Metro Weekly

Out on the Town: DC arts & entertainment highlights, June 15-21

Film, stage, dance, food and more in Washington, DC

Blue Velvet


This neo-noir mystery is regarded as one of David Lynch’s finest films, as well as one of the best from the 1980s. It’s credited with re-launching the career of Dennis Hopper and proving the acting bona fides of Isabella Rossellini. Hopper plays the sadistic tormentor of Rossellini, a nightclub singer. Kyle MacLachlan stars as an amateur investigator examining a mystery behind a severed ear. Upcoming screenings, as part of a Lynch retrospective at the AFI, are Friday, June 23, at 9:15 p.m., Saturday, June 24, at 10:15 p.m. and Sunday, June 25, at 9:15 p.m. AFI Silver Theatre, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. Tickets are $13. Call 301-495-6720 or visit

Pixar’s least critically successful franchise offers its third outing, after the previous two films racked up almost a billion dollars at the box office. This time, Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) struggles to overcome the dreadful reviews and nonsensical storyline of the second film. Brian Fee directs. Open Friday, June 16. Area theaters. Visit (Rhuaridh Marr)

Guardians maintains the scrappy, jokesy, lovable nature that made the first film such a huge success — and such a breath of fresh air compared with the slightly stale, formulaic nature of Marvel’s other franchises. With its bold colors, brilliant soundtrack and wonderful array of performances, it was a necessary jolt of adrenaline to the cinematic superhero canon. But three years and a bigger budget later, the originality has diminished. What’s here isn’t fresh, though it’s still very palatable. Now playing. Area theaters. Visit (RM)

This year’s documentary film festival hosted by the American Film Institute includes four LGBTQ-themed films: Anatomy of a Dancer, David Barba and James Pellerito’s intimate portrait of American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Marcelo Gomes; Chavela, Catherine Gund and Daresha Kyi’s portrait of Mexico’s renowned, uncompromising lesbian folk singer Chavela Vargas; Dries, Reiner Holzemer’s visually sumptuous introduction to influential Belgian fashion designer Dries Van Noten; and Strong Island, Yance Ford’s searing, deeply moving and personal examination about his brother’s death, his acquitted white murderers, and the familial repercussions. The festival runs from June 14 to 18, with screenings at AFI Silver Theatre, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, and Landmark E Street Cinema, 555 11th St. NW. Tickets are $13 each screening. Call 301-495-6720 or visit

Sara Jordeno’s documentary introduces the world to the LGBTQ youth of color leading New York’s subculture Kiki Scene, heralded as today’s version of the Ball Scene that Madonna and Paris Is Burning captured 25 years ago. At least one of the members of the Haus of Pucci is scheduled to join Jordeno for the screening, hosted by Rayceen Pendarvis of The Ask Rayceen Show. Friday, June 16, at 7 and 10 p.m. Studio Theatre, 14th & P Streets NW. Tickets are $12, or $25 for VIP seating as well as one complimentary cocktail, beer or wine and popcorn. Call 202-682-2245 or visit

Rough Night

Described as The Hangover meets Weekend at Bernie’s, writer/director Lucia Aniello’s comedy stars Scarlett Johansson, Zoë Kravitz, Jillian Bell, Ilana Glazer and Kate McKinnon as members of a bachelorette party that takes a dramatic turn for the worst (i.e., killing a male stripper). Aniello’s script was considered one of the top unproduced scripts in Hollywood in 2015. Open Friday, June 16. Area theaters. Visit (RM)

Naomi Watts leads this drama about a single mother raising two sons, one of whom is a precocious genius — Henry (Jaeden Lieberher). After developing a crush on Christina, his neighbor, he devises a plan to save her from her overbearing father. His mother uncovers his plan and, because this is film, helps him put it into action, rather than just alerting social services. Open Friday, June 16. Area theaters. Visit (RM)

Sam Elliott stars as an aging movie star trying to overcome failing health and a lifetime of regrets in Brett Haley’s drama. Critics have been mixed, but Elliott seemingly gives a strong performance — aided by his “smoky, whiskey-soaked baritone,” as The Hollywood Reporter put it. Open Friday, June 16. Area theaters. Visit (RM)


