Metro Weekly

Operatic Intent

UrbanArias finds “winning combination” to attract new opera fans

Pulley-and-Hall-Ft-Worth
“I always thought opera was kind of silly when I was growing up,” concedes Jake Heggie, adding with a laugh, “and sometimes I still do.”

Heggie was weaned on American musicals, and grew up writing songs in that style. But years of work with some bold-named opera stars, including Frederica von Stade and Renee Fleming, eventually led to a commission from the San Francisco Opera, where he once worked in the marketing department. And more than 15 years since that first commission, composing Terrence McNally’s adaptation of the film Dead Man Walking, Heggie has been committed to the genre and putting his own musical theater-esque stamp on it.

“We have to make a strong case to make this traditionally European form our own,” he says. “Looking at all the different permutations of stories and combinations of singers and instruments throughout history, not to mention today, shows you just how versatile this art form is.”

Heggie has a kindred spirit in UrbanArias, which Robert Wood founded more than four years ago as a way to make opera more accessible and affordable to new audiences. This nationally recognized, Arlington-based company opens its new season with a production of Three Decembers, a 90-minute opera Heggie developed with librettist Gene Scheer, adapted from a script by Terrence McNally. The intimate piece explores the dysfunctional relationship between a Broadway diva and her two children over the course of three decades, charting the impact of AIDS and the rise of gay rights. “It’s very important that people today remember what that period was like,” Heggie says, “because a lot of young people don’t know what it was like or what was going on.”

Heggie, who lives in San Francisco with his actor husband Curt Branom and is currently in the final stages of writing another new opera with McNally, is thrilled by the efforts of UrbanArias and other organizations for pushing opera in new directions.

“It’s exciting to see a younger generation, a generation behind me who are getting opportunities to write operas in a way that I never could have imagined,” he says.

Three Decembers opens Saturday, Sept. 27, at 8 p.m., with additional performances Sunday, Sept. 28, at 2 p.m., Friday, Oct. 3, at 8 p.m., and Saturday, Oct. 4, at 8 p.m. Artisphere, 1101 Wilson Blvd. Arlington. Tickets are $28. Call 703-875-1100 or visit urbanarias.org.

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"Pippin", the Modern Musical Sensation

at Ainslie Arts Center, Alexandria
OFFER DATES:
Fri, July 20
Sun, July 22
Sat, July 28
+ 2 more dates
Fri, July 20
Sun, July 22
Sat, July 28
Sun, July 29
Sun, July 29
[less-]
FULL PRICE: $40
OFFER PRICE: $20

After dazzling audiences in New York and Boston -- and winning the 2013 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical -- an exciting new staging of "Pippin" comes to Alexandria. This updated version of the... [more+]

After dazzling audiences in New York and Boston -- and winning the 2013 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical -- an exciting new staging of "Pippin" comes to Alexandria. This updated version of the Broadway classic infuses the production with a modern vision through the millennial lens, while still rocking the music and lyrics of Stephen Schwartz, the award-winning composer of "Wicked" and "Godspell". With classic songs like "Corner of the Sky," "No Time at All," "Magic to Do" and "Extraordinary," and recreated versions of Bob Fosse's original choreography, this sexy and sophisticated version of "Pippin" tells the story of the son of Charlemagne, leader of the Holy Roman Empire, who goes on a death-defying journey to find meaning in life. He encounters love, sex, war and politics, and must ultimately choose between a life that's ordinary or a flash of singular glory. Monumental Theatre Company, winner of the 2018 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company, brings the musical to the Ainslie Arts Center. [less-]

Bobby McKey's Dueling Piano Show: Hear the Hits in Fun, Interactive Show

at Bobby McKey's Dueling Piano Bar, National Harbor
OFFER DATES:
Fri, July 20
Fri, July 27
Fri, August 03
+ 4 more dates
Fri, July 20
Fri, July 27
Fri, August 03
Fri, August 10
Fri, August 17
Fri, August 24
Fri, August 31
[less-]
FULL PRICE: $15
OFFER PRICE: $8.50

