Metro Weekly

Alexandria’s MetroStage turns 30

Alexandria's MetroStage celebrates three decades of providing powerful experiences

Metro Stage: 30th-anniversary and Three Sistahs Photo by Chris Banks

Three Sistahs – Photo: Chris Banks

“When you have a 130-seat theater with a semi-thrust stage,” Carolyn Griffin says, “you better have the best actors in town because there are no secrets on that stage.”

True to form, Griffin has consistently recruited the best actors for shows at Alexandria’s MetroStage. In fact, the 30-year-old outfit was originally named the American Showcase Theatre Company, “founded to showcase acting teachers and students.” Griffin changed the name after becoming artistic director a few years later, but never changed focus on presenting strong actors, working in tandem.

“I don’t think I’ve ever had a critic say I had an uneven cast,” asserts Griffin, who has numerous Helen Hayes Award nominations for best ensemble performance to prove it. “I take pride in … these kind of remarkable ensemble pieces that resonate with an audience. And because the audience is so close to the stage, it is really a very powerful theater experience.”

It’s also consistently not the kind of experience — or show — you can get elsewhere. “All you have to do is look in the back of American Theater magazine and you’ll see what the hot shows are,” Griffin says. “Everybody is doing the same shows — and we’re not.” Instead, MetroStage has made its name with less buzzy, history-steeped plays featuring just a couple actors — such as Athol Fugard’s The Island, on tap for next spring — and for small, intimate musicals generally focused on the cultural experiences and impact of African Americans. Griffin concedes this can add to the challenge of attracting audiences to MetroStage’s location of the past 12 years, in a developing but still off-the-beaten-path area near the Alexandria waterfront. But it’s worth it in the end, for her, and for audiences, too.

Take, for example, the musical that kicks off MetroStage’s 30th anniversary season. Directed by MetroStage’s most frequent collaborator, Atlanta-based Thomas W. Jones, who also wrote the book and lyrics, Three Sistahs features original gospel, R&B and funk music by William Hubbard, and focuses on sisters who reconnect at their father’s funeral. The show stars MetroStage veterans Bernardine Mitchell and Roz White, along with newcomer Ashley Ware Jenkins — “three of the most terrific African-American performers you’ll ever see on a stage any place,” Griffin boasts.

Noting one theatergoer who vowed to renew long lost ties to her own sister after seeing the show, Griffin says, “It’s leaving people with a powerful feeling as they leave the theater, and that is what I think theater is meant to do and should do.”

Three Sisters runs to Nov. 2 at MetroStage, 1201 North Royal St., Alexandria. Tickets are $55 to $60. Call 800-494-8497 or visit metrostage.org.

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"The Select": Elevator Repair Service's Thrilling Riff on "The Sun Also Rises"

at Lansburgh Theatre, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Thu, March 30
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+ 1 more dates
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FULL PRICE: $71 - $108
OFFER PRICE: $35.50 - $54

A stage littered with liquor bottles and café chairs transforms from a Parisian bistro to the banks of the Irati River in Spain. A bar table roars to life and charges a matador. Championed by "The Ne... [more+]

A stage littered with liquor bottles and café chairs transforms from a Parisian bistro to the banks of the Irati River in Spain. A bar table roars to life and charges a matador. Championed by "The New York Times" as "a lively riff on Hemingway's first and greatest novel," "The Select (The Sun Also Rises)"'s innovative staging reimagines the 1926 roman à clef via a fusion of artistic forms. As the story winds its way through France and Spain and lands in the heart of the Festival of San Fermín in Pamplona, Hemingway's narrator carries the heavy burdens of a war injury and his inability to have the woman he desires -- a woman whose romantic escapades he follows with bemused but painful fatalism. Don't miss this genre-defying work by acclaimed theatre ensemble Elevator Repair Service when it takes over D.C.'s Lansburgh Theatre. [less-]

One-Woman Show "Pike St.": Actress Nilaja Sun's Vibrant Characters of the Lower East Side

at Woolly Mammoth Theatre, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Thu, March 30
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FULL PRICE: $44 - $74
OFFER PRICE: $22 - $37

The Lower East Side comes alive in the hands of virtuosic Obie Award-winning actress Nilaja Sun ("No Child..."), whose new solo show "Pike St." centers on a struggling Puerto Rican family living in th... [more+]

