Hannah Yelland as Hermione and Sean Arbuckle as Polixenes in the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s production of The Winter’s Tale, directed by Rebecca Taichman. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.
When you’re doing a “problem play” like The Winter’s Tale – where the first half is exclusively dramatic and high-stakes and the second half is mostly light, funny, and redemptive – how do you handle the balance? Well, if you’re Shakespeare Theater Company and Director Rebecca Taichman you crank it all up to 11 and earn yourself the first time I can recall using the term “batcrap crazy” in a review here. The first half is the theatrical equivalent of being beaten with a sock with a bar of soap in it. The second reaches points of lunacy that Puck would be proud of.
I’m tempted to call this “as good as can be expected, given the unevenness of the source material,” but that seems lazy and unfair to both Shakespeare and this production. It’s also a blank check to do whatever you want for Taichman and her cast, which I’m not sure I think they earn. All told the show is an enjoyable experience with talented actors but some parts feel more like an endurance than an entertainment.
Mosley: One of my favorite days of the year is on Saturday: Cheverly Day! For those who don’t know me, Cheverly is my hometown in PG County Maryland. And the thing I love most about Cheverly Day is the awesome firework display that is put on every year; I feel it’s the best in the area, because you’re right under the fireworks as they go off and there is no delay between light and sound. It’s really magical. Before I get my fireworks grove on, I’ll be enjoying a cookout at a friends house. Beyond that, it’s looking like Sunday will be slow recovery day; though I may go for a walk along the Mount Vernon Trail.
Joanna: I need a quiet, restful weekend. It will probably include sitting around and reading, for the most part. There’s also a lot of free arts events this weekend. I’m hoping to spend some time at The Phillips Collection on Saturday as part of Art Museum Day, when museums across the country will open their doors at no charge. But the only real plan is Washington National Opera’s Opera in the Outfield on Saturday night. It’s free opera, guys. FREE! The production this year is Showboat, broadcast live from the Kennedy Center. I just hope the weather holds up.
Rachel: This weekend I’m catching up on some much needed sleep while still managing to do a few fun things. Really hoping to make it to IOTA to see We Love DC’s very own John Athayde play bass in his band Juniper Lane on Saturday night. Then Sunday is softball day in Glover Park with the GPCSL. It’s my last game for a couple weeks before I head on vacation/tour to play shows in Chicago and Albany, so you better believe I’m gonna savor that sunshine if it chooses to make an appearance.
Have you been following the slow rise of the scaffolding around the Washington Monument? I sure have, and I’m fascinated by it! A cool little factoid about the world’s tallest obelisk: it was the world’s tallest structure for five years, from 1884-1889. Think about that: it is one of the world’s tallest structures and it is now covered in scaffolding. My mind is blown every time I think about that.
Kevin has a great shot here of the scaffolding topping out. He did a very nice color conversion to a slightly off black and white tone, which creates a great contrast between the stone and metal (and it gives a great look to the clouds too). Kevin’s been following the ascent of the metal girders just like me and has some other great shots here, here, here, and here. This is an all around excellent shot, and one to cherish as a piece of history.
She/He Loves DC is a series highlighting the people who love this city as much as we do.
Pamela Sorensen, much like our team of writers, is passionate about this city. So passionate in fact that she founded her own website – Pamela’s Punch – which, according to the site, has become a leading source of information for the “who, what, when, and where” of DC’s social, professional, and philanthropic scene.
What is it about DC that makes it home to you?
I’ve been here since 1990 and never have I left to move to any other city as an adult. Since I’ve held various positions that required me to drive all over the DMV for years, I feel like I know the area like the back of my hand … it’s changed so much, but for the good. The spirit of a wholesome southern, large village appeals to me and at the same time, it’s sophisticated, educated, welcoming and comfortable. Even though I have my “haunts,” exploring new neighborhoods and meeting new circles keeps it fresh.
Peter Pereyra as Rochefort and Dallas Tolentino as D’Artagnan / courtesy Johnny Shryock
When Synetic Theater announces a show like The Three Musketeers, you know you’re either in for a treat or a major lawsuit. After all, the only choreography more daring than the usual attempts by Synetic would be Synetic + swords.
But no lawsuits necessary (at time of publication). The Three Musketeers is thrilling; and the cast has trained in sword-fighting to make sure you get a great show without any hospitalization.
Adapted from Alexandre Dumas’ beloved novel, The Three Musketeers tells of young D’Artagnan, who arrives in 17th century Paris to join the king’s guard: the famous Musketeers. He finds in their place a group of drunk womanizers who dream of battle but won’t regain glory when they can’t even stand up straight.
I’m not going to argue the politics of whether the Park Service or DC should control the World War I Memorial on the National Mall. I will say it’s a damn shame that we don’t have a national memorial to the Great War, and I wish the DC World War I Memorial got more attention.
And I can’t believe that the Memorial Day events – scheduled for this Sunday (May 19th) – fell victim to a $1,000 budget shortfall due to sequestration. (Though I understand this is where the politics might come in.)
