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A TALE OF LOVE AND DARKNESS
Natalie Portman makes her directorial debut with an adaptation of the autobiography of Israel's most famous living writer, the politically provocative Amos Oz. Portman also wrote the screenplay and portrays Oz's mother in the Hebrew-language film, set in Israel's idealistic early years. Opens Friday, Aug. 26. Area theaters. Visit fandango.com.
ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS: THE MOVIE
Jennifer Saunders' beloved British sitcom about two self-indulgent women navigating the worlds of PR, fashion and celebrity finally makes the leap to the big screen. The end result is far from perfect, but Absolutely Fabulous is certainly passable, which is more than Sex and the City managed. As storylines go, this one is entirely inconsequential. Really, Ab Fab is just a series of set pieces -- beautifully dressed, exquisitely styled, filled with gorgeous things -- designed to help tee off the next celebrity cameo or amusing throwback. The time has never been so appropriate for the ostentatious, extravagant escapism of Eddy and Patsy (Joanna Lumley, who hits every mark and generates the most laughs) and their celebrity- and luxury-obsessed ways, but Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie can't be bothered to try hard enough to give viewers what they want. Perhaps it's appropriate that Edina and Patsy star in something so superficial, but we need the incisive, ruthless Edina and Patsy of yore. Instead, we get a softer, less-defined, more box-office friendly version, one aware of the outside world, but surprisingly insular at the same time. It's good, but not quite good enough. Now playing. Area theaters. Visit fandango.com. (Rhuaridh Marr)
Yet another example of Hollywood running out of ideas, Ben-Hur is eager to tell everyone that it isn't a remake of the 1959 classic, but rather a "reimagining" of Lew Wallace's 1880 novel. Comparisons will abound regardless (and not just for the chariot race sequence), as the Heston-starring '50s version racked up 11 Oscars, a massive box office, and monumental critical praise. That's a tough act to follow. Jack Huston takes on the title role, with Timur Bekmambetov directing a script by Keith Clarke and John Ridley. Opens Friday, Aug. 19. Area theaters. Visit fandango.com.
COMCAST XFINITY OUTDOOR FILM FESTIVAL
Outdoor cinema returns to the lawn at Strathmore this summer and first up, on Saturday, Aug. 20, is Jurassic World, last year's blockbuster and the fourth in the "Jurassic Park" franchise. Sunday night offers animated sensation Minions featuring voice acting by Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Steve Coogan and Jennifer Saunders. The final screening on Monday, Aug. 22 is the Judy Garland classic The Wizard of Oz. Clearly, there's no place like Strathmore. Festivities begin at 6:30 p.m., with screenings at 8:30 p.m. each night in the Gudelsky Gazebo, 10701 Rockville Pike, North Bethesda. Free. Call 301-581-5100 or visit strathmore.org.
The latest in its Xtra monthly series, Reel Affirmations presents Ray Yeung's story of a gay Chinese American who develops a friendship and more with a closeted actor from Beijing. Friday, Aug. 19, at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. HRC Equality Center, 1640 Rhode Island Ave. NW. Tickets are $12, or $25 for one complimentary alcoholic beverage, movie candy or popcorn, and VIP seating. Call 800-777-4723 or visit reelaffirmations.org.
HANDS OF STONE
Robert De Niro plays a legendary trainer who comes out of retirement to coach world-class Panamanian boxer Roberto Duran (Edgar Ramirez), as he prepares for a bout against undefeated lightweight champion Sugar Ray Leonard. Jonathan Jakubowicz wrote and directed this biopic, distributed by the Weinstein Company and also starring Ruben Blades, Ellen Barkin, and pop star Usher as Sugar Ray. Opens Friday, Aug. 26. Area theaters. Visit fandango.com.
Spanish auteur Pedro Almodovar's campy and twisted mother-daughter battle royal gets the big screen treatment as part of the American Film Institute's "Keepin' It Real: '90s Cinema Now" series. Victoria Abril plays a broadcast news anchor who tangles with her estranged Cher-like mother (Marisa Paredes) and even a drag queen (Miguel Bose) impersonating her diva mother in this 25-year-old melodramatic tale of kinky sex and murder. Saturday, Aug. 27, at 9:45 p.m., and Tuesday, Aug. 30, at 9 p.m. AFI Silver Theatre, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. Tickets are $13. Call 301-495-6720 or visit afi.com/Silver.
KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS
Charlize Theron is Monkey and Matthew McConaughey is Beetle, two sidekicks to Art Parkinson's Young Kubo in this animated adventure. It follows Kubo's battle with the Moon King (Ralph Fiennes) and other gods and monsters to save his family and solve the mystery of his fallen father, the greatest samurai warrior the world has ever known. George Takei is also among the voiceover cast. Opens Friday, Aug. 19. Area theaters. Visit fandango.com.
Jason Statham returns as assassin Arthur Bishop in this Dennis Gansel-helmed thriller, also starring Jessica Alba, Tommy Lee Jones and Michelle Yeoh. Opens Friday, Aug. 26. Area theaters. Visit fandango.com.
As part of the series Wim Wenders: Portraits Along the Road, the American Film Institute will screen through mid-September more than a dozen films by the New German Cinema auteur. Among those to be screened are 1987's acclaimed Wings of Desire as well as Buena Vista Social Club, his influential documentary from 1999 that, in partnership with musician Ry Cooder, helped spark international interest in Afro-Cuban music. But next week brings Wenders' most successful film, the 1984 art house hit and Cannes and Sundance sensation Paris, Texas, presented in a newly restored version. Co-written by Pulitzer Prize winner Sam Shepard, it follows Harry Dean Stanton as an amnesiac, presumed dead for four years, who wanders the American Southwest and reconnects with his brother (Dean Stockwell), wife (Nastassja Kinski), and seven-year-old son (Hunter Carson). Ry Cooder provided the distinctive score that went on to inspire everyone from U2 to Kurt Cobain. Monday, Aug. 22, at 7:30 p.m. AFI Silver Theatre, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. Tickets are $13. Call 301-495-6720 or visit afi.com/Silver.
Seth Rogan's take-no-prisoners juvenile humor enhances an otherwise dark and unsettling tale about the nature of existence and the meaning of god in this very R-rated animated comedy. Owing as much to the Christian-value series VeggieTales as it does to Pixar, Rogan and company frequently mistake an overabundance of four-letter words for genuine humor as food items learn the awful truth behind what lies beyond the supermarket doors. The film is unsettling in its flagrantly racist deployment of stereotypes, including a nebbishy Jewish Bagel, a hotheaded Lavash, a native American bottle of "Firewater," and a spicy lesbian taco, but it seems odd to get upset about it, as it's just a cartoon. (Rogan might go too far when, during the film's opening song, featuring music by Alan Menken, German mustard sings boisterously about exterminating the juice.) Sausage Party isn't as consistently funny as anything South Park's Matt Stone and Trey Parker have created, and you wonder what the pair might have done with the idea. But it does at least have an audacious, jaw-dropping orgy at the climax that gives new meaning to the term food porn. Area theaters. Visit Fandango.com. (Randy Shulman)
Wes Craven revitalized the horror genre with this postmodern scary slasher comedy that begat sequel after inferior sequel. The American Film Institute presents the 20-year-old original as part of its "Keepin' It Real: '90s Cinema Now" series. Relive your tortured past with stars Neve Campbell, David Arquette and Courteney Cox. Sunday, Aug. 21, at 9 p.m., and Monday, Aug. 22, at 9:40 p.m. AFI Silver Theatre, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. Tickets are $13. Call 301-495-6720 or visit afi.com/Silver.
...AND A GHOST GRRL
The adventurous Landless Theatre Company teams up with the King's Players for a reprise of an LGBT-themed production from this year's Capital Fringe Fest. The third production in the company's new space, ...and a Ghost Grrl is a farce with music about the secrets and lies of a love triangle between three women that, needless to say, doesn't end well. Friday, Aug. 26, and Saturday, Aug. 27, at 8 p.m. East Street Arts Center, 919 N. East St., Frederick, Md. Tickets are $25. Call 301-473-2233 or visit landlesstheatre.com.
