Metro Weekly

Out On the Town: D.C. arts & entertainment, December 21-27

Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) and Finn (John Boyega) in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Photo: Lucasfilm Ltd.

FILM

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME

Oliver (Armie Hammer) is an academic who comes to stay at a family’s villa in 1980s Italy. There, he strikes up a bond with 17-year-old Elio (Timothée Chalamet), one that changes both men’s lives as their desire for one another takes over. Luca Guadagnino directs the coming-of-age tale, based on the book by André Aciman, and critics are falling head-over-heels for its intellectual eroticism. Could it be this year’s Moonlight? Now playing. Area theaters. Visit fandango.com. (Rhuaridh Marr)

DOWNSIZING

The solution to humanity’s overpopulation problem? Shrink people down to just five inches tall. That’s the life husband and wife Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig choose in a comedy drama from Oscar-winner Alexander Payne (SidewaysThe Descendants), opting to live in an idyllic miniaturized community. Obviously, not everything is perfect, and critics are somewhat split over whether the ensuing dilemmas and realizations are worth watching. Opens Friday, Dec. 22. Area theaters. Visit fandango.com. (RM)

CASABLANCA

What is billed as the most popular and enduring screen romance of all time closes out the year — and kicks off 2018 — as part of Landmark’s West End Cinema Capital Classics. The 1943 Oscar-winning drama, directed by Michael Curtiz (Mildred Pierce) and set in the throes of World War II, stars Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. Screenings are Wednesdays, Dec. 27, and Jan. 3, at 1:30, 4:30, and 7:30 p.m., 2301 M St. NW. Happy hour from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $12.50. Call 202-534-1907 or visit landmarktheatres.com.

MIRACLE ON 8TH STREET: CHRISTMAS CLASSICS

The recently renovated Miracle Theatre in the Barracks Row section of Capitol Hill ends its run of holiday-themed favorites with a lineup including: Robert Zemeckis’ animated The Polar Express starring Tom Hanks on Friday, Dec. 22, at 3:30 p.m.; an early Christmas classic, White Christmas starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, and Rosemary Clooney, on Friday, Dec. 22, at 6 p.m.; Will Ferrell’s popular turn in the 2003 comedy Elf on Friday, Dec. 22, at 8:45 p.m.; and the James Stewart signature It’s A Wonderful Life on Saturday, Dec. 23, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $6 to $8. 535 8th St. SE. Call 202-400-3210 or visit themiracletheatre.com.

PITCH PERFECT 3

Much as Pitch Perfect 2 wasn’t as good as Pitch Perfect, expect this second sequel to have even less of the original’s wit and charm. Still, it should make for good holiday fun, as Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, and Brittany Snow return for more a capella fun. Opens Friday, Dec. 22. Area theaters. Visit fandango.com. (RM)

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI

★★★★★

The Last Jedi, thrillingly directed by Rian Johnson, is not just magnificent, it’s spectacularly magnificent. It’s easily the best Star Wars since 1980’s Empire, and if it doesn’t quite match that film’s narrative density, it’s certainly not for lack of trying. Johnson has crafted a storyline that pays tribute to the past but also stares headfirst into an uncertain future, taking the story in powerful unexpected directions. The visuals are intense and strong, particularly during the final, dazzling 45 minutes. The score, by John Williams, has never been more potent or meaningful. The action is mind-boggling and masterful, and features a jaw-dropping lightsaber battle that is going to be nearly impossible to top. Fisher, in her last film role, brings an essential heart and warmth to The Last Jedi that is soothing and calming. Similarly, Hamill gives a finely honed, resonant performance and Last Jedi honors both the character of Luke, so vital to the series as a whole, and to the actor himself. Torches, however, have been passed, and Daisy Ridley’s Rey is the new centerpiece. Far be it from me to spoil the narrative’s ride, other than to say the ride is well beyond amazing. The film is two and a half hours long, making it the longest installment of the series. And yet, you never want it to end. Now playing. Area theaters. Visit fandango.com. (Randy Shulman)

THE GREATEST SHOWMAN

P.T. Barnum gave the world what would become the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, dubbed “The Greatest Show on Earth.” This musical drama puts Hugh Jackman in the title role as Barnum, portraying him as a visionary showman who launched a revolutionary touring circus. Surrounded by Zac Efron, Michelle Williams, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, and oodles of razzle-dazzle and period style, it’ll be easy to forget that those same circuses also ushered in a century of animal rights issues, forcing tigers, elephants and more to perform unnatural tricks across America. Perhaps just stay in and watch something on Netflix instead. Now playing. Area theaters. Visit fandango.com. (RM)

