Entertainment, The Features, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: 4000 Miles

Grant Harrison and Tana Hicken in Studio Theatre's production of 4000 Miles. Photo credit: Scott Suchman.

Grant Harrison and Tana Hicken in Studio Theatre’s production of 4000 Miles. Photo credit: Scott Suchman.

Some generational theorists say that you can be closer to your grandparents’ world views than to those of your parents. Perhaps that’s true (my grandmother was a cocktail drinker), perhaps it isn’t (those arguments about religion!). I suspect that the kind of relationship you had with your grandparents will strongly inform your reaction to Amy Herzog’s generational drama, 4000 Miles, now playing at Studio Theatre under the direction of its former founding artistic director Joy Zinoman.

Twentysomething Leo (Grant Harrison) turns up at his ninetysomething grandmother Vera’s Greenwich Village apartment in the middle of the night, fresh (or rather, rank) off a cross-country cycling trip that’s ended in tragedy. He’s lost, existentially, but like a homing pigeon has ended up at a haven he considers safe. Vera (Tana Hicken) may still cling to independence, but her speech is peppered with “what do you call it?” forgetfulness, and she’s in just as much need.

The simple moments when they embrace are the most true. Continue reading

Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs: Haidar Karoum of Estadio & Proof (Part 1)

Photo courtesy of
‘Haidar Karoum of Proof and Estadio’
courtesy of ‘bonappetitfoodie’

Haidar Karoum, executive chef of Estadio and Proof, is a breed of chef who always knew he belonged in the kitchen. Looking back on his childhood, he can remember being in awe of the produce and meat aisles of grocery stores and one time getting purposely lost in Harrod’s food hall when he was 9 years old. He remembers being “obsessed” with cooking shows such as Great Chefs of the West and rushing home to catch them on TV when he was 12. “I’m constantly immersed in food. My condo is littered with cookbooks. You can’t go into any room without there being a stack of them,” Haidar laughs.

After high school, the northern Virginia native attended the Culinary Institute of America and thus began his long and impressive cooking career. He externed with Michele Richard at Citronelle and much later he became chef de cuisine at Restaurant Nora in Dupont Circle. Straight out of culinary school, he worked at the now-closed Gerard’s Place. “He was like a God,” says Haidar, talking about french chef Gerard Panguard and his first job out of culinary school. “His philosophy of simplicity and his influence were important to me. It was an honor to work in his kitchen.”
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Entertainment, The Features, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: POP!

Tom Story in Pop! by Maggie-Kate Coleman and Anna K. Jacobs. Directed by Keith Alan Baker, with Hunter Styles and Jennifer Harris. The Studio 2ndStage. Photo: Scott Suchman

What to expect from a musical about Andy Warhol, the late 20th century pop art genius who smashed convention and provided a nest for self-proclaimed misfits to help him create wild non-conformist art? His shooting by self-proclaimed revolutionary feminist Valerie Solanas seems like it would make excellent fodder – after all, when Warhol Superstar Viva heard the first shot fired from over the phone, she “thinks it is somebody cracking a whip left over from the Velvet Underground days.”

Possibly the best way to enjoy POP! is to get bombed on your poison of choice, doll up in some outrageous outfits, and loll on the front row cushions like denizens of Warhol’s famous Factory. Everything is a little too clean in this staging at The Studio 2nd Stage, and it needs some chaos. Perhaps it’s up to the audience to provide it, because the book and lyrics by Maggie-Kate Coleman get too lost in its construct of a “murder mystery” party. Though there are key moments that speak to Warhol’s power over his Superstars, his feeding off their craving for attention and love while maintaining his voyeurism, this musical could’ve used a hell of a lot more anarchy.

That’s not to say that there isn’t a lot of talent on display. The cast’s singing is spectacular, so strong they blow out their mikes occasionally. They’re effectively competing for your sympathy just as the real Warhol Superstars might have done had you wondered into their lair. It’s especially fitting that in a musical about a man who preferred to put others in the spotlight, it’s Candy Darling (Matthew Delorenzo) who reigns supreme here in a striking performance of glitter and pathos. As the emcee of the evening, guiding us through the “mystery” of who shot Warhol on June 3, 1968, Delorenzo is simply incandescent.

