Friday, April 24, 2009

Go see this show

Performance: This American Life Live
Theater: Theaters all over the area (like Friendship Heights)
Find a theater: Click here
Genre: Radio in movie form (but not crappy, like the PHC movie)
Cost: $18-20
Date: rebroadcast 5/7
Rating: 5/5 Starving Artists!

Ok, so I know how this works. I write about shows and you read about them and maybe every once-and-a-while you go to see one. But this has to be the exception. You should see this show! Trust me, you’ll thank me later.

This American Life is the magazine show from Public Radio International, their radio show/podcast is a collection of strikingly told stories about the extraordinary moments of ordinary life. Ira Glass hosts a show that is always a great listening experience. Once a year they do a live broadcast that is beamed to theaters across the country. It features some of their best stories and contributors, and this year was no exception. It is heartwarming and hysterical, touching and timeless. The show started with one of my favorite comedians of all time, Mike Birbiglia (of Comedy Central, blogging, and Invite Them Up fame), as well as Dan Savage and Starlee Kine. We also get a treat from special musical guest Joss Whedon (of Buffy and Dr Horrible fame). It’s an all star line up.

Well, last night was the magical night. There were very few moments in this show when I did not have goose-bumps. It was powerful and wonderful. I really cannot stress enough that you should see this show. “But wait”, you say, “I thought this was a one night event”. “True” I say, “but they are doing a special rebroadcast on 5/7, and you should go. I just checked and as of this moment, there are still tickets to see it at Friendship Heights. They will go fast. Click here to order. There are also showing it in the ‘burbs of VA and MD (which is where we saw it). I’ll say it one more time.

This is a don’t miss. Thank me later (in comments).

Also, here is the director of the show, Ira Glass, on Colbert last night:
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Ira Glass
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorGay Marriage Commercial

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Deals on plays I’ve already blogged

A few of the plays I’ve already blogged about are entering their final weeks and there are some cheap ways to see them. If you want to see some plays this weekend, here are some suggestions:


There are still $15 tix for the under 25 crowd, but they also sent out an e-mail today saying you could get half price tickets if you go to their website and use the promo cod 376

Closes: 4/26


There are still $10 tix for the under 25 crowd and $25 tickets the week of (if there are any left), but there are also half price tix from Goldstar.

Closes: 4/26

The Rise and Fall of Annie Hall

$10 Goldstar tix

Through 5/24 (so you still have some time for this one, but it’s a good deal)

Bring on the Ratched

Performance: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Roundhouse Theater, 4545 East-West Highway, Bethesda
Metro Stops:
Bathesda Directions here.
A cappella
Cost: Half price tickets from Goldstar ($25). $10 tickets for people under 30 (call the box office).
Through: April 26

Rating: 2.5/5 Starving Artists

Lady AWesome and I won free tickets to see One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest at the Roundhouse Theater in Bethesda tonight. We entered in a ticket giveaway put on by the the local NPR station, WAMU. They do this once every week or two and apparently it is possible to win (who knew?). Take a look at their calendar page to see when the next one is and we can all enter and lower each other’s chances of winning. Anyway, we had been wanting to see this play, so it worked out really well. And the verdict: we were unimpressed.

I’m giving this show the lowest score I’ve ever given, and not because it was bad; just because it wasn’t good. Lady AWesome makes the point that it’s a fantastic script. They have a lot of good material to work with. But as far as we are concerned, they didn’t do much with it. The interaction between the inmates was entertaining, but their relationships to the authority figures in the asylum lacked the power that it needed. None of the leads were exceptional. Everything was sufficient, without being striking. The set was quite well done, but they compensated for this with a noticeably poor sound design.

I would be remiss if I did not mention one scene stealer. Jefferson Russell was so fantastic as the inmate, Scanlon. I was often so drawn in by his nervous ticks and sudden outbursts that I found myself focused on him, and not on the action. Ultimately though, the show lacked the interaction, intensity, and intimacy that I wanted it to have. It’s a great story, and if you’ve never seen the movie, YOU SHOULD, but I might skip the play. Here’s the entire movie, for those of you who have not yet seen it (I can’t believe I found the whole thing):

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A blogger’s prerogative (is that a blogrogative?)

Performance: Jewish A cappella Festival
: 6th and I Historic Synagogue, 600 I Street, NW
Metro Stops
: Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro. Directions here.
: A cappella
: $25 tickets in advance. $10 student tickets.
: April 26, 7:00 pm
I’m going.
Let me know if you want to join.

So, the way I see it, it’s a blogger’s prerogative to advertise for his friends show. In fact, it may even be his responsibility. So, without further adu…

My college a cappella group is singing a fundraiser with three other awesome groups. The proceeds go to support the Jewish Study Center of Washington, DC, which is also a great cause (I took an excellent class from them about a year ago and recommend checking out their course schedule).