The Lower East Side comes alive in the hands of virtuosic Obie Award-winning actress Nilaja Sun ("No Child..."), whose new solo show "Pike St." centers on a struggling Puerto Rican family living in the shadow of the Manhattan Bridge. With penetrating incisiveness, Sun tells the story of a desperate mother unable to move her stricken daughter down five flights of stairs during an approaching hurricane. As she works to keep the electricity flowing into her daughter's respirator, an entire community of vibrant characters offer their help, giving new meaning to the phrase "it takes a village." Watch in awe as she fully inhabits personas ranging from a decorated war veteran to an octogenarian neighbor in this raw and harrowing one-woman performance at Woolly Mammoth Theatre in Washington, D.C. [less-]

Politics & Pints Capitol Hill Walking Tour

at US Capitol Building, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Thu, March 30
FULL PRICE: $30
OFFER PRICE: $15

On the Politics & Pints Capitol Hill Tour, you'll explore the historic Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Discover the birthplace of American government while seeing iconic landmarks and le... [more+]

On the Politics & Pints Capitol Hill Tour, you'll explore the historic Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Discover the birthplace of American government while seeing iconic landmarks and learning fascinating history on this two-hour walking tour. Cap it all off by grabbing a drink in the city's oldest commercial district. [less-]

International Spy Museum: Enter the World of Secret Agents

at International Spy Museum, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Thu, March 30
Fri, March 31
Sat, April 01
+ 141 more dates
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[less-]
FULL PRICE: $23.21
OFFER PRICE: $10 - $13

From real-life spy gadgets to the stories behind the coolest secret agents in movies, the International Spy Museum is the first and only public museum in the United States dedicated solely to the worl... [more+]

From real-life spy gadgets to the stories behind the coolest secret agents in movies, the International Spy Museum is the first and only public museum in the United States dedicated solely to the world of espionage. Upon arrival, you'll be given a secret identity, which you'll use to test your spy skills throughout the experience. Then, you'll explore a series of themed rooms, where you'll hear historic tales, examine artifacts and participate in activities. Get ready for exhibits like "Spies Among Us", which focuses on WWII-era German and Russian spy rings, and "Exquisitely Evil", a tribute to the villains of cinema's most famous spy -- James Bond. "Exquisitely Evil" features more than 100 film artifacts from both old and new Bond movies, plus interactive exhibits that allow you to take over the controls of a villain's lair, brave the depths of a virtual shark tank, play spy vs. spy with other visitors, disarm a missile before time runs out and more. [less-]

"The Night Alive": Poignant, Stunning Drama by Conor McPherson

at Atlas Performing Arts Center, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Thu, March 30
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+ 7 more dates
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FULL PRICE: $35 - $40
OFFER PRICE: $17.50 - $20

In "The Night Alive", Tommy is a down-on-his-luck Irish bloke who finds that his one good deed will not go unpunished. A slovenly sort who's taken up residence in his uncle's Dublin house, Tommy and h... [more+]

In "The Night Alive", Tommy is a down-on-his-luck Irish bloke who finds that his one good deed will not go unpunished. A slovenly sort who's taken up residence in his uncle's Dublin house, Tommy and his best friend Doc have eked out an existence running odd jobs and plotting get-rich-quick schemes. But when he returns one night after rescuing battered and bloodied prostitute Aimee, his spontaneous act of decency brings about a glimmer of new possibilities, even as echoes from the past and the looming specter of death threaten to take it all away. Warm, wistfully funny and magical in spite of its meager surroundings, Irish playwright Conor McPherson's "The Night Alive" observes the small moments of grace that illuminate our lives and deliver us from the darkness. Experience it now at the Atlas Performing Arts Center in Washington, D.C. [less-]

Comedian Matteo Lane (MTV2's "Guy Code" & MTV's "Girl Code")

at Drafthouse Comedy Theater, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Thu, March 30
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+ 2 more dates
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FULL PRICE: $20
OFFER PRICE: $10

Best known from MTV2's "Guy Code" and MTV's "Girl Code", comedian Matteo Lane draws on his life growing up gay in the Midwest for laughs. In his high-energy stand-up he jumps from coming out to his da... [more+]

Best known from MTV2's "Guy Code" and MTV's "Girl Code", comedian Matteo Lane draws on his life growing up gay in the Midwest for laughs. In his high-energy stand-up he jumps from coming out to his dad by singing opera to doing an impression of Christina Aguilera oversinging the alphabet. He's also appeared on hit shows like "Clipped", "Moving On", Comedy Central's "The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore" and Adam Devine's "House Party". Catch Lane live at Drafthouse Comedy Theater in D.C. [less-]

Relive the News Stories That Have Shaped Our Lives at the Newseum

at Newseum, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Thu, March 30
Fri, March 31
FULL PRICE: $15.81 - $26.38
OFFER PRICE: $11.50 - $17