But Anna K. Jacobs’ score struck me as all wrong – don’t expect any nods to Warhol cohorts Nico or Lou Reed. Velvet Underground this isn’t. Continue reading

Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs: Jaime Montes de Oca of Zentan (Part 2)

Photo courtesy of
‘Watermelon and feta salad at Zentan 3’
courtesy of ‘bonappetitfoodie’

Some might say there’s nothing better than biting into a sweet, juicy wedge of watermelon in the summertime. So to take that watermelon to the next level, you’ll find chef Jaime Montes de Oca’s recipe for a watermelon salad with mint, feta and a black pepper vinaigrette after the jump. It’s incredibly easy to make, and the soy sauce and black pepper with the sweetness of the watermelon and saltiness of the feta make for a great and refreshing combination. You can make it an hour or so in advance, although this is not a salad that needs time to marinate. Enjoy it on a picnic or underneath the breeze of a fan on a hot summer’s day.

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Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs: Jaime Montes de Oca of Zentan (Part 1)

Photo courtesy of
‘Jaime Montes de Oca of Zentan 4’
courtesy of ‘bonappetitfoodie’

There are a handful of characters in one’s life that can really have a profound affect on the shape of your life and career. For Jaime Montes de Oca, the executive chef at Zentan, there are three women who drove him to cook: his grandmother, a Colombian nanny he had growing up and Nancy, a kitchen manager/chef who worked with him when he was in high school.

“I would stand and watch [our nanny] cook and I would help prepare food with her,” says Jaime. “It was a creative outlet, a creative way to fill mouths and stomachs.” When Jaime grew up and started working in the front of the house at a “turn and burn” restaurant at a Holiday Inn, Nancy was the one who advised him to go to culinary school if he was going to be serious about working in the restaurant industry.

Following years of working kitchens across New York City, Thompson Hotels (the owners of the Donovan House which is home to Zentan) sent Jaime down to DC to try to convince him to take a job in Susur Lee’s restaurant. For someone who grew up in New York and has lived in almost all five boroughs, Jaime was slightly hesitant to pick up and move. “They showed me the brand new kitchen and talked about what I could do here in DC,” he says. “Looking back on it, it was the right decision. DC is having a renaissance with restaurants and hotels. A lot more young people are coming here. If DC continues on the path it’s going, it will become a food capital. We’re getting very close.”

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Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs: Nick Stefanelli of Bibiana (Part 2)

Photo courtesy of
‘Risotto Frutti di Mare at Bibiana’
courtesy of ‘bonappetitfoodie’

Risotto can be like a wild beast in the kitchen. If you don’t cook it long enough, it’s like eating little rock pellets. If you don’t stir it, you will end up with a gloppy mess. But in reality, risotto is not all that hard to make and make it well. So with that in mind, don’t get hung up on the idea that you have to babysit this pot of rice grains for a while. Besides, you’re cooking with wine…pour yourself a glass.

After the jump you’ll find Nick Stefanelli’s recipe for risotto frutti di mare. It’s a light risotto with the lemon juice, white wine and seafood–perfect for summertime. Keep in mind Stefanelli’s advice that this recipe (as most do) depends on the freshness of the seafood, and don’t get too hung up on what seafood to include in the risotto if something isn’t available at your grocery store. Again, Stefanelli would remind you that “frutti di mare” means “fruits of the sea,” stick with firm fish and shellfish for the risotto and you can’t go wrong.
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Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, The Features

Capital Chefs: Nick Stefanelli of Bibiana (Part 1)

Photo courtesy of
‘Nick Stefanelli of Bibiana’
courtesy of ‘bonappetitfoodie’

While being a chef wasn’t in Nick Stefanelli’s original career plans, Italy (and it’s food) was and still is a common thread in the arc of his work. Stefanelli, the executive chef at Bibiana Osteria started out studying fashion design in Milan, when his interests switched over to food. “There is a profound food culture in Italy that’s not going on here,” he says. While “food was always in his life,” Stefanelli switched his focus to becoming a chef after traveling through Italy.

During our conversation, Nick put Italian food in a context that rang true for me. “You can’t put a label on what Italian food is. It’s not just pasta and tomato sauce–it’s a culture, ways of doing things, the knowledge of knowing your grower and the relationships that you build around the cuisine,” says Stefanelli. “I try to reproduce that here, rather than import products. I apply techniques and sauces of Italian cookery to the food that’s available here. If a cuisine stands still, it will fall to the wayside. You need evolution.” Continue reading

Entertainment, The Features, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: Venus in Fur

Christian Conn and Erica Sullivan in Venus in Fur, directed by David Muse at the Studio Theatre. Photo credit: Scott Suchman.