An Irish Carol at The Keegan Theatre — Photo: Mike Kozemchak

STAGE

A CHRISTMAS CAROL

Craig Wallace returns as the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge in Ford’s Theatre’s production of Dickens’ Yuletide classic. The music-infused adaptation was originally conceived by Michael Baron. Closes Sunday, Dec. 31. Ford’s Theatre, 511 10th St. NW. Call 800-982-2787 or visit fordstheatre.org.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL: A GHOST STORY OF CHRISTMAS

Olney Theatre Center presents another seasonal run of the one-man portrayal of the Dickens classic by Paul Morella, who bases his adaptation on Dickens’ original novella and reading tour. Closes Sunday, Dec. 31. The Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab, 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, Olney, Md. Call 301-924-3400 or visit olneytheatre.org.

AN AMERICAN IN PARIS

The Kennedy Center presents the four-time Tony-winning musical from 2015 based on the classic film, directed by Christopher Wheeldon and featuring a magical George and Ira Gershwin score and a book by Craig Lucas. To Jan. 7. Kennedy Center Opera House. Tickets are $59 to $175. Call 202-467-4600 or visit kennedy-center.org.

AN IRISH CAROL

For the sixth year in a row, Keegan Theatre offers company member Matthew Keenan’s homage to Dickens, albeit with biting Irish humor and incisive candor. Mark A. Rhea directs a cast featuring himself plus Kevin Adams, Josh Sticklin, Timothy Lynch, Mike Kozemchak, Christian Montgomery, Caroline Dubberly, and Daniel Lyons. Closes Sunday, Dec. 31. Keegan Theatre, 1742 Church St. NW. Tickets are $35 to $45. Call 202-265-3768 or visit keegantheatre.com.

ANNIE

The sun’ll come out tomorrow and every day this holiday season at Olney Theatre Center. Forty years after composer Charles Strouse, lyricist Martin Charnin, and book writer Thomas Meehan teamed up for the feel-good musical about a determinedly optimistic little orphan girl, countless other, real-life kids have been inspired by the popular work to become theater performers (or at least theater queens) in their own right. The latest is Noelle Robinson, who heads a cast of 32, including Rachel Zampelli as Miss Hannigan, Kevin McAllister as Daddy Warbucks, and Wilson Jermaine Heredia as Rooster Hannigan. Extended to Sunday, Jan. 7. Mainstage, Olney-Sandy Spring Road, Olney, Md. Call 301-924-3400 or visit olneytheatre.org.

Christmas at the Old Bull and Bush — Photo: Chris Banks

CHRISTMAS AT THE OLD BULL AND BUSH

Catherine Flye’s cheery holiday tale centers on patrons at a pub telling corny jokes and singing British music hall songs and Christmas carols. Originally presented at the turn of the millennium by Arena Stage, some of the original cast members now take to Alexandria’s MetroStage for a toast to the holidays that includes sing-alongs and an abbreviated reenactment of Dickens’ Christmas Carol, plus a few surprises along the way. Closes Sunday, Dec. 24. MetroStage, 1201 North Royal St., Alexandria. Call 703-548-9044 or visit metrostage.org.

LES MISERABLES

The National Theatre plays host to a touring production of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg’s Tony-winning musical phenomenon, featuring new staging and reimagined scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo. Now to Jan. 7. National Theatre, 1321 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Call 202-628-6161 or visit thenationaldc.org.

LOOKINGGLASS ALICE

Go down the rabbit hole with the whole family in David Catlin’s contemporary retelling putting a fresh, modern twist on the Lewis Carroll classic tale. Jeremy B. Cohen directs. Closes Sunday, Dec. 31. Baltimore Center Stage, 700 North Calvert St., Baltimore. Call 410-332-0033 or visit centerstage.org.

MY NAME IS ASHER LEV

Virginia’s 1st Stage presents Aaron Posner’s imaginative retelling of Chaim Potok’s beloved novel about a young Jewish painter torn between his Hasidic upbringing and his need to pursue his artistic voice. Nick Olcott directs a cast featuring Andy Brownstein, Hyla Matthews, and Lucas Beck. Extended to Saturday, Dec. 23. 1st Stage, 1524 Spring Hill Rd. Tysons, Va. Tickets are $33. Call 703-854-1856 or visit 1ststage.org.

THE BOOK OF WILL

What if Shakespeare’s works had been lost forever? Ryan Rilette directs a Round House Theatre production of Lauren Gunderson’s hilarious and heartfelt story inspired by true events surrounding Shakespeare’s First Folio. Mitchell Hebert, Kimberly Gilbert, Maboud Ebrahimzadeh, Todd Scofield, and Michael Russotto are among the cast. Extended to Sunday, Dec. 31. Round House Theatre, 4545 East-West Highway, Bethesda. Call 240-644-1100 or visit roundhousetheatre.org.

