Metro Weekly

Alexandria’s MetroStage turns 30

Alexandria's MetroStage celebrates three decades of providing powerful experiences

Metro Stage: 30th-anniversary and Three Sistahs Photo by Chris Banks

Three Sistahs – Photo: Chris Banks

“When you have a 130-seat theater with a semi-thrust stage,” Carolyn Griffin says, “you better have the best actors in town because there are no secrets on that stage.”

True to form, Griffin has consistently recruited the best actors for shows at Alexandria’s MetroStage. In fact, the 30-year-old outfit was originally named the American Showcase Theatre Company, “founded to showcase acting teachers and students.” Griffin changed the name after becoming artistic director a few years later, but never changed focus on presenting strong actors, working in tandem.

“I don’t think I’ve ever had a critic say I had an uneven cast,” asserts Griffin, who has numerous Helen Hayes Award nominations for best ensemble performance to prove it. “I take pride in … these kind of remarkable ensemble pieces that resonate with an audience. And because the audience is so close to the stage, it is really a very powerful theater experience.”

It’s also consistently not the kind of experience — or show — you can get elsewhere. “All you have to do is look in the back of American Theater magazine and you’ll see what the hot shows are,” Griffin says. “Everybody is doing the same shows — and we’re not.” Instead, MetroStage has made its name with less buzzy, history-steeped plays featuring just a couple actors — such as Athol Fugard’s The Island, on tap for next spring — and for small, intimate musicals generally focused on the cultural experiences and impact of African Americans. Griffin concedes this can add to the challenge of attracting audiences to MetroStage’s location of the past 12 years, in a developing but still off-the-beaten-path area near the Alexandria waterfront. But it’s worth it in the end, for her, and for audiences, too.

Take, for example, the musical that kicks off MetroStage’s 30th anniversary season. Directed by MetroStage’s most frequent collaborator, Atlanta-based Thomas W. Jones, who also wrote the book and lyrics, Three Sistahs features original gospel, R&B and funk music by William Hubbard, and focuses on sisters who reconnect at their father’s funeral. The show stars MetroStage veterans Bernardine Mitchell and Roz White, along with newcomer Ashley Ware Jenkins — “three of the most terrific African-American performers you’ll ever see on a stage any place,” Griffin boasts.

Noting one theatergoer who vowed to renew long lost ties to her own sister after seeing the show, Griffin says, “It’s leaving people with a powerful feeling as they leave the theater, and that is what I think theater is meant to do and should do.”

Three Sisters runs to Nov. 2 at MetroStage, 1201 North Royal St., Alexandria. Tickets are $55 to $60. Call 800-494-8497 or visit metrostage.org.

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"Till Death Do Us Part" at StageCoach Theatre

at StageCoach Theatre Company, Ashburn
OFFER DATES:
Fri, February 22
Sat, March 02
FULL PRICE: n/a
OFFER PRICE: Sold Out

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OFFER DATES:
Fri, February 22
Fri, March 01
Fri, March 08
+ 6 more dates
Fri, February 22
Fri, March 01
Fri, March 08
Fri, March 15
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OFFER DATES:
Fri, February 22
Sat, February 23
Sat, February 23
FULL PRICE: $25
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OFFER DATES:
Fri, February 22
Sat, February 23
Sat, February 23
+ 3 more dates
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at Spooky Action Theater, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Fri, February 22
Sun, February 24
Sun, February 24
+ 8 more dates
Fri, February 22
Sun, February 24
Sun, February 24
Thu, February 28
Fri, March 01
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at Woolly Mammoth Theatre, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Fri, February 22
Sat, February 23
Sun, February 24
+ 2 more dates
Fri, February 22
Sat, February 23
Sun, February 24
Sun, February 24
Wed, February 27
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"Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure"

at Kensington Town Hall, Kensington
OFFER DATES:
Fri, February 22
Sat, February 23
Sun, February 24
FULL PRICE: n/a
OFFER PRICE: Sold Out

The world’s greatest detective is on the brink of retirement when a case comes up that's just too tempting to ignore. The King of Bohemia is being threatened with blackmail by a compromising photogr... [more+]

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at 1st Stage Theater, Tysons
OFFER DATES:
Fri, February 22
FULL PRICE: $39
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The DC Comedy Showcase

at Comedy Club DC, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Fri, February 22
Fri, February 22
Sat, February 23
+ 21 more dates
Fri, February 22
Fri, February 22
Sat, February 23
Sat, February 23
Fri, March 01
Fri, March 01
Sat, March 02
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OFFER DATES:
Fri, February 22
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at District of Columbia Arts Center, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Fri, February 22
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FULL PRICE: n/a
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Attack of the Comics Comedy Show

at Drafthouse Comedy Theater, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Fri, February 22
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+ 3 more dates
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at Sidney Harman Hall, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Fri, February 22
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Sat, February 23
+ 9 more dates
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at Arlington Cinema 'N' Drafthouse, Arlington
OFFER DATES:
Fri, February 22
Fri, February 22
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at Folger Theatre, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Fri, February 22
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Sat, February 23
+ 18 more dates
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Sat, February 23
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Sun, February 24
Sun, February 24
Tue, February 26
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"Once": Tony-Winning Musical of Hit Film

at Olney Theatre Center - Mainstage, Olney
OFFER DATES:
Fri, February 22
Wed, February 27
Wed, February 27
+ 12 more dates
Fri, February 22
Wed, February 27
Wed, February 27
Thu, February 28
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Is there a more goosebump-raising romantic song than Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova's "Falling Slowly?" You might say yes, but then you might have to come to blows to defend that position against the song's legion of devotees. It did, after all, inspire an Oscar-winning movie, "Once", (also starring the real-life musical duo) and a multiple-Tony-winning Broadway musical. "Once" the musical is a poignant ode to love, longing and the power of art, and now it comes to the stage at Olney Theatre Center. A talented cast of actor-musicians play their own instruments as they bring to life Hansard and Irglova's bittersweet songs, and the beautiful story they inspired. [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, February 22
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Fri, March 08
+ 3 more dates
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Cartoons, Cereal + Booze in "Spoons, Toons & Booze"

at Arlington Cinema 'N' Drafthouse, Arlington
OFFER DATES:
Sat, February 23
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FULL PRICE: $15
OFFER PRICE: $7.50

Live out your rock n’ roll fantasies at "Spoons, Toons & Booze Rocks!" at Arlington Cinema 'N' Drafthouse. They've got your favorite Saturday morning and weekday afternoon cartoons on the big screen... [more+]

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National Philharmonic Re-Creates Bernstein's Debut

at Music Center at Strathmore, North Bethesda
OFFER DATES:
Sat, February 23
FULL PRICE: $72
OFFER PRICE: $32 - $36

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Delphi Trio

at Historic Dumbarton Church, Washington
OFFER DATES:
Sat, February 23
FULL PRICE: $42
OFFER PRICE: $12

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

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