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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Acclaimed One-Man Odyssey Through America

at Atlas Performing Arts Center, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Fri, November 24
Sat, November 25
Sat, November 25
+ 9 more dates
Fri, November 24
Sat, November 25
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Sun, November 26
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FULL PRICE: $45 - $65
OFFER PRICE: $15 - $30

Inspired by 100 days traveling in a van through small-town America, actor-journalist Dan Hoyle enacts a multi-character encounter with the people at ground zero of our country's growing economic inequ... [more+]

Inspired by 100 days traveling in a van through small-town America, actor-journalist Dan Hoyle enacts a multi-character encounter with the people at ground zero of our country's growing economic inequality and polarized politics. Hoyle's quest to "break the liberal bubble" sends him on an unforgettable journey into the lives of the real Americans: union coal miners, rural drug dealers, anti-war Veterans and closeted gay creation theory experts, to name just a few. Find out why "The Huffington Post" hailed "The Real Americans" as "nothing short of brilliant: unsettling, poignant, and hilarious," when Mosaic Theater Company presents it at the Atlas Performing Arts Center in Washington, DC. [less-]

Politics & Pints Capitol Hill Walking Tour

at US Capitol Building, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Fri, November 24
Sat, November 25
Sun, November 26
+ 4 more dates
Fri, November 24
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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-]

"Twelfth Night": Shakespeare's Gender-Bending Comedy

at Sidney Harman Hall, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Fri, November 24
FULL PRICE: n/a
OFFER PRICE: Sold Out

If you ever find yourself in a sinking ship, just pray that you're as lucky as Viola, the heroine of Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night". When she washes ashore in a mysterious land called Illyria after a s... [more+]

If you ever find yourself in a sinking ship, just pray that you're as lucky as Viola, the heroine of Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night". When she washes ashore in a mysterious land called Illyria after a shipwreck, rather than scavenging for food and struggling to survive she finds herself dressing up as a man, falling in love and getting drawn into a gender-bending maze of mistaken identity and mismatched passions. While disguised as a man, Viola falls in love with Duke Orsinio, who himself is in love with Countess Olivia, who in turn falls in love with Viola, who she mistakes for a man. Filled with juicy comedic characters and beloved scoundrels, "Twelfth Night" features some of Shakespeare's wittiest wordplay -- and now it's coming to Washington, D.C.'s Sidney Harman Hall. [less-]

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

at Smithsonian Metro Station, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Fri, November 24
Sat, November 25
Sun, November 26
+ 4 more dates
Fri, November 24
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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-]

Smithsonian American Art Adventures

at Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Fri, November 24
Sun, November 26
Mon, November 27
+ 36 more dates
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Mon, November 27
Tue, November 28
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Fri, December 01
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[less-]
FULL PRICE: $30
OFFER PRICE: $15

Take a quirky tour of one of the most historic -- and underrated --buildings and museums in Washington, D.C. with Smithsonian American Art Adventures. You'll dive into American history through art whi... [more+]

Take a quirky tour of one of the most historic -- and underrated --buildings and museums in Washington, D.C. with Smithsonian American Art Adventures. You'll dive into American history through art while your guide regales you with amazing tales of the power players who shaped the country. At the same time, you'll be taking in one of the world's largest collections of art. [less-]

Felonious Munk's Journey From Prison to Primetime

at Woolly Mammoth Theatre, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Fri, November 24
Sat, November 25
Sat, November 25
+ 5 more dates
Fri, November 24
Sat, November 25
Sat, November 25
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Sun, November 26
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FULL PRICE: $41 - $69
OFFER PRICE: $24.60 - $41.40

It's tough to break into comedy -- and even tougher when you're starting out as an ex-drug dealer fresh off a six-year stint in state prison. Against all odds, in a country where the deck is more ofte... [more+]

It's tough to break into comedy -- and even tougher when you're starting out as an ex-drug dealer fresh off a six-year stint in state prison. Against all odds, in a country where the deck is more often than not stacked against a black man trying to get ahead, Felonious Munk did just that, first earning a six-figure position in corporate America before turning his attentions to comedy and landing a recurring guest spot on "The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore". In "Nothing to Lose (But Our Chains)", Munk takes to the stage at Washington, D.C.'s Woolly Mammoth Theatre with a cast of Chicago's sharpest comics to tell the harrowing and hilarious story of his story of breaking away from the street and into comedy. [less-]