BORN FOR THIS: THE BEBE WINANS STORY
Infamous televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker are part of the story told in a new musical by gospel star -- and PTL Club regular -- BeBe Winans. The musical deals with the struggles of fame and belief, and features Juan and Deborah Joy Winans as their real-life uncle BeBe and aunt CeCe. With Milton Craig Nealy as Pop Winans, Nita Whitaker as Mom Winans, Kiandra Richardson as Whitney Houston, and Chaz Pofahl and Kirsten Wyatt as Jim and Tammy Faye. A world-premiere co-production between Arena Stage and Atlanta's Alliance Theatre. Closes Sunday, Aug. 28. Kreeger Theater, 1101 6th St. SW. Call 202-488-3300 or visit arenastage.org.
Founded shortly after World War II, the National Players has helped launch the careers of many young stage and performance artists, often giving them their professional debut after college. The national touring company offers the Bard's most prolific play in a "Free Summer Shakespeare" production. Now to Aug. 28. Root Family Stage at Olney Theatre Center, 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, Olney, Md. Tickets are free, with reservations recommended. Call 301-924-3400 or visit olneytheatre.org.
HAND TO GOD
Avenue Q sounds like child's play compared to Robert Askins' comedy focused on teens of a Christian puppetry ministry in a small Texas town. Touted as a blasphemous and ruthless comedy about sex, sinners and sock puppets, Joanie Schultz directs a production led by Liam Forde as a foul-mouthed, demonically possessed puppet. With Susan Rome, Caitlin Collins, Ryan McBride and Tim Getman. Extended to Sunday, Aug. 28. Studio Theatre, 14th & P Streets NW. Call 202-332-3300 or visit studiotheatre.org.
JELLY'S LAST JAM
Signature Theatre kicks off its new season with a celebration of the music and life of jazz pioneer Jelly Roll Morton. Washington native Mark G Meadows stars as Morton, leading a cast that also includes, among others, Tony Award winner Cleavant Derricks (Dreamgirls), Felicia Boswell (Motown The Musical), and Signature star Nova Y. Payton. Matthew Gardiner directs the musical featuring a book by George C. Wolfe and lyrics by Susan Birkenhead. Pride performance set for Friday, Aug. 26. Runs to Sept. 11. Signature's Max Theatre, 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington. Call 703-820-9771 or visit signature-theatre.org.
Two kids escape boredom by playing a mysterious board game that plunges them into a world of magic with a lion and destructive monkeys in a stage production of the popular book by Chris Van Allsburg. Serge Seiden directs a 4D, audience-immersive show, featuring strobe lights, wind, water, and rumbling lava effects. Closes Sunday, Aug. 28. Adventure Theatre MTC, 7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo. Tickets are $19.50. Call 301-634-2270 or visit adventuretheatre-mtc.org.
KURIOS - CABINET OF CURIOSITIES
Cirque du Soleil returns with a show set in the latter half of the 19th century, but otherwise unconstrained by time or imagination. It's a fantasy world developed by writer and director Michel Laprise, a longtime Cirque designer who also directed Madonna's sensational 2012 Super Bowl halftime show and the MDNA Tour. Kurios, according to a Chicago Tribune critic, is "a dazzling, hyper-detailed, potent, quixotic and generally fantastic show." To Sept. 4. The Big Top in Lerner Town Square at Tysons II, 8025 Galleria Dr. Tysons. Tickets are $39 to $170. Call 877-924-7783 or visit cirquedusoleil.com/kurios.
SATCHMO AT THE WALDORF
Billed as "the story of Louis Armstrong that you don't know," drama critic and biographer Terry Teachout's first play makes its D.C. premiere opening the second season of Mosaic Theater Company. Eleanor Holdridge directs local great Craig Wallace in this one-man show, portraying Armstrong, his manager Joe Glaser, and his rival Miles Davis. Set on the night of Armstrong's last public performance in 1971, the play takes a hard look at Satchmo's life and his role in the Civil Rights Movement. The production also kicks off a provocative season-long discussion series, "Race and Music: Blacks, Jews and the Independent Artist." Opens in a pay-what-you-can preview on Thursday, Aug. 25, at 8 p.m. Runs to Sept. 25. Lang Theatre in the Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE. Tickets are $20 to $60. Call 202-399-7993 or mosaictheater.org.