In any case, to honor my cousin James who died in the Meuse-Argonne just days before the Armistice and all the others who served and never came home, I will be at the World War I Memorial on Sunday morning at 10:30 am with a wreath. Feel free to join me.
Phoenix headlined the festival (Photo courtesy Sweetlife Festival)
The Sweetlife Festival very much fulfilled the promise implied by its name Saturday, May 11, delivering la dolce vita in a well organized celebration of music and food at the Merriweather Post Pavilion.
I’m not traditionally the biggest fan of going to concerts at the DC-area outdoor pavilions — much less festivals after the chaos that accompanies the Virgin FreeFest annually at Merriweather. But Sweetlife made excellent use of the place, offering a mainstage, a “treehouse stage,” and a dance floor in the small 9:30 Clubhouse (officially, the 9:32 Club) on the grounds — all of which dissolved into an energetic performance by headliner Phoenix at the end of the night.
Food vendors, trucks and restaurants set themselves up in neat rows in various portions of the grounds and concertgoers queued up to patronize them around the clock. My companion and I parked and shuffled into the pavilion without difficulty and make our way toward lunch, pausing to check out Solange Knowles, performing an early set on the main stage. To our surprise, she struck up a cover of “I Could Fall in Love” by late Tejano singer Selena. While we didn’t really hang around to check her out, her soulful voice was crowdpleasing and the main stage attracted a sizable gathering for the time.
The cast of Twelfth Night dances as Feste (Louis Butelli) plays his ukulele. Photo by Scott Suchman.
Viola and Sebastian’s ship wrecks at the opening of Folger Theatre’s Twelfth Night in a spectacle brimming with theatricality and grace.
The brief scene sets us in the early 1900s – at the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915, to be exact; and while the rest of the production may not hold up to its level of fury and mysticism, Twelfth Night is nonetheless a whimsical celebration of love told with musicality and charm.
Shakespeare’s beloved comedy of gender reversal, star-crossed love, and prideful folly fits almost seamlessly into the turn-of-the-century world, where roles are well-determined through both gender and class.
Another weekend is in the history books. On the upside: two weeks till Memorial Day Weekend! On the downside: two WEEKS till Memorial Day Weekend?! We can make it. Mainly because most sane people don’t do anything the week of Memorial Day. And before I’m corrected, think about it: there are no major, three day holidays between Presidents Day (Feb) and Memorial Day (May). And most people don’t even get President’s Day off; you’d have to go back to MLK Day in January! Four to five months of no breaks; why do we do this to ourselves?
Well, enough philosphizing; let’s get to the Flashback. We’ve got some excellent photos once again; so put your feet up, let that ringing phone go to voice-mail, and enjoy a small piece of the last three days. Continue reading →
The Nats dropped a true heartbreaker to the Cubs Sunday afternoon when they lost 2-1. Left-handed starter Gio Gonzalez pitched a spectacular game going seven innings, walking one batter, and striking out six while giving up just two hits on 86 pitches (55 strikes). He even held on to a no-hit bid through the fifth inning but his performance was overshadowed by Manager Davey Johnson’s decision to pull Gonzalez after the seventh inning.
“Obviously we’d been better off in hindsight but I have all the confidence going to my bullpen and [they] just didn’t do it,” Johnson said after the game. “I very seldom early in the season will let a guy go out there and [if] he gets a guy on I don’t want him to lose it, a ball game late in the game. It’s just the way I manage. You can chalk it up to me. You don’t like it, chalk it up to me.”
What started out as a four inning pitching duel between former Nationals pitcher and current Chicago Cub Edwin Jackson and Washington’s Stephen Strasburg quickly turned in favor of Chicago due to a messy fifth inning performance from the young phenom. The Nats went on to lose the contest 8-2 on Saturday afternoon. The Cubs hit four unearned runs off of Strasburg in the fourth inning and four more earned runs off left-handed reliever Zach Duke in the fifth to win it.
Strasburg has struggled for the entirety of the 2013 season minus Opening Day. When he lets his emotions get the best of him – like he did Saturday – it’s easier to remember just how young he actually is. When Strasburg’s got his three pitches working for him, he’s a force to be reckoned with, but he’s still in the growing phase where he’s learning to deal with the adversity within the game itself. Manager Davey Johnson acknowledged that fact that the game.
Despite giving up five doubles in six and two-thirds innings pitched, the Washington Nationals’ left-handed starter Ross Detwiler secured his second win of the season with a 7-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Friday night.
Detwiler threw 90 pitches, 57 for strikes, and gave up eight hits, two runs, and struck out two batters.
Ashley Ivey, Emma Crane Jaster, Jim Jorgensen, Joel David Santner, Manu Kumasi in Gilgamesh / Photography by Brittany Diliberto
“I am a man,” Enkidu says. “What is a god, without man?” Such questions of mortality and divinity drive Constellation Theatre Company’s ambitious new work Gilgamesh.
The ancient Mesopotamian myth “The Epic of Gilgamesh” tells of a violent ruler who, after losing his soul mate, sets out on an epic journey to bring new life back to his friend. In the process he learns humility and faces his own mortal limits.