The night I saw Venus in Fur, I had strange dreams. Given that the play is inspired by the infamous 1870’s novel that gave birth to the term sado-masochism, I’ll forgive you if your first thought was that my dreams were a dizzying melange of whips, dog collars and PVC boots. After all, Studio Theatre’s press teaser quotes the New York Times as saying this is “90 minutes of good, kinky fun.” However, David Ives’ remarkable play is more than a romp through a fetish wonderland. In its fast burning build-up to the final electrifying minute, it’s the embodiment of that haunting line from Yeats, about a “terrible beauty” being born.

Ok, there’s also whips, dog collars and PVC boots. But every successful seduction needs a hook, right?

Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s book Venus in Furs supposes that behind every fetish there’s an “innocent incident,” something almost innocuous in the past that marked us on a primal level. For his protagonist, Severin Kushemski, it’s his childhood punishment by an imperious aunt as he writhes under her whip on her cast-off fur cape. As an adult, he will seek subjugation at the hands of his lover, Vanda Dunayev. We don’t know what the “innocent incident” is that drives David Ives’ protagonist, a playwright directing his own adaptation of Sacher-Masoch’s novel, but we know from the first minute that he’s an arrogant misogynist just begging for a beating. Something is slouching towards his Bethlehem, all right, coming to take vengeance, but he’s oblivious to the danger until it’s too late.

At the end of a long day of auditioning to cast his own adaptation of Venus in Furs, Thomas (Christian Conn) is unloading his frustration over the phone about the paucity of truly sensual, powerful women to play his Vanda. It’s the kind of tirade an old-school Hollywood producer might have made, peppered with insulting assumptions made all the more comical by the fact that the shabby surroundings clearly indicate he’s not a power player. Describing strings of annoying actresses dressed as hookers, dragging bags of props, with voices that sound like “six-year-olds on helium,” he’s surprised when one last supplicant (Erica Sullivan) barges in from the rain with an obscenity-laced plea for an audition.

She’s exactly everything he’s just described. But he’s too blind to see the warning in that eerie similarity. And so begins a riveting game of domination and submission. By the end, Ives reveals in a shocking moment of divine retribution that the dice were loaded all along. Continue reading

Entertainment, Special Events, The Features, We Love Arts

We Love (Irish) Arts: Penelope

Niall Buggy, Aaron Monaghan, and Karl Shiels in Druid's Penelope by Enda Walsh. Directed by Mikel Murfi. Photo credit: Robert Day

Madly poetic men in speedos, trapped with a broken grill in an abandoned swimming pool. Above them is an unobtainable beauty in a blue dress. While waiting for her to say yes or no to their proposals of love, they’ve gotten fat and old. Now her husband is coming back to barbecue them all.

Did I mention speedos?

The initial sight gag that opens Penelope had the packed theater giggling. An overly bronzed man in an orange speedo grilling up a tiny sausage instantly telegraphs this is an absurd world ripe with comedy. Or is it? There’s a suspicious blood spatter stage right…

Playwright Enda Walsh is brilliant at pulling you through laughs to a sucker-punch of a tragic conclusion. It’s the gift of the Irish bard, perhaps, that superlative facility at weaving language into tales, leading an audience from laughter to tears. Galway’s Druid has brought his genius to Studio Theatre as part of the New Ireland Festival through April 3, and it’s a deservedly hot ticket this St. Patrick’s Day with Walsh speaking after tonight’s performance.

A re-imagining of Homer’s Odyssey from the point -of-view of faithfully waiting wife Penelope’s suitors, it explores what happens to the men when action is thwarted and purpose diverted. Do they gang up together and storm the castle to take Penelope by force? No. They sit around sunning themselves, drinking fruity cocktails. Then they turn on each other like a pack of dogs. Continue reading

Entertainment, The Features, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: Marcus; Or the Secret of Sweet

(l to r) Lance Coadie Williams, J. Mal McCree, and Nickolas Vaughan in "Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet" at The Studio Theatre. Directed by Timothy Douglas. Photo: Scott Suchman.

Rain patters down plastic sheeting, as a man all in ghostly white speaks to a sleeping boy. He needs a message delivered to the living, on the eve of a dangerous storm that will change them all.

It’s this eerie image that begins the final play in Tarrell Alvin McCraney’s Brother/Sister Plays, described by him as “inspired by Yoruba life and traditions, steeped in Southern rhythms and cadences, and seamed shut with the fire of urban music and dance.” If you’ve seen the other two in the cycle – The Brothers Size (2008) and In the Red and Brown Water (2010), you’ll probably know who the man in white is and what he needs. I hadn’t seen either, but that didn’t impact my enjoyment of Marcus; Or the Secret of Sweet.