THE LAST NIGHT OF BALLYHOO

Set amid the Atlanta Jewish community in 1939, Theater J presents the beautiful, comedic, and enthralling romance by Alfred Uhry, the writer of Driving Miss Daisy. A handsome Eastern European bachelor from Brooklyn throws the Freitag family asunder as they confront their own prejudices, desires, and beliefs. Closes Sunday, Dec. 31. The Aaron and Cecile Goldman Theater, Edlavitch DCJCC, 1529 16th St. NW. Call 202-777-3210 or visit theaterj.org.

THE PAJAMA GAME

In an unusual twist, artistic director Molly Smith turns over directing reins for this season’s Golden Age Musical to Alan Paul, who has proven his mettle with musicals at Shakespeare Theatre Company. Choreographer Parker Esse joins to try to rouse interest in this classic battle-of-the-sexes. Closes Sunday, Dec. 24. Mead Center for American Theater, 1101 6th St. SW. Call 202-488-3300 or visit arenastage.org.

THE SANTALAND DIARIES

An “unseasonably cynical” offering, The SantaLand Diaries is a solo show adapted by Joe Montello from humorist David Sedaris’ essay about his time working in Macy’s “Santaland.” Cameron Folmar stars as a gay, out-of-work writer who dons the costumes and proceeds to spill the beans about what goes on behind closed doors. Lynn Sharp Spears directs. Closes Saturday, Dec. 23. Drafthouse Comedy Theater, 1100 13th Street NW. Tickets are $20. Call 202-750-6411 or visit drafthousecomedy.com.

Strauss Symphony of America — Photo: Chris Lee

MUSIC

A HANK WILLIAMS TRIBUTE

The Birchmere offers the 21st annual tribute to one of the most heralded and influential country singers of all time, this year including performances by Robin & Linda Williams, Robbie Fulks, Patrick McAvinue, and Mark Schatz, in addition to the Grammy-winning lesbian couple Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer. Saturday, Dec. 30, at 7:30 p.m. The Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. Tickets are $29.50. Call 703-549-7500 or visit birchmere.com.

ALL-STAR CHRISTMAS DAY JAZZ JAM

Among the many jazzy jingle balls on offer this season, it’d be hard to beat the Kennedy Center’s free Christmas Day treat, the All-Star Christmas Day Jazz Jam. The 19th annual event features host/vibraphonist Chuck Redd, drummer Lenny Robinson, trumpeteers Robert Redd and Tom Williams, bassist James King, and vocalist Delores Williams. Sunday, Dec. 25, at 6 p.m. Kennedy Center Millennium Stage. Free. Call 202-467-4600 or visit kennedy-center.org.

CATHERINE RUSSELL & JOHN PIZZARELLI

“A Salute to Billie Holiday & Frank Sinatra” is the focus of a concert by two leading contemporary jazz stars, teaming up for the first time. The daughter of swing jazz veteran Carline Ray and Louis Armstrong’s music director Luis Russell, Catherine Russell is a Grammy-winning vocalist who toured with David Bowie before going solo. She’ll transport audiences to the glory days of the genre with jazz guitarist, vocalist and bandleader John Pizzarelli, who has worked with everyone from the Boston Pops to Paul McCartney. Friday, Jan. 5, at 8 p.m. Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda. Tickets are $40 to $95. Call 301-581-5100 or visit strathmore.org.

CYRUS CHESTNUT TRIO

“The best jazz pianist of his generation,” Time music critic Josh Tyrangiel wrote earlier this year about Baltimore’s versatile virtuoso Cyrus Chestnut, who 20 years ago portrayed a Count Basie-inspired pianist in Robert Altman’s film Kansas City. He returns to D.C.’s leading jazz venue for a weeklong run of shows with a bassist and drummer, culminating in New Year’s Eve performances, both offering a three-course meal — with a midnight glass of champagne at second seating — and featuring vocalist-led Integriti Reeves Band. Tuesday, Dec. 26, through Saturday, Dec. 30, at 8 and 10 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 31, at 6:30 and 10 p.m. Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. Tickets are $36 to $41, or $116 to $166 for New Year’s Eve dinner/show packages, plus $12 minimum purchase. Call 202-337-4141 or visit bluesalley.com.