In the lead-up to its annual festival, Capital Fringe hosts a production of Pallas Theatre’s new musical by Jan Levy Tranen and Jay Schwandt and directed by the company’s Tracey Elaine Chessum. Crazy Mary Lincoln explores the life of First Lady Mary Todd and First Son Robert Todd, following the assassination of the 16th President. Closes Sunday, June 18. Trinidad Theatre at Capital Fringe, 1358 Florida Ave. NE. Tickets are $25, or $20 for Fringe Button Holders. Call 202-737-7230 or visit

HIR — Photo: Scott Suchman

Shana Cooper directs Taylor Mac’s audacious, uproarious black comedy billed as “a kitchen-sink drama covered in glitter.” The story focuses on an Iraqi war veteran who returns to his childhood home and discovers that his family has transformed, from a formerly timid mother out to subvert the patriarchy, to a sister who is now a genderqueer anarchist, to a father who now wears clown makeup. Emily Townley and Mitch Hebert are part of the cast. Closes Sunday, June 18. Woolly Mammoth, 641 D St. NW. Call 202-393-3939 or visit

Round House concludes a season that began with Tony Kushner’s magnum opus Angels in America with an autobiographical tour-de-force from another of America’s greatest, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwrights, the late August Wilson (Fences). Co-conceived and directed by Todd Kreidler, How I Learned What I Learned explores Wilson’s days as a struggling young writer in Pittsburgh. Eugene Lee stars in this one-person show. To July 2. Round House Theatre, 4545 East-West Highway, Bethesda. Tickets are $50 to $60. Call 240-644-1100 or visit

A Jewish bride, a Catholic groom, two clashing mothers, and a jilted ex-lover are the combustible ingredients ensuring that anything that can go wrong will in this musical comedy by writer Brian Hargrove and composer Barbara Anselmi. Jon Kretzu directs “the wackiest wedding you will ever attend.” To July 1. Richmond Triangle Players, 1300 Altamont Ave. Richmond. Tickets are $10 to $35. Call 804-346-8113 or visit

A world premiere stage adaptation of Tony Morrison’s exhilarating novel following a couple who moves from the Virginia countryside to Harlem at the turn of the 20th century — just as the genre of jazz was beginning to flourish. Shanesia Davis is Violet and Leon Addison Brown is Joe, whose later interactions with another woman sets off a series of violent, unforgivable acts. Adapted by Nambi E. Kelley and featuring a cast of 10, including an on-stage Trombonist. To June 25. Baltimore Center Stage, 700 North Calvert St., Baltimore. Tickets are $20 to $69. Call 410-332-0033 or visit

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s rock opera about Jesus gets a “sleek, modern” makeover in a Signature Theatre production helmed by Joe Calarco and starring Nicholas Edwards. The cast includes Signature standouts Natascia Diaz as Mary, Sherri L. Edelen as King Herod, and Bobby Smith as Pontius Pilate. Extended to July 9. Signature Theatre, 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington. Call 703-820-9771 or visit

Lauded local actor Rick Foucheux will retire after a starring turn as Shakespeare’s most troubled patriarch in his greatest tragedy. Avant Bard makes some characteristic tweaks to the classic with this production helmed by Tom Prewitt, including making the Earl of Gloucester a female character, played by Cam Magee. Meanwhile, Christopher Henley, the company’s Artistic Director Emeritus, will play the Fool. To June 25. Gunston Arts Center, 2700 South Lang St. Arlington. Tickets are $30 to $35. Call 703-418-4808 or visit

The legendary late playwright August Wilson was inspired by queer blues belter Ma Rainey in the first of his award-winning Century Cycle of plays, each capturing a different decade of the 20th century. Directed by Deidra LaWan Starnes and starring Thomascena Nelson. To June 25. 1st Stage, 1524 Spring Hill Rd., in Tysons Corner. Tickets are $30. Call 703-854-1856 or visit

A love letter to the thrilling unpredictability of the stage, this famed farce by Tony-winning British playwright Michael Frayn is revived in an Everyman Theatre production directed by Vincent M. Lancisi. Deborah Hazlett and Danny Gavigan lead a cast of eight resident company members portraying a cast of bumbling British thespians, whose backstage buffoonery during a run of the play-within-a-play Nothing On steals the show. You can expect wall-to-wall wackiness, carefully choreographed hijinks and sight gags — including flying sardines — from a comedy that the famed former New York Times theater critic Frank Rich once called “the funniest play written in my lifetime.” Closes Sunday, June 18. Everyman Theatre, 315 West Fayette St. Baltimore. Tickets are $43 to $64. Call 410-752-2208 or visit

