A CHRISTMAS STORY, THE MUSICAL
Benj Pasek and Justin Paul have been turning ears most recently with their work for film, including La La Land and The Greatest Showman. But the young songwriting duo is first and foremost a Tony-winning musical-generating team (Dear Evan Hansen), who made their Broadway debut in 2013 with this Tony-nominated stage adaptation — with writer Joseph Robinette — of the 1983 film. Levine Music Theatre presents a rare local production of the work. Kevin Collins, Theo Dematatis, Naia Albert, Lucy Newton, and Joshua Poole lead a cast of student actors accompanied by a small orchestra led by Jake Null. Carolyn Agan directs. Performances are Friday, Dec. 7, at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 8, at 2 and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 9, at 2 p.m. Kogod Cradle at Arena Stage, 1101 6th St. SW. Tickets are $19 to $25. Call 202-686-8000 or visit levinemusic.org.
CHRISTMAS AT THE OLD BULL AND BUSH
Catherine Flye’s cheery holiday tale centers on patrons at a pub telling corny jokes and singing British music hall songs and Christmas carols. Originally presented at the turn of the millennium by Arena Stage, some of the original cast members return for another holiday run at Alexandria’s MetroStage including sing-alongs and an abbreviated reenactment of Dickens’ Christmas Carol, plus a few surprises along the way. Opens Thursday, Nov. 29. To Dec. 30. MetroStage, 1201 North Royal St., Alexandria. Call 703-548-9044 or visit metrostage.org.
Featuring a cast of over 100, The Washington Revels performs their annual holiday tribute, this year a “Welcome Yule” journey to Renaissance England and the winter world of Queen Elizabeth I and Will Kemp, Shakespeare’s favorite Fool. A show blending music and dance and featuring children’s songs and games, seasonal sing-alongs, even a few lines from the Bard. Performances begin Saturday, Dec. 8. Runs To Dec. 16. GW Lisner, The George Washington University, 730 21st St. NW. Tickets are $12 to $60. Call 301-587-3835 or visit revelsdc.org.
DC DIFFERENT DRUMMERS: HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS
The Capitol Pride Symphonic Band, DC Swing! and smaller ensembles of the LGBTQ music organization perform concert versions of holiday tunes at the free annual holiday concert, which also doubles as a food drive for Food and Friends. Non-perishable food and travel-sized toiletry donations welcomed. Sunday, Dec. 9, at 3 p.m. The Lutheran Church of the Reformation, 212 East Capitol St. NE. Free, with request for food drive donations. Call 202-269-4868 or visit dcdd.org.
DOWNTOWN HOLIDAY MARKET
Over 150 artisans rotate among sixty tents set up on two blocks in the heart of downtown. Now in its 14th year, the holiday market offers a vast, eclectic, and international assortment of gifts and souvenirs, collectibles and wearables — from prints and photographs, to pottery and glassware, to custom jewelry and accessories. Each day also brings free staged concerts by local musicians, and options for food and (non-alcoholic) drink. Open noon to 8 p.m. daily. Now to Dec. 23. F Street between 7th and 9th Streets NW. It’s open from noon to 8 p.m. Visit downtownholidaymarket.com.
GEORGETOWN GLOW 2018
Now in its fifth year, this light art exhibition presented by the Georgetown Business Improvement District features 10 displays by multidisciplinary artists. Billed as a way to “reimagine the season of light,” the commissioned works, curated by Deirdre Ehlen MacWilliams, offer a high-tech modern contrast with the surroundings of D.C.’s oldest neighborhood — which has been further illuminated by the stringing of white lights on street-facing buildings. The five-week event includes a GLOW All Night evening shopping and dining extravaganza on Dec. 7, a Winter Wonderland during the day on Dec. 8, plus a Christmas Tree Farm every weekend at the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown’s Yard and regular GLOW-inspired walking and food tours led by several local tour companies. In addition, the House of Sweden offers its annual Swedish Christmas Bazaar on Saturday, Dec. 1, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. GLOW kicks off Saturday, Dec. 1, and runs every night from 5 to 10 p.m. through Jan. 6. Visit GeorgetownGlowDC.com for more information.
ICE! A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS
Snoopy, Lucy, and other classic cartoon characters created by Charles M. Schulz will be holding court at National Harbor in colorful, larger-than-life sculptures carved from two million pounds of ice. The Peanuts gang’s storied holiday antics are the focus of this year’s Ice! Display, accented by four, two-story tall ice slides and a Nativity scene. And that’s just the main draw at the annual series organized by the Gaylord National Resort. A Christmas Carousel, an ice skating rink, a short Potomac Express holiday train ride, a Build-A-Bear Workshop, 30-minute Christmas storytelling events led by Mrs. Claus, and a Gingerbread Decorating Center are among more than a dozen other kid-friendly activities on tap. There’s also Seasons Dreamings, a free, 25-minute aerial Cirque Dreams Unwrapped show that takes place daily in the Gaylord’s Garden Atrium. Through Jan. 1. 201 Waterfront St. Oxon Hill, Md. Tickets to Ice! are $27 to $38. Call 301-965-4000 or visit christmasonthepotomac.com.
SEASON’S GREETINGS: ALL ABOARD
This year’s annual holiday show at the U.S. Botanic Garden spotlights the country’s historic railroad stations, more than 30 of which are recreated in miniature versions made from plants and natural materials and spread out along the tracks of an elaborate model train show. A botanical replica of Washington’s Union Station, meanwhile, has been added to the garden court’s collection of plant-based D.C. landmarks. Also on view throughout the conservatory are thousands of blooms, including a showcase of heirloom and newly developed poinsettia varieties. All that, plus two hours of live holiday music on Tuesdays and Thursdays in December, when the conservatory, which normally closes at 5 p.m., will stay open until 8 p.m. Project Natale, an energetic contemporary jazz band, kicks off this live music series at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 4, followed by the local Irish rock band 40 Thieves on Thursday, Dec. 6. Note: The website advises patrons that wait times, especially on weekends, may be longer than usual “due to the ongoing roof and facade project.” To Jan. 1. 100 Maryland Ave. SW. Call 202-225-8333 or visit usbg.gov.