Playing now through February 13 at the Studio Theatre, the play is set in fictional San Pere, Louisiana on the eve of Hurricane Katrina, and though the storm is never mentioned by name its presence saturates everything. Teenager Marcus Eshu (a vibrant J. Mal McCree) is trying hard to discover the meaning of his dream’s message and untangle his own sexuality without alienating his best friends. Above all – stay out of danger, avoid his mother’s wrath and become a man in the process.

He’ll have to work fast, as that rain approaches. Continue reading

Entertainment, The Features, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: Mojo

(l to r) Scot McKenzie as Mickey, Matt Dewberry as Sweets, Dylan Myers as Skinny, and Danny Gavigan (back) as Potts in Mojo at The Studio 2ndStage. Photo credit: Scott Suchman.

Frenetically fueled by pill-popped speed, The Studio 2ndStage’s production of British playwright Jez Butterworth’s Mojo hits the right tempo for a journey to rock-n-rolla gangland. These petty mobsters are simmering with ineptitude and obscenity while wielding cutlass and cake. In a 1950’s Britain fast overrun by squealing girls obsessed with rockstars, they are grasping at a chance to make it big. Unfortunately for them, it’s just not going to work out.

Butterworth’s play won the 1995 Olivier Award, and the frantic rhythm of the language is the real star here. Director Christopher Gallu has his ensemble cast embracing that jittery, junkie cadence with total commitment. While the accents may not always be spot on, the underlying backbone of the language is a joy – interjections and overlapping dialogue combined with playful postering that can turn to danger on a dime.

It feels like the love child of Guy Ritchie and David Mamet.

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Entertainment, The Features, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven

(l to r): Patricia Penn, Sue Jin Song and Youngsun Cho in Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven by Young Jean Lee at The Studio 2ndStage. Directed by Natsu Onoda Power. Photo credit: Carol Pratt

“My work is about struggling to achieve something in the face of failure and incompetence and not-knowing. The discomfort and awkwardness involved in watching this struggle reflects the truth of my experience.”

— Young Jean Lee, playwright

It would be easy to write about Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven as a play about racist stereotypes, the culpability of bigotry that we all share regardless of personal race. Certainly there is a great deal of that theme on display at The Studio 2ndStage’s production, playing now through October 24. But essentially, to me this is a play about failure – the failure to understand one another, to communicate, to believe, to love oneself. It’s a powerful piece with a core of deep self-hatred and the awful humor that comes from knowing one’s weakness, and giving in to it. 

Raw emotion like that is not easy to watch, so the pre-set tricks the audience into false sense of tranquility. Shepherded behind the seats through an incense-filled temple walkway, glowing with candles and red paper lanterns, you might think you’re in for a lovely spa evening.

Then three women in beautiful traditional Korean costumes reveal a video of playwright Young Jean Lee, her tear-streaked face puffy from repeated hard slaps, her eyes wounded and staring at you, her audience – her tormenters and conspirators.

You probably wouldn’t expect to laugh after that opening. But you do. Continue reading

Downtown, Entertainment, Fun & Games, Penn Quarter, Special Events, The Features, The Mall, We Love Arts

October’s Best at SAAM & NMAI

Derek A. Bencomo, Hana Valley, First View from the Peaks and Valleys Series, 1997, milowood, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Fleur and Charles Bresler in honor of Kenneth R. Trapp, curator-in-charge of the Renwick Gallery (1995--2003); photo courtesy Smithsonian American Art Museum

Some great stuff’s going on this month at the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum (SAAM) and the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI). While there’s a ton of events and exhibits happening at both locations, I’ve highlighted some of the more interesting things you may want to check out. Got a free afternoon or in need of some weekend inspiration this month? Well, there’s something here for everyone.

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News, Sports Fix, The Daily Feed

What will McEnroe do this time?

Photo courtesy of
‘The Serve’
courtesy of ‘maxedaperture’

Tonight, the Kastles play host to the New York Sportimes in World Team Tennis at the Kastles tennis court over at 11th and H Street. Last time John McEnroe came down to DC, there was a huge kerfuffle between McEnroe and Kastles’ star Leander Paes, focused around an errant tennis ball’s final resting place. The ensuing bench-clearing incident included McEnroe’s teammate Robert Kendrick calling Kastles’ player Olga Puchkova a bitch. Yeah, it’s an intense time at World Team Tennis.