Just try and stump the talented singer-piano duo on stage each night at Bobby McKey's. Whether it's Beyoncé or Beethoven, Jay Z or ZZ Top, Meatloaf or Mozart, these guys are sure to have it covered. ... [more+]

Just try and stump the talented singer-piano duo on stage each night at Bobby McKey's. Whether it's Beyoncé or Beethoven, Jay Z or ZZ Top, Meatloaf or Mozart, these guys are sure to have it covered. DC's only dueling piano bar hosts these entertaining and interactive shows, where the wait staff has been known to jump on stage to perform choreographed dance routines and where you and your friends are encouraged to get in on the action as well. Plus, Bobby McKey's boasts a full bar with specialty drinks, beer on tap and plenty of snacks and sandwiches to order. [less-]

Attack of the Comics Comedy Show

at Drafthouse Comedy Theater, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Fri, July 20
Fri, July 27
FULL PRICE: COMP
OFFER PRICE: FREE

Drafthouse Comedy Presents Attack of the Comics: DC's longest running Stand-up Open Mic. We showcase the real. Seasoned Comics need to work things out. Young Comics need to work things out. Sometimes ... [more+]

Drafthouse Comedy Presents Attack of the Comics: DC's longest running Stand-up Open Mic. We showcase the real. Seasoned Comics need to work things out. Young Comics need to work things out. Sometimes these Comics collide on the same stage. Come to our new show, on Friday Night's, and get this work! Attack or The Comics, Join the Rebellion, and do something different. [less-]

"#poolparty"

at Joe's Movement Emporium, Mt. Rainier
OFFER DATES:
Fri, July 20
Sat, July 21
Sat, July 21
FULL PRICE: $25
OFFER PRICE: $12.50

"#poolparty" is a thought-provoking play about the history of swimming pools, the desegregation of a private swim club, and how the legacy of racism in the water continues to affect us all. See Jennif... [more+]

"#poolparty" is a thought-provoking play about the history of swimming pools, the desegregation of a private swim club, and how the legacy of racism in the water continues to affect us all. See Jennifer Mendenhall's play at Joe's Movement Emporium in Mt. Rainier. [less-]

"Absolute Brightness": One-Man Whodunit

at 1st Stage Theater, Tysons
OFFER DATES:
Fri, July 20
Sat, July 21
Sun, July 22
FULL PRICE: $20
OFFER PRICE: $10

A brash New Jersey detective visits a vibrant seaside town to investigate the disappearance of a teenager in the one-man mystery "The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey". Through interviews with a ... [more+]

A brash New Jersey detective visits a vibrant seaside town to investigate the disappearance of a teenager in the one-man mystery "The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey". Through interviews with a withdrawn teenage girl, her abrasive but warmhearted hairdresser mom, the British proprietor of a dance-and-drama school and at least half-a-dozen other distinct characters, the truth of Leonard's disappearance unfolds to a luminous conclusion. "The New York Times" raved the play "leave[s] you beaming with joy" and "The New Yorker" proclaimed it "a whodunit with a heart of gold." See it at 1st Stage Theater in Tysons. [less-]

The DC Comedy Showcase

at Comedy Club DC, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Fri, July 20
Sat, July 21
Fri, July 27
+ 32 more dates
Fri, July 20
Sat, July 21
Fri, July 27
Sat, July 28
Fri, August 03
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Fri, August 10
Sat, August 11
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Sat, August 18
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Sat, August 25
Fri, August 31
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Sat, September 15
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Sat, September 22
Fri, September 28
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Fri, October 12
Fri, October 19
Fri, October 26
Fri, November 02
Fri, November 09
Fri, November 16
Fri, November 23
Fri, November 30
Fri, December 07
Fri, December 14
Fri, December 21
Fri, December 28
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FULL PRICE: $5 - $15
OFFER PRICE: COMP - $7.50