ELLE VARNER

It’s been five years since we had the pleasure of the charming debut Perfectly Imperfect from the R&B starlet, with her songs about getting drunk but still being responsible (“Refill,” “Oh What A Night”) and loving oneself (“So Fly”). We’re still waiting for her sophomore release, with the tentative title 4 Letter Word and preceded by the intriguingly high vs. low-spirited R&B burner “F It All.” Expect a sneak peek and an update on the forthcoming release when the 28-year-old chanteuse stops by for a post-Christmas treat. Thursday, Dec. 28. Doors at 7 p.m. The Howard Theatre, 620 T St. NW. Tickets are $32.50 to $70, plus $10 minimum per person for all tables. Call 202-588-5595 or visit thehowardtheatre.com.

GOOD FOR THE JEWS

Rob Tannenbaum insists his musical comedy rock band is good for the Jews — and not just in name. “What we’re trying to present is an evolved ideal, or an evolved representation of what Jews are about,” says Tannenbaum. Out are ancient Hebrew melodies and stereotypical songs about dreidels. Instead, there’s original songs evocative of many of the 20th Century’s best folk and pop songs, all written by Jewish Americans, from Bob Dylan to Paul Simon to Irving Berlin. Tannenbaum and bandmate David Fagin return to Jammin Java for a popular annual show. Sunday, Dec. 24, at 7 p.m. Jammin’ Java, 227 Maple Ave. E. Vienna. Call 703-255-3747 or visit jamminjava.com.

NICHOLAS RODRIGUEZ

Now that his work portraying Captain von Trapp in the national touring production of The Sound of Music is a wrap, the New York-based performer ventures down to Richmond for a New Year’s Eve cabaret. The focus is The First Time — also the name of his 2016 solo debut — and includes everything from a gospel jazz version of “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” to a sexy cover of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.” Sunday, Dec. 31, at 8 and 10:30 p.m. Richmond Triangle Players, 1300 Altamont Ave. Richmond. Tickets are $45 to $65. Call 804-346-8113 or visit rtriangle.org.

THE FOLGER CONSORT: SEASONAL EARLY MUSIC OF GERMANY

The lute/organ/viol consort Arcadia Viols and vocal ensemble Cathedra joins the Consort and its viol/violin-playing co-founder Robert Eisenstein for a holiday program of music from the 15th to 17th centuries, titled Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming. Remaining performances Thursday, Dec. 21, at 7:30 p.m., and Friday, Dec. 22, at 8 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 23, at 4 and 8 p.m. Folger Theatre, 201 East Capitol St. SE. Tickets are $50. Call 202-544-7077 or visit folger.edu.

THE ROOTS

What the Philadelphia hip-hop ensemble The Roots lacks in mainstream popular recognition they more than make up for in influence. Combining jazz and soul elements, their live shows are frequently touted as among the best in the business — and they’re also the house band for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Talk about a hard-working band. They return for a post-holiday show. Thursday, Dec. 28. Show at 8 p.m. Fillmore Silver Spring, 8656 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. General admission tickets are $69.50. Call 301-960-9999 or visit fillmoresilverspring.com.

THE SELDOM SCENE

Formed over 40 years ago in Bethesda, progressive bluegrass band Seldom Scene remains especially popular in its hometown region. They return for an almost New Year’s show at the leading venue in Maryland’s capital. Saturday, Dec. 30, at 8 p.m. Ram’s Head On Stage, 33 West St., Annapolis. Tickets are $35. Call 410-268-4545 or visit ramsheadonstage.com.

THE STRAUSS SYMPHONY OF AMERICA’S NEW YEAR’S CONCERT

Bernhard Schneider conducts the Strauss orchestra with soloists soprano Micaela Oeste and tenor Zoltan Nyari, plus dancers from the Kiev-Aniko Ballet of Ukraine and the International Champion Ballroom Dancers in the annual “Salute to Vienna,” inspired by the Austrian capital’s famed Neujahrskonzert and offering Strauss waltzes, polkas and operetta excerpts. Attila Glatz Concerts presents the 17th annual concert, this year offered a day before New Year’s. Saturday, Dec. 30, at 3 p.m. Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda. Remaining tickets are $49 to $125. Call 301-581-5100 or visit strathmore.org.

THE WASHINGTON CHORUS: A CANDLELIGHT CHRISTMAS

New Artistic Director Christopher Bell directs the annual “A Candlelight Christmas,” featuring the 200-voice chorus singing familiar carols and holiday songs, plus audience sing-alongs and a candlelight processional. The Eleanor Roosevelt High School Chamber Choir and D.C. al Fine will join the chorus. Thursday, Dec. 21, and Friday, Dec. 22, at 7 p.m. Kennedy Center Concert Hall. $18 to $72. Call 202-342-6221 or visit thewashingtonchorus.org.

