Metro Weekly

Festive Best Bets

These five holiday shows are slightly off-the-beaten path

John Waters

John Waters – Photo: Todd Franson/Metro Weekly

One could easily overindulge on culture this holiday season, with multiple takes on The Nutcracker, Handel’s Messiah and Charles Dickens on offer around town. Slightly off the beaten path, however, there are plenty of holiday shows and concerts worth seeking out, from the high-minded and serious to the lowbrow — or at least low-lying — and comical.

There couldn’t be a more glorious venue for a traditional celebration than the Washington National Cathedral, and the Cathedral Choral Society‘s Advent procession, the “Joy of Christmas,” takes full advantage of the Gothic edifice. J. Reilly Lewis leads the chorus in performances of beloved carols accompanied by the Washington Symphonic Brass as well as organist Todd Fickley. Saturday, Dec. 13, and Sunday, Dec. 14, at 4 p.m., at the Washington National Cathedral. Tickets are $75. Call 202-537-2228.

Every year, the Folger Consort offers a more interesting, scholarly spin on the Christmas tradition, with this year’s program focusing on seasonal music from the imperial courts during the Italian Renaissance. Anna Marsh and Christa Patton join the Consort as guest artists playing the medieval wind instrument called the shawm, as well as the recorder. Mark Rimple also accompanies on lute for the concerts Tuesday, Dec. 16, through Tuesday, Dec. 23, at the Folger Theatre, 201 E. Capitol St. SE. Tickets are $50. Call 202-544-7077.

Few music genres capture the festive Christmas spirit better than jazz, and this year’s brassiest best comes courtesy of The Capitol Bones Big Band. This local, all-brass band stops by Blues Alley for two concerts featuring local jazz vocalist Lena Seikaly performing renditions of Christmas classics first popularized by the late big band jazz pioneer Stan Kenton. Tuesday, Dec. 23, at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., at Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. Tickets are $22, plus $10 minimum purchase. Call 202-337-4141.

Of all the theatrical variations on Dickens, MetroStage offers what is no doubt the most entertaining, at least to musical theater queens. Kathy Feininger’s A Broadway Christmas Carol spins its Dickensian tale by adapting lyrics from familiar Broadway tunes, 30 or so in all, including The Music Man, Sweeney Todd and Annie. Peter Boyer is Chief Bah Humbugger in a cast that also includes director and choreographer Michael Sharp as The Man Who Isn’t Scrooge. Now to Sunday, Dec. 28, at MetroStage, 1201 North Royal St., Alexandria. Tickets are $50. Call 800-494-8497.

Last but not least is the Birchmere‘s yuk-fest featuring a certain Baltimore filmmaker. In A John Waters Christmas, the “Pope of Trash” explores the gay and sexual possibilities of the holiday, posing questions you’ve probably never pondered before, such as whether there is a “Santa hag” or a “flue queen.” Monday, Dec. 22, at 7:30 p.m., at the Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. Tickets are $49.50. Call 703-549-7500.

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Explore History of U.S. Through Music

at National Museum of American History, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Sat, November 18
Sun, November 19
Mon, November 20
+ 49 more dates
Sat, November 18
Sun, November 19
Mon, November 20
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Tue, December 26
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Tue, January 02
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[less-]
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-]

British Music Hall for the Holidays

at MetroStage, Alexandria
OFFER DATES:
Sat, November 18
Sat, November 18
Sun, November 19
+ 3 more dates
Sat, November 18
Sat, November 18
Sun, November 19
Wed, November 22
Sun, November 26
Sun, November 26
[less-]
FULL PRICE: $55 - $60
OFFER PRICE: $36 - $40

"Christmas at the Old Bull and Bush" transports you to London, circa 1912, where you'll be treated to a holiday-themed variety show in the classic style of the famed British music hall. Mistress of Ce... [more+]