Experience the DC Comedy Showcase in Adams Morgan, D.C. at Comedy Club DC. The showroom and tavern will have you feeling fresh and ready to kick back for the best laughs. Laugh Buzz Comedy hosts natio... [more+]

Experience the DC Comedy Showcase in Adams Morgan, D.C. at Comedy Club DC. The showroom and tavern will have you feeling fresh and ready to kick back for the best laughs. Laugh Buzz Comedy hosts nationally touring comedians and showcases the hottest local comedians. Talent from HBO, Showtime and Comedy Central are known to drop in on any given night. Bask in the cool atmosphere, enjoy friendly and attentive staff, and listen to famous comedy in a range of styles. It's the perfect idea for D.C. date night, meeting new people, or just a fun night on the town. [less-]

Performance Art, Poetry & Theater Combined in "A New Nation"

at Anacostia Arts Center, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Fri, July 20
Sat, July 21
Sat, July 21
+ 6 more dates
Fri, July 20
Sat, July 21
Sat, July 21
Sun, July 22
Thu, July 26
Fri, July 27
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Sat, July 28
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FULL PRICE: $18
OFFER PRICE: $10

"A New Nation" is the latest performance piece generated through Convergence Theatre's Guerrilla Theatre Works model, a synthesis of performance art, poetry, interviews and physical theatre. "A New Na... [more+]

"A New Nation" is the latest performance piece generated through Convergence Theatre's Guerrilla Theatre Works model, a synthesis of performance art, poetry, interviews and physical theatre. "A New Nation" probes responses to the immigration crisis in the US and current perceptions of the stranger, amplifying diverse voices to challenge fear and strengthen our sense of home. The journey of an unaccompanied minor, a deportation notice and everyday life in a new land are glimpses of the narratives that move beyond the boundaries of the theatre itself. See it at the Anacostia Arts Center in Washington, D.C. [less-]

"The Daily Show"'s Michael Kosta

at Drafthouse Comedy Theater, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Fri, July 20
Sat, July 21
Sat, July 21
FULL PRICE: $25
OFFER PRICE: $12.50

A stand-up veteran who has appeared on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno", "Conan", "Late Night with Seth Meyers" and "@midnight", Michael Kosta has been a fixture on TV since his breakout performance a... [more+]

A stand-up veteran who has appeared on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno", "Conan", "Late Night with Seth Meyers" and "@midnight", Michael Kosta has been a fixture on TV since his breakout performance at HBO's U.S. Comedy Arts Festival. He hosted and co-wrote "The Comment Section", guest-hosted "Attack of the Show" and co-hosted "Crowd Goes Wild" with Regis Philbin. He also served as a correspondent on "The Soup" spinoff series "The Soup Investigates". His specials include "Comedy Central Presents: Michael Kosta" and "Comedy for Attractive People". [less-]

The Hypocrites' "Pirates of Penzance"

at Olney Theatre Center - Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab, Olney
OFFER DATES:
Fri, July 20
Sat, July 28
Sun, July 29
+ 1 more dates
Fri, July 20
Sat, July 28
Sun, July 29
Sun, August 12
[less-]
FULL PRICE: $64
OFFER PRICE: $32

Chicago's most innovative theatre company, The Hypocrites, are back at the DC area's Olney Theatre Center with an encore engagement of their critically-acclaimed, inventively-immersive and family-frie... [more+]

Chicago's most innovative theatre company, The Hypocrites, are back at the DC area's Olney Theatre Center with an encore engagement of their critically-acclaimed, inventively-immersive and family-friendly version of Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Pirates of Penzance". This promenade-style production encourages you to follow the actors around the stage as they lead you on an 80-minute exotic getaway featuring bathing beauties, philosophizing pirates and grown men in remarkably short shorts. Great for your whole crew -- kids included -- The Hypocrites' take on the beloved comic musical tells the story of Frederic, a pirate apprentice who expects to be released from servitude at the age of 21, so he can live happily ever after with the lovely young Mabel. But since his birthday falls on Leap Day, he learns he'll be sticking around a lot longer. It's a roller coaster ride of swashbuckling action and merry music, featuring many of Gilbert and Sullivan's wittiest and most engaging tunes, including the immortal "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General." [less-]