STORM LARGE: HOLIDAY ORDEAL
Storm Large, the brassy cabaret performer who is frequently a featured vocalist with Pink Martini, returns to the area for another spin through her wild “Holiday Ordeal” show, billed as a no-holds-barred evening of humor and music, with songs ranging from “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” to “Sock It To Me, Santa.” Saturday, Dec. 1, at 8 p.m. Amp by Strathmore, 11810 Grand Park Ave. North Bethesda. Tickets are $35 to $45. Call 301-581-5100 or visit ampbystrathmore.com.
THE SECOND CITY: LOVE, FACTUALLY
The latest seasonal satire from the cleverly twisted minds of the legendary improv/comedy company gets to the truth of life, love, and romance during the holidays — all through a parody, as you might surmise from the production’s title, of a certain nauseating yet popular movie that is low-hanging-parody fruit. Expect original comedy, music, improv, and audience participation. Opens Tuesday, Dec. 4. To Dec. 31. Kennedy Center Theater Lab. Tickets are $59 to $85. Call 202-467-4600 or visit kennedy-center.org.
Fun fact: the editor of this publication went to film school with the writer of this enjoyable bit of sheer lunacy about a cuddly little pet that spawns evil, mischievous creatures if fed after midnight. The movie is notable for Joe Dante’s increasingly frenzied direction and masterful creature design by Chris Walas. Starring Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Judge Reinhold, Corey Feldman, and Howie Mandel as the voice of Gizmo.
Part of the Capital Classics series at Landmark’s West End Cinema. Wednesday, Dec. 5, at 1:30, 4:30, and 7:30 p.m., 2301 M St. NW. Happy hour from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 to $12.50. Call 202-534-1907 or visit landmarktheatres.com.
RA XTRA: BUDDIES
Heralded as the first American film to focus on the AIDS pandemic, this 1985 gay indie drama is the powerful story of a young gay man who volunteers to help an AIDS patient abandoned by his friends and lovers. (Writer/director Arthur J. Bressan Jr. died of complications from AIDS two years after the film’s release.) The landmark drama is the December pick for Reel Affirmations’ monthly screening series in honor of World AIDS Day. Star David Schachter will take part in a cast talkback following the screening. Thursday, Dec. 6, starting at 6 p.m. with an Open Bar Happy Hour featuring music by DJ Matt. Rayceen Pendarvis hosts. HRC Equality Center, 1640 Rhode Island Ave. 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 thedccenter.org.
SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE 40TH ANNIVERSARY SCREENINGS
It’s hard to believe that it’s already been four decades since we first believed a man could fly. In 1978, Richard Donner’s film ushered in a new genre of movie, one in which superheroes convincingly leapt, in a single bound, from the comic book pages to super-epic cinema. Superman the Movie lumbers a bit (the sequel was more action-packed), but it benefits from a gorgeously stoic title performance by Christopher Reed and Gene Hackman’s scene-munching Lex Luthor. The special effects were magical, and the nightflight between Superman and Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) is pure magic, and is punctuated by a jaw-dropping scene on a balcony. The score by John Williams is nothing short of profound, and oh, those swooping opening credits. With Marlon Brando, Valerie Perrine, Glenn Ford, and Ned Beatty. Fathom Events present the original theatrical version on Monday, Dec. 3, at 7 p.m. Area theaters including Regal Gallery Place (701 7th St. NW), Potomac Yards Stadium (3575 Jefferson Davis Highway), and Ballston Common (671 N. Glebe Rd.). Visit fathomevents.com.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Craig Wallace returns for his third year as the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge in Ford’s Theatre’s cherished annual production of Dickens’ Yuletide classic. It really wouldn’t be Christmas in Washington without this music-infused adaptation, conceived by Michael Wilson and directed by Michael Baron. To Dec. 30. Ford’s Theatre, 511 10th St. NW. Tickets are $24 to $107. Call 800-982-2787 or visit fordstheatre.org.
AN INSPECTOR CALLS
A festive evening at the home of a well-heeled British family is suddenly punctured by a visit from a grim inspector investigating the death of a young woman that proceeds to upend their comfortable lives. Acclaimed stage and film director Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot) returns to J.B. Priestley’s chilling drama, which he first helmed in 1992 at London’s National Theatre, for a Shakespeare Theatre Company production starring Liam Brennan as Inspector Goole and Christine Kavanagh, Jeff Harmer, Lianne Harvey, and Hamish Riddle as the Birling family. To Dec. 23. Lansburgh Theatre, 450 7th St. NW. Call 202-547-1122 or visit shakespearetheatre.org.
Molly Smith puts her stamp on Cole Porter’s most famous show by enlisting two right-hand-men for staging musical classics in the round — choreographer Parker Esse (Oklahoma!) and music director Paul Sportelli (Carousel). Soara-Joye Ross, last seen in D.C. via the national tour of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, makes her Arena debut as showboat sensation Reno Sweeney who sings several American Songbook standards, including “Anything Goes,” “I Get A Kick Out of You,” and “Blow, Gabriel, Blow.” Ross leads a cruise ship-sized cast also including Corbin Bleu as Billy Crocker, Lisa Helmi Johanson as Hope Harcourt, Jimmy Ray Bennett as Lord Evelyn Oakleigh, Lisa Tejero as Evangeline Harcourt, and Maria Rizzo as the vampy Erma. To Dec. 23. Fichandler Stage, 1101 6th St. SW. Call 202-488-3300 or visit arenastage.org.
AS YOU LIKE IT
A musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic magical comedy with music and lyrics by Shaina Taub. Cara Gabriel and Josh Sticklin direct a large 18-person cast including Jade Jones, Oscar Ceville, Patrick Doneghy, Kourtney Richards, Bianca Lipford, Willie Garner, and Jennifer Hopkins. Choreography by Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi. To Dec. 2. 1742 Church St. NW. Tickets are $48 to $58. Call 202-265-3767 or visit keegantheatre.com.