"Christmas at the Old Bull and Bush" transports you to London, circa 1912, where you'll be treated to a holiday-themed variety show in the classic style of the famed British music hall. Mistress of Ceremonies Florrie Forde brings the mirth and mayhem via a sleighful of Christmas carols, comedy sketches, sing-alongs and more. A staple at the Old Vat Room at Arena Stage for years, this seasonal extravaganza now comes to MetroStage in Alexandria, where you can raise a pint and feast on traditional mince pies while enjoying the on-stage antics of Mr. Bertie Ramsbottom, Mr. Charles Archibald Potts and company. [less-]

Jazz Vocalist Cecily Salutes D.C.

at Atlas Performing Arts Center, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Sat, November 18
FULL PRICE: $25
OFFER PRICE: $12.50

Cecily is a D.C. vocalist and songwriter whose star is on the rise. She has opened for musical greats including Grammy-Award winning jazz and soul artist Gregory Porter, R&B stars Johnny Gill, Kenny L... [more+]

Cecily is a D.C. vocalist and songwriter whose star is on the rise. She has opened for musical greats including Grammy-Award winning jazz and soul artist Gregory Porter, R&B stars Johnny Gill, Kenny Lattimore, and Elle Varner, and alternative soul pioneer Bilal. Cecily performs an evening of music and storytelling dedicated to Washington, D.C. and its musical contributions to the world. Enjoy music by Duke Ellington, Gil Scott- Heron, Roberta Flack, Me'shell Ndegeocello, and more at the Atlas Performing Arts Center. [less-]

Chiarina Chamber Players: "Epic Journeys"

at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Sat, November 18
FULL PRICE: $15
OFFER PRICE: $7.50

Monumental drama on an epic scale -- from the early optimism of Beethoven, classical music's greatest hero, to the tragic passion of Dvorak, a composer he inspired -- is the theme of the latest concer... [more+]

Monumental drama on an epic scale -- from the early optimism of Beethoven, classical music's greatest hero, to the tragic passion of Dvorak, a composer he inspired -- is the theme of the latest concert from the Chiarina Chamber Players at St. Mark's Church. Violinist Lilit Gampel, cellist Robert La Rue and pianist Efi Hackmey are set to perform Beethoven's Trio in G Major and Dvorak's Trio in F Minor. [less-]

Trump Satire "Vicuña & The American Epilogue"

at Atlas Performing Arts Center, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Sat, November 18
Sat, November 18
Sun, November 19
+ 9 more dates
Sat, November 18
Sat, November 18
Sun, November 19
Mon, November 20
Tue, November 21
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FULL PRICE: $45 - $65
OFFER PRICE: $15 - $32.50

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-]

"Murals of Our City" Walking Tour

at Shaw Neighborhood, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Sat, November 18
FULL PRICE: $30
OFFER PRICE: $15

A cultural historian and certified tour guide leads this two-hour walking tour of the murals and historic sites in the Greater U Street Historic District. Once called a "city within a city," this neig... [more+]

A cultural historian and certified tour guide leads this two-hour walking tour of the murals and historic sites in the Greater U Street Historic District. Once called a "city within a city," this neighborhood became a hub of commercial, intellectual and cultural life for African Americans at the turn of the 20th century. You'll visit sites where important black leaders in the civil-rights movement, education, law and music made history, and you'll see the murals that artists painted in remembrance of that heritage. You'll also learn about those artists, the stories they tell about the neighborhood and the DC organizations who work to facilitate the creation and placement of these beautiful works of art. [less-]

"Disney's The Little Mermaid": A Fun Family Musical

at Carl Freeman Auditorium, Olney
OFFER DATES:
Sat, November 18
Sun, November 19
FULL PRICE: $20
OFFER PRICE: $12.50

"Disney's The Little Mermaid" invites your family on a magical journey "Under the Sea" with Ariel, a mermaid who's tired of flipping her fins in her aquatic kingdom alongside her crabby sidekick, Seba... [more+]