Comedian Jon Dore ("Canada's Funny as Hell")

at Arlington Cinema 'N' Drafthouse, Arlington
OFFER DATES:
Fri, November 24
Fri, November 24
Sat, November 25
+ 1 more dates
Fri, November 24
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FULL PRICE: $20 - $25
OFFER PRICE: COMP - $12.50

Named one of "Variety"'s "10 Comics to Watch," Canadian comedian Jon Dore is renowned for his offbeat humor and unique bait-and-switch style. "Conan" viewers got a taste of that signature combo recent... [more+]

Named one of "Variety"'s "10 Comics to Watch," Canadian comedian Jon Dore is renowned for his offbeat humor and unique bait-and-switch style. "Conan" viewers got a taste of that signature combo recently when he walked onto the late-night stage to do standup (and sing!) shirtless, wearing an elaborate centaur costume. The host of HBO's "Canada's Funny as Hell", Dore's also worked comedy festivals and club crowds throughout North America. Now, the puckish rising star is headlining two nights' worth of shows at Arlington Cinema 'N' Drafthouse (where he will "probably" be dressed as a human). [less-]

Explore History of U.S. Through Music

at National Museum of American History, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Fri, November 24
Sat, November 25
Sun, November 26
+ 44 more dates
Fri, November 24
Sat, November 25
Sun, November 26
Mon, November 27
Tue, November 28
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Fri, December 01
Sat, December 02
Sun, December 03
Mon, December 04
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Mon, December 11
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FULL PRICE: $30
OFFER PRICE: $15

Travel through time and explore US history with a musical twist at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C! Learn about the origins and controversies of America's national anthem, d... [more+]

Travel through time and explore US history with a musical twist at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C! Learn about the origins and controversies of America's national anthem, discover the evolution of spiritual music into blues, jazz, rock n' roll, hip-hop and R&B, and live out your dream of becoming a hip-hop DJ by learning a funky beat -- all with your local guide by your side! [less-]

"A Child's Christmas in Wales"

at Undercroft Theatre, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Fri, November 24
Sat, November 25
Sat, November 25
+ 16 more dates
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Sat, November 25
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Sat, December 02
Sat, December 02
Sun, December 03
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Fri, December 08
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Sat, December 09
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FULL PRICE: $50 - $60
OFFER PRICE: $30

Holiday memories are treasured, but not always reliably reported. That's the theme of "A Child's Christmas in Wales & Other Stories," an evening of works adapted from Dylan Thomas, Charles Dickens, AA... [more+]

Holiday memories are treasured, but not always reliably reported. That's the theme of "A Child's Christmas in Wales & Other Stories," an evening of works adapted from Dylan Thomas, Charles Dickens, AA Milne, Louisa May Alcott and others, now receiving its world premiere in a warm and nostalgic production courtesy of the Washington Stage Guild at the Undercroft Theatre in DC. [less-]

Trump Satire "Vicuña & The American Epilogue"

at Atlas Performing Arts Center, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Fri, November 24
Sat, November 25
Sat, November 25
+ 7 more dates
Fri, November 24
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Sat, November 25
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Sat, December 02
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FULL PRICE: $45 - $65
OFFER PRICE: $15 - $25

What will the world look like eight years from now? It's a question a lot of classy people have been asking lately. The Pulitzer Prize finalist who wrote "Other Desert Cities" has an idea, and it make... [more+]

What will the world look like eight years from now? It's a question a lot of classy people have been asking lately. The Pulitzer Prize finalist who wrote "Other Desert Cities" has an idea, and it makes up the new epilogue of his huge Trumpian satire, "Vicuña". John de Lancie (you know, Q from "Next Generation" and "Breaking Bad") stars in this show, which originally premiered as a much-needed antidote to the 2016 election season. The action follows an Iranian tailor who has a tough job: making a custom suit for a real-estate tycoon preparing for the final presidential debate. Bring some laughter to the insanity at the terrific Atlas Performing Arts Center in Washington, D.C. [less-]

Obie-Winning Play "Top Girls"

at Keegan Theatre, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Fri, November 24
Sat, November 25
Sun, November 26
+ 2 more dates
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Fri, December 01
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FULL PRICE: $45
OFFER PRICE: $25

