Metro Weekly

Out on the (Virtual) Town: April 23-29

The best arts, entertainment, and eats in D.C. during social distancing

Melissa Etheridge & Kesha

GLAAD’S TOGETHER IN PRIDE: YOU ARE NOT ALONE

Melissa Etheridge and Kesha serve as headline performers at a livestream this Sunday, April 26, featuring a ton of LGBTQ celebrities and straight allies raising awareness about the heightened impact of COVID-19 on the community. Organized by GLAAD along with actor and producer Erich Bergen, Together in Pride: You Are Not Alone will share important messages of LGBTQ love, support, and affirmation at a time when some queer-identified people are isolating in homes that may be less than affirming — or worse — and also a time when LGBTQ community centers are seeing an uptick in people, particularly LGBTQ youth, reaching out for help and guidance. Designed as a fundraiser for the more than 250 LGBTQ community centers that are members of CenterLink, Together in Pride will feature performances, interviews, and video messages from a star-studded roster including co-hosts Billy Eichner and Lilly Singh, Billy Porter, Rosie O’Donnell, Jonathan Van Ness, Brian Michael Smith, Ross Mathews, Tyler Oakley, Alex Newell, Marcia Gay Harden, Matt Bomer, Adam Lambert, Bebe Rexha, Dan Levy, Mj Rodriguez, Wilson Cruz, Kathy Griffin, Michelle Visage, Sean Hayes, Sharon Stone, and Tatiana Maslany. Kesha, Melissa Etheridge and the cast of Jagged Little Pill are scheduled to perform. The livestream will start at 8 p.m. on GLAAD’s YouTube channel as well as Facebook Live. Metro Weekly will be linking to the broadcast from our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/metroweekly. Join us there.

Folger Theatre: Macbeth’s the Weird Sisters (Andrew Zox, Cleo House, Jr., and Eric Hissom)

STAGE

HOMEBOUND

Round House Theatre won’t reopen the doors to its recently renovated space in Bethesda until its next season starts up in the fall, but that doesn’t mean it has stopped working. The company has retained its administrative staff and have hired back nine of the actors slated to appear in three canceled spring productions, a feat the theater achieved as a result of getting creative and, as with pretty much everything else these days, by going digital. The result is Homebound, an original web series that explores life under Stay-at-Home orders in the Nation’s Capital. The series, starring Craig Wallace and Maboud Ebrahimzadeh, debuts Monday, April 27, with the premiere episode penned by Washington Post columnist Alexandra Petri. The 10-episodes will progress in “chain story” style, with each subsequent episode — one available for free every Monday evening — building off what came before but written by a different area playwright, including Karen Zacarías, Farah Lawal Harris, Liz Maestri, Psalmayene 24, Tim J. Lord, Audrey Cefaly, Dani Stoller, Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi, and Caleen Sinnette Jennings. The company’s artistic director Ryan Rilette and associate artistic director Nicole A. Watson will offer remote direction during rehearsals to the actors, who will also be given advice on home lighting by designer Harold F. Burgess II and wardrobe by Ivania Stack. The actors will then film their parts from home. Through June 29. Visit www.RoundHouseTheatre.org/Homebound.

PLAY AT HOME

Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company and Baltimore Center Stage are founding members of a small coalition of regional U.S. theaters formed in the wake of COVID-19 as an attempt to inspire and engage both professional artists as well as theater amateurs and novices — connected through the act of storytelling and performance. The “Play At Home” initiative features a growing series of plays under 10 minutes in length, created “specifically for this moment of unprecedented isolation, to inspire joy and connection for all.” Available as free downloads, the plays were written with the intimate setting of a private home in mind. The commissioned playwrights were also encouraged to think outside the box and allow for the inclusion of “elements that could not be reproduced for the stage.” The lineup includes Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi (The Diaz Family Talent Show), Aleshea Harris (If, Can, Mayhap), and Mike Lew (Performance Review), all specifically commissioned by Woolly Mammoth, and Noah Diaz (House), Miranda Rose Hall (What Happened in the Kitchen), and Keenan Scott II (Strike) from Baltimore Center Stage. Visit www.playathome.org.

STREAMING SHAKESPEARE

The Folger Shakespeare Library is offering every play, sonnet, and poem written by William Shakespeare, free on its website. But you can go well beyond the page to the stage courtesy of the institution’s Folger Theatre and its current offerings, such as a video-recorded performance of the company’s 2008 Macbeth, starring Ian Merrill Peakes in the title role. Previously only available for purchase from Simon & Schuster, the video comes with special features, such as interviews with the cast and creative teams. Additionally, Folger has made available full-cast audio recordings of seven Shakespearean classics, produced with Simon & Schuster Audio and featuring professional actors from the company. Titles include everything from A Midsummer Night’s Dream to Romeo and Juliet, from Richard III to Macbeth. All video and audio recordings will be available for free through July 1. Call 202-544-4600 or visit www.folger.edu.

