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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Live Music at Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club

at Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, Bethesda
OFFER DATES:
Sun, February 25
Wed, February 28
Thu, March 01
+ 2 more dates
Sun, February 25
Wed, February 28
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Thu, April 19
[less-]
FULL PRICE: $20 - $60
OFFER PRICE: $10 - $30

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-]

Politics & Pints Capitol Hill Walking Tour

at US Capitol Building, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Sun, February 25
Mon, February 26
Tue, February 27
+ 1 more dates
Sun, February 25
Mon, February 26
Tue, February 27
Wed, February 28
[less-]
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-]

High School Secrets Come Out in "Speech & Debate"

at Theatre on the Run, Arlington
OFFER DATES:
Sun, February 25
Thu, March 01
Fri, March 02
+ 12 more dates
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[less-]
FULL PRICE: $20 - $30
OFFER PRICE: $10 - $15

Rebellious drama queen Diwata, "out and proud" Howie and nerdy but intense Solomon are outcasts in their puritanical town of Salem, Oregon. Linked by a local sex scandal, the unlikely trio join forces... [more+]

Rebellious drama queen Diwata, "out and proud" Howie and nerdy but intense Solomon are outcasts in their puritanical town of Salem, Oregon. Linked by a local sex scandal, the unlikely trio join forces to expose the truth. Secrets become currency, blogs are belted and "bathing suit areas" exposed in this dark comedy by Pulitzer Prize winner Stephen Karam ("The Humans") at Theatre on the Run in Arlington. [less-]

A Struggling Town Faces Drought in "River Like Sin"

at Callan Theatre, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Sun, February 25
FULL PRICE: $15
OFFER PRICE: $5

A dancing river is the last thing keeping this struggling farming community alive. Everything changes for them when young Wren Walker crosses the river on a dare and discovers the town ghost is an eld... [more+]

A dancing river is the last thing keeping this struggling farming community alive. Everything changes for them when young Wren Walker crosses the river on a dare and discovers the town ghost is an elderly woman whose tears keep the river flowing. As Wren continues to visit, the woman stops weeping and the land begins to dry up. When the crops wither and dust fills their lungs, the townspeople question their faith and grow angry, looking for something -- or someone -- to blame. Don't miss Lindsay Adams' "River Like Sin" at Callan Theatre in D.C. [less-]

Sexuality Explored in "No Word in Guyanese for Me"

at DC Arts Center, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Sun, February 25
Thu, March 01
Fri, March 02
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FULL PRICE: $35
OFFER PRICE: $21

Winner of the GLAAD Award, "No Word in Guyanese for Me" is a poetic exploration of a gay Muslim's journey to reconcile her faith and her sexuality. From a childhood in Guyana and adolescence in 9/11 N... [more+]

Winner of the GLAAD Award, "No Word in Guyanese for Me" is a poetic exploration of a gay Muslim's journey to reconcile her faith and her sexuality. From a childhood in Guyana and adolescence in 9/11 New York City, to a disastrous arranged marriage and sexual awakening, Hanna struggles to come to terms with her devotion to her faith and the right to be accepted for who she is. Brought to you by the Rainbow Theatre Project, this performance at the DC Arts Center is part of the 2018 Women's Voices Theatre Festival. [less-]

Dreams Alter Reality in "The Lathe of Heaven"

at Spooky Action Theater, Washington
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Sun, February 25
Thu, March 01
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FULL PRICE: $40
OFFER PRICE: $20

Blessed -- or cursed -- with dreams that actually alter reality, "The Lathe of Heaven" finds George Orr under the hand of a doctor eager to exploit this amazing phenomenon. Together, Doctor Haber deci... [more+]

Blessed -- or cursed -- with dreams that actually alter reality, "The Lathe of Heaven" finds George Orr under the hand of a doctor eager to exploit this amazing phenomenon. Together, Doctor Haber decides, they will remake the world. But it turns out that dreams won't be trained or coerced. As the good doctor uses his patient to tinker with reality, unintended con-sequences cascade and increase until the world itself begins to dissolve. Enjoy this classic tale of speculative fiction courtesy of Spooky Action Theater in Washington, DC. [less-]

