Mikhail Khodorkovsky: Moscow, Monday — Photo: AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev
The latest revelatory, topical documentary from Alex Gibney (Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief) examines the corrupt state of politics and power in post-Soviet Russia. The focus of Citizen K is on the enigmatic Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the oligarch who was once the richest man in Russia — until he started speaking out against Putin and his regime. In short order, Khodorkovsky was arrested and sentenced to years in prison without due process, and his assets were seized. Now living in exile in London, Khodorkovsky is Citizen K‘s Exhibit A in the destructive effect concentrated wealth and power have on democracy. Opens Friday, Jan. 24. Landmark’s West End Cinema, 2301 M St. NW. Call 202-534-1907 or visit landmarktheatres.com.
LOCAVORE FILM SERIES: A NIGHT OF SHORTS
Next week, the Arlington Cinema ‘N Drafthouse offers a special, one-night-only screening of eight short films, an eclectic assortment connected merely by the fact that all are locally made productions. The lineup includes Letter to Niyah, Sharon Wise’s tale of a woman restored after a stint living under a bridge; Swan Lake, Mariagustina Fabara Martinez’s take on the classic fairy tale; A Glint of Hope, Jobvan Zuylen’s three-minute snippet of a story about a widower who finds unexpected consolation at his dearly departed’s graveside; Zebrafish: Practically People, Transforming How We Study Disease, Jennifer Martin’s overview of the surprising and strange genetic similarities between human beings and a particular freshwater fish; Ana, Myself, et Moi, Zeyn Faddoul’s attempt to answer the question, “How do languages affect multilinguals’ personalities?”; Game Master, Daniel Marcinek’s story of a dinner party gone wrong, with murder as the main course and sides of paranoia and hysteria; Another Day Is Over, Ibrahim Turk and Isa Seyran’s look at the capricious nature of today’s restaurant business, as a waiter, busboy, and manager deal with one unhappy customer’s bad online review; and In Lorton’s Darkroom, Karen Ruckman’s documentary about the groundbreaking photography workshops offered in the 1980s at Lorton Prison. Wednesday, Jan. 29, at 7 p.m. The Arlington Cinema ‘N Drafthouse, 2903 Columbia Pike. Tickets are $10. Call 703-486-2345 or visit www.arlingtondrafthouse.com.
Both Virginia Alamo Drafthouse cinemas help kick off the month of February with a tribute to Prince and particularly the superb soundtrack he created for this 1984 semi-autobiographical film, which introduced several of the late musical legend’s biggest hits, among them “Let’s Go Crazy,” “When Doves Cry,” and the title track. Prince’s music is ultimately what sells Purple Rain, which tells a story of a tortured musician known simply as “The Kid,” played by Prince. Appolonia and Morris Day co-star in this feature directed by Albert Magnoli. Tickets to the Alamo Drafthouse screenings include glow sticks and inflatable guitars. Monday, Feb. 3, at 7 p.m. Alamo Drafthouse – One Loudoun, 20575 Easthampton Plaza, Ashburn, Va. Call 571-293-6808. Also Monday, Feb. 3, at 7:20 p.m. Alamo Drafthouse – Woodbridge, 15200 Potomac Town Place, Ste. 100, Woodbridge, Va. Call 571-260-4413. Tickets are $14.30. Visit www.drafthouse.com/northern-virginia.
Sarah Paulson is Mother in a new “elevated thriller” from Aneesh Chaganty (Searching) that centers on her relationship with her Daughter (Kiera Allen), a wheelchair-bound dependent raised in complete isolation. The role seems to be modeled after Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? Opens Friday, Jan. 24. Area theaters. Visit www.fandango.com.
SPIDER IN THE WEB
Based on true events, Israeli filmmaker Eran Riklis (Lemon Tree) offers a spy thriller starring Ben Kingsley as an aging Mossad agent haunted by his past. Itay Tiran and Monica Bellucci co-star as younger agents trailing Kingsley on a secret-service operation across the Netherlands and Belgium. Performed in English and Hebrew with English subtitles, Spider in the Web is presented as part of the JxJ multidisciplinary art series of the Edlavitch DCJCC, with the screening on Sunday, Jan. 26, at 4 p.m., followed by a Rugelach Reception plus a Q&A with film director Riklis. Also Thursday, Jan. 30, at 7 p.m. Cafritz Hall, 1529 16th St. NW. Tickets are $13. Call 202-777-3210 or visit www.jxjdc.org.