Anyhow, tonight brings the controversial McEnroe back to DC to face the Kastles. The Kastles need every point they can get at this crucial moment in the season. The team is second in the East, just half a match ahead of the third place Boston Lobsters in a fight for the second playoff spot in the division. A victory tonight would put them within a half match of the Sportimes with just two matches to go, nearly assuring them of post-season action. Tickets are available at the door for tonight’s match, which starts at 7pm. Your guess is as good as ours as to what will happen when McEnroe takes the court tonight. What’s the craziest that could happen?

Entertainment, The Features, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: The Ramayana

Andreu Honeycutt and Heather Haney in Constellation Theatre Company's "The Ramayana." Photo credit: Daniel Schwartz

Which would you rather be – a god, a demon, or a monkey? In Constellation Theatre Company’s production of Indian epic The Ramayana, the answer is definitely a monkey. I haven’t seen actors having so much fun on stage in ages. At times, maybe too much fun. Mounting a multi-character multi-location multi-verse is daunting, and I admire director Allison Arkell Stockman for attacking something so challenging even larger companies might balk. Constellation’s mission is to produce “epic, ensemble theatre” with “heightened physicality” – and The Ramayana is definitely all that. When it wavers, it’s the fault of being too generous, of allowing too many focal points and not streamlining enough. But it’s still an enjoyable night out, playing now thru June 6 at Source Theater.

The Ramayana is one of two of the most beloved and sacred texts of India (the other, The Mahabharata, was also put to stage in Peter Brook’s famous version some twenty years ago, see the film sometime to get a taste of how fantastic that theatrical experience was). It details the trials of Lord Rama as he endures exile and the kidnapping of his wife Sita by the demon Ravana. Rama is the incarnation of Vishnu and represents the ideal king on earth, his wife Sita is the incarnation of Vishnu’s wife Lakshmi and therefore the ideal queenly wife. Actually, every character in The Ramayana is an archetype of the ideal way to behave – from loyal brother Lakshman to devoted monkey Hanuman.

With so many characters travelling through many worlds, it’s vital to have a backbone and here Stockman has picked the best – live music composed and performed by percussionist Tom Teasley. From playing the doumbek to scat singing, he pulls the audience along as a kind of musical narrator, and it’s easily the second most riveting performance of the evening, grounding time and place far more effectively than any set design.

The actors are clearly envigorated by Teasley’s musical support, and no where is that more obvious than with those delightfully crazy monkeys, highlighted by a stellar standout performance by Joe Brack. If Brack doesn’t get a Helen Hayes nomination for his work as Hanuman, there is no theatrical justice in this town.

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Food and Drink, Interviews, People, The Features, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: Ivan Iricanin

Photo courtesy of
‘Masa 14 – 7’
courtesy of ‘maxedaperture’

We Love Drinks continues our series where we look behind the bar, profiling the many people – from mixologists to bartenders, sommeliers to publicans – who make your drinks experience happen.

When Ivan Iricanin first tells me his favorite drink is tequila, I don’t quite believe him. After all, as beverage manager for Masa 14 with its 100+ tequila collection, doesn’t he have to say that? But the care is evident as he lines up a flight showcasing some exquisite ultra-aged tequila. And once I sample his simple margarita, I definitely believe him.

Ivan’s originally from Serbia, spending the past five years in DC and previously working with Richard Sandoval at Zengo. When I ask how a Serbian came to love a Mexican liquor, he mentions rakija, a fruit brandy usually made with plums. The best varieties are homemade and difficult to get. Traveling to Mexico as part of his stint with Washington Wholesale, he was reminded of his national liquor when trying the micro-tequilas – and of course Sandoval’s Mexican heritage was a huge influence as well.

Most Americans never get past mixto tequila, artificially colored and only 50% or so of it actual agave – the remainder coming from other sugar sources. “You’ll get a headache if it’s mixto,” Ivan says strongly, “all our tequilas served here are 100% agave.” This is serious stuff, with a regulatory council and bottle identifiers similiar to wine regulation. Ivan suggests starting your exploration with a flight – and what better way to completely wipe all memory of previous bad tequila choices than to go with a micro-tequila flight. Masa has six on the menu, and you won’t find them anywhere else.