"Blithe Spirit" by Noel Coward

at Annapolis Shakespeare Company's Main Stage, Annapolis
OFFER DATES:
Sun, February 25
FULL PRICE: $48
OFFER PRICE: $38

Noel Coward's high-spirited comedy! It's summertime in Kent and Charles Condomine is working on his latest novel, "The Unseen". As part of his research, he and his wife Ruth host a séance with an ecc... [more+]

Noel Coward's high-spirited comedy! It's summertime in Kent and Charles Condomine is working on his latest novel, "The Unseen". As part of his research, he and his wife Ruth host a séance with an eccentric medium known as Madame Arcati and invite their friends to play along. But the evening takes a supernatural turn when Arcati conjures Charles' deceased first wife, Elvira, who doesn't have plans to leave. Lighthearted and endearing, "Blithe Spirit", playing at Annapolis Shakespeare Company, is an otherworldly classic that's sure to tickle your goosebumps! [less-]

"Monuments by Night" Puts D.C. Landmarks on Display

at Smithsonian Metro Station, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Sun, February 25
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FULL PRICE: $56
OFFER PRICE: $33

See the majestic landmarks of Washington in a new light with the "Monuments by Night" tour. You'll get to skip the crowded sidewalks and cruise around town in an electric roadster. And you won't miss ... [more+]

See the majestic landmarks of Washington in a new light with the "Monuments by Night" tour. You'll get to skip the crowded sidewalks and cruise around town in an electric roadster. And you won't miss a thing -- this two-hour tour takes you past all the must-see locations in D.C. You'll check out the FDR, MLK and Lincoln memorials, and get the inside scoop on the White House, Capitol and Smithsonian buildings. You'll also get great tips on dining, drink and other awesome stops in the nation's capital. [less-]

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

at L'Enfant Plaza, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Sun, February 25
Sun, February 25
Mon, February 26
+ 28 more dates
Sun, February 25
Sun, February 25
Mon, February 26
Mon, February 26
Tue, February 27
Tue, February 27
Wed, February 28
Wed, February 28
Thu, March 01
Fri, March 02
Sat, March 03
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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-]

Discover D.C. On a Walking Foodie Tour of H Street

at Union Station - Main Lobby, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Sun, February 25
Mon, February 26
Tue, February 27
+ 1 more dates
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[less-]
FULL PRICE: $68
OFFER PRICE: $49

Not only does H Street have rich, cultural history, but it's also blossomed into one of the most diverse culinary scenes of the Capitol. Grab a little mix of everything, from Italian to Middle Eastern... [more+]

Not only does H Street have rich, cultural history, but it's also blossomed into one of the most diverse culinary scenes of the Capitol. Grab a little mix of everything, from Italian to Middle Eastern and American, on this Washington, D.C. food tour. A local guide will give you the inside scoop on the cuisines, the Corridor's sites, the juicy gossip of H Street and beyond. The fun begins at Union Station's Main Lobby. [less-]

Screwball Comedy "You Can't Take It With You"

at Laurel Mill Playhouse, Laurel
OFFER DATES:
Sun, February 25
Fri, March 02
Sat, March 03
+ 1 more dates
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FULL PRICE: $20
OFFER PRICE: $10

Have you ever been afraid to introduce your friends to your crazy family? Experience the hilarious mayhem that ensues when Tony, the attractive young son of the upper-crust Kirbys, falls in love with ... [more+]

Have you ever been afraid to introduce your friends to your crazy family? Experience the hilarious mayhem that ensues when Tony, the attractive young son of the upper-crust Kirbys, falls in love with Alice, the daughter of the highly-eccentric Sycamores, and brings his parents to dine at the Sycamore home on the wrong evening. George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart's delightful domestic comedy won the Pulitzer Prize in 1937. [less-]

A Theatrical Tribute to Billie Holiday

at Creative Cauldron, Falls Church
OFFER DATES:
Sun, February 25
FULL PRICE: n/a
OFFER PRICE: Sold Out

Helen Hayes Award-winning actress, Iyona Blake ("Caroline or Change"), returns to the Creative Cauldron in Falls Church to portray one of America's most iconic jazz legends. In 1959, Billie Holiday --... [more+]