My old group, Kol Sasson, the University of Maryland’s premier a cappella group, is worth seeing. They just released a new CD and I’m sure you’ll be able to pick up a copy at the concert. They will be singing, along with two other groups from UMD (Rak Shalom, and Kol Ish) and DC’s professional Jewish a cappella group (Makela). I’m told that there will be a “special finale”, but I don’t know what that means. I can't wait to find out. There will also be food and door prizes. If you’re not going to be able to see Kol Sasson’s spring show on 4/30, or even if you are going. you should catch this show. Four fabulous groups and the money goes to a good cause.

Here’s a clip of KS, from when I was in it (you notice that one of our guest bloggers sings the solo too):

Monday, April 20, 2009

Annie Hall Redux

Performance: The Rise and Fall of Annie Hall
: Theater J. 1529 16th Street NW
Metro Stops
: Dupont Circle – Red line or U Street/Cardozo-Green line. Directions here.
: Commedy
: $25 tickets for people 25 and under. Pay What You Can 4/15 and 4/16
: Through May 24

The Rise and Fall of Annie Hall is a story of 20-something angst. It’s a tale of artists, starving in the city, trying to figure out if they can become the performers they think they should be, or if they even want to. It’s all the kooky neuroticism of Woody Allen, with all the hip banter of Friends, and all the pot scenes of Seth Rogan. In the world premiere of Sam Froman’s new play, we are told the captivating story of Henry (Josh Lefkowitz), a struggling 29-year-old playwright, who hasn’t writing a good play since college. He is clearly addicted to brain crack (if you do not know what brain crack is, you MUST watch this video) He sits in his apartment, thinking of brilliant ideas with his writing partner, Will (Matthew A. Anderson)and his girlfriend Annie (Tessa Klein), but he doesn’t seem to do much to make them happen. He seems to mistake networking for working. The story is deliciously impotent. It has all the signs of progress without any notable change. It is full of big ideas, and small actions. It is a tall of the intimate, ongoing crisis of the day to day life of an average gen-x-er. Oh, and it’s really funny (in a Woody-esq way). Lefkowitz has moments of sheer brilliance, especially in his asides to the audience. His monologues make us waffle between giggles and belly laughs, with moments of incredible awkwardness (but the best kind of awkwardness). He is a master of the humorous over-share.

The parallels to Annie Hall are numerous. I’d say you really need to see the movie before you see the play (but then again, if you haven’t seen the movie yet, you really need to get on it. It’s a classic, dude!). The characters, the relationships, and the plot are all a sweet (if not over-eager) homage to Alan. There are moments when Lefkowitz is Woody incarnate, though his character is a little more effeminate, and a little less Jewish.

The show is a blast. It’s a nearly non-stop comedy that waffles between silly and brilliant. It is touching, and frustrating in all the right places. It is especially appropriate for young adults, so I encourage all of you to take advantage of that YA price. If I hear of any other deals, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, rent the movie, and then go see the play. I am happy to be able to give 4/5 starving artists to a play about 4 starving artists (and one artist who is making money). How apropos.

p.s. check out my new tag cloud and updated blogroll in the sidebar. Very exciting. Shout-out to Kevin M. Keating, who is a html rockstar.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A play about a movie about a standup comic

Performance: The Rise and Fall of Annie Hall
Theater: Theater J. 1529 16th Street NW
Metro Stops: Dupont Circle – Red line or U Street/Cardozo-Green line. Directions here.
Genre: Commedy
Cost: $25 tickets for people 25 and under. Pay What You Can 4/15 and 4/16
Dates: Through May 24
We’re going: on 4/15 Let me know if you want to join.

They say: Henry’s a hungry librettist with a great idea and the moxie to pull it off. But complications ensue as he betrays his loved ones securing the rights to Woody Allen’s famous film. The closer he gets to his dreams, the more havoc he wreaks. A hilarious tale about skyscraper ambitions in a celebrity driven town.

I’ll tell you more later this week. In the meantime, here are some of the best scenes from the original Annie Hall:

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Sit on the stoop a while

Performance: Stoop Stories
Theater: Studio Theatre. 1501 14th St, NW
Metro stops: Dupont Circle -Red line or U Street/Cardozo-Green line
Genre: Office Drama with a gist
Cost: Tickets are $30. There is a $five student discount too. They may also have half price rush tickets 30 min before the show or you can usher (more here). Also, Goldstar has half price tix.
Dates: Through April 12
Rating: Rating 4/5 stars

Update: You can get HALF PRICE tickets for the final weekend. In an e-mail they sent out today, they write:
save 50% off tickets! Don't delay! Call the Box Office at202.332.3300 and mention source code SSE2 to receive your discount today.
*Limit two tickets per household. Discount may not be combined with any other offers or used on previously purchased tickets. Offer void for Saturday Evening performances.