Stories of the world come alive at the Newseum, where you can go behind the scenes to experience how and why news is made. See some of the final photographs of the only journalist who died covering th... [more+]

Stories of the world come alive at the Newseum, where you can go behind the scenes to experience how and why news is made. See some of the final photographs of the only journalist who died covering the 9/11 attacks, witness the epic struggle of the civil rights movement in the '60s, marvel at a comprehensive collection of Pulitzer Prize-winning photographs and hear never-before-told stories from the journalists and photographers who stood on the front lines of history. This high-tech museum features seven levels of galleries and exhibits, theaters, retail spaces and visitor services where you can explore electronic news, unique artifacts, photojournalism, news history and world news. And, since there's so much to see, your ticket is good for two consecutive days. Take your time and see half the first day, then return the next day to catch what you missed. [less-]

Tour the Capital Sites on the Washington D.C. Unveiled Electric Roadster Tour

at L'Enfant Plaza, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Thu, March 30
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FULL PRICE: $56
OFFER PRICE: $33

If a full day of walking the National Mall and visiting the D.C. monuments sounds exhausting, skip the crowded sidewalks and cruise around in a slick electric roadster. You'll get to visit all the sit... [more+]

If a full day of walking the National Mall and visiting the D.C. monuments sounds exhausting, skip the crowded sidewalks and cruise around in a slick electric roadster. You'll get to visit all the sites on your list while getting first-class treatment as your Urban Adventures tour guide shuttles you between the Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Abraham Lincoln memorials, while providing the inside scoop on the White House, Capitol Building and Smithsonian Museum. During your guided tour of just over two hours, you'll also get great tips on other things to see in D.C., plus suggestions for the best places to eat and drink in the capital. [less-]

Harper Lee's Powerful Novel Takes Flight On Stage

at James Lee Community Center, Falls Church
OFFER DATES:
Thu, March 30
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FULL PRICE: $20
OFFER PRICE: $8 - $10

Few perspectives on American society have been as perceptive or as poignant as that of young Scout Finch, the heroine of Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "To Kill a Mockingbird". Adapted for ... [more+]

Few perspectives on American society have been as perceptive or as poignant as that of young Scout Finch, the heroine of Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "To Kill a Mockingbird". Adapted for the stage by Christopher Sergel ("Winesburg, Ohio"), this moving play follows Scout's journey as her father Atticus defends a black man framed for a crime he did not commit. As the trial progresses, Scout and her brother Jem witness their community divided over issues of racism and justice. The Providence Players brings this powerful story to the James Lee Community Center in Falls Church. [less-]

"Parade": Powerful Musical Based on Real-Life Murder

at Keegan Theatre, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Thu, March 30
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FULL PRICE: $55
OFFER PRICE: $35

Alfred Uhry's Tony Award-winning "Parade" dramatizes the racially-charged trial of Leo Frank, a Jewish factory manager wrongly accused of brutally raping and murdering a 13-year-old worker under his c... [more+]

Alfred Uhry's Tony Award-winning "Parade" dramatizes the racially-charged trial of Leo Frank, a Jewish factory manager wrongly accused of brutally raping and murdering a 13-year-old worker under his charge. As press whips the public into an outraged frenzy, Frank's only hope lies in a brave crusade for justice led by the Southern wife he never understood, among a people that never understood him. This transformational story -- based on an actual case -- is part murder mystery and part social commentary about a country whose behavior is often at odds with its declarations of equality. Experience this powerful musical at the Keegan Theatre in Washington DC. [less-]

Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club: The Best Live Music & More

at Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, Bethesda
OFFER DATES:
Thu, March 30
Thu, April 06
Fri, April 07
FULL PRICE: $25 - $55
OFFER PRICE: $12.50 - $27.50

Thanks to a recent $8 million renovation, the gorgeous art-deco Bethesda Theatre is now Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, a hot spot for live music, dining and drinking. The club offers great enterta... [more+]

Thanks to a recent $8 million renovation, the gorgeous art-deco Bethesda Theatre is now Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, a hot spot for live music, dining and drinking. The club offers great entertainment from top national blues and jazz artists, plus the best talent from the mid-Atlantic region, in an intimate setting with excellent acoustics. Enjoy a great dinner served up with a heaping side of blues and jazz -- Executive Chef William Pack Jr. has created a Creole/Cajun-inspired menu with a bevy of mouthwatering choices, including delicious desserts. [less-]

Shaw's SciFi Satire "Back to Methuselah: As Far as Thought Can Reach"

at Undercroft Theatre, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Thu, March 30
Fri, March 31
Sat, April 01
+ 12 more dates
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FULL PRICE: $50 - $60
OFFER PRICE: $25 - $30