UCB Improv Show "Damned If You Do"

at Woolly Mammoth Theatre, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Fri, July 20
Sat, July 21
Sat, July 21
+ 5 more dates
Fri, July 20
Sat, July 21
Sat, July 21
Sun, July 22
Tue, July 24
Wed, July 25
Thu, July 26
Sat, July 28
[less-]
FULL PRICE: $30 - $35
OFFER PRICE: $18 - $21

What if you finally try moonlight rock climbing? What if you call your Uncle Ted out on his awful toupee? What if you get up the courage to tell your mom you actually hate her meatloaf? How different ... [more+]

What if you finally try moonlight rock climbing? What if you call your Uncle Ted out on his awful toupee? What if you get up the courage to tell your mom you actually hate her meatloaf? How different could your life be because of one seemingly innocuous choice? Before you decide, let The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre -- the world's most audacious improv troupe that launched the careers of Amy Poehler, Kate McKinnon, Ellie Kemper and Bobby Moynihan -- play out your potential futures in front of your eyes... just to be sure it won't make your life a complete and total disaster. Witness a hilarious version of the future at Washington DC's Woolly Mammoth Theatre. [less-]

"On The Town": Classic WWII Musical

at Olney Theatre Center - Mainstage, Olney
OFFER DATES:
Fri, July 20
Sat, July 21
Sat, July 21
+ 6 more dates
Fri, July 20
Sat, July 21
Sat, July 21
Sun, July 22
Thu, July 26
Fri, July 27
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Sun, July 29
[less-]
FULL PRICE: $59 - $84
OFFER PRICE: $29.50 - $42

As World War II rages overseas, three sailors on leave have 24 hours to spend in New York City in the classic musical "On the Town", coming to the Olney Theatre Center's Mainstage. Featuring a score b... [more+]

As World War II rages overseas, three sailors on leave have 24 hours to spend in New York City in the classic musical "On the Town", coming to the Olney Theatre Center's Mainstage. Featuring a score by Leonard Bernstein that includes the standard "New York, New York," this delightful romp follows Ozzie, Chip and Gabey as they meet up with three lively ladies for an adventure through the City That Never Sleeps. Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly later made a film version, but there's nothing like catching a Broadway favorite on stage. [less-]

"Whose Line"-Style Improv With StageCoach Bandits

at StageCoach Theatre Company, Ashburn
OFFER DATES:
Fri, July 20
Fri, August 17
Fri, September 21
FULL PRICE: $15
OFFER PRICE: $7.50

Join the StageCoach Bandits monthly for Third Friday Improv at StageCoach Theatre Company in Ashburn! Just like "Whose Line Is It Anyway?", the Bandits perform short-form improv using suggestions from... [more+]

Join the StageCoach Bandits monthly for Third Friday Improv at StageCoach Theatre Company in Ashburn! Just like "Whose Line Is It Anyway?", the Bandits perform short-form improv using suggestions from the audience. Shows are completely interactive. No show or game is ever the same twice! [less-]

Speakeasies & Craft Cocktail Tour of the Capitol

at Temperance Fountain, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Fri, July 20
Sat, July 21
Sun, July 22
+ 9 more dates
Fri, July 20
Sat, July 21
Sun, July 22
Mon, July 23
Tue, July 24
Wed, July 25
Thu, July 26
Fri, July 27
Sat, July 28
Sun, July 29
Mon, July 30
Tue, July 31
[less-]
FULL PRICE: $64
OFFER PRICE: $32

If there's one thing you'll immediately learn about the hardworking citizens of Washington, D.C., it's that they love a good happy hour! Urban Adventures helps you sip your way through the Capitol's v... [more+]

If there's one thing you'll immediately learn about the hardworking citizens of Washington, D.C., it's that they love a good happy hour! Urban Adventures helps you sip your way through the Capitol's vibing craft cocktail scene, where you'll sample sweet libations at hidden gems and even learn how to make your own drinks. Get a history lesson too on how prohibition shaped D.C., and discover the speakeasies that still thrive here today. [less-]