Lulu Wang’s delightful second feature addresses aging predominantly from its Millennial heroine’s view of her elderly grandmother and aunt. Specifically rooted in the Chinese culture of lead character Billi’s often disapproving family, the laugh-out-loud funny film wields a universal power to make viewers fall in love with every one of her nutty relatives. Crazy, Rich Asians breakout Awkwafina bridges Billi’s New York City upbringing and her sincere respect for tradition, with woke feminism and a tear-jerking devotion to the woman who forms the backbone of their family. Awkwafina won a Golden Globe as Best Actress for her work in the film, but in case you slept on this gem just as Oscar voters somehow did, the American Film Institute gives you two more chances to see it on the big screen this weekend as the first film in the two-month series “2019: A Second Look.” Saturday, Jan. 25, and Sunday, Jan. 26, at 4 p.m. AFI Silver Theatre, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. Tickets are $11 to $13. Call 301-495-6720 or visit www.afi.com/Silver. (André Hereford)
Guy Ritchie returns to form with a star-studded comedic heist caper in the spirit of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Henry Golding, Michelle Dockery, Jeremy Strong, Eddie Marsan, Colin Farrell, and Hugh Grant populate The Gentlemen, which online review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes rates favorably — 75 percent, based on 52 reviews — and summarizes as being good enough for die-hards: “It may not win writer-director Guy Ritchie many new converts, but for those already attuned to the filmmaker’s brash wavelength, The Gentlemen stands tall.” Opens Friday, Jan. 24. Area theaters. Visit www.fandango.com.
Years in the making, this passion project from executive producer Steven Spielberg is a modern adaptation of Henry James’ classic ghost story The Turn of the Screw from 1898. The setting is a mysterious estate in the ever-scary Maine countryside, where Mackenzie Davis is a newly appointed nanny caring for two disturbed orphans (Brooklynn Prince and Finn Wolfhard). Spoiler alert: Dark secrets abound in this supernatural horror film directed by Floria Sigismondi and featuring Joely Richardson as — ooooo! — The Demoness. Opens Friday, Jan. 24. Area theaters. Visit www.fandango.com.
A Measure of Cruelty — Photo: Ryan Maxwell
A MEASURE OF CRUELTY
In only its third season, Montgomery County’s 4615 Theatre seems more determined than ever to become known as the most daring, adventurous, and unconventional theater company around. Case in point is this play, which, for starters, is set in a real, fully operational bar: Flanagan’s Harp and Fiddle, one of the oldest pubs in Bethesda. Theatergoers take seats wherever they choose throughout the sprawling space, where they are immersed in the action as a bar-owning father and his son, a recently returned war veteran, become entangled in a local tragedy and are forced to confront their demons. Characterized as “nail-bitingly intense,” A Measure of Cruelty is a site-specific work written and directed by Joe Calarco and featuring Scott Ward Abernethy, Nick Torres, and Ethan Miller. Remaining performances in the production’s four-show limited engagement are Saturday, Jan. 25, and Sunday, Jan. 26, at 2 p.m. 4844 Cordell Ave, Bethesda. Tickets are $16.50 to $20, plus a one-item minimum purchase of food or drink from the bar. Call 301-951-0115 or visit www.4615theatre.org.
A NIGHT WITH JACKIE “MOMS” MABLEY
The Kennedy Center presents a free, one-night-only presentation of a Helen Hayes Award-nominated work focused on the woman dubbed “the original queen of comedy.” Written and performed by Charisma Wooten, who is joined by Everett P. Williams as “Luther,” A Night with Jackie “Moms” Mabley shows how the character created by Loretta Mary Aiken helped pave the way for female comics during the 1950s and 1960s. Friday, Jan. 24, at 6 p.m. Millennium Stage. Free. Call 202-467-4600 or visit www.kennedy-center.org.
A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS
The lives of two Afghan women are inextricably bound together in a play adapted by Ursula Rani Sarma from the best-selling novel by Khaled Hosseini (Kite Runner). Carey Perloff directs Hend Ayoub and Mirian Katrib leading a 12-member cast at Arena Stage in a show billed as a “gripping and heart-rending fight for survival [that] will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.” To March 1. Kreeger Theater in the Mead Center for American Theater, 1101 6th St. SW. Call 202-488-3300 or visit www.arenastage.org.
Baltimore’s Theatrical Mining Company offers a production of a play that won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama back in 1979 and helped establish the playwright bona fides of its author, Sam Shepard. Set in an old farmhouse in Illinois, the drama reflects the frustrations of the American people and their disillusionment with the American dream. Directed by Barry Feinstein. To Feb. 2. Function Coworking Community Gallery, 4709 Harford Rd., Baltimore. Tickets are $10 plus fees. Call 443-885-0020 or visit www.theatricalmining.org.