Matthew Gardiner helms Signature Theatre’s take on the moving musical from writer/lyricist Lee Hall and composer Elton John about an 11-year-old boy who just wants to dance. The production features two Billys and two young ensembles performing in rotation, along with an adult crew featuring Nancy Anderson as Mrs. Wilkinson, Chris Genebach as Billy’s father, Crystal Mosser as his mother, Sean Watkinson as brother Tony, and Catherine Flye as Grandma. Pride Night is Dec. 14. To Jan. 6. The Ark, 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington. Call 703-820-9771 or visit sigtheatre.org.
CRY IT OUT
Studio Theatre presents Molly Smith Metzler’s candid comedy about the tinderbox of parenthood and class in today’s culture. Emjoy Gavino plays Jesse, a corporate lawyer, who befriends her working class neighbor Lina (Dina Thomas) while both are marooned at home on maternity leave. A wealthy couple from the neighborhood, played by Paolo Andino and Tessa Klein, intrudes on a naptime coffee date between the new mothers, pushing Cry It Out toward a dramatic climax. Directed by Joanie Schultz. To Dec. 16. Milton Theatre, 14th & P Streets NW. Call 202-332-3300 or visit studiotheatre.org.
DC QUEER THEATRE FESTIVAL
The annual showcase, presented by the DC Center, returns with seven stage works written by area playwrights, each under 10 minutes in length. The program includes: Alan Sharpe’s Most Important Meal of the Day, Audrey Cefaly’s Consider the Ficus, Asabi Oke’s Out of Culture, Brittany Alyse Willis’s Son of Apollo, John Bavaso’s Plus One, Xemiyulu Manibusan’s Protect & Serve, and Xian Mao’s Fantasy Roadtrip. Performances are Friday, Dec. 7, at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 8, at 3 and 7:30 p.m. District of Columbia Arts Center, 2438 18th St. NW. Tickets are $20. Call 202-462-7833 or visit thedccenter.org/queertheatrefest.
ELF THE MUSICAL
An orphan leaves the North Pole to find his true identity in this musical based on the 2003 Will Ferrell movie and featuring songs by the team of composer Matthew Sklar and lyricist Chad Beguelin (The Wedding Singer) and a book by Thomas Meehan (Annie) and Bob Martin (The Drowsy Chaperone). Olney Theatre presents a holiday treat of a production with a powerhouse cast including Patricia Hurley, Kevin McAllister, Nova Y. Payton, and Bobby Smith, plus David Schumpf in the Ferrell role of Buddy. Directed by Michael J. Bobbitt and choreographed by Tara Jeanne Vallee. To Jan. 6. Mainstage, 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, Olney, Md. Call 301-924-3400 or visit olneytheatre.org.
FANCY NANCY’S SPLENDIFEROUS CHRISTMAS
Nancy has enough money to buy a brand-new sparkly tree topper, but when things don’t turn out as she planned, will Christmas still be splendiferous? Adventure Theatre MTC presents a musical geared toward younger audiences. Stevie Zimmerman directs. To Jan. 6. 7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo Park. Call 301-634-2270 or visit adventuretheatre-mtc.org.
HOW TO KEEP AN ALIEN
Solas Nua, the nation’s only organization exclusively dedicated to contemporary Irish arts, presents the regional premiere of a romantic comedy with a global perspective on immigration. An audience favorite from the D.C.-based company’s play reading series last season, How to Keep An Alien explores the real-life travails of Irish playwright Sonya Kelly in securing a visa for her Australian-born partner Kate by proving their love to the Irish government. With Tonya Beckman as Sonya. Directed by Tom Story. To Dec. 16. Dance Loft on 14 Theater, 4618 14th St. NW 2nd Floor. Tickets are $35 to $45. Call 202-621-3670 or visit solasnua.org.
Paula Vogel’s latest work tells story of a group of artists who risked their careers to perform Sholem Asch’s God of Vengeance on Broadway in 1923, a work deemed “indecent” for tackling then-taboo themes of censorship, immigration, and anti-Semitism. Eric Rosen directs a cast that includes Ben Cherry, Susan Lynskey, John Milosich, and Max Wolkowitz. To Dec. 30. Kreeger Theater in the Mead Center for American Theater, 1101 6th St. SW. Call 202-488-3300 or visit arenastage.org.
He may be king, but unlike his older brother Richard the Lionheart, John has no stirring nickname or truly loyal following, with everyone from the Pope to his own court seeming to think his crown is up for grabs. Aaron Posner directs a rarely staged but timely history play by Shakespeare about a toxic era of secret deals, threats of mass destruction, and shifting loyalties (what a difference 800 years doesn’t always make). Brian Dykstra plays the King in a gender-bending production that also features Kate Eastwood Norris as Philip Faulconbridge, Holly Twyford as Lady Faulconbridge, and Megan Graves as Arthur and Prince Henry. To Dec. 2. Folger Theatre, 201 East Capitol St. SE. Tickets are $42 to $79. Call 202-544-7077 or visit folger.edu.
MY FATHER’S DRAGON
As part of its Family Theater series, Synetic Theater produces a wordless adaptation of Ruth Stiles Gannett’s book starring Synetic’s Ryan Sellers and directed and choreographed by the company’s Tori Bertocci. My Father’s Dragon focuses on the attempts of Elmer Elevator to rescue a captive baby dragon on Wild Island. In previews starting Tuesday, Dec. 4. Runs to Jan. 6. Theater at Crystal City, 1800 South Bell St., Arlington. Tickets are $20. Call 800-811-4111 or visit synetictheater.org.
