museum Operations, the story of the Whydah crosses three seafaring trades: slavery, piracy, and recovery. Through the shipwreck’s history, visitors are exposed to the realities of the slave trade and its vessels, the life of a pirate crew during the eighteenth century, and the technology, dedication, and innovation of today’s salvage explorers. Continue reading
Today We Love DC is giving away a pair of tickets to Soundbites 2013, a benefit for DC Central Kitchen, at the 930 Club on Sunday, May 19th. This event features music from Deathfix (Brendan Canty of Fugazi, Richard Morel, Devin Ocampo of Faraquet & Mark Cisneros of Medications), DJ WIll Eastman, Batala, Kid Congo Power Hour and more. In addition to the music there will be free food tastings from dozens of area restaurants and food trucks, plus a mixologist competition.
For your chance to win a pair of tickets to Soundbites 2013, simply leave a comment on this post using a valid email address until 4pm today. One entry per email address, please.
For the rules of this giveaway…
Comments will be closed at 4pm and a winner will be randomly selected. The winner will be notified by email. The winner must respond to our email within 24 hours or they will forfeit their tickets and we will pick another winner.
Tickets will be available to the winner at the 930 Club on the day of the event. The tickets must be claimed with a valid ID. The winner must be old enough to attend the specific concert or must have a parent’s permission to enter if he/she is under 18 years old.
Yesterday I spent the night with Helen and she did not disappoint. For many in the DC theater scene, the past week was spent searching for dresses (especially those with pockets), getting manis & pedis, and making sure that hair was nothing less than perfect. It was all for the 29th Annual Helen Hayes Awards, Washington’s biggest night in theater where the arts community honors the past year of shows.
If you want a list of the winners you can find those here. Instead I offer you a tradition three years running: my complete breakdown of my day (and night) with Helen.
Photo Courtesy of Mike Mangione & The Union
Mike Maginone is a traveling man in good company while out on the road making music. What started out as solo project well over a decade ago has organically evolved into the band now known as Mike Mangione & The Union. Their melodic rock has a rootsy groove and folk instrumentation gone electric. It’s a sound reminiscent of Ryan Adams and The Cardinals’ early days with an echo of Ray LaMamontagne’s songwriting style.
Mike took some time from the road to fill We Love DC in on where his been, how far he’s come, and what he loves about making music. Here’s what he had to say.
Rachel: When did you first fall in love with music/making music? What was the catalyst for your eventual career in music?
Mike Mangione: I fell in love with music when I started playing my friend’s drums in the first grade. I always enjoyed hearing music as a little kid, but it was not until I had the authority to create noise myself that I fell in love with the freedom and possibilities it enabled.
Photo credit: Moshe Zusman
Cute critters, cupcakes, celebs and clothes, oh my! If you’re looking for something spectacular to do this weekend, then The 2013 Fashion For Paws runway show this Saturday, April 13, 2013 at the National Building Museum is your ticket.
E! News Now anchor and E! News correspondent Ashlan Gorse returns to host over 1,700 guests for a four hour open bar and runaway show to support the Washington Humane Society. Which, by-the-way, is where I got my adorbs orange tabby Archie.
At this year’s event, Congressmen Jim Moran (D-Virginia) and John Campbell (R-California) will be honored with the 2013 Humane Hero Award, which recognizes individuals in media, politics and entertainment who have displayed a passion for animal welfare.
So whether you’re an animal <3er or a fashion enthusiast, get your ticket now!!!
TGIF! From Me & Orion :)
courtesy of Dan Dan The Binary Man
This Friday just got even better since a friend of mine showed me “The Panel Crasher.” The two day old blog documents the exploits of a former Hill staffer/Non-profit associate turned unemployed sequestration victim with a ton of time and no funds as he crashes Think Tank/Hill events, eats their food, pays no attention to their discussions and then makes fun of them on his blog. There have only been two entries to date, but they feature a problem intern girl, Michael Jordan fashion, a Luke Perry reference and tons of other hilarity.
Photo: Ursa Waz
If there were any concerns that Mike Daisey’s infamous This American Life scandal that rocked both the tech and theater worlds last year would leave any lasting marks on Daisey’s ability to draw an audience, they disappeared the minute I walked into the packed lobby of the Woolly Mammoth Theatre. Instead of doubt there was a palpable energy of anticipation among patrons waiting to see his latest piece, American Utopias. The buzz was heightened by the club-like atmosphere of the decorated lobby. I stood next to a carousel horse with a sign that said, “Ride Me”. In fact almost everything in the lobby had instructions for patrons like, “Tweet Me” and “Feel Me.” Also there was fur. So much fur.
There was one reminder of the events of last year. In the program Woolly Mammoth disclosed the following: “The management also wishes to remind you that this is a true story, and like every story told in every medium, all stories are fiction.”
However, the past was out of sight and out of mind as Mike Daisey performed in front of a packed house and not only delivered the brand of thought-provoking and comedic storytelling that he is known for, but also managed to take his monologue game up a level — something I did not think was even possible until now. Continue reading
Sameerah Luqmaan-Harris and Naomi Jacobson in Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater’s production of Mary T. & Lizzy K. Photo credit: Scott Suchman.
It’s hard to imagine in these days of cheaply manufactured clothes that there was once a time when getting a new outfit was a laborious and artistic process. Only in the worlds of high fashion or in the theater is the art of dressmaking still practiced to that level (and even there, machines have almost eradicated the particular craft of hand sewing). In the prudish Victorian era, no one knew your body more intimately than your dressmaker, from the crafting of a muslin mock-up perfectly fitted to your body to the execution of a dress that suited you alone.
Giving yourself that intimately to another person requires absolute trust, and that ultimately is the subject of Tazewell Thompson’s new play Mary T. & Lizzy K. The world premiere of a work commissioned between Thompson and Arena Stage, as the first production of Arena Stage’s American President’s Project its primary subject is the relationship of Mary Todd Lincoln (Naomi Jacobson) and her dressmaker Elizabeth Keckly (Sameerah Luqmaan-Harris). It can’t entirely escape the long shadow of the president, but it attempts to give two women who both suffered from marginalization (in two very different ways) their due.
It’s both gorgeously written and acted with a cool intellectualism that counterpoints the deep emotions that permeate any work to do with the Lincolns. Though the overall conceit – a prelude to that dreadful assassination night at Ford’s Theatre – may feel contrived, so indeed is a beautiful dress. Continue reading
(Photo: Johannes Markus)
There’s something awkward about referring to the name of American Century Theater’s latest production, Voodoo Macbeth. The first half of the title is perfectly fine; however the second half is a word that is taboo to many theater people. Common theater superstition dictates that one should avoid referring to the title of “The Scottish Play” or else disaster will strike. I find it weird to think that the superstition can simply be remedied by adding another word to the title.
Or maybe I’m not supposed to say Voodoo Macbeth either and I’ve cursed myself for eternity.