"Disney's The Little Mermaid" invites your family on a magical journey "Under the Sea" with Ariel, a mermaid who's tired of flipping her fins in her aquatic kingdom alongside her crabby sidekick, Sebastian. Ariel dreams of living in the fascinating world on dry land and will go to great lengths to get there, trading in her tail for human legs with some "help" from a sea witch named Ursula, in order to be by the side of the handsome Prince Eric. Based on the beloved Hans Christian Andersen tale and the classic animated film, with music by eight-time Academy Award winner Alan Menken, this production of the fishy fable captures hearts with irresistible songs like "Kiss the Girl," "Part of Your World" and more at Olney's Carl Freeman Auditorium. [less-]

Scenic Fall Fest River Cruise

at Washington Marina-National Ferry Corporation, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Sat, November 18
FULL PRICE: $45
OFFER PRICE: $22

Embrace your flannel shirts, infinity scarves and love for all things pumpkin aboard the Fall Fest River Cruise from the National Ferry Corporation at Washington Marina. What better way to usher in th... [more+]

Embrace your flannel shirts, infinity scarves and love for all things pumpkin aboard the Fall Fest River Cruise from the National Ferry Corporation at Washington Marina. What better way to usher in the fall than to see that beautiful autumn foliage from the water? Enjoy cider, pumpkin beer, wine or signature fall cocktails available for purchase. Whether you bring a loved one or meet someone new, you can enjoy the crisp air and bright colors on this stunning autumn cruise. [less-]

Meng Su: Classical Guitar Star Plays Bach & Beyond

at Westmoreland Congregational Church, Bethesda
OFFER DATES:
Sat, November 18
FULL PRICE: $35
OFFER PRICE: $17.50

As the 2015 gold medalist at the "Olympics of Classical Guitar," Meng Su won the admiration of audiences and critics (as well as $65,000 in prize money). Thanks to her precise technique and incredibly... [more+]

As the 2015 gold medalist at the "Olympics of Classical Guitar," Meng Su won the admiration of audiences and critics (as well as $65,000 in prize money). Thanks to her precise technique and incredibly expressive tone, Su brings classical guitar's rhythms and melodies to life with a rare, spellbinding power. Thus, few were surprised when her first album, "Maracaípe", was immediately nominated for a Grammy or when "Classical Guitar" proclaimed her an "inspiration for new generations of guitarists." Get inspired -- and be thrilled -- firsthand when Su makes her Marlow debut at the Westmoreland Congregational Church in Bethesda. [less-]

"The Bridges of Madison County": Romantic Musical Based on Beloved Novel

at Kensington Town Hall, Kensington
OFFER DATES:
Sat, November 18
FULL PRICE: $25
OFFER PRICE: $12.50

Inspired by the best-selling novel and critically acclaimed film, the theatrical adaptation of "The Bridges of Madison County" continues its legacy as one of the most romantic stories ever told. Set i... [more+]

Inspired by the best-selling novel and critically acclaimed film, the theatrical adaptation of "The Bridges of Madison County" continues its legacy as one of the most romantic stories ever told. Set in a sleepy Iowa town, the musical follows a bored housewife who finds her life forever changed when she meets a traveling "National Geographic" photographer. What begins as a chance encounter evolves into an exhilarating whirlwind of passion, desire and everlasting love in what's been hailed by "New York Daily News" as "one of Broadway's best in the last decade." Featuring a stunning soundtrack from Tony Award-winning composer Jason Robert Brown, this stirring production of Pulitzer Prize winner Marsha Norman's "The Bridges of Madison County" will sweep you off your feet at the Kensington Town Hall. [less-]

Portrait of Female Genius La Marquise du Châtelet

at Gunston Arts Center, Arlington
OFFER DATES:
Sat, November 18
Sat, November 18
Sun, November 19
FULL PRICE: $10 - $35
OFFER PRICE: $5 - $17.50

La Marquise du Châtelet was a woman born in the wrong era. A brilliant mathematician and physicist, she was the toast of the Enlightenment. Nevertheless, she's not a very well known historical figure... [more+]