SONiA: Disappear Fear — Photo: Lea Morales

MUSIC

DIGITAL ACTS OF KINDNESS

Sonia Rutstein was supposed to be on her annual concert trek through Germany right now. Instead, the Baltimore-based folk-pop singer-songwriter, who records and performs as SONiA disappear fear, has entered the brave new world of livestreaming. While many of the physical appearances in Germany are being rescheduled for later this year or early 2021, all the virtual concerts are being performed on their original dates, most organized to celebrate a different album from SONiA’s 30-plus year recording career. The roughly hour-long shows, captured from her home music room are presented on Facebook for free, though donations through PayPal are accepted. The lineup over the next week includes: a concert celebrating DF 05 Live, SONiA’s first live album recorded 15 years ago, on Friday, April 24; a Spanish-centric show featuring songs from the 2007 album Tango on Saturday, April 25; a concert honoring the 2009 retrospective album Splash on Thursday, April 30; a toast to the 2010 album Blood, Bones & Baltimore on Friday, May 1; and a tribute to the songs of the late Phil Ochs as inspired by the 2011 recording Get Your Phil on Saturday, May 2. All concerts are livestreamed at 2 p.m. and available afterwards at www.facebook.com/disappear.fear.

METROPOLITAN OPERA’S NIGHTLY STREAMS, VIRTUAL AT-HOME GALA

In its sixth week, the Met continues to sift through its trove of “Live in HD” recordings of past productions for free nightly streams from its website. The upcoming lineup of encore presentations, starting at 7:30 p.m. and remaining available up to 23 hours later, includes the 2015 production of Lehar’s The Merry Widow starring Renée Fleming, Kelli O’Hara, and Nathan Gunn on Thursday, April 23, Verdi’s La Traviata, the 2012 production starring Natalie Dessay, Matthew Polenzani, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky, on Friday, April 24, and Rossini’s La Cenerentola, as seen in 2014 with Joyce DiDonato and Juan Diego Flórez, on Sunday, April 26. The week’s highlight comes Saturday, April 25, with what is billed as the “most ambitious effort yet to bring the joy and artistry of opera to audiences everywhere during the Met’s closure.” The unprecedented virtual “At-Home Gala” features performances from more than 40 artists captured in their homes around the world, including Jamie Barton, Lawrence Brownlee, Renée Fleming, Christine Goerke, Isabel Leonard, Anna Netrebko, and Bryn Terfel, and all of it hosted by general manager Peter Gelb and music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin from their homes in New York and Montreal, respectively. Nézet-Séguin will also participate as a pianist at the gala as well as be featured as a conductor in pre-recorded performances by the Met Orchestra and Chorus, created from individual takes from the homes of each of the musicians in the days leading up the gala. The virtual gala will be available as a free livestream starting at 1 p.m., and will remain accessible on demand until 6:30 p.m. the following day. Visit www.metopera.org.

STRATHMORE: “LIVE FROM THE LIVING ROOM”

Every Wednesday, Strathmore offers livestreams primarily featuring solo performances of its multi-genre Artists in Residence, both those from the current 2020 class as well as a select few alumni of the esteemed A.I.R. program. Each concert presents bite-sized performances — roughly 20 minutes in length — captured live from the living rooms of local musicians and streamed via Facebook Live starting at 7:30 p.m. The lineup continues with the Bumper Jackson Duo, Jess Eliot Myhre and Chris Ousley’s American roots project merging country and jazz (April 29), Josanne Francis, an acclaimed steelpan musician and educator (May 6), Mark G. Meadows, a well-known local theater pianist and vocalist (May 13), AYO, a smooth pop vocalist known for confident lyrics and empowering messages (May 20), and urban jazz harmonicist Frédéric Yonnet (May 27). Call 301-581-5100 or visit www.strathmore.org.

ZOOM OPERA

“What would happen if you created a piece specifically intended to be performed live over a conferencing platform like Zoom?” That was the question that guided innovative composer Kamala Sankaram in developing an experiment, along with librettist Rob Handel, dubbed “the world’s first Zoom opera.” Presented by New York’s HERE Arts Center, partly through its COVID-19-era #stillHERE online programming series, the new work, titled all decisions will be made by consensus and touted as an absurdist comedy, tells a story from a Zoom meeting of activists with radically conflicting styles, debating whether a particular moment in time is the right time for a strike. Rising Metropolitan Opera star Zachary James stars with Paul An, Hai-Ting Chinn, Joan LaBarbara, Adrian Rosas, and Sankaram herself, plus special guest Joel Marsh Garland of Orange Is The New Black. Performances, set in a “live” Zoom room with limited capacity and also streamed to HERE’s Facebook page, are Friday, April 24, at 1 p.m., Saturday, April 25, at 7 p.m., and Sunday, April 26, at 3 p.m. Free, with donations accepted through a PayPal digital tip jar to @zoomopera. Visit www.facebook.com/hereartscenter.