With echoes of the recent Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures, Proof explores the uphill climb a woman faces in gaining recognition in the male-dominated field of mathematics, even when she has genetics on her side. Dawn Ursula and Craig Wallace star in David Auburn’s 2001 Tony-winning play by David Auburn. Closes Sunday June 18. Olney Theatre Center, 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, Olney, Md. Call 301-924-3400 or visit

Suburban Maryland community theater troupe the Rude Mechanicals presents an ambitious production subtitled “Shakespeare’s Women in Their Own Words.” Leanne Stump helms a new work that laces together the voices of the most memorable women written by the Bard, from Beatrice’s sharp wit to Juliet’s broken heart. “Though the men take the title, the women oft steal the show,” goes a tagline for the production, which goes even further by letting the “fairer sex” run away with it. Closes Saturday, June 17. Greenbelt Arts Center, 123 Centerway. Greenbelt, Md. Tickets are $22. Call 301-441-8770 or visit

Throughout June, CulturalDC presents its annual festival dedicated to up-and-coming works. This year’s festival is designed as a toast to its first decade, reprising six “Best-Of” 10-Minute Plays as well as the full-length, LGBTQ-themed A Perfect Arrangement, Topher Payne’s 2017 Lambda Literary Award nominee. The dramedy enjoyed an Off Broadway run in 2015, two years after debuting at Source. The festival also features three full-length play readings, six new 10-Minute Plays and two “artistic blind dates.” Runs through July 2. Source, 1835 14th St. NW. Tickets are $20 for each show, $75 for a five-play pass or $150 for VIP including reserved seat, free concessions and restaurant partner discounts. Call 202-204-7760 or visit

Ted Van Griethuysen stars as an 80-year-old man whose world starts unraveling in an original and moving play from Florian Zeller, one of France’s most prolific contemporary playwrights, translated by two-time Tony Award winner Christopher Hampton. The Father won a Moliere Award, the French equivalent of the Tony, in 2014. Kate Eastwood Norris, Caroline Dubberly, Erika Rose, Manny Buckley, and Daniel Harray also star. David Muse directs. Closes Sunday, June 18. Studio Theatre, 14th & P Streets NW. Call 202-332-3300 or visit

Mosaic presents the second play in its 2017 Voices From a Changing Middle East Festival, marking the 50th year since the Six Day War and the start of the Occupation. Palestinian-American playwright and performer Hanna Eady co-wrote the unsettling mystery The Return with Edward Mast. John Vreeke directs a U.S. premiere starring Ahmad Kamal and Alyssa Wilmoth Keegan as two mysterious former lovers who reunite to untangle the trauma and thwarted intimacy of their interconnected history. To July 2. Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE. Tickets are $20 to $60. Call 202-399-7993 or visit

Michael Kahn helms David Ives’ adaptation of Molière’s Le Misanthrope, in an update of the aristocratic, ruthless French satire. Gregory Wooddell plays Frank, whose barbed truth-telling wreaks havoc in a world of pompous suitors and extravagant ladies, until rumors ricochet and alternative facts become reality. To July 9. Lansburgh Theatre, 450 7th St. NW. Call 202-547-1122 or visit

Fresh off the premiere of Kaleidoscope, his latest musical creation with husband Stephen Gregory Smith, Matt Conner’s next project for Creative Cauldron is directing a Young Performers adaptation of the classic movie starring Judy Garland. Tiara Whaley stars as Dorothy, singing “Over The Rainbow” and the other standards by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg everyone knows and loves. To June 25. ArtSpace Falls Church, 410 South Maple Ave. in Falls Church. Tickets are $30. Call 703-436-9948 or visit

In the early 1970s, a quiet bed and breakfast becomes one of the few spots where victims of domestic violence can seek refuge in Sarah Treem’s play. Marie Sproul directs Sheri S. Herren as BNB owner Agnes, with Kaylynn Creighton her college-bound daughter and Jenna Berk a runaway Mary Anne. In previews beginning Friday, June 16. To July 8. Keegan Theatre, 1742 Church St. NW. Tickets are $35 to $45. Call 202-265-3768 or visit