Tragic Tales of Georgetown: Walking Tour Unearths Scary Stories

at Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Fri, July 20
Sun, July 22
Tue, July 24
+ 11 more dates
Fri, July 20
Sun, July 22
Tue, July 24
Fri, July 27
Tue, July 31
Fri, August 03
Tue, August 07
Fri, August 10
Tue, August 14
Fri, August 17
Tue, August 21
Fri, August 24
Tue, August 28
Fri, August 31
[less-]
FULL PRICE: $20
OFFER PRICE: $10

The tragedy of Georgetown's darker side encompasses the oldest neighborhood in D.C. with local legends, ghost stories and true crime events from its past. In this evening walking tour, you will stroll... [more+]

The tragedy of Georgetown's darker side encompasses the oldest neighborhood in D.C. with local legends, ghost stories and true crime events from its past. In this evening walking tour, you will stroll the historic streets of Georgetown and hear long ago tales of tragedy, romance and lore. With its architecture, pedigree, and ambiance, Georgetown is a lovely place to visit. However, the houses, churches and cemeteries of this tiny neighborhood are still haunted by their past. Come find out why ... This tour is for adults only due to mature content. [less-]

Improv Variety Show "Summer Escape"

at Source, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Fri, July 20
Fri, July 20
Sat, July 21
+ 14 more dates
Fri, July 20
Fri, July 20
Sat, July 21
Sat, July 21
Sun, July 22
Thu, July 26
Fri, July 27
Fri, July 27
Sat, July 28
Sat, July 28
Sun, July 29
Thu, August 02
Fri, August 03
Fri, August 03
Sat, August 04
Sat, August 04
Sun, August 05
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FULL PRICE: $15 - $30
OFFER PRICE: COMP - $15

Step out of your everyday and into the world of "Summer Escape" -- the perfect antidote to sticky, monotonous summers full of traffic, pit stains and the dodging of tour groups. Washington Improv Thea... [more+]

Step out of your everyday and into the world of "Summer Escape" -- the perfect antidote to sticky, monotonous summers full of traffic, pit stains and the dodging of tour groups. Washington Improv Theater has a lineup that's hot in all the right ways, ranging from company ensembles like Madeline and Nox! to a reprise of the hit show, "In Lieu of Flowers". From improvised stories of rock bands, complete with live instruments, to improvised funerals based on the life stories of volunteers from the audience, and even improvised musicals about potential ways the world will end, the lineup for "Summer Escape" changes nightly -- but each performance is sure to make you laugh. Enjoy the show at Source in Washington, DC. [less-]

Improv Comedy at The Highwood Theatre

at The Highwood Theatre, Silver Spring
OFFER DATES:
Fri, July 20
Fri, July 27
FULL PRICE: $11
OFFER PRICE: $5.50

Make plans to see Highwood's Improv Comedy Night and get ready to laugh your tush off. Named one of the top ten comedy shows in the D.C. area by DC Thrillist, the show gathers Washington, D.C.'s best ... [more+]

Make plans to see Highwood's Improv Comedy Night and get ready to laugh your tush off. Named one of the top ten comedy shows in the D.C. area by DC Thrillist, the show gathers Washington, D.C.'s best improv groups for a night of spontaneous fun at Silver Spring's The Highwood Theatre. You never know what these comedians will throw at you when they transform audience suggestions into hilarious and original sketches. Whether you're an improv newbie or veteran, these funny folks will have everything to suit your comedy palate, including political humor, pop reference jabs and silly songs. [less-]

"Seussical": Musical Combines Beloved Characters

at Kenmore Auditorium, Arlington
OFFER DATES:
Fri, July 20
Sat, July 21
Sat, July 21
+ 4 more dates
Fri, July 20
Sat, July 21
Sat, July 21
Thu, July 26
Fri, July 27
Sat, July 28
Sat, July 28
[less-]
FULL PRICE: $15
OFFER PRICE: $7.50