WHITE FORD BRONCO

“D.C.’s all ’90s party band,” cheekily named after O.J. Simpson’s notorious failed getaway car, sings through that decade’s songbook in all styles of popular music, and will close out 2016 at this area concert. The five-member ensemble consists of singer/guitarist Diego Valencia, singer Gretchen Gustafson, guitarists Ken Sigmund and McNasty, and drummer Max Shapiro. Sunday, Dec. 31. Doors at 9 p.m. Lincoln Theatre, 1215 U St. NW. Tickets are $50. Call 202-328-6000 or visit thelincolndc.com.

WICKED JEZABEL

Pauline Anson-Dross’ popular lesbian all-covers party-rock band Wicked Jezabel has been rocking — as well as raising money for various good causes — all over the region for a decade now. Next up is a concert to ring in 2018, along with DJ Sharon. Sunday, Dec. 31, at 9 p.m. JV’s Restaurant, 6666 Arlington Blvd. in Falls Church. Tickets are $50 and include hors d’oeuvres, party favors and midnight champagne toast. Call 703-241-9504 or visit jvsrestaurant.com.

DANCE

MARYLAND YOUTH BALLET: THE NUTCRACKER

Artistic Director Michelle Lees choreographs a family-friendly, full-length production. Remaining dates Friday, Dec. 22, at 7 pm., Saturday, Dec. 23, and Tuesday, Dec. 26, at 1 and 5 p.m. Montgomery College’s Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center, 51 Mannakee St., Rockville. Tickets are $26 to $31 in advance, or $31 to $36 at the door. Call 240-567-5301 or visit marylandyouthballet.org.

STEP AFRIKA!: MAGICAL MUSICAL HOLIDAY STEP SHOW

The local percussive dance company dedicated to the tradition of stepping presents its annual holiday step show. The focus is on getting North Pole animals — polar bears, penguins — to step. And all to music by “Frosty the Snowman,” putting the needle on the record as special guest DJ. To Dec. 30. Sprenger Theatre in Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE. Tickets are $18 to $40. Call 202-399-7993 or visit atlasarts.org.

THE MOSCOW BALLET: GREAT RUSSIAN NUTCRACKER

Dubbed the “Great Russian Nutcracker,” this version of the holiday ballet staple pays tribute to Marius Petipa, who developed the Nutcracker choreography — and, for good measure, that of Swan Lake — and is credited as “The Father of Russian Ballet.” The Moscow Ballet has been touring its Nutcracker in the United States for 25 years now, with an annual run at Strathmore. Friday, Dec. 22, at 8 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 23, at 2 and 7 p.m. Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda. Tickets are $48 to $88. Call 301-581-5100 or visit strathmore.org.

THE WASHINGTON BALLET: THE NUTCRACKER

The Washington Ballet’s former artistic director Septime Webre first staged his twist on the family favorite 13 years ago, setting it in D.C.’s historic Georgetown neighborhood with George Washington as the titular figure and King George III as the Rat King. As always, the production sets up shop for nearly all of December at downtown’s Warner Theatre. Closes Sunday, Dec. 24. Warner Theatre, 513 13th St. NW. Call 202-889-5901 or visit washingtonballet.org.

Broadway, Hosted by Franqui French

COMEDY

BROADWAY, HOSTED BY FRANQI FRENCH

In its black box space, D.C.’s Drafthouse Comedy presents a new variety show featuring stand-up comedy, music and sketches by a diverse group of local female, minority and LGBTQ performers — and all hosted by a comedian who has shared the stage with DL Hughley, Todd Glass, Fortune Feimster, and Judy Gold, among others. Wednesday, Dec. 27. Doors at 8:15 p.m. Drafthouse Comedy, 1100 13th St. NW. Tickets are $5. Call 202-750-6411 or visit drafthousecomedy.com.

THE SECOND CITY: NOTHING TO LOSE (BUT OUR CHAINS)

Woolly Mammoth hosts performer Felonious Munk and a cast of Chicago’s sharpest comedians telling a hilarious and harrowing story of how one African-American man went from six years in a state prison to a six-figure job in corporate America to a new life as an activist and satirist. Anthony LeBlanc directs this new show from the creators of last year’s hit Black Side of the Moon… that combines sketch, stand-up, and music. To Dec. 31. 641 D St. NW. Call 202-393-3939 or visit woollymammoth.net.

THE SECOND CITY: TWIST YOUR DICKENS

The Kennedy Center offers another run of the comedy troupe’s irreverent and interactive parody twist on A Christmas Carol. The largely improvised tale is based on Dickens but adapted by former The Colbert Report writers Peter Gwinn and Bobby Mort. To Dec. 31. Kennedy Center Theater Lab. Tickets are $49 to $75. Call 202-467-4600 or visit kennedy-center.org.