ONCE UPON A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Virginia’s Run Rabbit Run Theatre reprises Meredith Bean McMath’s adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic, amped up with original music and lyrics by Diane El-Shafey, instrumental music by Carma Oliverez, and a few traditional favorites. The show features 32 actors portraying over 120 characters relating the story of the redemption of the Grinch-like Ebenezer Scrooge, played by Phil Erickson. Weekends to Dec. 9. Franklin Park Arts Center, 36441 Blueridge View Lane, Purcellville, Va. Tickets are $20 online, or $25 at the door. Call 540-668-6779 or visit storyroot.com/RRRtickets.html.
THE THEATRE LAB HONORS ACTING CONSERVATORY SHOWCASE
The Theatre Lab School of the Dramatic Arts welcomes final project presentations by its 2018 honors acting students, who have selected to perform scenes from Nick Payne’s Constellations and Lee Blessing’s Riches. Presented in two rounds, the performances are at the school’s Woodward Hall, a block north of the Old Patent Office Building. The conservatory is a one-year professional training program with courses taught by some of Washington’s leading theater professionals. Second-round performances are Friday, Nov. 30, and Saturday, Dec. 1, at 7:30 p.m. 733 8th St. NW. Free. Call 202-824-0449 or visit theatrelab.org.
Subtitled “The story Dr. Seuss didn’t want you to see,” Matthew Lombardo’s raucous, raunchy comedy is an unofficial sequel to the childhood favorite How The Grinch Stole Christmas. The story revolves around a very grown-up Cindy Lou Who recounting, from her cramped quarters on Mount Crumpit, the infamous night she met the mean, green one as well as tales from the wild life she’s led since. Dexter Ramey directs Kimberly Jones Clark in what is billed as a “trailer park Christmas Eve party.” Featuring a post-show cabaret led by pianist Joshua Wortham accompanying either Georgia Rogers Farmer or Shannon Gibson Brown. Weekends to Dec. 15. Richmond Triangle Players, The Robert B. Moss Theatre, 1300 Altamont Ave. Richmond. Tickets are $30 to $35. Call 804-346-8113 or visit rtriangle.org.
WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE
Scena Theatre offers a witty, feminist take on Oscar Wilde’s dark comedy of manners. Written as a battle of the sexes, Woman of No Importance, directed by Robert McNamara, gets updated with an all-female cast and set against the backdrop of 1930s Hollywood. Nanna Ingvarsson, Sara Barker, Jen Bevan, Moriah Whiteman, Karen Elle, Zoe Walpole, Emily Morrison, Melissa Robinson, Ruthie Rado, and Dina Soltan. To Dec. 2. Atlas Performing Arts Center’s Lab I, 1333 H St. NE. Tickets are $25 to $45. Call 202-399-7993 or visit atlasarts.org.
BASTILLE AT DC101’S OFFICE PARTY
A British pop act named after the French national holiday, Bastille’s biggest U.S. hit before this year was all about an infamously destroyed Roman town. In the years since 2013’s “Pompeii,” the four-piece led by Dan Smith has churned out plenty of other similarly pleasing, anthemic tunes, 14 of them on 2016’s Wild World alone. But it wasn’t until teaming up with EDM act Marshmello that Bastille managed to go two notches higher than the previous peak of No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 with this year’s “Happier.” The band is due to release its third album Doom Days early next year, but in the meantime comes to town to headline DC101’s Office Party, a mini-festival also featuring Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, Meg Myers, and the Glorious Sons. Tuesday, Dec. 4, at 7 p.m. The Anthem, 901 Wharf St. SW. Tickets are $55 to $95. Call 202-888-0020 or visit theanthemdc.com.
A five-piece from Richmond, Carbon Leaf has toured with the Dave Matthews Band, O.A.R., and Blues Traveler, while drawing its own fans with its slightly unusual blend of bluegrass and rock, officially pegged as “ether-electrified porch music.” The band tours in celebration of its 25th anniversary year. Friday, Dec. 7, at 8:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 8, at 3 and 8:30 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 9, at 1 p.m. Ram’s Head On Stage, 33 West St., Annapolis. Tickets are $39.50. Call 410-268-4545 or visit ramsheadonstage.com. Also Thursday, Dec. 13, at 7:30 p.m. The Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. Tickets are $39.50. Call 703-549-7500 or visit birchmere.com.
CHAD MICHAELS: TRIBUTE TO CHER
The winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season One is also billed as the nation’s “#1 Cher impersonator.” The California-based Michaels presents a free Saturday evening concert at the Kennedy Center, performing hits from the icon’s repertoire as part of a double-bill concert that also features the Capital Hearings, an a cappella group performing songs from Reba McEntire’s catalog. (On Sunday, the actual icons — Cher and McEntire, along with Philip Glass, Wayne Shorter and the creators of Hamilton will be feted in the Opera House at the 41st Kennedy Center Honors.) KenCen Millenium Stage, Saturday, Dec. 1, at 6 p.m. Free. Call 202-467-4600 or visit kennedy-center.org.
Six of D.C.’s leading jazz musicians perform sparkling arrangements of standards plus new, original swinging tunes that sound as if recorded a half-century ago. Featuring the soft, luminous vocals of Marilyn Older, the party jazz group, touted on NPR and a frequent draw at the Kennedy Center, returns to Blues Alley for “A Very Chaise Lounge,” a holiday show named after a 2012 album. Wednesday, Dec. 5, at 8 and 10 p.m. 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. Tickets are $31, plus $12 minimum purchase. Call 202-337-4141 or visit bluesalley.com.
CHERYL WHEELER & JOHN GORKA
A Maryland native, Wheeler got her start performing at clubs in D.C. and Baltimore, though she has long made her home in Massachusetts with her wife. She returns for an annual show sharing the stage with John Gorka, whom Rolling Stone once dubbed the preeminent male singer-songwriter of the New Folk Movement. Sunday, Dec. 9, at 7:30 p.m. The Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. Tickets are $39.50. Call 703-549-7500 or visit birchmere.com.