PILGRIMS MUSA AND SHERI IN THE NEW WORLD
Mosaic Theater Company presents a romantic comedy about Muslim and American identity full of unexpected twists from Yussef El Guindi, the Egyptian-American playwright and recipient of the Steinberg New American Play Award. Shirley Serotsky directs. To Feb. 16. Lang Theatre in the Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE. Tickets are $20 to $65. Call 202-399-7993 or visit www.atlasarts.org.
Studio Theatre presents a searing drama written by Dominique Morisseau, focused on the struggles an African-American single mother faces in pursuit of a good education for her teenage son. Awoye Timpo directs. To Feb. 7. 14th & P Streets NW. Call 202-332-3300 or visit www.studiotheatre.org.
In 1939, one ordinary American couple sets out to reconnect with their estranged friends in hopes of enlisting their support in an effort to save some of the European Jews increasingly under assault by Hitler and the Nazis. What begins as a night of cocktails and conversation becomes a tense negotiation of politics, morality, and survival in a suspenseful drama by Alix Sobler based on the true story of the Kraus family. Theater J’s Adam Immerwahr directs a cast including McLean Fletcher, Kimberly Gilbert, David Schlumpf, Alexander Strain, and Erin Weaver. Now to Feb. 2. The Aaron and Cecile Goldman Theater in the Edlavitch DCJCC, 1529 16th St. NW. Call 202-777-3210 or visit www.theaterj.org.
The Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Alan Paul makes his directorial debut at Round House Theatre with a production of Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater’s haunting, high-octane, and boundary-pushing rock musical. A Tony-winning adaptation of Frank Wedekind’s prescient 19th-century drama, Spring Awakening focuses on a repressed group of angsty teenagers navigating blindly through their burgeoning sexuality. Evan Daves, Cristina Sastre, Sean Watkinson, Jane Bernhard, and Christian Montgomery lead a youthful cast also featuring Bobby Smith as Adult Men and Tonya Beckman as Adult Women. In previews. To Feb. 23. 4545 East-West Highway, Bethesda. Tickets are $50 to $60. Call 240-644-1100 or visit www.roundhousetheatre.org.
THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR
Aaron Posner helms a Folger Theatre production of the delightful comedy of love, money, deception, and the power of women, as the ladies of Windsor serve Falstaff his comedic comeuppance. To March 1. 201 East Capitol St. SE. Tickets are $27 to $85. Call 202-544-7077 or visit www.folger.edu.
THE SIMON & GARFUNKEL STORY
With huge projection photos, original film footage, and a full live band performing their hits, this immersive concert-style theater show chronicles the journey of the legendary folk-rock duo. Originally known as Tom & Jerry, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel became one of the most successful music acts during the 1960s folk heyday. The Simon & Garfunkel Story culminates with their famous reunion in 1981, “The Concert in Central Park,” which drew more than a half-million fans. The show is the next up in the “Broadway at the National” production series. Friday, Jan. 31, at 8 p.m., and Saturday, Feb. 1, at 2 and 8 p.m. National Theatre, 1321 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Tickets are $59 to $99. Call 202-628-6161 or visit www.thenationaldc.org.
BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS
Neil Simon’s semi-autobiographical play about a Depression-era family trying to laugh through tears next lights the stage of Baltimore’s community Vagabond Theatre. Brighton Beach Memoirs is a moving, entertaining comedy focused on a male teen obsessed with girls, baseball, and the idea of becoming a writer. To Feb. 9. 806 S. Broadway, Baltimore. Tickets are $10 to $20. Call 410-563-9135 or visit www.vagabondplayers.org.
LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST
Liana Olear directs a contemporary take on Shakespeare’s wittiest comedy about love, responsibility, and careful use of social media. Bill Bodie, Linda “Spencer” Dye, Peter Eichman, Joshua Engel, and Christine Evangelista are part of the 15-member cast of this community theater production from Maryland’s rebellious, classics-focused troupe the Rude Mechanicals, a mix of professional and amateur artists. Performances are Friday, Jan. 31, and Saturday, Feb. 1, at 8 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 2, at 2 p.m., and Friday, Feb. 7, and Saturday, Feb. 8, at 8 p.m. Greenbelt Arts Center, 123 Centerway. Greenbelt, Md. Tickets are $12 to $24. Call 301-441-8770 or visit www.rudemechanicals.com.