What is the meaning of success? That question is at the crux of Caryl Churchill's "Top Girls", the Obie Award-winning play making its premiere at the Keegan Theatre. This contemporary examination of a... [more+]

What is the meaning of success? That question is at the crux of Caryl Churchill's "Top Girls", the Obie Award-winning play making its premiere at the Keegan Theatre. This contemporary examination of a woman's role in society tells the story of a career-driven woman and the sacrifices she makes for her achievements. Featuring Churchill's famous dinner party scene placing five woman from five different historical periods, this powerful production explores the loss of humanity needed to attain power in a male-dominated environment. [less-]

Paul Morella Puts a Solo Spin on a Holiday Classic

at Olney Theatre Center - Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab, Olney
OFFER DATES:
Fri, November 24
Sat, November 25
Sat, November 25
+ 4 more dates
Fri, November 24
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Sat, November 25
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FULL PRICE: $40
OFFER PRICE: $20

Veteran D.C.-area actor Paul Morella ("The Pelican Brief", "The District", "The Wire") presents a fresh spin on Charles Dickens' beloved holiday tale in his one-man stage adaptation of "A Christmas Ca... [more+]

Veteran D.C.-area actor Paul Morella ("The Pelican Brief", "The District", "The Wire") presents a fresh spin on Charles Dickens' beloved holiday tale in his one-man stage adaptation of "A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story of Christmas". Adapted from Dickens' original novella and reading tour, Morella's solo version transports you back to Victorian England and into the heart of this classic morality tale. Experience the unforgettable characters and vivid imagery as Charles Dickens originally intended -- in his own words -- and rediscover this timeless classic presented as a masterful solo performance. This critically acclaimed production at Olney Theatre Center has become a holiday must-see. [less-]

"A Christmas Carol" Twist on the Holiday Favorite

at The Washington County Playhouse Dinner Theater and Children's Theater, Hagerstown
OFFER DATES:
Fri, November 24
Sat, November 25
Fri, December 01
+ 7 more dates
Fri, November 24
Sat, November 25
Fri, December 01
Sat, December 02
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FULL PRICE: $49.50
OFFER PRICE: $24.75

An original adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic tale of redemption and holiday cheer comes to the Washington County Playhouse Dinner Theater for the first time. "A Christmas Carol -- A Ghost Story ... [more+]

An original adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic tale of redemption and holiday cheer comes to the Washington County Playhouse Dinner Theater for the first time. "A Christmas Carol -- A Ghost Story of Christmas" is a haunting yet heartwarming -- and frequently very funny -- reimagining of the journey of miserly Ebenezer Scrooge and the three ghostly spirits that visit him on Christmas Eve. This adaptation of the classic tale puts the story's supernatural elements front and center for a high spirited and spooky production that prompted a critic for the Hartford "Advocate" to opine, "If Alfred Hitchcock had done "A Christmas Carol", he'd have done it exactly like this." [less-]

Stokley of Mint Condition: "Sonic Healer Tour"

at Howard Theatre, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Fri, November 24
FULL PRICE: $37.50
OFFER PRICE: $18.75

After over two decades as the lead vocalist for the incomparable hit-making R&B band Mint Condition, singer and two-time Grammy Award nominee Stokley charters a new course with his breathtaking debut ... [more+]

After over two decades as the lead vocalist for the incomparable hit-making R&B band Mint Condition, singer and two-time Grammy Award nominee Stokley charters a new course with his breathtaking debut solo album, "Introducing". Featuring guest appearances by the likes of Grammy-winning jazz pianist Robert Glasper and Estelle as well as production from multi-platinum duo Carvin Haggins & Ivan Barrias. "Introducing" is a refreshing artistic statement rooted in the soul music tradition from one of R&B's most remarkable voices. See Stokley take the stage of the Howard Theatre on his "Sonic Healer Tour". [less-]

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

at L'Enfant Plaza, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Fri, November 24
Fri, November 24
Sat, November 25
+ 11 more dates
Fri, November 24
Fri, November 24
Sat, November 25
Sat, November 25
Sun, November 26
Sun, November 26
Mon, November 27
Mon, November 27
Tue, November 28
Tue, November 28
Wed, November 29
Wed, November 29
Thu, November 30
Thu, November 30
[less-]
FULL PRICE: $56
OFFER PRICE: $28 - $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-]