Marin Alsop pulls out all the stops for a closing concert that is grand in every way, including audience favorite Gil Shaham performing Beethoven’s Violin Concerto. Also on tap is The GAME, a world premiere from Christopher Theofanidis. But the centerpiece is one of Alsop’s signature works, the Symphony No. 3 by Saint-Saens, otherwise known as the “Organ Symphony.” Thursday, June 15, and Friday, June 16, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, June 18, at 3 p.m. Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St., Baltimore. Also Saturday, June 17, at 8 p.m. Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda. Tickets are $33 to $99. Call 410-783-8000 or visit

Bright Light Bright Light – Photo: Rod Solo

Unlike his trip to D.C. last week, when he returned to DJ the Otter Crossing party, Rod Thomas will play from his own repertoire when he headlines an intimate show at Songbyrd under his Gremlins-inspired moniker. A young LGBTQ indie artist deserving of far more attention than he’s gotten so far, this New York-based Welsh synth-popper performs songs from Choreography, an impressive set that features three ’80s-channeling pop/rock duets with his childhood idol Elton John, as well songs featuring Jake Shears and Ana Matronic, and Alan Cumming. Thomas will also preview a few new tracks, including the powerfully affirming, anthemic first single “New York Pretty,” from his EP Tales of the City, inspired by Armistead Maupin’s hit book and TV series, and due for release July 7. Thursday, June 22. Doors at 7 p.m. Songbyrd Music House, 2477 18th St. NW. Tickets are $13 to $15. Call 202-450-2917 or visit

In recognition of UN World Refugee Day — Tuesday, June 20 — Miller and Lauderdale offer a live taping of their show Buddy and Jim Show on SiriusXM. Griffin performs as special guest for the evening, a benefit for Jesuit Refugee Service’s Global Education Initiative. Monday, June 19. Doors at 6:30 p.m. The Hamilton, 600 14th St. NW. Tickets are $29.50 to $100. Call 202-787-1000 or visit

In the past year, this local band has opened for Escort and one of D.C.’s most famous bands of the moment, Priests. It’s been a good run, but the band will call it quits after this weekend — but not before a farewell concert. Friday, June 16. Doors at 9 p.m. Black Cat, 1811 14th St. NW. Tickets are $10 to $12. Call 202-667-4490 or visit

Billed as the fastest-growing jazz festival in the U.S., as well as the largest and most diverse music festival in D.C., the DC Jazz Festival presents over 125 performances at venues around town, from Sixth and I Historic Synagogue to the Kennedy Center. Once again, the most impressive lineup in its 13th year is the slate of outdoor concerts at the Yards this weekend, including the Robert Glasper Experiment, Kenny Garrett Quintet, Gregory Porter, and Black Violin. Yet DC Jazz Fest also features other jazz notables, from Pat Metheny to Tommy Cecil, Amy Shook to Lena Seikaly, Sun Ra Arkestra to Hiromi & Edmar Castaneda. The festival runs to June 18. Call 855-332-7767 or visit

Christoph Eschenbach concludes his nine-year tenure as National Symphony Orchestra’s sixth music director the same way he started it, with Beethoven’s masterwork the Ninth Symphony, featuring mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges, tenor Joseph Kaiser, bass Soloman Howard, Leah Crocetto, and the Choral Arts Society. Also on the program is Bright Sheng’s Zodiac Tales. Thursday, June 15, at 7 p.m., Friday, June 16, and Saturday, June 17, at 8 p.m. Kennedy Center Concert Hall. Tickets are $15 to $89. Call 202-467-4600 or visit

The eldest daughter of country music legend Johnny Cash, the singer with the deep, velvet-lined voice has carved her own path to fame. Her most recent album, the thrice-Grammy-winning The River and the Thread, combines roots-oriented music with her trademarked lushness. Soon after its release in 2014, Cash told Metro Weekly that the album’s songs are meant to convey “the theme of Southern place and time.” She returns to the area with her band on Monday, June 26, at 7:30 p.m. The Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. Tickets are $69.50. Call 703-549-7500 or visit

Vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Paul Hammer is the principal behind this Brooklyn-based act. Last year’s The Love That Remains is a romantic, melodic and imaginative affair, featuring additional guest vocals from Leah Hayes, Lauren Zettler and Winslow Bright. Savoir Adore pops down to D.C. on the eve of a performance at Firefly Music Festival. Friday, June 16, at 7 p.m. DC9, 1940 9th St. NW. Tickets are $13 in advance or $15 day of show. Call 202-483-5000 or

A performance part of this year’s DC Jazz Fest (see separate entry), the New York Balkan/Gypsy brass band re-imagines Duke Ellington’s brassy Far East Suite in its style, a mashup also incorporating influences from gospel, techno, funk, dub, jazz, and Latin. Friday, June 16, at 8 p.m. Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE. Tickets are $28 to $32. Call 202-399-7993 or visit

Jeffrey Johnson’s spacey and pink-haired singing drag act returns for a cabaret supported by a guitarist named Captain Satellite. The show features new material as well as a smattering of signature covers and originals. Sunday, June 25, at 5 p.m. Freddie’s Beach Bar, 555 South 23rd St., Arlington. Free, “just tip well.” Call 703-685-0555 or visit

Liberal causes and protest politics regularly fire up the quirky-to-the-point-of-weird alt-pop act Thao & The Get Down Stay Down. It started out a decade ago in Virginia, where its frontwoman grew up. Thao returns home for a solo show presented on UN World Refugee Day and in support of the band’s latest album A Man Alive. The dark-themed set is focused on Thao’s runaway father, yet it’s naturally lightened by her voice and music that is driven by beats and bass, rather than guitar. Tuesday, June 20, at 6 p.m. Kennedy Center Millennium Stage. Free. Call 202-467-4600 or visit

Founded over a decade ago in North Carolina, Vamsi Tadepalli’s band didn’t explode in popularity until after the King of Pop’s death in 2009. Ever since, this infectious tribute production has regularly offered fans a treat, putting on a show recreating Jackson’s precise synchronized dance routines, in full regalia, from glitzy jackets to glittery gloves. And every year, the show returns to the 9:30 Club in June in honor of Jackson’s death on June 25. Saturday, June 17. Doors at 8 p.m. Nightclub 9:30, 815 V St. NW. Tickets are $20. Call 202-265-0930 or visit


Octavia’s Brood: Riding the Ox Home is an immersive, site-based work inspired by the prophetic envisioning of racial justice by Octavia Butler of “visionary fiction” fame and the Underground Railroad’s Harriet Tubman. A contemporary adaptation of Spike Lee’s 1988 film School Daze by a graduate teaching fellow at the University of Maryland, the dance leaps back and forth through time, landing between antebellum Maryland of the mid-1800s and an unknown place and date in the future. Friday, June 16, and Saturday, June 17, at 8 p.m. Dance Place, 3225 8th St. NE. Tickets are $30, or $25 one week in advance. Call 202-269-1600 or visit


Works by local photographer Michael Wilderman and painter Bill Warrell, who was inspired by Wilderman’s photography, are on display in an exhibition that also celebrates D.C.’s jazz scene and venues, where most of the images derive. Presented in conjunction with the DC Jazz Festival (see separate entry). Closes Sunday, June 18. Fringe Arts Bar, 1358 Florida Ave. NE. Free. Call 202-737-7230 or visit

Transformer offers a group exhibition of works on paper, sculpture and performance that seek to challenge the societal norms and restraints imposed on the female form. Works in Bloodlines tow the line between fascination and repulsion in directly addressing the stigmas associated with a woman’s menstrual cycle. That includes works by Samera Paz and Iman Person who use their own menstrual blood as a medium. Meanwhile, Lisa Hill’s installation references the invisible inheritance passed down from mother to offspring by reproducing the shedding, scarring and regeneration of skin on handmade paper. For the performance portion of the exhibit, Tsedaye Makonnen focuses on the intense physicality of birth with The Crowning on Thursday, May 25, at 6:30 p.m., while the queer, black and trans-media àjé collective explores the erotic complexities of menstrual blood with Cosmic Meditation on Saturday, June 3, at 8 p.m. The non-performative works are on display through June 24. Transformer, 1404 P St. NW. Call 202-483-1102 or visit