Country Mega Ticket: Kenny Chesney
COUNTRY MEGATICKET 2020 AT JIFFY LUBE LIVE
LiveNation has already announced this year’s slate of country superstars coming to Jiffy Lube Live, and the 2020 Country Megaticket package for all 10 shows goes on sale starting this Friday, Jan. 24 — weeks before tickets to each individual show become available. The Megaticket offers the same seat at every show plus additional perks with the Platinum and Gold levels. This year’s lineup includes: Brooks & Dunn with special guests on Saturday, May 23; Brad Paisley with Jordan Davis and Gabby Barrett on Saturday, June 13; Kenny Chesney with Michael Franti & Spearhead on Thursday, June 18; Chris Young with Scotty McCreery and Payton Smith on Friday, July 10; Tim McGray with Midland and Ingrid Andress on Saturday, July 18; Lady Antebellum with Jake Owen and Maddie & Tae on Saturday, Aug. 8; Jason Aldean with Brett Young, Mitchell Tenpenny, and Dee Jay Silver on Saturday, Aug. 15; Luke Bryan with Morgan Wallen and Runaway June on Sunday, Aug. 23; Thomas Rhett with Cole Swindell and HARDY on Saturday, Aug. 29; and Rascal Flatts with special guests on Saturday, Sept. 12. The package runs $750 to $1,600, or $350 for lawn seats. Visit www.megaticket.com.
DOM FLEMONS: AMERICAN SONGSTER
One of the founders of the Grammy Award-winning black bluegrass band the Carolina Chocolate Drops, but now flying solo, Flemons comes to the Kennedy Center to illuminate the history and influence of the early “American Songsters,” or the African-American musicians who helped pioneer styles including ragtime, blues, country western, bluegrass, and old-time string band. Flemons will perform on the banjo, fife, guitar, harmonica, quills, and rhythm bones, in addition to vocals, at this concert, part of the day-long Music From Mount Vernon celebration exploring the roots of American music through a panel discussion and concerts. Sunday, Jan. 26, at 4 p.m. Studio K in the REACH. Tickets are $15. Call 202-467-4600 or visit www.kennedy-center.org.
Diehard fans, known as the Campers, travel far and wide to catch the fiery live performances, complete with full light show, of this progressive bluegrass band from Kalamazoo, Michigan, which aptly describes its sound as “mixing the acoustic stomp of a stringband with the rule-breaking spirit of rock & roll.” The quintet returns for what’s become an annual sojourn of two nights at the Anthem, helping to warm up your winter and kick-start another February. Cris Jacobs serves as the opening act for the show on Friday, Jan. 31, while Ghost Light does the honors on Saturday, Feb. 1. Doors at 6 p.m. The Anthem, 901 Wharf St. SW. Tickets are $42.50 to $65. Call 202-265-0930 or visit www.theanthemdc.com.
LIVING THE DREAM…SINGING THE DREAM
A week after Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday and federal holiday comes the annual choral tribute presented by Washington Performing Arts and featuring the men, women and children of the WPA Gospel Choirs. These choristers will be further bolstered by the Choral Arts Society of Washington — 300 voices strong — to perform in honor of King. Sunday, Jan. 26, at 7 p.m. Kennedy Center Concert Hall. Tickets are $25 to $70. Call 202-467-4600 or visit www.kennedy-center.org.
MARYLAND LYRIC OPERA: THAÏS
For its latest season, this young, singer-focused company founded by Brad Clark offers three new productions, all of which are dedicated to strong women as a toast to the centennial celebration of the 19th Amendment’s ratification, allowing women the right to vote. The offerings include Massanet’s Thaïs in a fully staged production helmed by Claudia Zahn, with Louis Salemno conducting the MDLO Orchestra and Chorus. Sarah Joy Miller leads a cast also including Louis Otey, Allegra de Vita, Hunter Enoch, and Joe Brent, plus a ballet performed by local dance troupe Sarah Ewing & Dancers. In French with English surtitles. Thursday, Jan. 30, at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday, Feb. 1, at 2 p.m. Kay Theatre in the Clarice at the University of Maryland, University Boulevard and Stadium Drive. College Park. Tickets are $25 to $50. Call 301-405-ARTS or visit www.theclarice.umd.edu.
PASSPORT TO THE WORLD OF MUSIC 2020
Curated by Lynn Veronneau and Ken Avis of Wammie-winning jazz samba group Veronneau, the annual festival presented by Virginia’s Creative Cauldron celebrates the music and dance of cultures around the world, with performances by artists representing a broad spectrum of genres: folk to Latin, opera to bluegrass. The 2020 series continues with: the Dave Kline Band’s “Tribute to Jimi Hendrix” along with special guests Veronneau and Avis, on Friday, Jan. 24, at 7:30 p.m.; Italian vocalist Irene Jalenti’s “Anima Latina,” with accompaniment from Grammy-nominated Cuban-Venezuelan pianist César Orozco and Venezuelan percussionist Francisco Vielma, on Saturday, Jan. 25, at 7:30 p.m.; a “Burns Night to remember” with singing fiddler Sean Heely and some of the finest Celtic musicians in the region, on Sunday, Jan. 26, at 7 p.m.; “Griefcat” featuring songwriters Louisa Hall and Nardo Lily on Friday, Jan. 31, at 7:30 p.m.; and concluding with a French Soiree featuring Veronneau singing iconic songs of Piaf, Aznavour, Trenet, Django, and more, on Saturday, Feb. 1, at 7:30 p.m. ArtSpace Falls Church, 410 South Maple Ave. Tickets are $20 to $25, or $70 for tables of two with wine, $140 for tables of four with wine. Call 703-436-9948 or visit www.creativecauldron.org.