The Cat in the Hat tells the story of the colorful characters who live in the Jungle of Nool, featuring youth performers from Encore Stage & Studio. Horton the Elephant hears a sound coming from a spe... [more+]

The Cat in the Hat tells the story of the colorful characters who live in the Jungle of Nool, featuring youth performers from Encore Stage & Studio. Horton the Elephant hears a sound coming from a speck of dust on a clover and discovers an entire world of the Whos. Jojo, an imaginative Who, keeps getting in trouble for thinking too many "thinks." Horton must not only protect the Whos on their clover, but also sit on an abandoned egg, left to him to look after by Mayzie LaBird. Gertrude McFuzz, Horton's next door neighbor and admirer, fights to rescue him. Enjoy the many beloved characters of Dr. Seuss when family-friendly musical "Seussical" comes to Arlington's Kenmore Auditorium. The whole gang will teach lessons about friendship, loyalty and community. [less-]

Quirky Comedy "Be a Good Little Widow"

at River Road Unitarian, Bethesda
OFFER DATES:
Fri, July 20
Sat, July 21
Sun, July 22
+ 3 more dates
Fri, July 20
Sat, July 21
Sun, July 22
Thu, July 26
Fri, July 27
Sat, July 28
[less-]
FULL PRICE: $20 - $22.50
OFFER PRICE: $10 - $11.25

A quirky comedy by "This is Us" producer/writer Bekah Brunstetter, "Be a Good Little Widow" contemplates how devotion and hope can persevere in the midst of unexpected loss. Melody thought being a you... [more+]

A quirky comedy by "This is Us" producer/writer Bekah Brunstetter, "Be a Good Little Widow" contemplates how devotion and hope can persevere in the midst of unexpected loss. Melody thought being a young wife was hard, until she became a widow. As she contemplates the proper way to grieve, her mother-in-law is by her side with expert, never-ending, yet well-meaning, advice. From dutiful black dresses to inappropriate outbursts, Melody navigates an uncharted course towards understanding what it means to find someone through losing them. Take the journey at River Road Unitarian in Bethesda. [less-]

"Hello, Dolly!" Broadway's Award-Winning Hit Musical

at Upper Room Theatre, Manassas
OFFER DATES:
Sat, July 21
Sat, July 21
FULL PRICE: $20
OFFER PRICE: $10

Considered one of the great American musicals, this family-friendly Broadway favorite features a cast of delightfully fun characters and a fabulous ensemble. With a record 10 Tony Awards, including Be... [more+]

Considered one of the great American musicals, this family-friendly Broadway favorite features a cast of delightfully fun characters and a fabulous ensemble. With a record 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, it's currently one of the Top 20 all-time longest-running shows. You'll join the adventures (and misadventures) of the brassy, matchmaking widow Dolly Levi and her zany friends in New York, as this high-energy perennial favorite delivers a timeless message about how people are more important than material wants and money. Featuring a well-loved, joyful score and lyrics, as well as a highly comedic story, this enduring treasure has been mounted numerous times, including the Tony Award-winning revival currently on Broadway. But this summer you won't have to travel that far, because it's coming to the stage of the Upper Room Theatre in the DC area. [less-]

Killin' Em Softly-A 70s Soiree

at Creative Cauldron, Falls Church
OFFER DATES:
Sat, July 21
FULL PRICE: $22
OFFER PRICE: $11

"Authentic, endearing, humble" and "genuinely funny" are just a few bits from "Broadway World"'s review of Jade Jones when she performed at 2016's Summer Cabaret series. She's back this summer with a ... [more+]

"Authentic, endearing, humble" and "genuinely funny" are just a few bits from "Broadway World"'s review of Jade Jones when she performed at 2016's Summer Cabaret series. She's back this summer with a '70s soiree that will leave this year's audience cheering for another encore. Check her out and sing along a few bars at Creative Cauldron in Falls Church. [less-]

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