WASHINGTON IMPROV THEATER: SEASONAL DISORDER

Washington Improv Theater’s annual holiday extravaganza features shows based on audience suggestions, showing you the good, the bad and the ugly of the season — all laughs to get you through. Each show is different, but all offer a grab bag of spontaneous comedy and long-form improv. This year’s show also includes Citizens’ Watch, an original production based on the TV series Broadchurch and featuring members from various WIT ensembles as well as new faces to the WIT stage, as well as performances by Chicago duo GIRLish and a special New Year’s Eve spectacular. Weekends to Dec. 31. Source Theater, 1835 14th St. NW. Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door, or $30 for reserved, front-row seats. Call 202-204-7770 or visit washingtonimprovtheater.com.

Judy Chicago addresses a gathering of volunteers in the Dinner Party — Photo: Amy Meadow

EXHIBITS

AI WEIWEI: TRACE

China’s most famous and provocative international artist returns to the Hirshhorn with his newest project, centered on the themes of freedom and expression. The massive installation, which closes Monday, Jan. 1, spans 700 feet around the entirety of the museum’s second-floor galleries and features 176 portraits, each made of thousands of plastic LEGO bricks, of individuals whom he considers activists, prisoners of conscience or advocates of free speech. An accompanying graphic wallpaper spans the gallery’s entire outer wall, transforming symbols of surveillance equipment into an intricate design. The seriousness of the subject contrasts with the playfulness of the material, creating a dichotomy that characterizes the artist’s philosophy. Independence Avenue and Seventh Street SW. Call 202-633-1000 or visit hirshhorn.si.edu.

BOSCH TO BLOEMAERT: EARLY NETHERLANDISH DRAWINGS

A collection of the finest drawings by Netherlandish artists born before 1585 are now on display at the National Gallery of Art. Drawn from Rotterdam’s Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, works on display include: Studies from the circle of Rogier van der Weyden, two sheets by Hieronymus Bosch, six drawings by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, and a selection of works by Abraham Bloemaert Now to Jan. 7. National Gallery of Art’s West Building, 6th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. Free. Call or visit nga.gov.

DRAWING JUSTICE: THE ART OF COURTROOM ILLUSTRATION

A showcase of the Library of Congress’s extensive collection of original drawings by artists, commissioned during the past 50 years by newspapers and television stations to capture the personal dynamics of legal trials where cameras aren’t allowed. Artists in the exhibition include Howard Brodie, Marilyn Church, Pat Lopez, Arnold Mesches, Gary Myrick, Freda Reiter, Bill Robles, Jane Rosenberg, and Elizabeth Williams. Their drawings provided insight into the drama and impact of events in American law and influenced how Americans perceived race and race relations, religion, gender issues, political and corporate corruption, international relations, and the role of celebrities in society. Closes Saturday, Dec. 30. South Gallery, Second Floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. SE. Call 202-707-8000 or visit loc.gov/exhibits.

GREGORY FERRAND: IT IS YOU (AND ME TOO)

You’ve likely seen striking work by this artist before, particularly if you’re a regular local theatergoer. Mosaic Theater Company, GALA Hispanic Theatre, and Theater J have all commissioned Ferrand for illustrations capturing key characters in key scenes used to promote specific productions. In his first solo show at Maryland’s contemporary Adah Rose Gallery, the focus is on stylized paintings portraying subjects who feel isolated, alienated or alone — even if surrounded by those they love, and despite the ever-connected state of modern-day life. Opening reception with live music by the band Terraplane is Saturday, Nov. 18, from 6 to 8 p.m. Closes Friday, Jan. 5. 3766 Howard Ave. Kensington, Md. Call 301-922-0162 or visit adahrosegallery.com.

HOLIDAY STARKILLERS STRIKE BACK

Two years ago, local painter and mixed-media artist Andrew Wodzianski curated an exhibition of playful works from fellow Star Wars-inspired artists and pegged to the release of The Force Awakens. Now that the sci-fi juggernaut is back in theaters with The Last Jedi, Wodzianski has once again assembled another related “futuristic grandeur” show of paintings, photographs, and mixed-media sculptures by artists including Metro Weekly contributor Scott G. Brooks, Gregory Ferrand Artist, Chris Bishop, Jared Davis, J.D. Deardourff, and Steve Strawn. All artwork is for sale, as are hand-painted ornaments displayed on a Christmas tree with an X-wing Starfighter topper. Now to Jan. 20. Anacostia Arts Center, 1231 Good Hope Road SE. Call 202-631-6291 or visit anacostiaartscenter.com.