THE LONESOME WEST
A dark Irish comedy from Martin McDonagh, the writer/director of the Oscar-winning film In Bruges as well as Behanding in Spokane, closes out Keegan's record-breaking nineteenth season. Mark A. Rhea directs this tale of rivalry between two brothers, portrayed by Matthew J. Keenan and Bradley Foster Smith, set in the tiny Irish backwater of Leenane. Closes Saturday, Aug. 27. Keegan Theatre, 1742 Church St. NW. Tickets are $35 to $45. Call 202-265-3768 or visitkeegantheatre.com.
THE MIKADO, THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE
Chicago's The Hypocrites Repertory take on some of the silliest roles ever written for musical theater, performing two of Gilbert & Sullivan's best-loved comic operettas. Presented promenade style, with some seats on stage with the actors, Sean Graney directs the tales of scurvy pirates, modern Major-Generals, and star-crossed lovers. Closes Sunday, Aug. 21. Theatre Lab at Olney Theatre Center, 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, Olney, Md. Tickets are $30 to $55. Call 301-924-3400 or visit olneytheatre.org.
THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD - SYMPHONIC METAL VERSION
Stephen Sondheim gave the quirky, upstart Landless Theatre Company permission to amp up his most famous tale for its twice-staged, Helen Hayes Award-nominated Sweeney Todd-Prog Metal Version. Now, it's author and composer Rupert Holmes's turn, challenging Landless to test "its mettle and metal" with The Mystery of Edwin Drood. The choose-your-own-ending musical from 1986 is a dark tale of deception, based on the unfinished novel by Charles Dickens. Opens Friday, Aug. 26, at 8 p.m. To Oct. 2. Gaithersburg Arts Barn, 311 Kent Square Road, Gaithersburg. Tickets are $25. Call 301-258-6394 or visit landlesstheatre.com.
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
Andrew Lloyd Webber's long-running musical is touted to be "bigger and better than ever before" in a new touring production overseen by Matthew Bourne and Cameron Mackintosh and featuring new choreography and sets. The chandelier is still a centerpiece, and the score hasn't changed a note. Remaining performances Thursday, Aug. 18, and Friday, Aug. 19, at 7 p.m., and Saturday, Aug. 20, at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Kennedy Center Opera House. Tickets are $25 to $149. Visit kennedycenter.org.
Ethan McSweeney's 2014 take on one of Shakespeare's late masterpieces gets restaged as this year's Free for All production. The Tempest features sprites, goddesses and fools holding court on an island after a shipwreck. Now to Aug. 28. Harman Center for the Arts, 610 F St. NW. Tickets are free, distributed through a daily online lottery system as well as a ticket line prior to each performance. Call 202-547-1122 or visit shakespearetheatre.org.
The Queen of Soul returns to Wolf Trap for a performance drawing from her rich repertoire -- and maybe, just maybe, her rich hat collection. Friday, Aug. 26, at 8 p.m. The Filene Center at Wolf Trap, 1551 Trap Road, Vienna. Tickets are $35 to $65. Call 877-WOLFTRAP or visit wolftrap.org.
D.C.'s own eight-piece Balkan and funk band consisting of members from Thievery Corporation perform a show with opening acts M.H. & His Orchestra and the Shadow Girl Sound Collective. Saturday, Aug. 20. Doors at 8 p.m. Black Cat, 1811 14th St. NW. Tickets are $12. Call 202-667-4490 or visit blackcatdc.com.
CREATIVE CAULDRON CABARET
The 7th annual summer cabaret series at ArtSpace Falls Church runs every weekend through September 19. Next up in the series: Musical composing duo and married partners Matt Conner and Stephen Gregory Smith (Sleepy Hollow, Turn of the Screw) in a 10-year revue of their work, "Dreamland," on Friday, Aug. 19, and Saturday, Aug. 20, at 8 p.m., and Helen Hayes Award-winning musical theater actor Sam Ludwig in "Sam and the Amazing Quasi-Interesting Dream Date, or A Brief Interview with a Hideous Musicals Fan," on Friday, Aug. 26, and Saturday, Aug. 27, at 8 p.m. ArtSpace, 410 South Maple Ave., Falls Church. Tickets are $18 to $20 per show, or $50 for a table for two with two glasses of wine, and $100 for four and a bottle of wine. Call 703-436-9948 or visit creativecauldron.org.