Singer-songwriter Lissie Maurus lives in Iowa, but got her start on the Los Angeles coffeehouse circuit before opening for the likes of Lenny Kravitz and Ray LaMontagne and appearing at the Lilith Fair. Although she doesn’t channel Stevie Nicks quite as blatantly on Castles as she did on 2016’s My Wild West, Lissie’s new fourth studio album is every bit as steeped in the dramatic and folky rock/pop style of her idol, with the biting “Love Blows” and the power ballad “Meet Me In The Mystery” particular standouts. Thursday, Dec. 6, at 7:30 p.m. The Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. Tickets are $25. Call 703-549-7500 or visit birchmere.com.
NATIONAL PHILHARMONIC: HOLIDAY POPS
Soprano Iyona Blake, a Helen Hayes Award-winning actress, will sing “O Holy Night” among other holiday favorites as the featured soloist at this year’s seasonal offering from Strathmore’s resident orchestra. Victoria Gau conducts the Philharmonic and National Philharmonic Chorale in seasonal classics and a sing-along or two. Friday, Dec. 7, at 7:30 p.m. The Music Center, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda. Tickets are $18 to $74. Call 301-581-5100 or visit strathmore.org.
NATIONAL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA: MAHLER’S FIRST SYMPHONY
NSO Music Director Gianandrea Noseda leads a program of spirited and expressive works including a world premiere from Kennedy Center Composer-in-Residence Mason Bates. A 30-minute, three-movement work, Bates’ Art of War incorporates electronic instrumentation into more traditional orchestral scoring and explores the drama of human conflict from the perspective of soldiers, weaponry, and human loss. Noseda has paired Bates with Mahler, specifically Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, Titan, revered today as a sumptuous and groundbreaking work in the way it incorporates folk melodies and dances. The work was so groundbreaking, so shocking, that early audiences hissed and booed when they heard it — and their reaction prompted the German Jewish composer to spend a decade tweaking the work before finally publishing his score in 1898. Thursday, Dec. 6, at 7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 8, at 8 p.m., and, Sunday, Dec. 9, at 3 p.m. Kennedy Center Concert Hall. Tickets are $15 to $89. Call 202-467-4600 or visit kennedy-center.org.
It’s been 30 years since she first came to fame with her hit song “Straight Up,” but Abdul has no plans to go “a b-b-b-bye, b-b-b-b-bye” anytime soon. Instead, she’s doing a hit and run tour across North America celebrating her 30 years in the business. It marks Abdul’s first solo outing in over 25 years — and comes a year after touring with Boyz II Men and New Kids on the Block. Sunday, Dec. 2, at 8 p.m. Theater at MGM National Harbor, 7100 Harborview Ave., Oxon Hill, Md. Tickets are $54 to $90, or $175 for the Straight Up Paula! VIP Package, which offers more than most: one front-row ticket, early entry and access to pre-show soundcheck, backstage meet and greet, Q&A, and selfie with Abdul, tour shirt and poster, photo frame and tote bag. Call 844-346-4664 or visit mgmnationalharbor.com.
Jazz artist Sunny Jain leads the bhangra-rooted party band Red Baraat, which NPR has described as something akin to “a New Orleans street band playing Indian Bollywood tunes with a go-go beat.” The Barns at Wolf Trap. Saturday, Dec. 1, at 8 p.m. 1635 Trap Road, Vienna. Tickets are $35. Call 877-WOLFTRAP or visit wolftrap.org.
There’s a sizable cadre of young, queer artists singing openly and honestly about their experiences in today’s landscape, but it was a different story 20 years ago, and Rufus Wainwright stood out in that regard as he launched his career with his 1998 self-titled debut and established himself with 2001’s Poses. The two albums felt rather groundbreaking then, and they still hold up two decades later, which is why a concert finding Wainwright performing songs from both registers as more than just a toast to his day-one or longtime fans. It’s all the more enticing given that he’ll revive the material locally in Strathmore’s large, acoustically rich concert hall. Saturday, Dec. 8, at 8 p.m. Music Center, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda. Tickets are $39 to $89, or $299 to $399 for VIP levels including a premium seat, pre-show meet and greet and photo, tour print, a photo book, and more. Call 301-581-5100 or visit strathmore.org.
SPECIAL AGENT GALACTICA: FAREWELL SHOW
It’s been a while since we last heard from Jeffrey Johnson’s spacey and pink-haired singing drag act. The bad news is that Galactica’s return also marks her last before a permanent move to Charleston, South Carolina. The good news, as far as it goes, is that the final show certainly lives up to the concept of going out with a bang. Galactica will essentially perform three shows in one, kicking off with a “greatest hits” set channeling the Happy Hour Variety Show she hosted at the now defunct Black Fox Lounge and featuring the Black Fox-minted trio of keyboardist Aaron Meyers, bassist Ethan Foote, and drummer Winston Johnson, plus a lip sync gem or two. Next up is a slightly truncated version of the original show A Romp Around Uranus, developed for Capital Fringe in 2016 and subsequently performed at New York’s iconic Stonewall Inn, and featuring Galactica, guitarist Peter Fields (aka Captain Satellite) and the Timeship Aurora (voiced by the B-52’s Fred Schneider). All the performers from the first two sets will come together for a finale featuring yet more Galactica standards, as well as some surprise curveballs and Johnson favorites. Sunday, Dec. 9, starting at 5:30 p.m. Pie Shop Bar & Patio, 1339 H St. NE. Pay-What-You-Can donations accepted. Call 202-398-7437 or visit dangerouspiesdc.com.
THE BRIAN SETZER ORCHESTRA
“The 15th Anniversary Christmas Rocks!” takes a spin through rock-oriented renditions of holiday favorites by an 18-piece swing jazz orchestra, led by the Grammy-winning Setzer, who founded the ’80s-era hit-making rockabilly band Stray Cats. New rockabilly act Lara Hope & the Ark-Tones also performs at this show presented by SiriusXM and The Birchmere at The Anthem. Friday, Nov. 30. Doors at 6:30 p.m. The Anthem, 901 Wharf St. SW. Tickets are $55 to $125. Call 202-888-0020 or visit theanthemdc.com.