As he lines up the gorgeous bottles with a card explaining each one, I’m thinking this could be dangerous, even though Ivan says the quality is flawless. I’m still relieved that fellow WLDC author Max is also along for the ride to help me with the tasting! Continue reading

Food and Drink, The Daily Feed, The District

Grabbing tomatoes on the way to the Metro is awesome.

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘lorigoldberg’

FreshFarm Markets has applied for a permit to close Vermont Ave. between Lafayette and McPherson Squares on Thursdays from 1-8pm for a Farmer’s market. Personally, I think a weekday market more accessible than Dupont Circle is a fantastic idea, especially since it would be situated right in front of a Metro on a block that hardly anyone drives on, but you know, blah blah blah, traffic, the White House may or may not be involved, and in a political climate where people freak out because the President of the United States tells children they should study hard and stay in school, heaven forfend anyone named Obama should endorse eating more fresh fruits and vegetables.

Anyway, I think it’s a great idea. How about you? Is this your route home every day?

Food and Drink, The Features

First Look: Bibiana Osteria & Enoteca

Photo courtesy of
‘Bibiana Outside Vertical’
courtesy of ‘needlessspaces’

I took a calculated risk eating at Bibiana Osteria & Enoteca on Labor Day Monday. First off, it’s Monday, the notoriously worst day of the week to eat out. Second off, Bibiana only opened on Friday. Third off, it’s Labor Day. No Chef will be working. But (isn’t there always a but?) I had a friend in need of a totally new, fresh place for dinner, so crossing my fingers and holding my breath, I suggested Bibiana. Plus, I’m currently in the middle of reading former New York Times food critic Mimi Sheraton’s memoir Eating My Words, where she argues, “As for reviewing an establishment too soon, my feeling is that as soon as a restaurant is open and full prices are being charged it is fair game.” Touche, Mimi. So with Mimi on my side, we struck out to discover Ashok Bajaj’s seventh restaurant in the DC area.

Was it able to stand up against all the forces it had going against it? You could have told me it was any Friday or Saturday night months from when it opened, you could have fooled me. Everything from the food to the service was absolutely on point. Continue reading

Dupont Circle, The Features, Where We Live

Where We Live: Dupont Circle

Photo courtesy of
‘a hug on Riggs’
courtesy of ‘NCinDC’

Welcome to Where We Live: Dupont! Dupont Circle is one of the District’s best-known neighborhoods, and there’s so much history and beautiful architecture to love here.  Dupont is home to everyone from recent grads in group houses to young professionals in condos to well-off diplomats with kids, and yes, even some new stars.  I know I’m probably supposed to be unbiased in my descriptions of all these neighborhoods, but to be honest, Dupont’s my favorite.  Read on to find out why.

History: Not much was really going on in the Dupont area until the Civil War.  Up until then it was a rural backwater, but a massive modernization program built streets and sewers in the 1870s, making the area a fashionable new residential district.  In 1871, the circle itself (then known as Pacific Circle) was constructed, and in 1882 Congress decided to use the circle to honor Civil War admiral Samuel Francis Du Pont.  A statue of Du Pont was erected in 1884, and replaced in 1921 with the fountain that we all know and love today.  The traffic signals in the circle were added in 1948 to make it easier for pedestrians to cross, and in 1949 the Connecticut Avenue tunnel was built to separate thru traffic and build a streetcar station.

By the 1870s and 1880s, impressive mansions were built along Massachusetts Avenue, and Connecticut Avenue had more shops and offices.  Much of the area was developed with rowhouses, many of which remain today.  The neighborhood began to decline after the 1968 riots, but in the 1970s some urban pioneersmoved in.  Dupont Circle took on more of a Bohemian character, and the area became a gay enclave.   It is considered the historic center of the gay communityin DC, though many of those original urban pioneers later moved on to Logan Circle or Shaw.  The 1980s and 1990s saw more reinvestment in the neighborhood, and today Dupont Circle is again one of DC’s most desired neighborhoods.

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The Daily Feed

Studio Theater makes it official

Photo courtesy of
‘The Studio Theatre’
courtesy of ‘NCinDC’

Studio’s been a little tease since they first announced their upcoming season, which contained an item listed as “an unnamed Neal LaBute play.” Today they officially announced which play that is: Reasons to Be Pretty, which is currently running on Broadway. Studio shills it like this:

This play concludes LaBute’s trilogy exploring America’s obsession with physical beauty, a trilogy he began with two Studio Theatre favorites, The Shape of Things and Fat Pig–both runaway hits.

It’ll open next March.