A Broadway powerhouse, the four-foot-eleven Chenoweth made her debut nearly two decades ago in Kander and Ebb's Steel Pier. From You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown to Wicked to On the Twentieth Century, Chenoweth's star shines brightest when she's on stage. But she's a nimble performer whose career has successfully traversed every medium, including TV and film. Her favorite, however, is performing concerts. "I like concert work, because I love the aspect of a live audience and I get to sing songs that maybe I wouldn't normally get to do," Chenoweth told Metro Weekly last year when she appeared at Wolf Trap for the first time. She returns Sunday, Aug. 21, at 8 p.m. The Filene Center at Wolf Trap, 1551 Trap Road, Vienna. Tickets are $25 to $65. Call 877-WOLFTRAP or visit wolftrap.org.
She may have only come in third during the first season of USA Network's Nashville Star, but Lambert is the biggest star to emerge from that reality series -- and one of the biggest stars in all of country. She's captivated critics and audiences with her winning personality, astute songwriting and sense of candor -- on display in new, post-Blake Shelton heartbreak music. Kip Moore and the Brothers Osborne open. Thursday, Aug. 25. Doors at 6 p.m. Merriweather Post Pavilion, 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, Md. Tickets are $45 to $125. Call 800-551-SEAT or visit merriweathermusic.com.
NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART'S JAZZ IN THE GARDEN SERIES
Free concerts featuring locally and nationally recognized musicians are on tap every Friday through Labor Day, amidst the gallery's collection of large-scale sculptural works. Remaining performances in the series are: Rock, blues and old-school R&B from Moonshine Society on Friday, Aug. 19, and local jazz ensemble the Fred Hughes Trio, featuring bassist Amy Shook, drummer Frank Russo and namesake pianist, on Friday, Sept. 2, from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, between 7th and 9th Streets NW. Call 202-289-3360 or visit nga.gov.
OLNEY'S THE SOUND OF SUMMER CONCERT
Local musical theater heavyweights Tracy Lynn Olivera, Bobby Smith, and Rachel Zampelli perform cabaret in this "Concert with a Cool Breeze." Cool summer favorites from the Beach Boys, the Drifters and other classic American pop songs will be featured. Saturday, Aug. 20, at 8 p.m. Mainstage at Olney Theatre Center, 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, Olney, Md. Tickets are $25. Call 301-924-3400 or visit olneytheatre.org.
Vocalist Naomi Almquist might put you in mind of Lana Del Rey or Lizzy Plapinger, lead singer of moody New York synthpop duo Ms Mr, whose vibe and sound Prinze George echo. The increasingly buzzed-about locally derived band, also featuring instrumentalist Kenny Grimm and drummer Isabelle De Leon, returns for a hometown concert in support of the just-released cinematic debut album Illiterate Synth Pop. The concert also comes on the eve of Rock and Roll Hotel's week-long 10th Anniversary celebration featuring concerts by Ex Hex, Lower Dens, Titus Andronicus and Milemarker, among others. Saturday, Aug. 20. Doors at 7 p.m. Rock and Roll Hotel, 1353 H St. NE. Tickets are $12 in advance, or $14 on the day. Call 202-388-ROCK or visit rockandrollhoteldc.com.
The out Latin superstar makes his Wolf Trap debut with two late-summer shows that might cause a "Livin' La Vida Loca" heat wave. Wednesday, Aug. 24, and Thursday, Aug. 25, at 8 p.m. The Filene Center at Wolf Trap, 1551 Trap Road, Vienna. Tickets are $45 to $125. Call 877-WOLFTRAP or visit wolftrap.org.
An alumna of Howard University's premiere vocal jazz ensemble the Afro Blue Vocal Band, who also earned the title of 2013 Best Jazz Vocalist by the Washington City Paper, Rochelle Rice now prepares to make her Kennedy Center debut. This free concert of jazz-inspired contemporary pop and soul will revolve around Rice's new set Wonder. Tuesday, Aug. 23, at 6 p.m. Kennedy Center Millennium Stage. Free. Call 202-467-4600 or visit kennedy-center.org.