The sunny, contemporary pop artist is best known for “Home,” the all-time best-selling coronation song from American Idol, which the 29-year-old won in 2012. Phillips returns to the area for an intimate show at City Winery DC. Monday, Jan. 27. Doors at 6 p.m. 1350 Okie St. NE. Tickets are $40 to $50. Call 202-250-2531 or visit www.citywinery.com.
PRESSENDA CHAMBER PLAYERS
Named for the Italian Pressenda instruments made in 1844 that are owned by two ensemble members, the Ensemble-in-Residence of the Washington Conservatory offers a program featuring the Duo for Two Cellos by Jean-Baptiste Barriere, Capriccio Sextet by Richard Strauss, and the G Major Quintet by Johannes Brahms. The players will include violinists Aaron Berofsky and Kathryn Votapek, viola players Amadi Azikiwe and Philippe Chao, and cellists Jan Mueller-Szeraws and Tobias Werner, the founding artistic director of the group. After the concert, guests are invited to attend an informal Wine & Words Q&A with the performers over complimentary beverages. Saturday, Feb. 1, at 8 p.m. Westmoreland Congregational Church, 1 Westmoreland Circle, Bethesda. Free, with suggested donation of $20. Call 301-320-2770 or visit www.washingtonconservatory.org.
WHITE FORD BRONCO
“D.C.’s all ’90s party band,” cheekily named after O.J. Simpson’s notorious failed getaway car, is a five-member ensemble consisting of singer/guitarist Diego Valencia, singer Gretchen Gustafson, guitarists Ken Sigmund and McNasty, and drummer Max Shapiro. White Ford Bronco sings through that decade’s songbook in all styles of popular music. Friday, Jan. 24. Doors at 6:30 p.m. The Hamilton, 600 14th St. NW. Tickets are $20 to $25. Call 202-787-1000 or visit www.thehamiltondc.com.
Malaysia’s first international pop star, whose voice draws comparison to Feist and Lorde, is matched by a melodically rich blend of pop, folk, and R&B in her songs. If you think you’ve heard the songs before, you likely have, accompanying performances on So You Think You Can Dance. Yuna drops by City Winery DC for three “Acoustic Evening” shows in support of her fourth critically acclaimed album Rouge. Wednesday, Jan. 29, with doors at 6 p.m., and Thursday, Jan. 30, with doors at 5:30 and 9:30 p.m. 1350 Okie St. NE. Tickets are $35 to $48. Call 202-250-2531 or visit www.citywinery.com.
Dance Place Darling Dance — Photo: Mariah Miranda
DARLINGDANCE: TARGET PRACTICE
Founded a decade ago by choreographer and performance artist Hayley Cutler, darlingdance is a feminist, postmodern dance theater ensemble based in D.C. Premiering this weekend, Target Practice is the troupe’s latest work offering an intimate exploration of the female experience — and devised in a collaborative environment that prioritizes humor and authenticity over “the glossy traditions of formal theater dance.” The ultimate aim, according to the company’s official biography, is to develop works that “can help us all come to grips with the realities of womanhood.” Saturday, Jan. 25, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Jan. 26, 4 p.m. Dance Place, 3225 8th St. NE. Tickets are $15 to $30. Call 202-269-1600 or visit www.danceplace.org.
GREGORY MAQOMA’S VUYANI DANCE THEATRE: CION
South African star choreographer Gregory Maqoma brings his company to the Kennedy Center for the first time performing a piece inspired by Cion, the novel from his compatriot Zakes Mda and danced to Maurice Ravel’s Boléro. Set in a graveyard with the cries of people in mourning and the a cappella music of Isicathamiya singers in the background, Cion is billed as a “powerful requiem” and an “innovative, visually stunning full-length work that brings literature to life.” Friday, Jan. 24, and Saturday, Jan. 25, at 8 p.m. Eisenhower Theater. Tickets are $25 to $79. Call 202-467-4600 or visit www.kennedy-center.org.