La Marquise du Châtelet was a woman born in the wrong era. A brilliant mathematician and physicist, she was the toast of the Enlightenment. Nevertheless, she's not a very well known historical figure. Voltaire got it right when he said du Châtelet was "a great man whose only fault was being a woman." Now Lauren Gunderson's play "Emilie: La Marquise du Châtelet Defends Her Life Tonight" resurrects this fascinating personality. Emilie finds herself back in the world of the living, patting her body in surprise and wondering at the reason for her return. She soon becomes desperate to find out whether her challenge to one of Isaac Newton's equations was correct. "I died thinking: Was I right?" she explains. "Shortly followed by: Was I loved? Shortly followed by: Does either one really matter in the end?" This smart, surprising and sexy portrait of a true genius is onstage at the Gunston Arts Center in Arlington. [less-]

"My Name Is Asher Lev": Jewish Coming-of-Age Tale

at 1st Stage Theater, Tysons
OFFER DATES:
Sat, November 18
Thu, December 07
Thu, December 14
FULL PRICE: $33
OFFER PRICE: $16.50

In Aaron Posner's imaginative retelling of Chaim Potok's beloved novel, a young Jewish painter is torn between his Hassidic upbringing and his need to pursue his artistic voice. As art and faith colli... [more+]

In Aaron Posner's imaginative retelling of Chaim Potok's beloved novel, a young Jewish painter is torn between his Hassidic upbringing and his need to pursue his artistic voice. As art and faith collide in this humorous and compelling journey, Asher must choose between his community and his vast artistic promise. This stirring adaptation of a modern classic presents a heartbreaking and triumphant vision of what it means to be an artist. Be sure to see the show that "Talkin' Broadway" called "thought-provoking, humorous and deeply insightful" when it comes to 1st Stage Theater in Tysons just outside of D.C. [less-]

Provocative Retelling of Greek Myth

at Hartke Theatre Complex at Catholic University, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Sat, November 18
Sat, November 18
Sun, November 19
FULL PRICE: $15
OFFER PRICE: COMP - $5

A timely and timeless update of the ancient Greek myth of Philomel, "The Love of the Nightingale" finds two sisters separated by marriage and miles, until terrible circumstances finally bring them bac... [more+]

A timely and timeless update of the ancient Greek myth of Philomel, "The Love of the Nightingale" finds two sisters separated by marriage and miles, until terrible circumstances finally bring them back together. In a shocking act of retribution, the sisters exact revenge on the man who has abused them both, continuing a tragic cycle of violence that can only be interrupted by the gods. This provocative performance of "The Love of the Nightingale" can be seen at the Hartke Theatre Complex, courtesy of The Catholic University of America's Department of Drama. [less-]

"Omnium Gatherum": The "Perfect" Dinner Party

at Silver Spring Stage, Silver Spring
OFFER DATES:
Sat, November 18
FULL PRICE: $25
OFFER PRICE: $12.50

A domestic artist and the perfect hostess join forces to create the ultimate dinner party, which brings together an assortment of opinionated personalities at the Silver Spring Stage in the D.C. area.... [more+]

A domestic artist and the perfect hostess join forces to create the ultimate dinner party, which brings together an assortment of opinionated personalities at the Silver Spring Stage in the D.C. area. In "Omnium Gatherum", this surreal meal will approach bold topics like 9/11 and more in this impassioned Pulitzer Prize-nominated piece. [less-]

Smithsonian American Art Adventures

at Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Sat, November 18
Sun, November 19
Mon, November 20
+ 41 more dates
Sat, November 18
Sun, November 19
Mon, November 20
Tue, November 21
Wed, November 22
Fri, November 24
Sun, November 26
Mon, November 27
Tue, November 28
Wed, November 29
Thu, November 30
Fri, December 01
Sat, December 02
Sun, December 03
Mon, December 04
Tue, December 05
Wed, December 06
Thu, December 07
Fri, December 08
Sat, December 09
Sun, December 10
Mon, December 11
Tue, December 12
Wed, December 13
Thu, December 14
Fri, December 15
Sat, December 16
Sun, December 17
Mon, December 18
Tue, December 19
Wed, December 20
Thu, December 21
Fri, December 22
Sat, December 23
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Wed, December 27
Thu, December 28
Fri, December 29
Sat, December 30
Tue, January 02
Wed, January 03
Thu, January 04
Fri, January 05
Sat, January 06
[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-]