Known for epic adaptations, Constellation attempts a sensual spectacle in Gilgamesh; but no particular element creates a consistent enough tone to hold interest throughout the show. We smell incense, we hear drums, but we never become fully invested in the characters. Gilgamesh’s journey is one to observe rather than join.
Joanna: Surely the clouds will go away soon; but in case they don’t, the EU Open House should provide decent cover. I’ll probably return to Czech Republic and Hungary this year – two of my favorites from years past. I’d also like to visit France and Germany, which are joining up at the Embassy of France. Later on I’m keeping up the European theme by seeing Twelfth Night at Folger Theatre and then The Three Musketeers at Synetic Theater. I ran into the cast of the latter a while back, and if their mustaches are any sign it will be wild
Patrick: Tomorrow I’ll be with some friends at one of the most anticipated new bars on my to-do list: Board Room. I look forward to drinks and Cards Against Humanity. Saturday I’m keeping a low profile for most of the day, I’m considering taking a girl out to a new speakeasy I just found out about in Eastern Market. Sunday I’ll be up early running the Angel Kisses 5K.
Tom: This weekend is the Great Brookland Yard Sale, so my neighbors and I will be out selling our wares throughout the neighborhood. There’s some sweet stuff in this year’s sale, including a couple houses dedicated just to great vinyl, so check out the sale highlights map, get out some cash, and head to Brookland Saturday morning. That afternoon, I’ll trek up to Merriweather Post Pavilion for Sweetlife Festival, because I want a 13th Street Meats/Toki Underground Pho Dog something fierce, oh, and to see Phoenix, too. Sunday, I will luxuriate in sleep and rest, and maybe head down to Bloomingdale’s new hotspot, The Red Hen.
DC has some great street murals. From U Street, to Adams Morgan, to H Street, and parts elsewhere, DC has quite a respectable display of interesting and fun public art. And they make for some great photos.
Evegophotos’ shot above is a great example of what a photographer can get while incorporating a mural. The swirling colors converging on the artist helps the viewer’s eye explore the entire picture. Also, you don’t get a sense of the scale of the art until you notice the artist…standing on a ladder and he’s still only half way up the mural! Throw in the great colors and this is quite the photo. Nicely done.
She/He Loves DC is a series highlighting the people who love this city just as much as we do.
Paul Vodra’s mission is to help causal fans find the fantastic music being made in DC by DC musicians. Before starting his podcast Hometown Sounds, Vodra gigged as a DJ spinning monthly at the Argonaut on H Street NE. Instead of focusing his sets around one genre, he thought it’d be interesting to focus on one location — DC — and play music of all genres. He’d even broadcast his sets for his faraway friends via the Argonaut’s open wi-fi router.
Vodra’s time as a DJ at Argonaut came to an end when they experienced a kitchen fire in 2010 but he liked broadcasting enough to stick with it, figured out how licensing works, and launched his 24/7 music stream.
What is it about DC that makes it home to you?
I was born and raised in this area, so I feel that I understand it pretty well. There’s lots of pretension and showmanship here, but there’s an inexhaustible supply of creative, talented and downright awesome people too. There’s just so much variety here, in art, music, food, and especially people.
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.
Ally Young and Lee Newell are Lovelife. (Photo by author)
Londoners Lovelife played at Living Social headquarters Saturday, bringing a sharp set of tunes in a break from their tour with Capital Cities.
The Speakeasy stage at Living Social turned out to be a good place to see the band, who opened with six songs for Philadelphia-based Vacationer. Not having previously seen a concert at Living Social, I was charmed a bit by the very dark, urban bar space, where you could get a drink on the lower level and look up at the band on a gallery above. Standing on the mezzanine, you could watch the band play standing right next to you and occasionally look down at the bar patrons looking up at you. Lee Newell, Lovelife’s lead singer, did just that with some amusement while singing down to the crowd below during one number.
Angela Renée Simpson as Queenie (center, in pink dress) and the company of Show Boat. Photo by Scott Suchman.
The Washington National Opera’s production is a groundbreaking new work that challenges audience with a deep and nuanced examination of the many ways that racial politics and marital tensions intermingle across a complicated economic reality, eventually illuminating complex and crucial truths about -
No, seriously. It’s Showboat, the modern ur-musical, the production that was old when your mom first went to the theater. We’re not at its centennial yet, but we’re closer to the day “Ol’ Man River” turns 100 than we are to the 20th century. I’m sure we’ll see a revival then too. And every other year between now and then.
Which isn’t to say there’s nothing worth seeing here. Washington National Opera’s Showboat is a beautiful creature in every way. It’s well-acted, lovingly staged, and sung, at turns, competently and transcendently. It may not be new or different than any other of the thousands of times it’s been produced, but if you want to see the show that represented a pivot in Broadway musicals then this is as good a chance as any.
Did you get a chance to enjoy this past weekend? Because this week is going to be pretty depressing. And wet. But fear not, to help you cheer up we’ve got this here Weekend Flashback. And it being from an amazing weekend, it is sure to be full of enjoyment. So, enjoy! Continue reading →