The former Mr. Heidi Klum performs a concert 25 years after he exploded onto the scene with hits "Killer" and "Crazy." Seal Samuel tours in support of last year's rather maudlin set of love songs, 7. Wednesday, Aug. 24, at 8 p.m. Warner Theatre, 513 13th St. NW. Tickets are $47.50. Call 202-783-4000 or visit warnertheatredc.com.
SKYE | ROSS FROM MORCHEEBA
There are three members of Morcheeba, but DJ Paul Godfrey long ago stopped touring with the pioneering British moody trip-hop act. So two years after their last sojourn to D.C., vocalist Skye Edwards and multi-instrumentalist Ross Godfrey -- Paul's brother -- return, this time in support of Skye | Ross. The forthcoming new set was recorded as a duo and is said to be more raw and gutsy and less electronic or digitally manipulated, all based on their experiences performing as a duo. It's intended as a side project -- the trio Morcheeba is apparently on hiatus. Thursday, Aug. 25. Doors at 7 p.m. 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. Tickets are $27.50. Call 202-265-0930 or visit 930.com.
The Bangles are decidedly not on a Farewell Tour. Although silent the last decade of the 20th century, Susanna Hoffs, Debbi Peterson and former fill-in Go-Gos member Vicki Peterson have been a going entity for almost two decades now. The original trio walks like Egyptians to D.C.'s most celebrated concert venue next weekend. Sunday, Aug. 21. Doors at 7 p.m. 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. Tickets are $35. Call 202-265-0930 or visit 930.com.
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. The five-member ensemble consists of singer/guitarist Diego Valencia, singer Gretchen Gustafson, guitarists Ken Sigmund and McNasty, and drummer Max Shapiro. Saturday, Aug. 20. Doors at 8 p.m. 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. Tickets are $22. Call 202-265-0930 or visit 930.com.
ZAC BROWN BAND
An eight-piece band from Georgia straddling the Southern rock/country divide, the Zac Brown Band is led by its namesake vocalist/guitarist, but also includes Jimmy De Martini, who doubles as a violinist/fiddler, John Driskell Hopkins, a bassist/ukulele player, and two percussionists, Chris Fryar and Daniel de los Reyes. The band continues to tour in support of last year's Jekyll + Hyde. Friday, Sept. 2, at 7 p.m. Jiffy Lube Live, 7800 Cellar Door Drive, Bristow, Va. Tickets are $44 to $225. Call 703-754-6400 or visit thejiffylubelive.com.
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON
The Making of Donald Trump is a just-published account from a former New York Times investigative journalist and current USA Today columnist. David Cay Johnston delves into the family background and business practices of the Republican nominee for president, laying out the details of how Donald Trump has amassed his wealth through investments in real estate and casinos -- and by taking advantage of bankruptcy protection over and over again. Thursday, Aug. 25, at 7 p.m. Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Call 202-364-1919 or visit politics-prose.com.
How to Whistle is a collection of short stories focused on gay men who are "unrepentantly sardonic," sybaritic and wry. All of the writing is based on observations and recollections from the author, whose previous works include Protection and Lincoln Avenue. Thursday, Sept. 1, at 6:30 p.m. East City Bookshop, 645 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. Call 202-290-1636 or visit eastcitybookshop.com.
Against The Death Penalty is an edited collection of Justice Stephen Breyer's powerful legal citations against corporal punishment, put together by a Georgetown University law professor. Tuesday, Aug. 30, at 6:30 p.m. Kramerbooks, 1517 Connecticut Ave. NW. Call 202-387-1400 or visit kramers.com.
KATE ANDERSEN BROWER
First Women: The Grace and Power of America's Modern First Ladies examines one of the most challenging jobs in Washington as detailed by the former CBS and Fox News employee, who covered the Obama White House for four years. Kate Andersen Brower interviewed friends, staff and social secretaries of Michelle Obama and her nine predecessors at the White House to showcase the women's different styles, agendas and images. Friday, Aug. 26, at 7 p.m. Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Call 202-364-1919 or visit politics-prose.com.