THE BYRDS WITH MARTY STUART
Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman set the pace for so much of today’s popular music by virtue of their work in The Byrds, a band that pioneered the sub-genres of folk rock, psychedelic rock, and country rock 50 years ago. The two co-founders are currently sharing stages on tour with Marty Stuart, a country music legend who was once part of Johnny Cash’s band and now leads his own dynamic band. Presented by The Birchmere, the occasion is the 50th anniversary of the Byrds’ sixth album Sweetheart of the Rodeo, said to be music’s first major “country rock” album. McGuinn and Hillman will perform the set in its entirety accompanied by Stuart and The Fabulous Superlatives as part of a concert featuring other hits from the Byrds — from “Mr. Tambourine Man” to “Turn! Turn! Turn!” Monday, Dec. 3, at 8 p.m. Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda. Tickets are $92.50. Call 301-581-5100 or visit strathmore.org.
THE INSERIES: OPERETTA WONDERLAND
Brian J. Shaw directs a cabaret featuring century-old, waltz-inspired street songs and soaring melodies plucked from topsy-turvy operettas written by one of America’s greatest popular composers, Victor Herbert. The InSeries program features selections from Herbert operettas including Sweethearts, Naughty Marietta, The Enchantress, and Babes in Toyland. Expect fanciful visions of prima donnas, toy soldiers, and star-crossed lovers — and, for those who want to be immersed in the proceedings, Cabaret Table Seating right onstage. Saturday, Dec. 1, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 2, at 2 p.m. D.C. Scottish Rite Temple, 2800 16th St. NW. Tickets are $20 to $45. Call 202-204-7763 or visit inseries.org.
Led by married couple Lynn Veronneau on vocals and Ken Avis on guitar, the local Wammie-winning international jazz fusion act returns to Blues Alley barely two months after its last shows at Georgetown’s legendary jazz club. Veronneau, with special guests percussionist Bruno Lucini and violinist Dave Kline, is sure to perform from its new third album Love & Surrender, a multilingual collection of originals and standards from around the world in a melange of uptempo genres, from swing to samba to gypsy. Yet the focus this time around is a holiday show centered around Snowtime, the act’s seasonal-themed EP from 2013. Tuesday, Dec. 4, at 8 and 10 p.m. Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW. Tickets are $31, plus $12 minimum purchase. Call 202-337-4141 or visit bluesalley.com.
BALLET WEST: THE NUTCRACKER
After a debut last year in Salt Lake City, Utah’s preeminent dance company brings to the Kennedy Center a whimsical new take on the enchanting holiday classic. Reimagined designs, from grand sets and fantastical costumes to special effects, add a glittering, opulent sparkle. The Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra and the Arlington Children’s Choir will offer live accompaniment. Opens Wednesday, Dec. 5. To Dec. 9. Kennedy Center Opera House. Tickets are 59 to $215. Call 202-467-4600 or visit kennedy-center.org.
BOWEN MCCAULEY DANCE COMPANY
Lucy Bowen McCauley kicks off the 23rd season of her celebrated local contemporary dance company with a mixed program, including the premiere of a piece exploring circles and Pi at the intersection of dance and engineering. Commissioned by Drexel University, McCauley’s new Lissajous includes a special music composition written by Jordan Key. The performance opens with the late Eric Hampton’s UnRavel set to Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin and restaged by the company’s Alison Crosby. Ilana Goldman, the company’s Choreographer in Residence, will also share her new work Facile Manipulations as part of a program concluding with McCauley’s popular Lucy’s Local Playlist. Saturday, Dec. 8, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 9, at 4 p.m. Dance Place, 3225 8th St. NE. Tickets are $25 in advance, or $30 at the door. A “Winter Wonderland” After-Party with cast and crew follows the Saturday performance at 9:30 p.m. and is an additional $30. Call 202-269-1600 or visit danceplace.org.
THE WASHINGTON BALLET: THE NUTCRACKER
The Washington Ballet’s former artistic director Septime Webre first staged his twist on the family favorite 13 years ago, setting it in D.C.’s historic Georgetown neighborhood with George Washington as the titular figure and King George III as the Rat King. As always, the production sets up shop for nearly all of December at downtown’s Warner Theatre. To Dec. 24. 513 13th St. NW. Call 202-889-5901 or visit washingtonballet.org.
The former late-night talk show host, a Scottish-born “American on Purpose” (per his memoirs), swings through the area on his extensive HOBO Fabulous Tour. “What the world needs now more than ever is an ageing unhinged vagrant travelling from place
to place ranting nonsense into a microphone,” Ferguson says in the tour’s press release. Saturday, Dec. 8, at 8 p.m. Theater at MGM National Harbor, 7100 Harborview Ave., Oxon Hill, Md. Tickets are $31.82 to $78.39. Call 844-346-4664 or visit mgmnationalharbor.com.
THE SECOND CITY: SHE THE PEOPLE
An all-female team roasts the patriarchy, modern politics and pop culture in the latest revue from Chicago’s sketch comedy troupe. Carly Heffernan directs a Second City ensemble featuring Atra Asdou, Carisa Barreca, Alex Bellisle, Katie Caussin, Kazi Jones, and Maggie Wilder. Opens Tuesday, Dec. 4. To Jan. 6. Woolly Mammoth, 641 D St. NW. Tickets range from $20 to $85. Call 202-393-3939 or visit woollymammoth.net.
BETH KANTER AND EMILY GOODSTEIN
Two veteran D.C.-focused travel and food writers team up to provide behind-the-scenes stories and images of hidden spots in and around the Nation’s Capital. Their book, No Access Washington, D.C., features several of the city’s more iconic buildings, such as the massive undercroft below the Lincoln Memorial, as well as other gems, including the mini Washington Monument or the sauna in the Embassy of Finland. Monday, Dec. 3, at 7 p.m. Sixth & I Historic Synagogue. 600 I St. NW. Tickets are $12, or $30 including a book, $40 for two tickets and one book. Call 202-408-3100 or visit sixthandi.org.