The set is simple: an urban stoop, with a wooden door frame above it, a stool to one side, a chair to the other. It’s a sparsely decorated sage. But Dael Orlandersmith fills it with poetry, and music, and stories. In her one-woman show, running through Sunday, she paints a picture of Harlem that is profound and powerful. He words are full of strength, history, jazz, and love. She tells us the story of Harlem, through its inhabitants - describing its many transformations in their words. The script, which she authored, is sometimes spoken word and sometimes prose but always striking. She delivers each vignette with remarkably precise characterization, portraying an old polish man, and then a young black girl, and then a Latino teen gang member, all to give us a sense of the depth and richness of the Harlem that she calls home. It is hysterical at times, somber at others, but always with a sense of purpose and poise. She speaks of Langston Hughes, and Billie Holiday, of projects, and of yuppies. She keeps you wound up in her word and enthralled in her energy. If you are looking for something to do in the next week, see this play. It is a short show (75 minutes) but each moment is savory. I highly recommend this one.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Anyone want to see a play tonight?

I posted about a play called Marisol last week. It’s a really interesting show and Forum is an awesome company. It looks like I will have an extra ticket tonight ($18) for the 8:00 show. Who is the adventurous soul who wants to join us for the play? It’s going to be a good show, I can feel it. If you’re interested, e-mail me and we will work out details.

Note: you do not have to actually know me to take me up on this offer. I have the ticket and I would really like it to get used. That said, if you do know me, you can come to dinner to. Let me know if you’re in.

I’ll tell you what… I did not see that coming

Performance: Ante Bellum
Theater: Woolly Mammoth Theater, 641 D St, NW
Metro: Gallery Place-green/red or Archives/Navy Memorial-Green. Directions here.
Genre: They say it’s half Hollywood romance, half murder mystery.
Cost: from $15 for people under 25. $15 rush seats sold 2 hours before curtain. Also, Pay What You Can nights are this Monday and Tuesday (3/30 and 3/31). More info below.
Dates: Through April 26
Rating: 3/5 Starving Artists

There’s a new show at Woolly, and man has it got plot twists. If I had a quarter for every time I thought to myself “I did not see that coming”, I could have broken even on the ticket (though it was Pay What You Can night). It’s a good show, with some standout performances (and a weak one or two) and it definitely raises some interesting questions. The night we saw it was the first performance for an audience, EVER, and it definitely has some kinks to work out. Some of them will get ironed out as the cast hits their stride. A few others make me think that the script might need another revision or two, but all told, I found it to be a fascinating and surprising piece and I vote that you go see it. If you have already seen Crowns, you should try to make it to this one next.

The set is a Woolly set, so of course it is wonderful (though some features of it may be a bit unnecessary). Jessica Fraces Dukes was terrific as Edna Black Rock and Jenna Sokolowski was really good as Sara, especially in the second act. Something about Nick Vienna as Ariel really bugged me, but it may just have been an off night. I would be interested to see this production in a week or two, when the performers really find themselves in the roles.

I am going to make this a short review. We went with a group of 8, so I hope some of them (and anyone else) will comment below with their thoughts. We had some very different opinions about the show, so I hope they share them below.

Also, a warning: there is a fair amount of male nudity in this show. Be prepared,

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Now that is some Hattitude!

Performance: Crowns
Theater: Arena Stage at the Lincoln Theater (1215 U Street, NW,)
Metro: U St station. Directions here.
Genre: Musical
Cost: $10 for the under 25 if you call the week of the show. $25 “New Deal” tickets for anyone.
Dates: Through April 26
Rating: 4/5 Starving Artists

Lady Awesome and I took my cousin to see Crowns on Saturday night. It’s the new Arena Stage musical at the Lincoln Theater on U Street. The verdict: worth seeing. Perhaps it is not a “must see”, but it is definitely a “try hard to see”. We had some complaints with the production decisions, but the performances, and the music are excellent.

Crowns is the story of Southern, black, church ladies and their fantastical hats. It is a series of monologues, interspersed with gospel songs and spirituals (you can hear some of them here). The five women weave stories about their mothers, their husbands, their churches, and their communities. They tell us about their hats as allegories and metaphors for their struggles and their triumphs. The tell us about the rules of wearing hats, the art of choosing hats, and the way that a good hat makes you feel. All of their stories are majestic, and so it is appropriate that they call them their Crowns.

Performances of note: Newcomer Zurin Villanueva shines as Yolanda, the young girl who goes to live with her grandmother, which is the driving force behind the story (if you could call it a story). Villanueva was cast in the part from an open audition and is a graduating senior at Howard. Her charisma and powerful voice will take her far. Natasha Yvette Williams is fantastic comic relief as Mabel. Though she is not the only one to deliver funny lines in the show, she is the one who delivers them with the best timing and spark. E. Faye Butler plays the grandmother of the story. Strong and courageous is how I would describe both the character and the performance. Her voice blew me away.

All told, it’s a fun show, and the best I’ve seen so far this spring. If you are looking for something to go to, go to this one.

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