MATTHEW BOURNE’S NEW ADVENTURES: SWAN LAKE
Matthew Bourne’s choreographed works are internationally celebrated for their unique, bold approaches to familiar material, elaborate, dazzling designs, and more often than not, profound LGBTQ content. Bourne, who has won every major theatrical award imaginable — from Tonys to Oliviers — sometimes multiple times over, returns with his dance company New Adventures for an updated spin on his classic all-male Swan Lake in its Kennedy Center debut. To Jan. 26. Opera House. Tickets are $29 to $109. Call 202-467-4600 or visit www.kennedy-center.org.
PASSION FRUIT DANCE COMPANY: DANCE WITHIN YOUR DANCE
“What is the groove? How do you find it? How much weight does it hold in self-expression?” Those are the questions raised by the latest work routed in hip-hop and house dance styles and rhythms from choreographer Tatiana Desardouin and presented by her four-year-old New York-based street dance company, featuring core members Mai Lê Hô and Lauriane Ogay. Passion Fruit Dance Company promotes the authenticity of street and clubbing dance styles, aka social dances, while highlighting and exploring different social issues and individuals. Saturday, Feb. 1, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 2, at 4 p.m. Dance Place, 3225 8th St. NE. Tickets are $15 to $30. Call 202-269-1600 or visit www.danceplace.org.
UPRIGHT CITIZENS BRIGADE
Like the funniest extroverts at the party, the improv troupe Upright Citizens Brigade riffs on D.C. and audience-members alike. The brigade has many famous alumni, including Amy Poehler and Ed Helms. They return for a biannual performance at Sixth and I Historic Synagogue. Saturday, Jan. 25, at 7 p.m. 600 I St. NW. Tickets are $20 in advance, or $25 day-of show. Call 202-408-3100 or visit www.sixthandi.org.
WASHINGTON IMPROV THEATER: ROAD SHOW
D.C.’s leading troupe for longform improv offers its annual “wintry mix” of vignettes featuring different ensembles, with each plot developed on-the-fly, spurred by a single audience suggestion. Each show is different, but all offer a grab bag of spontaneous comedy and long-form improv, including the all-female-identifying group Hellcat, the slyly named all-African-American group Lena Dunham, the improvising playwrights of iMusical, and the improvised rockers in Heavy Rotation. To Feb. 2. District of Columbia Arts Center (DCAC), 2438 18th St. NW. Tickets are $15 to $18. Call 202-462-7833 or visit www.witdc.org.
Story District: Top Shelf
READINGS & DISCUSSIONS
JAMES MANN: THE GREAT RIFT
The Great Rift: Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, and the Broken Friendship that Defined an Era tracks how two towering figures in both Bush administrations went from allies in one to adversaries in the other. Mann, a fellow of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, draws on dozens of original interviews and deep research in presidential archives to show the different sensibilities and ideologies of Cheney and Powell, as well as the effect their differences had on recent American history, in foreign policy overall and within the Republican party. Saturday, Jan. 25, at 3:30 p.m. Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Call 202-364-1919 or visit www.politics-prose.com.
STORY DISTRICT: 11TH ANNUAL TOP SHELF
An annual best-of showcase featuring some of the best tales told over the past year at the various events around town presented by D.C.’s premiere storytelling organization. Unlike other such outfits, Story District is focused on congenial camaraderie rather than competition — no judged “Story Slams” here. Now in its 11th year at the Lincoln Theatre, Top Shelf is a curated group of eight storytellers, partially winnowed down by a panel of independent judges, all active members of the storytelling community. The lineup this year features: Charles McCaffrey, Colleen Clark, Joani Peacock, Darryl Smith, Jason Pangilinan, Lizzie Peabody, Michael McVey, Sufian Zhemukhov, and Whitney Ellenby. Expect stories about “unbridled lust, a trip to the water park, love spells that really work, and more.” Saturday, Jan. 25. Doors at 6:30 p.m. Lincoln Theatre, 1215 U St. NW. Tickets are $30 to $40. Call 202-328-6000 or visit www.thelincolndc.com.
ART & EXHIBITS
BONNARD TO VUILLARD: THE INTIMATE POETRY OF EVERYDAY LIFE
Over 60 rarely seen works by a leading group of European post-impressionist artists who worked together in the 1890s under the name the Nabi Collection, a transliteration of the Hebrew word for prophet. Pierre Bonnard, Édouard Vuillard, Maurice Denis, Aristide Maillol, Paul Ranson, Ker-Xavier Roussel, and Félix Vallotton are all represented in this temporary exhibition at the Phillips Collection, which ranges from painting and prints to stained glass to ceramics, and showcases how the Nabis used flat colors, decorative patterning, and silhouetted forms to convey their responses to the world. To Jan. 26. The Phillips Collection, 1600 21st St. NW. Tickets are $12. Call 202-387-2151 x247 or visit www.phillipscollection.org.