Helen Hayes Award-winning actress, Iyona Blake ("Caroline or Change"), returns to the Creative Cauldron in Falls Church to portray one of America's most iconic jazz legends. In 1959, Billie Holiday -- or "Lady Day" as she was often called -- performed one of her final shows in a rundown bar in South Philly. In Robertson's award-winning play, Holiday engages the audience with salty and often humorous reminiscences of her troubled life as a traveling performer in the segregated south. With the help of her piano man, Jimmy Powers (played by Award-winning composer-actor Mark Meadows), she lets music tell her story -- sharing soulful, heart-wrenching and bawdy songs from her most memorable canon, including: "Strange Fruit," "God Bless the Child," "When a Woman Loves a Man," "T'Aint Nobody's Business If I Do" and "Gimme a Pigfoot (And a Bottle of Beer)." [less-]

"The Boys Next Door" Explores Life With Disabilities

at Sleepy Hollow United Methodist Church, Falls Church
OFFER DATES:
Sun, February 25
Thu, March 01
Fri, March 02
+ 1 more dates
Sun, February 25
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FULL PRICE: $20
OFFER PRICE: $10

"The Boys Next Door" provides a fly-on-the-wall glimpse inside a communal residence in New England where four mentally challenged men live under the supervision of an earnest, but increasingly burned ... [more+]

"The Boys Next Door" provides a fly-on-the-wall glimpse inside a communal residence in New England where four mentally challenged men live under the supervision of an earnest, but increasingly burned out young social worker named Jack. Brief vignettes reveal day-to-day life, where "little things" sometimes become momentous ... and often very funny. Moments of great poignancy remind us that these four -- like everyone else -- just want to love, laugh and find purpose in life. Tom Griffin's touching play originally debuted in 1988 and was adapted into an award-winning 1996 Hallmark Hall of Fame movie starring Tony Goldwyn and Nathan Lane. See it at Sleepy Hollow United Methodist Church courtesy of Port City Playhouse. [less-]

"Familiar": Fierce & Funny Family Comedy

at Woolly Mammoth Theatre, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Sun, February 25
Sun, February 25
FULL PRICE: $41
OFFER PRICE: $26.65

Her day job may be battling zombies on "The Walking Dead", but actress Danai Gurira also happens to be a Tony-nominated playwright (2016's "Eclipse"), whose 2015 work "Familiar" has been called "fierc... [more+]

Her day job may be battling zombies on "The Walking Dead", but actress Danai Gurira also happens to be a Tony-nominated playwright (2016's "Eclipse"), whose 2015 work "Familiar" has been called "fiercely funny" by "The New York Times". This inter-generational comedy finds a Minnesota bride wanting to observe a Zimbabwean tradition in honor of her heritage, which sets off a deep-rooted conflict with her immigrant parents. This new production comes to the stage at Woolly Mammoth Theatre in DC as part of the Women's Voices Theater Festival. [less-]

Dr. Ruth's Path From Israeli Sniper to Sex Expert

at Theater J at the Edlavitch DCJCC, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Sun, February 25
Thu, March 01
Fri, March 02
+ 4 more dates
Sun, February 25
Thu, March 01
Fri, March 02
Sat, March 03
Sun, March 04
Fri, March 09
Fri, March 16
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FULL PRICE: $35 - $69
OFFER PRICE: $17.50 - $34.50

Everyone knows Dr. Ruth Westheimer from her career as a pioneering and straight-talking radio and TV sex therapist. But few know the truly incredible journey that preceded it, which included a despera... [more+]

Everyone knows Dr. Ruth Westheimer from her career as a pioneering and straight-talking radio and TV sex therapist. But few know the truly incredible journey that preceded it, which included a desperate escape from the Nazis as a child, wartime service as an Israeli sniper and struggles as a single mother in America. In "Becoming Dr. Ruth: An Unexpected Journey", Naomi Jacobsen tells Dr. Ruth Westheimer's story with warmth and humor, charting the unlikely path that led her to become America's favorite sex therapist. This revealing one-woman performance comes to Theater J at the Edlavitch DCJCC in Washington, D.C. [less-]

Marriage, Motherhood & Identity in New Drama "Noura"

at Lansburgh Theatre, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Sun, February 25
Sun, February 25
FULL PRICE: $71 - $92
OFFER PRICE: $35.50 - $46