The National Air and Space Museum’s central exhibition space reopened nearly a year ago after a major two-year renovation sponsored by Boeing in honor of the museum’s 40th anniversary. 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 on view 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. The hall also features the Apollo Lunar Module and the studio model of the Starship Enterprise from the original Star Trek series, among other additions. National Air and Space Museum, Independence Ave at 6th St. SW. Call 202-633-2214 or visit

For the project Forty out of One Million, Berlin-based photographer Kai Wiedenhöfer took portraits of 40 war-wounded Syrians in towns, villages and refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon between spring 2014 and 2015. The Goethe-Institut displays Wiedenhöfer’s work along with two pieces from fellow German photographer Daniel Sonnentag’s series They Have Names. With a mission to portray the current, ongoing human impact of the Syrian conflict, both artists depart from the typical focus on the body count of casualties to instead show people still very much alive and in need. Closes Friday, June 16. Geothe-Institut/German Cultural Center, 1990 K St. NW. Ste. 03. Call 202-289-1200 or visit


Executive Chef Brant Tesky demonstrates and serves his favorite BBQ dishes at an annual event touted as a good gift for Father’s Day or for anyone who wants to improve their grilling game. The class, a kickoff to Summer BBQ & Grilling Week, costs $85 and is offered Saturday, June 17, from 1 to 3 p.m. From Monday, June 19 to Sunday, June 25, the restaurant offers a $33 three-course feast of Bourbon Bacon Sliders with Caramelized Onions, Brisket and Ribs with Acadiana BBQ Sauce accompanied by Collard Greens with Benton’s Bacon Red Beans & Rice Cornbread, and Banana Cream Pie — “served Southern-style on one plate.” Acadiana, 901 New York Ave. NW. Call 202-408-8848 or visit

Chef Alexander Gut from the main restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton in Pentagon City offers a festive brunch with dad in mind. The focus is on local seafood, from snow crab claws to oysters to a selection of sushi rolls and sashimi, and fresh barbeque. The menu includes cheese and charcuterie carving, an omelette station, sliders and desserts. Sunday, June 18. Fyve in the Ritz-Carlton, 1250 S. Hayes St., Arlington. Tickets are $59, or $39 for those 12 and under. Call 703-412-2762 or visit

Across from the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Penn Quarter, this 160-seat American brasserie, part of the same family as Rasika, Bibiana and the Oval Room, should already be on your shortlist for brunch. On Sundays between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., each diner can choose between an appetizer and entree or sandwich, as well as a special mimosa or bloody Mary, for $28 to $30 each (or $38 with bottomless classic mimosas). Now Executive Chef Matt Kuhn is working to get Nopa on your radar earlier in the weekend as well, with a new dinner menu focused on composed dishes designed for couples, whether lovers or close friends, reasonably priced at $70 for two, before tax and tip. The menu changes weekly, and is available exclusively on Fridays and Saturdays during dinner service, 5 to 11 p.m., subject to availability. Nopa Kitchen+Bar, 800 F St. NW. Call 202-347-4667 or visit

Spain and Italy will duke it out in a tasting of rose wines along with rose-inspired specials and half-price bottles on the rooftop at this bustling Adams Morgan spot. Wednesday, June 21, starting at 5 p.m. Roofers Union, 2446 18th St. NW. Call 202-232-7663 or visit


A celebration of geek-dom, from comic books to movies to video games, and its influence on today’s pop culture, D.C.’s annual comic-con offers three days of discussion panels, costume contests, gaming tournaments and trivia. The event, which draws over 60,000 participants, adds two new programming elements this year. There’s Pride Alley, co-presented by Geeks Out, curators of New York’s LGBTQ-themed convention Flame Con, with special programming throughout the event, including “Making LGBT+ Matter in Fiction,” on Friday, June 16, at 5 p.m., “A History of LGBTQ+ Representation in Comic Books & Television,” Saturday, June 17, at 12:30 p.m., and “Pokemon, Musicals & Gay Representation with Voice Actor Jamie McGonnigal,” Saturday, June 17, at 4:30 p.m. The other new component is Future Con, a partnership with Smithsonian magazine featuring discussions and events at the intersection of science, technology and science fiction — including a StarTalk Live! taping hosted by astronaut Chris Hadfield. Other celebrities expected this weekend are Spider-Man/X-Men creator Stan Lee, David Tennant (Doctor Who), John Barrowman (Arrow), The Guild creator Felicia Day, and Star Trek‘s Wil Wheaton. Friday, June 16, from 12 to 8 p.m., Saturday, June 17, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday, June 18, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Walter E. Washington Convention Center, 801 Mount Vernon Place NW. Tickets are $35 to $45 for a single-day entry or $75 for a three-day pass; VIP passes ranging from $150 to $350 are also available. Call 202-249-3000 or visit