Round House Digital

READINGS & DISCUSSIONS

ROUND HOUSE’S PLAYWRIGHTS ON PLAYS

One of the earliest offerings in its new digital programming slate “Round House at Your House,” this series features Round House Theatre-affiliated artists engaging in conversation with the company’s literary manager Gabrielle Hoyt, with a focus on the artists’ own work and a play of their choice that inspired them. The discussions are livestreamed every Thursday at 7 p.m., allowing participants to submit questions for the playwrights in real-time via comments. The series continues with J.T. Rogers (Oslo) on Julius Caesar on April 23, Charly Evon Simpson (it’s not a trip it’s a journey) on April 30, Sarah Ruhl (Stage Kiss) on May 7, Tim J. Lord (“We declare you a terrorist…”) on May 14, and Mfoniso Udofia (Sojourners) on May 28. Visit www.roundhousetheatre.org/RHathome.

FOOD & DINING

CLYDE’S, KNEAD HOSPITALITY: FOOD IT FORWARD INITIATIVE

The public is encouraged to “buy a meal for those in need” from participating restaurants in the Clyde’s Restaurant Group and Knead Hospitality chains — including Clyde’s, The Hamilton, Old Ebbitt Grill, Succotash, and Mi Vida. The two local restaurant groups are also working to keep some of their restaurant workers employed through this initiative, a partnership also including Martha’s Table, which will work to distribute the prepared meals to those directly affected by the COVID-19 crisis. A donation of $13 feeds an individual for one night while $54 covers a family of four, with $91 covering an individual’s meals for a week and $378 feeding four for a week. Visit www.fooditforwarddc.com.

ARTS & EXHIBITS

OUTBREAK: EPIDEMICS IN A CONNECTED WORLD

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History offers tours of its current and permanent exhibitions from its website, enhanced with Simulated WebVR (or Real WebVR if viewed through a WebVR-compatible browser, or if you happen to own a VR headset). And this exhibition has become timelier than ever in recent months. Outbreak: Epidemics in a Connected World is set up with displays about how “to prevent animal viruses from spilling over into humans” as well as how to properly respond to disease outbreaks — always in “quick, effective, and cooperative” fashion — all supplemented with case studies of historical epidemics, including smallpox, HIV/AIDS, Ebola, and SARS. Visit www.naturalhistory.si.edu.

THE DEADLY VIRUS: THE INFLUENZA EPIDEMIC OF 1918

For a deep dive into a deadly virus from a century ago that has echoes in today’s COVID-19 pandemic, the National Archives offers this online exhibit telling the story of the spread of the 1918 influenza pandemic through assembled documents and artifacts including letters, telegrams, and photos — many featuring face mask-wearing officials and public citizens. That epidemic directly affected one-fifth of the world’s population and is responsible for an estimated 50 million deaths, killing “more people than any other illness in recorded history.” Visit www.archives.gov.

LIVESTREAM

DIGITAL DRAG FEST 2020

Last month, Producer Entertainment Group teamed up with Stageit.com to inaugurate a series of online performances mostly featuring drag queens from the ranks of RuPaul’s Drag Race. The festival, now entering its final week, continues to feature a sizable contingent of queer celebrity creators in thirty-minute shows that “will never be recorded or re-released.” Most tickets cost $10 and sales are limited to roughly 100 transactions, “to keep audience sizes small and the experience intimate.” Upcoming highlights with ticket availability as of press time include: Maddelynn Hatter (“The MaDd Nightmare Fantastic”) on Friday, April 24, at 4 p.m.; DJ Tracy Young spinning a House Party set on Friday, April 24, at 7 p.m.; Jinkx Monsoon (“Jinkx Calls Her Friends”) on Friday, April 24, at 8 p.m.; ’90s pop hitmaker Jill Sobule (“The Original Kissed a Girl Girl”) on Friday, April 24, at 10 p.m.; BenDeLaCreme (“Terminally Detained”) on Saturday, April 25, at 6 and 8 p.m.; Todrick Hall (“SOO/Forbidden Stripped”) on Saturday, April 25, at 7 p.m.; Sharon Needles (“Call Me On The Ouija Board”) on Saturday, April 25, at 11 p.m.; Hedwig and the Angry Inch composer and lyricist Stephen Trask (“All By Myself”) on Sunday, April 26, at 4 p.m.; Varla Jean Merman (“Live!”) on Sunday, April 26, at 5 p.m.; Nina West (“The Wonderful World of Nina”) on Sunday, April 26, at 6 and 8 p.m.; John Cameron Mitchell (“COVIDivinations”) on Sunday, April 26, at 7 p.m.; raunchy bear rap sensation Big Dipper on Sunday, April 26, at 9 p.m.; pop singer and MTV star Kelly Osbourne (“Quarantine Hangout”) on Sunday, April 26, at 10 p.m.; and Manila Luzon (“(Still) At Home with the Luzons”) on Wednesday, April 29, at 8 p.m. Visit www.digitaldragfest.com.

 

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Doug Rule covers the arts, theater, music, food, nightlife and culture as contributing editor for Metro Weekly. Follow him on Twitter @ruleonwriting.

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