What does "home" mean and what will we do to protect it? As Noura and her husband Tareq prepare to celebrate their first Christmas as American citizens, she looks forward to welcoming a special guest ... [more+]

What does "home" mean and what will we do to protect it? As Noura and her husband Tareq prepare to celebrate their first Christmas as American citizens, she looks forward to welcoming a special guest -- Maryam, a young Iraqi refugee. But the girl's arrival upends the family, forcing them to confront where they are, where they've been and who they have become. "Noura" challenges our notions of modern marriage and motherhood through a portrait of Iraqi immigrants living in New York. In this world-premiere production, award-winning playwright and performer Heather Raffo ("Nine Parts of Desire") draws on personal stories of Arab American women responding to "A Doll's House", Henrik Ibsen's classic drama of one mother's quest to balance her duty with her identity. "Noura" is presented at D.C.'s Lansburgh Theatre as part of the Women's Voices Theater Festival. [less-]

"Hamlet" Starring Michael Urie ("Ugly Betty")

at Sidney Harman Hall, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Sun, February 25
Wed, February 28
Thu, March 01
+ 4 more dates
Sun, February 25
Wed, February 28
Thu, March 01
Fri, March 02
Sat, March 03
Sat, March 03
Sun, March 04
[less-]
FULL PRICE: $71 - $108
OFFER PRICE: $35.50 - $54

Drama Desk winner Michael Urie ("Buyer & Cellar, Ugly Betty") inhabits one of the greatest roles in the English language in Shakespeare Theatre Company's production of "Hamlet", directed by artistic d... [more+]

Drama Desk winner Michael Urie ("Buyer & Cellar, Ugly Betty") inhabits one of the greatest roles in the English language in Shakespeare Theatre Company's production of "Hamlet", directed by artistic director Michael Kahn. Chances are you've read the play or seen one of the movie adaptations; you know some of the immortal lines ("To be or not to be?"), but if you haven't seen Shakespeare's masterpiece live on stage, then you haven't fully experienced this thrilling tale of political intrigue, murder, madness and duels to the death. See why "Hamlet" remains one of the great works of art at this production at Sidney Harman Hall in Washington, D.C. [less-]

"Aubergine": A Stew of Family, Food, Love & Grief

at Olney Theatre Center - Mainstage, Olney
OFFER DATES:
Sun, February 25
Wed, February 28
Wed, February 28
+ 5 more dates
Sun, February 25
Wed, February 28
Wed, February 28
Thu, March 01
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[less-]
FULL PRICE: $64 - $74
OFFER PRICE: $32 - $37

Classically trained French chef Ray leaves his job behind to care for his dying father, a Korean immigrant. Ray's father never appreciated his son's culinary accomplishments, and therefore food painfu... [more+]

Classically trained French chef Ray leaves his job behind to care for his dying father, a Korean immigrant. Ray's father never appreciated his son's culinary accomplishments, and therefore food painfully divides the two, even as it serves as the key to memory and identity for all the characters in this off-Broadway hit. As much as the language of food perplexes his father, the Korean language vexes Ray even more. He finds himself asking his estranged girlfriend for translation assistance when his non-English-speaking uncle arrives with a bag full of strange ingredients. This perceptive drama from award-winning writer Julia Cho ("Big Love, Fringe") distills the flavors of rich characters and complicated yet intense relationships, serving up a life-affirming soup that soothes. Tony Nam stars as Ray in this Olney Theatre Center production of "Aubergine". [less-]

International Spy Museum: Enter the World of Secret Agents

at International Spy Museum, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Mon, February 26
Tue, February 27
Wed, February 28
+ 38 more dates
Mon, February 26
Tue, February 27
Wed, February 28
Thu, March 01
Fri, March 02
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Mon, March 05
Tue, March 06
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[less-]
FULL PRICE: $24.27
OFFER PRICE: $12 - $15

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-]

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

at Newseum, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Mon, February 26
Tue, February 27
Wed, February 28
+ 304 more dates
Mon, February 26
Tue, February 27
Wed, February 28
Thu, March 01
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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, including the Berlin Wall Gallery, which features eight 12-foot-high sections of the actual wall and a three-story East German guard tower. There are also 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-]

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