IN MEMORIAM: TONI MORRISON, 1931-2019
In recognition of the significant cultural loss with the recent passing of Toni Morrison, the National Portrait Gallery displays Robert McCurdy’s painted portrait of the Pulitzer Prize- and Nobel Prize-winning author of Song of Solomon and Beloved. McCurdy’s portrait, based on an expressionless photograph he captured of Morrison “that has no implied past or future but exists in the eternal present,” has been added to the larger exhibition Twentieth Century Americans: 2000 to Present on the museum’s third floor. To Jan. 31. 8th and F Streets. NW. Call 202-633-8300 or visit www.npg.si.edu.
IT’S SOMETHING ABOUT COLOR: PAINTINGS BY JOAN BIXLER
A new exhibition at downtown’s Touchstone Gallery features a variety of vibrant, even exuberant artworks by Joan Bixler, reflecting the Northern Virginia artist’s love of color and her fascination with the interactions of light, shadows, and shapes. In large-scale paintings, Bixler often uses color and forms to create the effects of texture and depth, occasionally accenting or emphasizing things with the application of gold leaf, iridescent paint, or Venetian plaster — all touches that draw from Bixler Studios LLC, her decorative painting company serving commercial clients in the region. Closing Reception is Saturday, Feb. 1. Gallery C, 901 New York Ave. NW Call 202-347-2787 or visit www.touchstonegallery.com.
MIGRATIONS & MEANING(S) IN ART
A new exhibition at the Maryland Institute College of Art features a diverse range of local, national, and international visual artists exploring the timely topic of migration, many of them drawing on historical reference points, from slavery and emancipation, to the Great Migration, to migrant communities in the Caribbean, the Americas, Africa, Europe, and Asia. Scholar and artist Deborah Willis of New York University curated the show per her role as the visiting chair of photography at MICA. Willis selected works across various media — photography, prints, video, animation, and sculpture — touching on “how identities are realized, rejected, performed, and desired,” as well as to the urgency of the present time. Artists and collectives included in the exhibition are Leslie King-Hammond, Albert Chong, Renée Cox, Carrie Mae Weems, Danny Wilcox Frasier, Tsedaye Makonnen, Nate Larson, Ana Teresa Fernandez, Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum, and Hank Willis Thomas. Opening Reception is Thursday, Jan. 30, from 5 to 7 p.m. Runs to March 15. Meyerhoff Gallery in the Fox Building, 1303 W. Mount Royal Ave., Baltimore. Call 410-669-9200 or visit www.mica.edu/galleries.
OUTBREAKS: EPIDEMICS IN A CONNECTED WORLD
To mark the 100th anniversary of the Great Influenza, the Smithsonian debuts an exhibition on epidemiology and human health. From HIV to SARS to Ebola, Outbreaks shows how viruses can spread from animals to people, why some infectious diseases become pandemics, and the collaborative ways many have been stopped or curtailed. Today, pandemic diseases remain one of the greatest threats to individuals and society, due to an increasingly interconnected, increasingly mobile, increasingly urbanized and industrialized global world. Ongoing to 2021. National Museum of Natural History, 10th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. Call 202-633-1000 or visit mnh.si.edu.
PRESENT TENSE: DC PUNK AND DIY RIGHT NOW
The 17th Annual D.C. Artist Solo Exhibition at Logan Circle’s boutique gallery Transformer features powerful photography by Farrah Skeiky that documents and celebrates D.C.’s hardcore punk music scene — as it exists today, that is. The exhibition, based on Skeiky’s forthcoming photo book of the same title, is fortunately not another nostalgic look back at the counterculture genre’s 1980s heyday. Present Tense reflects Skeiky’s experience as a witness, in her role as an established concert and event photographer, and also as an active participant, via time spent in the hardcore trenches as a punk guitarist, most recently with the queercore group Homosuperior. Exhibition runs to Feb. 29, with an Artist Talk planned for Saturday, Feb. 1, between Skeiky and Cynthia Connolly, a photographer, curator, and author who helped inspire Skeiky and her work by virtue of Connolly’s seminal title Banned in DC: Photos and Anecdotes from the DC Punk Underground (79-86). 1404 P St. NW. Call 202-483-1102 or visit www.transformerdc.org.
RECLAIMED REUSED REPURPOSED: SUSTAINABLE ART FOR THE PLANET
The first in a series of exhibitions addressing climate change at Dupont Circle’s Studio Gallery highlights artists who have been getting creative in their use of materials — finding ways to reuse byproducts and waste from the manufacturing industry. As curated by Molly Ruppert, the exhibition features Jessica Beels, Robin Bell, Julia Bloom, Gloria Chapa, Pat Goslee, Liz Lescault, and Erwin Timmers. To Jan. 25. 2108 R St. NW. Call 202-232-8734 or visit www.studiogallerydc.com.