The fan favorite of Bravo’s Top Chef and former co-host of ABC’s The Chew drops by the Union Market Politics & Prose on the eve of her appearance as a headliner at this year’s MetroCooking DC. Hall is touring, reading, and signing copies of “Soul Food: Everyday and Celebration,” a new book tracing soul food’s roots to Africa and the Caribbean, sharing personal culinary stories, and featuring 145 recipes that go well beyond barbeque and mac and cheese — ranging from black-eyed pea salad with hot sauce vinaigrette to tomato pie with garlic bread crust, sweet potato pudding with clementines to coconut cream layer cake. The ticketed event is presented in partnership with the Pineapple Collaborative. Friday, Nov. 30, at 7 p.m. Politics & Prose at Union Market, 1270 5th St. NE. Call 202-544-4452 or visit politics-prose.com.
Why does religion still exist in the supposedly secular 21st century? Who better to give a compelling answer than the author of groundbreaking studies about the Gnostic Gospels? As explained in “Why Religion? A Personal Story,” a new memoir weaving personal experiences with details from her scholarship, Pagels writes that she has always been attracted to religious music and rituals because of the way they engaged the imagination. But, 30 years ago, after losing her infant son and then her husband a year later, Pagels turned to religion, as so many have before her, for help in facing her grief and anger. The author will discuss her new, thought-provoking work with Eric Motley of the Aspen Institute and author of the memoir Madison Park. Friday, Nov. 30, at 7 p.m. Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Call 202-364-1919 or visit politics-prose.com.
PETE SOUZA – SHADE: A TALE OF TWO PRESIDENTS
A follow-up to Obama: An Intimate History, Shade includes hundreds more groundbreaking snapshots with incisive captions contrasting the 44th President to the 45th, all from the official Obama White House photographer. The new book is intended to serve as a reminder of shared American values. Monday, Dec. 3, at 6:30 p.m. Kramerbooks, 1517 Connecticut Ave. NW. Call 202-387-1400 or visit kramers.com.
Nearly 100 regional and national artists have donated more than 150 works for this fourth annual exhibition at Maryland’s Pyramid Atlantic Art Center. Every artwork is different, ranging in styles from prints to paintings to mixed-media, but all are the same size — 10 x 10 inches — and all are available at the same price: $50. The invitational is billed as a great opportunity for collectors of all levels to get interesting pieces by talented artists at a remarkable price, or at least serve as original holiday gifts. It’s also a constantly rotating stock, with new pieces put on display as works sell from the second floor gallery in Pyramid, the nonprofit contemporary art center located in the historic Arcade building in Hyattsville’s Gateway Arts District. The opening Reception is Friday, Dec. 7, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Through Jan. 4 at 4318 Gallatin Street. Call 301-608-9101 or visit pryamidatlanticartcenter.org.
ARTESANAS MEXICANAS Y ARTESANITOS
Through its 12-month apprenticeship program Artesanitos, Baltimore’s Creative Alliance presents handmade piñatas, corn-husk flowers, dolls, and traditional embroidery made by Mexican artists and their children, all available for sale. All proceeds benefit the artists and their families. On display to Dec. 1. Amalie Rothschild Gallery in Creative Alliance, 3134 Eastern Ave., Baltimore. Free. Call 410-276-1651 or visit creativealliance.org.
EXHIBITION OF FINE ARTS IN MINIATURE
Strathmore hosts the 85th annual show featuring more than 700 “mini-masterpieces”: intricately detailed works of art from around the world, painstakingly produced in miniature. The prodigious exhibition, presented by the Miniature Painters, Sculptors & Gravers Society of Washington, D.C., draws viewers into a concentrated universe — tracing its roots to the 7th century — featuring portraits, still lifes, and landscapes all no bigger than a postage stamp. Now through Jan. 6. The Mansion, 10701 Rockville Pike, North Bethesda. Call 301-581-5100 or visit strathmore.org.
NEW NATURE BY MARPI
Polish-born, San Francisco-based digital artist Mateusz “Marpi” Marcinowski has developed an immersive audiovisual experience featuring a colorful digital menagerie of nature-inspired creatures and plant life that react in real time to users’ gestures and actions. Inspired by early multiplayer online gaming systems such as Super Mario Brothers, Marpi’s New Nature is the latest installation at D.C.’s unique art-meets-technology gallery ArTecHouse. To Jan. 13. 1238 Maryland Ave. SW. Tickets for timed-entry sessions are $8 to $15, with evening admission for those over 21 years of age and including exhibit-related Augmented Reality Cocktails available for purchase. Visit artechouse.com.
REFRAME YOUR FEAST: RECYCLE REUSE
Ziploc and Tupperware be gone: The Kiln Club stuffs the Scope Gallery with pottery designed to replace non-biodegradable plastic bags and containers. From covered casserole dishes, bakers, and trays, the reusable serveware on offer will help you “class up traditional holiday hangovers while reducing the paper and plastic along with fridge overload.” To Dec. 2. Studio 19 – Scope Gallery in Torpedo Factory Art Center, 105 North Union St. Alexandria. Free. Call 703-838-4565 or visit torpedofactory.org.
ROOPKOTHA PHOTO EXHIBIT
Vibrant images captured by various photographers, along with historical artifacts and personal memorabilia, tell the story of Xulhaz Mannan and Mahbbub Rabbi Tonoy, two Bangladeshi LGBTQ activists and artists who were savagely murdered in their home two years ago. The Center Arts Gallery in the DC Center for the LGBT Community has set up this powerful installation as part of an ongoing campaign to protest the inaction of the Bangladeshi government to investigate the murders. 2000 14th St. NW. Call 202-682-2245 or visit thedccenter.org.