In 2014, the Washington Stage Guild set out on a ambitious multiyear quest to produce George Bernard Shaw's five-part 1922 play cycle, "Back to Methuselah". And as their 30th anniversary season comes ... [more+]

In 2014, the Washington Stage Guild set out on a ambitious multiyear quest to produce George Bernard Shaw's five-part 1922 play cycle, "Back to Methuselah". And as their 30th anniversary season comes to a climax, so does their monumental undertaking. One of the very first works of science fiction-fantasy ever to appear in a theater, these rarely-seen plays by the Nobel Prize-winning satirist ("Pygmalion, Major Barbara, Saint Joan"), start with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and conclude here in the year 31,920 AD, as mankind has evolved towards immortality. "As Far as Thought Can Reach" posits a world where a group of youngsters learn some lessons of life -- and the afterlife -- from the "Ancients." Catch up on the entire "Methuselah Project" at DC's Undercroft Theatre, with a series of readings and related events. [less-]

"Blood Knot": Athol Fugard's Revolutionary Drama

at Atlas Performing Arts Center, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Thu, March 30
Fri, March 31
Sat, April 01
+ 22 more dates
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FULL PRICE: $20 - $60
OFFER PRICE: $10 - $30

Set in apartheid South Africa, two biracial brothers grapple with isolation and poverty. Directed by Joy Zinoman, this powerful, two-man play addresses race through familial ties. Brothers Zachariah a... [more+]

Set in apartheid South Africa, two biracial brothers grapple with isolation and poverty. Directed by Joy Zinoman, this powerful, two-man play addresses race through familial ties. Brothers Zachariah and Morris live in a one-room shack and share a mother, but different fathers. Morris can pass for white, but dark-skinned Zachariah feels trapped in his job at a whites-only park. Together, they let their imaginations run wild with role-playing games they create within their constrained world. When they start a pen-pal relationship with a white girl, the games take a dangerous and bizarre twist. Don't miss this production at the Atlas Performing Arts Center in Washington, D.C. [less-]

Follow the Lincoln Assassination Conspiracy Through D.C.

at Ford's Theatre, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Thu, March 30
Sat, April 01
Wed, April 05
FULL PRICE: $17
OFFER PRICE: $8.50

One of Washington D.C.'s most famous historical events, the assassination of President Lincoln, comes to life on the city streets. This History on Foot walking tour is led by an actor in costume, shar... [more+]

One of Washington D.C.'s most famous historical events, the assassination of President Lincoln, comes to life on the city streets. This History on Foot walking tour is led by an actor in costume, sharing little-known facts and moment-by-moment commentary about the events of April 14 and 15, 1865. Starting outside of Ford's Theatre, you'll hear all about the moments leading up to Lincoln's shooting as he and his wife watched the night's performance. You'll then visit a number of historical sites, ending up at the White House. As you walk, a guide portraying the detective who was on duty the night of the crime will give details about the assassination conspiracy, how the crime was carried out, and the simultaneous efforts to save Lincoln's life and find the person who pulled the trigger. [less-]

"Well" Examines Mothers, Daughters, Sickness and Health

at 1st Stage Theater, Tysons
OFFER DATES:
Thu, March 30
Thu, April 06
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+ 1 more dates
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FULL PRICE: $30
OFFER PRICE: $15

"This play is not about my mother and me." So begins this autobiographical play by Lisa Kron, the Tony Award-winning writer and lyricist best known for her Broadway hit "Fun Home". Despite Kron's clai... [more+]

"This play is not about my mother and me." So begins this autobiographical play by Lisa Kron, the Tony Award-winning writer and lyricist best known for her Broadway hit "Fun Home". Despite Kron's claim at the beginning of the play, "Well" delves deep into the relationship between Kron and her chronically ill, semi-invalid mother. As Kron tries to share stories from her upbringing with the audience, her mother and other characters from her past routinely break character to correct Lisa's version of events and chat with her mother about her life. This tragicomic, self-referential journey is coming to the 1st Stage Theater in Tysons. [less-]

Comedian Jimmy Carr's "The Best Of, Ultimate, Gold, Greatest Hits Tour"

at Warner Theatre, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Thu, March 30
FULL PRICE: $32
OFFER PRICE: $22

One of the latest in a long line of British funnymen to set sail for the New World, comedian Jimmy Carr is poised to become just as big in the States as he is back home. This is your chance to laugh y... [more+]