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

at L'Enfant Plaza, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Sat, November 18
Sat, November 18
Sun, November 19
+ 21 more dates
Sat, November 18
Sat, November 18
Sun, November 19
Sun, November 19
Mon, November 20
Mon, November 20
Tue, November 21
Tue, November 21
Wed, November 22
Wed, November 22
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-]

Silent Disco Dance Party: Groove to the Music You Choose

at The Embassy Row Hotel, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Sat, November 18
Sat, November 25
FULL PRICE: $16
OFFER PRICE: $8

Join in the most unique and memorable dance party in town at the Embassy Row Hotel in the heart of Washington, D.C.'s Dupont Circle neighborhood. Hit the dance floor as you choose from among three liv... [more+]

Join in the most unique and memorable dance party in town at the Embassy Row Hotel in the heart of Washington, D.C.'s Dupont Circle neighborhood. Hit the dance floor as you choose from among three live DJs playing everything from electro dance beats to throwback tunes to Deep House and Top 40 on your wireless headphones. Your selection lights up your headphones in a corresponding color, so you can synch up with others moving to the same music. Each ticket includes admission for one and headset rental. [less-]

Merry Mayhem in Holiday Comedy "A Tuna Christmas"

at Bowie Playhouse, Bowie
OFFER DATES:
Sat, November 18
Sun, November 19
FULL PRICE: $22
OFFER PRICE: Sold Out

Everything's bigger in Texas, and that includes Christmas. In fact, the overheated holiday spirit of one tiny Texas town is enough to melt the North Pole in "A Tuna Christmas". Radio station news pers... [more+]

Everything's bigger in Texas, and that includes Christmas. In fact, the overheated holiday spirit of one tiny Texas town is enough to melt the North Pole in "A Tuna Christmas". Radio station news personalities Thurston Wheelis and Arles Struvie report live on the holiday craziness that has gripped Tuna, Texas (population: 24), including an imperiled "A Christmas Carol" staging and a sabotaged yard-decorating contest. Enjoy this hilarious holiday play at the Bowie Playhouse. [less-]

Modern Art Tour at National Gallery East Wing

at National Gallery of Art East Building Information Desk, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Sat, November 18
FULL PRICE: $30
OFFER PRICE: $15

Professional museum tour guide Stephen Mead takes you through the National Gallery of Art's East Building, where you'll explore modern and contemporary art during this two-hour tour. He'll walk you an... [more+]

Professional museum tour guide Stephen Mead takes you through the National Gallery of Art's East Building, where you'll explore modern and contemporary art during this two-hour tour. He'll walk you and talk you through the stories of Pablo Picasso, Georgia O'Keefe, Claude Monet, Henri Matisse, Jackson Pollack, and Andy Warhol. View 40-plus pieces of modern art and learn what the message of each might be and get to know the artists behind them. Mead lived in London for several years, where he led exhibit tours of the Victoria and Albert Museum and gave talks for the UK National Arts Collection Fund. Since moving to DC, he has combined his love of museums with his professional storytelling skills, making his tours both educational and enjoyable. [less-]

"A Christmas Carol" Twist on the Holiday Favorite

at The Washington County Playhouse Dinner Theater and Children's Theater, Hagerstown
OFFER DATES:
Sat, November 18
Fri, November 24
Sat, November 25
+ 8 more dates
Sat, November 18
Fri, November 24
Sat, November 25
Fri, December 01
Sat, December 02
Sun, December 03
Fri, December 08
Sat, December 09
Sun, December 10
Fri, December 15
Sat, December 16
[less-]
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-]

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