THE TOUCH OF COLOR: PASTELS AT THE NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART
Known for its brilliant colors and its delicate, velvety texture, pastel is one of the most colorful and versatile materials in the history of art. The medium’s history, from the Renaissance to today, is on display via 64 exquisite examples drawn entirely from the National Gallery of Art’s permanent collection, yet they are rarely exhibited due to the fragility of pastel as a medium. Featured in the exhibition are works by Rosalba Carriera, Edgar Degas, James McNeill Whistler, Henri Matisse, and Roy Lichtenstein. To Jan. 26. Ground Floor, East Outer Tier in the West Building, 6th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. Free. Call or visit www.nga.gov.
WHEN WE FIRST ARRIVED
Before officially launching The Corner, Whitman-Walker will open the doors of its new cultural center for an art exhibition intended to increase community awareness about the nearly 7,000 asylum-seeking children who have been separated from their families and are being detained in holding pens by the U.S. government. More specifically, the exhibition features donated works of art by leading visual artists created in response to interviews with some of the detained children sharing their experiences. The exhibition has been curated by the Corner’s new executive director Ruth Noack and organized in close collaboration with DYKWTCA — an art initiative, led by artists Mary Ellen Carroll and Lucas Michael, whose name is an acronym for Do You Know Where The Children Are? More than 100 artists are represented, among them Jesse Presley Jones, Kay Rosen, Amy Sillman, Walead Beshty, Boris Torres, Dan Graham, Molly Gochman, POPE.L, Lisa Tan, and Xaviera Simmons. Sales of the donated artworks will benefit the Safe Passage Project, Terra Firma, Innovation Law Lab, and Team Brownsville. Opening Reception is Saturday, Jan. 25, from 6 to 8 p.m. On display to March 29. 1701 14th St. NW. Call 202-745-7000 or visit www.whitman-walker.org.
Rhythm and Jews: Jews and The Birth of Rock and Roll
ABOVE AND BEYOND
KENNEDY CENTER’S LUNAR NEW YEAR 2020 CELEBRATION
For the traditional Chinese calendar, the new year begins on the new moon — which in 2020 appears on Saturday, Jan. 25, when the Kennedy Center presents its popular Family Day to celebrate the Year of the Rat with free activities for children of all ages, capped off by a free performance at 6 p.m. on the Millennium Stage of the Beijing Bamboo Orchestra, featuring more than 30 types of instruments made entirely out of bamboo. The traditional celebration lasts two weeks, and the Kennedy Center mostly follows suit with its 5th annual Lunar New Year slate of (mostly free) activities, with showcases of both Chinese and Korean culture. This year’s celebration is centered in the complex’s new outdoor campus the REACH, festooned with 100 stunning Winter Lanterns consisting of 10,000 LED lights depicting the Chinese Four Symbols and 12 Zodiac Signs, Panda Grove, and Mushroom Garden. The display of lanterns will be enhanced Thursday, Jan. 23, through Sunday, Jan. 26, with performances celebrating China — ranging from a Magician from Shenzhen, a sugar painting, shadow puppet demonstration, and calligraphy; and then Thursday, Jan. 30, through Sunday, Feb. 2, with performances celebrating Korea, from a drum and spinning-dishes show from Freelak Company, to a group Mural Painting led by Julia Chon, to kite-flying led by a South Korean master. The festivities kick off with a special concert by the Shanghai Chinese Orchestra, led by Muhai Tang and featuring specialized instruments including erhu or Chinese violin, dizi or bamboo flute, sheng or multi-reed wind instrument, ruan or moon guitar, and zheng or zither. Wednesday, Jan. 22, at 8 p.m. Concert Hall. Tickets are $15 to $59. Call 202-467-4600 or visit www.kennedy-center.org.
RHYTHM & JEWS: JEWS & THE BIRTH OF ROCK AND ROLL
Musicians Daryl Davis and Seth Kibel present an evening of story and song celebrating the Jewish artists who worked behind the scenes in rock music’s first decade and helped propel to stardom Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Elvis Pressley, among others. These unsung heroes were songwriters including Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller, Doc Pomus, and Carol King, producers such as Leonard and Phil Chess, Jerry Wexler, and Phil Spector, and DJs and promoters like Alan Freed. Wednesday, Jan. 29, at 8 p.m. Cafritz Hall in the Edlavitch DCJCC, 1529 16th St. NW. Tickets are $15. Call 202-777-3210 or visit www.jxjdc.org.