IMAGING FREEDOM: REFLECTIONS OF RESISTANCE AND JOY

A Black Artists of D.C. exhibition featuring 2D and 3D images by 12 artists declaring freedom through resistance, collected experience and past reflection. Daniel Brooking, James Brown, Jr., Summer Brown, Abiodun Eniyandunni, T.H. Gomillion, Francine Haskins, Esther Iverem, Magruder Murray, Alanzo Robles-Gordon, Russell Simmons, James Terrell, and Zsudayka Nzinga Terrell are all represented in the exhibition, curated by Rhea Beckett. Now to Jan. 14. District of Columbia Arts Center (DCAC), 2438 18th St. NW. Call 202-462-7833 or visit dcartscenter.org.

JUDY CHICAGO: VISUAL ARCHIVE, THE DINNER PARTY EXHIBITION

As part of its 30th anniversary celebration, the National Museum of Women in the Arts honors the iconic artist through establishment of a new archive and opening of a new exhibition. The archive, in the Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center, documents the artist’s work through photographs, slides, negatives, and printed ephemera spanning the 1960s through the present. As such, it captures fleeting performance pieces such as her pyrotechnics and dry ice works as well as exhibitions of drawings, paintings, sculpture and installations, including The Dinner Party. Meanwhile, the creation of that monumental and radical installation is the focus of a temporary exhibition. Closes Friday, Jan. 5. 1250 New York Ave NW. Admission is $10. Call 202-783-5000 or visit nmwa.org.

LUMIA: THOMAS WILFRED AND THE ART OF LIGHT

The Smithsonian American Art Museum presents a groundbreaking exhibition of 15 spellbinding, image-projecting light sculptures created nearly a century ago. This was a time, of course, well before technology made Thomas Wilfred’s colorful moving light creations an easy feat, and his contemporaries, including Jackson Pollock, László Moholy-Nagy and Katherine Dreier, recognized the Danish-American artist as an innovator. Yet the difficulty to maintain his sculptures is why, after faddish mid-20th century popularity, they’ve long been relegated to the storage archives of modern art museums, all-but forgotten along with the artist himself. With works shown together for the first time in nearly 50 years, Lumia, organized by Keely Orgeman of the Yale University Art Gallery, is helping to restore Wilfred’s works and reputation as a modern art pioneer. Closes Sunday, Jan. 7. Smithsonian American Art Museum, 8th and F Streets NW. Call 202-633-1000 or visit americanart.si.edu.

MAGGIE GOURLAY: ADAPTATION/MIGRATION IN THE ANTHROPOCENE

The National Zoo plays host to CulturalDC’s Space4: Mobile Art Gallery and the latest exhibition presented in a former 40-foot shipping container, running in tandem with ZooLights (see separate entry). In creating the immersive multimedia installation, local artist Maggie Gourlay was inspired by the exotic insect species that have migrated to the U.S. via commercial shipping containers and have become conservation threats. Closes Monday, Jan. 1. Outside the Visitor’s Center, 3001 Connecticut Ave. NW. Call 202-633-4800 or visit nationalzoo.si.edu.

PORTRAITS OF THE WORLD: SWITZERLAND

Once a year, the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery plans to showcase one portrait created by a foreign artist in an exhibition designed around that work, via a series intended to highlight the global context of American portraiture. The inaugural exhibition focuses on “Femme en Extase (Woman in Ecstasy),” a portrait of Italian dancer Giulia Leonardi by Swiss painter Ferdinand Hodler, complemented by a selection of works from the gallery’s collection featuring American dancers, notably Isadora Duncan, Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, Ted Shawn, and Ruth St. Denis. Now to Nov. 12, 2018. 8th and F Streets. NW. Call 202-633-8300 or visit npg.si.edu.

SPECTACULAR GEMS FROM THE MERRIWEATHER POST COLLECTION

Marjorie Merriweather Post had one of the most remarkable collections of jewelry of the 20th century. For its latest exhibition, her former estate displays and shares stories about more than 50 exquisite accessories from the late cereal heiress and the historic gems that went into making them. Leading designers Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Harry Winston and Verdura are represented in the collection, which includes pieces on loan from other museums and private collections. Closes Sunday, Jan. 7. Hillwood Estate, 4155 Linnean Ave. NW. Suggested donation is $18. Call 202-686-5807 or visit HillwoodMuseum.org.

THE ARTIST’S PROCESS: LANDSCAPE PAINTERS

Sketches and studies created by members of the Washington Society of Landscape Painters will be on display in an exhibition focused on the process of painting in the field and trying to capture the essence and important aspects of what might be included in the final work. A number of the final pieces will be exhibited alongside the rough and quick sketches. Through Jan. 7. The Athenaeum, 201 Prince St., Alexandria. Call 703-548-0035 or visit nvfaa.org.