CHICAGO CITY LIMITS
One State, Two State, Red State, Blue State is the name of an improvised show taking on the faces, places and events of this year's chaotic presidential election. Based on audience input, the show is all about "camPAIN 2016 -- an interactive look at what the Don has Done, the Thrillery of Hillary and Feeling the Berned Out." Named as a hat tip to Chicago's towering improv troupe Second City, Chicago City Limits is actually a New York-based company. Saturday, Aug. 27, at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. Arlington Cinema N' Drafthouse, 2903 Columbia Pike, Arlington. Tickets are $20. Call 703-486-2345 or visit arlingtondrafthouse.com.
A night of stand-up in the city's leading performing arts venue from the British-born, Emmy-winning comedian and writer, known for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and his own HBO satirical news show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Wednesday, Aug. 24, through Saturday, Aug. 27, at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Kennedy Center Concert Hall. Tickets are $59 to $79. Call 202-467-4600 or visit kennedy-center.org.
ROY WOOD JR.
A leading correspondent on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, the former Last Comic Standing contestant returns to his roots in stand-up for a special Labor Day run of D.C. shows. Friday, Sept. 2, at 7:30 p.m. and 9:45 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 3, at 7:30 p.m. and 9:45 p.m., and Sunday, Sept. 4, at 7:30 p.m. DC Improv, 1140 Connecticut Ave. NW. Tickets are $22, plus a two-item minimum. Call 202-296-7008 or visit dcimprov.com.
ART AS POLITICS
Pressing social issues or current political events are highlighted in 127 works from more than 90 artists -- including racism and #BlackLivesMatter, immigration and border walls, women's rights and rape, gun violence and climate change. The show includes works in various sizes and in all media, including paintings, quilts, video installations and glass and wood sculptures -- or "every possible everything," as Touchstone Gallery's director Ksenia Grishkova tells Metro Weekly. "We're very thrilled about the quality of work this year. How it really represents what is happening right now. You walk in and you feel kind of submerged in all the issues." Closes Thursday, Aug. 25. Touchstone Gallery, 901 New York Ave. NW. Call 202-347-2787 or visit touchstonegallery.com.
BOEING MILESTONES OF FLIGHT HALL
The National Air and Space Museum's central exhibition space reopened July 1 after a major two-year renovation sponsored by Boeing, or the museum's 40th anniversary to the day. John Glenn's Mercury "Friendship 7," Charles Lindbergh's "Spirit of St. Louis," the Gemini IV capsule, and SpaceShipOne are among the museum's most iconic artifacts that are once again on view, but in a new streamlined way along with digital enhancements meant to give a deeper understanding of how spaceflight and aviation have affected all Americans' lives. New to the hall is the Apollo Lunar Module and the studio model of the Starship Enterprise from the original Star Trek series, among other additions. Now open. National Air and Space Museum, Independence Ave at 6th St. SW. Call 202-633-2214 or visit airandspace.si.edu.
CARL VAN VECHTEN: HARLEM HEROES
Many central figures in the Harlem Renaissance were captured by photographer Carl Van Vechten, some when they were young and on the cusp of achieving international fame, from James Baldwin and Langston Hughes to Bessie Smith and Ella Fitzgerald. There are 39 images spanning over 30 years, all drawn from the Smithsonian American Art Museum's permanent collection, but never before presented as a set since they were acquired in 1983. Opens Friday, Aug. 26. On exhibit through March 19, 2017. Smithsonian American Art Museum, 8th and F Streets NW. Free. Call 202-633-1000 or visit americanart.si.edu.
Maryland's Adah Rose Gallery shakes things up this summer by presenting shows curated by former interns and patrons, offering a mix of gallery artists and guests including Sarah Purvey, Sheila Giolitti, Christina Tenaglia, Dave Rothschild, Gregory Ferrand, Joy Garnett, Kyujin Lee, Tim Makepeace, McCain McMurray, and Gabe Brown. The exhibits, which have rotated every three weeks, range from a focus on large-scale paintings to emphasis on color or text. Closes Aug. 31. Adah Rose Gallery, 3766 Howard Ave. Kensington, Md. Call 301-922-0162 or visit adahrosegallery.com.
Digital drawings and pictures made from lace depicting migration movements and their causes is the focus of this exhibition presented at the Goethe-Institut. Escape Routes combines media's contemporary visual language with the rare and ancient craft of lace production to tell a powerful narrative on the topic of mutual interdependence in a globalized world undergoing rapid transition -- including 60 million people worldwide fleeing civil wars, persecution and poverty. Closes Aug. 31. Goethe-Institut Washington, 1990 K St. NW. Ste. 03. Call 202-847-4700 or visit goethe.de.