One of the latest in a long line of British funnymen to set sail for the New World, comedian Jimmy Carr is poised to become just as big in the States as he is back home. This is your chance to laugh your way onto the bandwagon when he brings his "The Best Of, Ultimate, Gold, Greatest Hits Tour" to D.C.'s Warner Theatre. On British TV, Jimmy is known as the host of "8 Out of 10 Cats", while in the U.S. he's performed on "The Tonight Show", "Conan" and the "Comedy Central Roast of Rob Lowe". [less-]

"Dry Land" & "What Every Girl Should Know" -- Two D.C. Premieres in Repertory

at Silver Spring Black Box Theatre, Silver Spring
OFFER DATES:
Thu, March 30
Sat, April 01
Wed, April 05
+ 3 more dates
Thu, March 30
Sat, April 01
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[less-]
FULL PRICE: $30 - $35
OFFER PRICE: $15 - $17.50

Set in the locker room of a Florida high school, "Dry Land" examines an unlikely and touching friendship between two teen girls, one of whom has enlisted the other to help her terminate an unwanted pr... [more+]

Set in the locker room of a Florida high school, "Dry Land" examines an unlikely and touching friendship between two teen girls, one of whom has enlisted the other to help her terminate an unwanted pregnancy. Nominated for a Susan Blacksmith Prize, "Dry Land" premiered in a sold-out Off-Broadway run that the "New York Times" called, "Tender, caustic, funny and harrowing, often all at the same time." Held in repertory with Monica Byrne's "What Every Girl Should Know", these two plays make their D.C. premieres at the Silver Spring Black Box Theatre. [less-]

See the Cherry Blossoms on a Springtime Harbor Cruise

at Washington Marina-National Ferry Corporation , Washington
OFFER DATES:
Thu, March 30
Fri, March 31
Sat, April 01
+ 39 more dates
Thu, March 30
Fri, March 31
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FULL PRICE: $38.50
OFFER PRICE: COMP - $19

After a long, cold winter, it's always great to celebrate spring once it's officially sprung. Step aboard one of National Ferry Fleet's luxurious vessels, and set sail on the Potomac, taking in the ca... [more+]

After a long, cold winter, it's always great to celebrate spring once it's officially sprung. Step aboard one of National Ferry Fleet's luxurious vessels, and set sail on the Potomac, taking in the capital's glorious landmarks and the gorgeous cherry trees -- which, if you're lucky, will be in full bloom. You've only got a limited window of time to soak in the beauty of the blossoms and capture panoramic photos commemorating the occasion, so don't miss this unique way to view one of D.C.'s most popular annual events. During your hour on board, let the wind blow through your hair on an outdoor deck, or relax in the climate-controlled interior cabin, and enjoy snacks and refreshments available for purchase from two onboard bars. [less-]

"Mnemonic": Innovative Drama About Memory and Migration

at Anacostia Playhouse, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Thu, March 30
Fri, March 31
Sat, April 01
+ 6 more dates
Thu, March 30
Fri, March 31
Sat, April 01
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[less-]
FULL PRICE: $40
OFFER PRICE: $20

You can't tell the story of humans without telling the story of migration -- and the new play "Mnemonic" does just that. Featuring innovative design, contemporary technology and striking visuals, this... [more+]

You can't tell the story of humans without telling the story of migration -- and the new play "Mnemonic" does just that. Featuring innovative design, contemporary technology and striking visuals, this Theater Alliance production will explore interconnectedness in a world where people are constantly moving. See it when it takes the stage of The Anacostia Playhouse in Washington, D.C. [less-]

Bobby McKey's Dueling Piano Show: Hear the Hits in Fun, Interactive Show

at Bobby McKey's Dueling Piano Bar, National Harbor
OFFER DATES:
Fri, March 31
Fri, April 07
Fri, April 14
+ 1 more dates
Fri, March 31
Fri, April 07
Fri, April 14
Fri, April 28
[less-]
FULL PRICE: $15
OFFER PRICE: $8.50

Just try and stump the talented singer-piano duo on stage each night at Bobby McKey's. Whether it's Beyoncé or Beethoven, Jay Z or ZZ Top, Meatloaf or Mozart, these guys are sure to have it covered. ... [more+]

Just try and stump the talented singer-piano duo on stage each night at Bobby McKey's. Whether it's Beyoncé or Beethoven, Jay Z or ZZ Top, Meatloaf or Mozart, these guys are sure to have it covered. DC's only dueling piano bar hosts these entertaining and interactive shows, where the wait staff has been known to jump on stage to perform choreographed dance routines and where you and your friends are encouraged to get in on the action as well. Plus, Bobby McKey's boasts a full bar with specialty drinks, beer on tap and plenty of snacks and sandwiches to order. [less-]

Doug Rule covers the arts, theater, music, food, nightlife and culture as contributing editor for Metro Weekly.