FOOD & DRINK

BIER BARON’S 1ST ANNUAL CASK FESTIVAL

To mark its 7th anniversary, the subterranean beer hall has opted to launch an annual cask competition among roughly two dozen craft breweries from across the country. Attendees will receive a keepsake glass and the ability to taste and vote on the best cask, with the winning brewery earning the plaque “The Best in Cask.” Participating area breweries include 3 Stars, Atlas, DC Brau, and Right Proper from D.C., Denizens from Maryland, and Crooked Run Brewing, Heritage, Mad Fox, and RedBeard Brewing from Virginia. Saturday, Jan. 6, from 2 to 10 p.m. Bier Baron Tavern, 1523 22nd St. NW. Tickets are $27.37, or $69.57 for VIP including a food voucher for $20, a complimentary ticket to a future beer event or dinner and other swag. Call 202-293-1887 or search “cask festival” at eventbrite.com.

HANK’S PASTA BAR: SEASONAL SEVEN FISHES DISH

Chef Jamie Leeds puts her own spin on the celebratory Feast of the Seven Fishes, offering a country-style version of bouillabaisse, a bowl of white wine, herbs, thick tomato sauce and overflowing with seven types of seafood in one place: lump crabmeat, catfish, squid, shrimp, mussels, clams, and octopus. The stew is served with housemade linguine and available throughout the entire month of December. Located at 600 Montgomery St., Alexandria. Price is $34. Call 571-312-4117 or visit hankspastabar.com.

NELLIE’S HOLIDAY DRAG BRUNCHES

Shi-Queeta Lee will host even more festive brunch buffets over the holidays at everyone’s favorite gay sports bar. Expect a “special holiday performance,” and on Christmas Eve, the first mimosa or bloody mary is on Nellie’s. Sunday, Dec. 24, and Dec. 31, at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Also, Monday, Jan. 1, at 1 p.m. Nellie’s Sports Bar, 900 U St. NW. Tickets are $20. Call 202-332-NELL or visit nelliessportsbar.com.

ABOVE AND BEYOND

GEORGETOWN GLOW

Now in its fourth year, this light art exhibition presented by the Georgetown Business Improvement District features eight displays by multidisciplinary artists. Billed as a way to “re-imagine the season of light,” the works, curated by Deirdre Ehlen MacWilliams and many presented in collaboration with Light Art Collection and the Amsterdam Light Festival, include: Aqueous by Jen Lewin of New York, an interactive, walkable landscape of meandering pathways in Georgetown Waterfront Park; Horizontal Interference by Joachim Sługocki and Katarzyna Malejka from Poland, a colorful cord structure connecting trees and light poles in Washington Harbour; Open Lounge by Géraud Périole, with 20 handcrafted chandeliers made of acrylic, plastic and rope hanging in Cady’s Alley; Glow Structural Remix by Robin Bell of D.C., a 15-minute looped video of historic imagery with holiday colors and shapes harkening the activities of the once bustling Old Georgetown Theater; and The Neighbors by OmbréLumen – Arthur Gallice & Herve Orgeas, four figures made of LED bent wires to create a clan of glowing people along Wisconsin Avenue. Additionally, Philips Color Kinetics has lit the smokestack at the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown and the C&O Canal bridge at Georgetown Park, and MHF Productions has strung white lights on nearly all the buildings radiating out from the main intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and M Street NW. Now through Jan. 7, every night from 5 to 10 p.m. Visit GeorgetownGlowDC.com for more information, including a free Curator’s Audio Tour set to music.

LIGHTS ON THE BAY

More than 70 animated and stationary displays depicting regional and holiday themes factor into the annual holiday show, featuring a two-mile scenic drive along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. A North Pole Village & Enchanted Fairy Tales is a new edition at this year’s event, a benefit for the SPCA of Anne Arundel County. On display every evening from 5 to 10 p.m. through Jan. 1. Sandy Point State Park, 1100 E. College Parkway, Annapolis. Admission is $15 per car, or $30 to $50 for larger vans and buses. Visit lightsonthebay.org.

NATIONAL ZOO’S ZOOLIGHTS

More than 500,000 colorful Christmas lights illuminate life-sized animal silhouettes, dancing trees, buildings, and walkways, plus a light show set to music, during this annual holiday event at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. All that, plus select animal houses will be open and displaying nocturnal creatures, including the Small Mammal House, the Great Ape House and Reptile Discovery Center. Every night except Dec. 24 and 25 until Jan. 1. National Zoo, 3001 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free, courtesy of Pepco. Call 202-633-4800 or visit nationalzoo.si.edu.

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