One of “15 fan favorite queens of all time” from RuPaul’s Drag Race, Miss Congeniality from season six stops by the Birchmere for Inferno A-Go-Go! A wacky twist on Dante’s Inferno, the show is a romp through the ultimate after-party mixing song, puppetry and high-camp hijinks Thursday, June 22, at 7:30 p.m. The Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. Tickets are $29.50. Call 703-549-7500 or visit

More than 20 shows from this year’s festival, which opens July 7, will be previewed in short, rapid-fire excerpts at this free, buzz-generating event. Thursday, June 22, at 7:30 p.m. Trinidad Theatre in Logan Fringe Arts Space, 1358 Florida Ave. NE. Free. Call 202-733-7230 or visit

It’s not everyday you can sing karaoke supported by a live band, although in recent years it has become more popular. Silly props and extra surprises, plus a “Gong Show Karaoke Contest” add to the dynamic experience of a HariKaraoke Band show, co-hosted by drag queen Shaunda Leer. The next show is LGBTQ-themed and includes drink specials and prizes including a bar tab at host venue the DC Eagle. Sunday, June 25, from 4 to 8 p.m. 3701 Benning Rd. NE. Call 202-347-6025 or visit

Stars from all different genres, far beyond science to include the performing and culinary arts, are part of the lineup at this weekend-long festival, which launches Thursday, June 15. The opening public event, “Nat Geo Nights: Into the Okavango,” is sold out, but tickets remain for BYT’s “Excellent Adventure” after-hours party on Friday, June 16, at 8 p.m., as well as “Red Planet vs. Blue Planet: Where Do We Explore Next?” on Saturday, June 17, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Hosted by 2011 Explorer of the Year Kenny Broad, the series includes discussions with oceanographers Sylvia Earle and Bob Ballard, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield and Science Friday host Ira Flatow. Tickets also remain for that evening’s “Celebration of Exploration” starting at 5:30 p.m. at the George Washington University Courtyard and Lisner Auditorium. Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Brian Skerry and clean-energy visionaries Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg will be honored at the event, hosted by comedian Mo Rocca. A pre-event reception features food from top D.C. chefs Mike Isabella (Graffiato), Victor Albisu (Del Campo), Amy Brandwein (Centrolina) and Todd Gray (Equinox). National Geographic Society, 1145 17th St. NW. Tickets are $35 for the after-hours party, $100 for Saturday’s discussion and $250 for the Saturday celebration, or $325 for both Saturday events. Call 202-857-7588 or visit

Founder JS Adams has described the annual experimental music event as “an exploration of expression through audio, the digital arts, performance art and spoken word [with] a non-exclusive curatorial focus towards gay, lesbian, and post gender-identified participants.” This year, Ruth Trevarrow has curated a queer visual art exhibit that runs all month long and features two concerts, the second of which, Saturday, June 17, at 8 p.m., focuses on spoken word and digital media, featuring Dan Vera, Joe Belknap Wall, H. Paul Moon, Danielle Evennou, Mark Beazley, Johnny Brown and Inga Yellere. Rhizome DC, 6950 Maple St. NW. Tickets are $10 for the concert. Visit

Through his Halcyon Stage series, Septime Webre directs a one-night-only production featuring vocal and dance soloists conjuring Philip Glass’s composition based on the gothic classic by Edgar Allan Poe. Suggested attire “Poe/Punk.” Saturday, June 17, at 8:30 p.m., with a Meet-the-Artist Reception at 10 p.m. Dock 5 at Union Market, 1309 5th St. NE. Tickets are $40. Call 800-680-9095 or visit

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

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