THE GREAT INKA ROAD: ENGINEERING AN EMPIRE
One of the monumental engineering achievements in history, the Great Inka Road is a network of more than 20,000 miles, crossing mountains and tropical lowlands, rivers and deserts, linking the Inca capital Cusco with the farthest reaches of its empire — and it still serves Andean communities today in Colombia, Ecuador, Perú, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile. This exhibition explores the legacy of the Inka Empire and technological feat of the road, recognized by the United Nations as a World Heritage site in 2014. Through June 2020. National Museum of the American Indian, Independence Avenue at 4th Street SW. Call 202-633-1000 or visit nmai.si.edu.
TITANIC: THE UNTOLD STORY
The National Geographic Museum reveals the only recently declassified story behind the 1985 discovery of the infamous ship — by oceanographer and National Geographic Explorer-at-Large Robert Ballard, who stumbled on the infamous shipwreck after he completed a top-secret mission to investigate the remains of two nuclear submarines in the North Atlantic. Titanic: The Untold Story is presented in partnership with the National Archives and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. To Jan. 1. 1145 17th St. NW. Tickets are $15. Call 202-857-7588 or visit ngmuseum.org.
TORPEDO: 100 YEARS
ART OF ARMISTICE
There are currently two temporary exhibitions exploring the military history of Old Town Alexandria’s Torpedo Factory Art Center. Construction on the original U.S. Naval Torpedo Station began the day after Armistice Day marked the end of World War I — Nov. 12, 1918 — and it remained a munitions plant through the end of World War II. In 1972, the building was converted into an art center housing what is reportedly the nation’s largest number of publicly accessible working artist studios under one roof — a whopping 82, plus seven galleries. Currently in Gallery 311, the Torpedo Factory Artists’ Association presents art in a range of media related to torpedos, the Navy, the city of Alexandria, the factory itself. Lesley Clarke, Min Enghauser, Mary Beth Gaiarin, John Gosling, Hyun Jung Kim, Greg Knott, Mary Lynch, and Meg Talley are among the 18 participating artists. On display to Dec. 16.
Meanwhile, the Target Gallery presents 25 artworks by 23 artists from around the country exploring the after-effects of war in an exhibition juried by Spencer Dormitzer, director of the Brentwood Arts Exchange. The region is represented by artists including Katherine Akey and Tom Greaves of D.C., Mikhail Bolkhovitinov, Irene Clouthier, and Henrik Sundqvist of Northern Virginia, and Roy Comiskey and Amy Helminiak of Maryland. “Every piece submitted and chosen contained an element of something broken in need of mending,” Dormitzer says about the exhibition. “Throughout these depictions of heroism, loss, bravery, and vulnerability lies a plea for resolution.” On display to Dec. 2. 105 North Union St. Alexandria. Call 703-838-4565 or visit torpedofactory.org.
Gallery Underground, the visual arts space for the Arlington Artists Alliance and part of Crystal City’s Art Underground, features new seasonally themed works in multi-genres by Gallery members, plus refined traditional still life paintings by George Bowels. Opens Monday, Dec. 3, with a Meet the Artists Reception Friday, Dec. 7, from 5 to 8 p.m. On display through Dec. 28. Crystal City Shops, 2100 Crystal Drive, Arlington. Call 571-483-0652 or visit galleryunderground.org.
METROCOOKING DC COOKING & ENTERTAINING SHOW
Both a holiday treat and a shopping preserve, “The Ultimate Foodie Outing” is the area’s biggest specialty food and culinary event. Emeril Lagasse is the headliner at the James Beard Foundation Cooking Stage at the 13th annual showcase also featuring Jacques Pepin, Carla Hall, Bethenny Frankel, and many of D.C’s best chefs, including Scott Drewno, Amy Brandwein, Erik Bruner-Yang, Vikram Sunderam, and Michael Schlow. Also on hand: 200 specialty food vendors, including a focused Made in DC pavilion, a two-day Beer, Wine & Spirits section, a BBQ Bash on Saturday and the 6th annual Grand Tasting Pavilion with over 50 local restaurants on Sunday. New this year is a Holiday Gingerbread House Competition featuring professional and amateur bakers. Saturday, Dec. 1, and Sunday, Dec. 2, starting at 10 a.m. each day. Walter E. Washington Convention Center, 801 Mt. Vernon Place NW. General admission tickets are priced at $21.50, and include admission to the James Beard Cooking Stage and the Exhibitor Marketplace. Sur La Table cooking classes, Beer, Wine and Spirits Garden, BBQ Bash and the Grand Tasting are special ticketed events and sold separately. VIP ticket packages are available, which will afford a backstage meet and greet with Lagasse, Pepin, and Frankel plus access to additional ticketed special events. Call 866-840-8822 or visit metrocookingdc.com.
LA-TI-DO: THE ASIANS ARE AWESOME SHOW
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, and also includes spoken-word poetry and comedy. A week before the popular annual holiday show, Mendoza and “honorary co-founder” Russwin Francisco host an alternative spin on the format by featuring performances from other local talented Americans of Asian descent. Linda Bard and Sally Horton kick off the inaugural AAA Show accompanied by a band including pianist Paige Rammelkamp and drummer Bill Georg. Monday, Dec. 3, at 8 p.m. Mezzanine Level of Bistro Bistro, 1727 Connecticut Ave. NW. Tickets are $20, or $15 if you eat dinner at the restaurant beforehand. Call 202-328-1640 or visit latidodc.wix.com/latido.
More than 500,000 colorful Christmas lights illuminate life-sized animal silhouettes, dancing trees, buildings, and walkways, plus a light show set to music, during this annual holiday event at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. New at ZooLights this year is a Gingerbread Village, a magical land of frosted cookies and lollipops, giant gingerbread-people cutouts, and an Instagram-ready gingerbread throne, set in the Elephant Outpost among food and holiday vendors, plus a performance stage for local school groups. The second weekend in December ushers in the second annual Grump holiday market, a European-style outdoor fair featuring local artisans set up at the Zoo’s entrance. ZooLights runs nightly, except Dec. 24, 25, and 31, until Jan. 1. National Zoo, 3001 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. Call 202-633-4800 or visit nationalzoo.si.edu.