Humorous, fun art from local artists is the focus of an exhibit that has inspired a "mini-FUN-raiser," titled "Can You Spare A Square?" with additional artworks, made on small squares, donated by artists to benefit the gallery and available for purchase. Closes Aug. 28. Del Ray Artisans Gallery, 2704 Mount Vernon Ave. Alexandria. Call 703-731-8802 or visit thedelrayartisans.org.
KEHINDE WILEY: A NEW REPUBLIC
Nearly 60 paintings and sculptures comprise this stunning retrospective organized by the Brooklyn Museum. As seen in the background on Fox's Empire, gay African-American artist Kehinde Wiley is known for appropriating the format of specific paintings by masters such as Titian and Edouard Manet, but replacing European aristocrats with contemporary black subjects. Decked out in hip-hop attire and set against ornate decorative backgrounds evoking earlier ostentatious eras and cultures, Wiley's work raises questions about race, gender and the politics of representation -- specifically drawing attention to the absence of African Americans from historical and cultural narratives. Now through Sept. 5. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 200 North Boulevard. Richmond, Va. Call 804-340-1400 or visit vmfa.state.va.us.
Long View Gallery presents its sixth annual exhibition featuring new works by gallery favorites, this year including Sondra N. Arkin, Michelle Peterson-Albandoz, J. Jordan Bruns, Lori Katz, Georgia Nassikas, Curtis Speer, Eve Stockton, and Robert Stuart. Also represented are two artists new to Long View, Matt Neumann and Darlene Charneco. Opening reception is Thursday, Aug. 18, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. On display through Sept. 18. Long View Gallery, 1234 9th St. NW. Call 202-232-4788 or visit longviewgallery.com.
WADE KRAMM: DOTTED SPACE
When viewed from particular angles, the dotted lines in the works by the Pennsylvania artist seem like three-dimensional shapes, some of which appear to continue through the gallery walls on which they're displayed. The 2016 winner of Target Gallery's Open Exhibition competition, designed to spotlight an up-and-coming contemporary artist, Wade Kramm combines minimalism with architecture and perception to reshape the artistic space -- or, as competition judge photojournalist Victoria Milko put it, "abandoning the two-dimensional, transforming and utilizing the space all the way up into the corners of the room." Dotted Space features site-specific installations and a series of artist pop-up books that use dotted lines to demarcate rectilinear spaces. Closes Aug. 28. Target Gallery in the Torpedo Factory Art Center, 105 North Union St. Alexandria. Free. Call 703-838-4565 or visit torpedofactory.org.
17TH STREET FESTIVAL
The Historic Dupont Circle Main Streets' 7th Annual 17th Street Festival is intended to celebrate 25 restaurants and gay-friendly businesses in the 1500 and 1600 blocks on one of the gayest streets in the city. Among 100 vendors and 50 artists and performers, this year's event includes a baby parade at 1 p.m., a wagon parade at 2 p.m., and a dog costume walk at 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 27, from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Call 202-656-4487 or visit 17thStreetFestival.org for more information.
The public radio star behind This American Life makes his Wolf Trap debut with a solo show, Seven Things I've Learned, sharing his insights on being a storyteller. Saturday, Aug. 20, at 8 p.m.The Filene Center at Wolf Trap, 1551 Trap Road, Vienna. Tickets are $25 to $55. Call 877-WOLFTRAP or visit wolftrap.org.
Regie Cabico and Don Mike Mendoza's La-Ti-Do variety show features higher-quality singing than most karaoke, often from local musical theater actors performing on their night off, but also includes spoken-word poetry and comedy. Held at Bistro Bistro in Dupont Circle, Mendoza co-hosts with Anya Randall Nebel shows in August featuring Eben K. Logan, who was a knockout as Whatsername in Keegan Theatre's American Idiot. Monday, Aug. 22, and Monday, Aug. 29, at 8 p.m. Bistro Bistro, 1727 Connecticut Ave. NW. Tickets are $15, or $10 if you eat dinner at the restaurant beforehand. Call 202-328-1640 or visit latidodc.wix.com/latido.