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, November 24
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-]

Comedian Zainab Johnson ("Last Comic Standing")

at Drafthouse Comedy Theater, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Fri, November 24
Fri, November 24
Sat, November 25
+ 1 more dates
Fri, November 24
Fri, November 24
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[less-]
FULL PRICE: $20
OFFER PRICE: $10

"Last Comic Standing" semi-finalist Zainab Johnson hits D.C.'s Drafthouse Comedy Theater, delivering her signature real-talk observational comedy. She's graced the stage at the Just For Laughs Festiva... [more+]

"Last Comic Standing" semi-finalist Zainab Johnson hits D.C.'s Drafthouse Comedy Theater, delivering her signature real-talk observational comedy. She's graced the stage at the Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal and "The Arsenio Hall Show" and was the breakout star from HBO's "All Def Comedy". Johnson's known for her candor, quick wit and unflappable swagger, cracking jokes about dating, body image, her Harlem upbringing and her large family of 12 siblings. [less-]

Haunted Georgetown Walking Tour Unearths the Neighborhood's Scary Stories

at Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Fri, November 24
Fri, December 01
Fri, December 08
+ 4 more dates
Fri, November 24
Fri, December 01
Fri, December 08
Fri, December 15
Fri, December 22
Fri, December 29
Fri, January 05
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FULL PRICE: $20
OFFER PRICE: $10

Did you know that behind the history, architecture and genteel ambiance of one of D.C.'s finest neighborhoods lie deep, dark secrets about a forgotten past? DC By Foot's Haunted Georgetown Walking Tou... [more+]

Did you know that behind the history, architecture and genteel ambiance of one of D.C.'s finest neighborhoods lie deep, dark secrets about a forgotten past? DC By Foot's Haunted Georgetown Walking Tour takes you on an evening stroll through the historic streets of Georgetown, where you'll learn true tales of crime, tragedy, romance and lore. Throughout your 90-minute tour, you'll hear a historian's take on all the curses, eerie coincidences and creepy occurrences that make up the darker side of days gone by. The houses, churches and cemeteries of this now-tony neighborhood are still haunted by their past. Come find out why. [less-]

An Obsession Scares Up Vampires in "St. Nicholas"

at Writer's Center, Bethesda
OFFER DATES:
Fri, November 24
Sat, November 25
Tue, November 28
+ 9 more dates
Fri, November 24
Sat, November 25
Tue, November 28
Thu, November 30
Sat, December 02
Sun, December 03
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Fri, December 08
Sat, December 09
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Thu, December 14
Sat, December 16
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FULL PRICE: $30
OFFER PRICE: $15

Now coming to the stage at the Writer's Center in Bethesda, this critically acclaimed one-man show asks the audience to question whether a Dublin theater critic really did run into vampires while chas... [more+]

Now coming to the stage at the Writer's Center in Bethesda, this critically acclaimed one-man show asks the audience to question whether a Dublin theater critic really did run into vampires while chasing a young actress in London. "St. Nicholas" springs from the brilliant mind of Irish playwright Conor McPherson ("The Weir", "The Night Alive") and stars master McPherson interpreter Steve Beall. [less-]

Sample Wines & Local History on the All-Inclusive Monticello Wine Trail Tour

at Fruits & Roots Wine Tours - Town Center of Virginia Beach, Virginia Beach
OFFER DATES:
Sat, November 25
Sat, December 30
FULL PRICE: $250
OFFER PRICE: $175

Virginia is home to both exquisite local wineries and rich historical landmarks -- and the Monticello Wine Trail Tour brings the two together in an extraordinary pairing that's a perfect unique way to... [more+]

Virginia is home to both exquisite local wineries and rich historical landmarks -- and the Monticello Wine Trail Tour brings the two together in an extraordinary pairing that's a perfect unique way to spend the holiday season. This trip along the historic Monticello Wine Trail departs from Town Center of Virginia Beach and stops at wineries inspired by Thomas Jefferson's vision of winemaking. In addition to the wine tasting, this all-inclusive expedition features round-trip bus transportation, with complimentary continental breakfast and fruit mimosas, live historical entertainment, wine tasting at three of Virginia's most prominent wineries, shopping, sightseeing and lunch at Michie Tavern, a historic eatery that's been serving hungry travelers since 1784. [less-]

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