It opened 10 years ago offering an “escape to Havana,” if only for a couple of hours. Now D.C.’s Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar has reopened with an expanded mission that Barry Gutin, its principal and co-owner, describes as one also offering “an escape from the ongoing ‘stay-at-home’ routine.” The escape is possible in part due to the restaurant having expanded its outdoor footprint for the next few months through the conversion of a parking lane into a sizable open-air dining area reminiscent of what you might find in Havana or Little Havana, and in ways that go beyond the menu from Chef Guillermo Pernot, a two-time James Beard Award-winner. Think large shade umbrellas, lush tropical foliage, even sweltering, tropical-like humidity. The pop-up patio parklet expands the restaurant’s sidewalk patio, allowing room for 80 socially distanced guests to dine al fresco at any given time. (Naturally, the restaurant has also enhanced its health and safety measures, from spacing out the tables in its main dining area, to a policy of enhanced cleaning and disinfecting handled by specially outfitted “desinfectators,” to radar-powered temperature checks of guests, employees, and delivery drivers upon arrival.)
The Cuban hotspot has further relaunched its popular weekend brunch offerings with the debut of new specials (all priced at $16 each), including Tortilla de Cangrejo, a three-egg omelette with lump crabmeat, asparagus, and manchego cheese and served with tomato hollandaise, baby spinach salad, and strawberries; Huevos a la Habanera, three eggs poached in a tomato and sweet pepper “Creole” sauce and sprinkled with goat cheese crumbles and served with a “media noche” sandwich of ham, pork loin, Swiss cheese, and pickles; and Torrija, vanilla custard-soaked brioche bread served with smoked bacon, poached egg, and panela-maple syrup hollandaise. Wash it all down with several featured cocktails ($6 to $9 each), such as a Tropical Mimosa with cava and your choice of tropical juice, and a Guava Caipirinha, a mix of Licor Beirão, guava purée, guarapo, and fresh lime juice. Brunch is available for in-house and al fresco dining as well as curbside pickup every Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. Cuba Libre is at 801 9th St. NW Call 202-408-1600 or visit www.cubalibrerestaurant.com.
BROADWAY BARES: ZOOM IN
Founded by Tony Award-winning director Jerry Mitchell (Kinky Boots), Broadway Bares, the signature striptease show of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, has long been one of the annual highlights of every Broadway season. With the 30th anniversary celebration postponed until 2021, this year will instead usher in a first-ever online version of the event. The livestream will feature a mix of new material, including performances that promise “to make social distancing sexy” and appearances by special celebrity guests, as well as old favorite numbers from past editions. Although free to watch, donations are welcome, with collected funds supporting the organization and its work helping theater professionals across the country who have been affected by HIV/AIDS, COVID-19, and other critical illnesses. The past 29 shows have collectively raised more than $21.2 million. A portion of this year’s donations will also benefit organizations focused on social justice and anti-racism. Saturday, Aug. 1, starting at 9:30 p.m. Visit www.broadwaybares.com.
LP — Photo: Darren Craig
Known by her initials, lesbian rocker Laura Pergolizzi will perform her brand-new single “The One That You Love” as part of a concert featuring other new tunes and fan favorites, all captured in a multi-camera HD video, 80-audio-channel recording to be livestreamed from The Beehive in L.A. Accompanied by her band, the show is expected to be the singer-songwriter’s only full-production concert in 2020 — a year in which LP was originally set to embark on an extensive tour of spring and summer shows, many in larger venues reflecting her growing profile and popularity — including a return to D.C. with a debut at The Anthem. LP sings in a snarled, full-throated voice that eerily echoes Gwen Stefani’s. Musically and lyrically, however, she is more rooted in the sincere and passionate style of arguably two of her greatest influences, Janis Joplin and Melissa Etheridge. LP’s repertoire is peppered with power ballads of a candidly honest autobiographical nature that generate real heat. Ticketholders will have the opportunity to record how they sound cheering for LP, with all submitted audio files set to be mixed together to emulate a “global virtual crowd,” expected to be heard repeatedly throughout the livestream. Saturday, Aug. 1, at 4 p.m. Tickets are $20, while VIP packages range from $50 to $85. A percentage of proceeds will benefit the National Black Justice Coalition. Visit lp.veeps.com.
John Cleese — Photo: Bob King
JOHN CLEESE: WHY THERE IS NO HOPE
John Cleese is co-founder of internationally acclaimed comedy troupe Monty Python, co-creator and star of popular British sitcom Fawlty Towers, and the Oscar-nominated screenwriter and star of A Fish Called Wanda, to cite three of his best-known credits. Next up from the 80-year-old comedy legend is Why There Is No Hope, a one-man show promoted as “a hilarious and insightful show” in which Cleese shares his dire assessment about the state and future of our planet. Yet it’s hardly all doom and gloom, with Cleese teasing in the official press release, “I shall also be singing a short selection of Peruvian burial ditties.” Described as part-lecture, part-stand-up comedy, the show will be livestreamed from a concert hall in Toronto and will conclude with a Q&A hosted by Cleese’s daughter and fellow comedian, Camilla Cleese. Sunday, Aug. 2, at 3 p.m. Tickets are $19.99, including the livestream and two-day access to the recording. Visit www.johncleese-uniquelives.com.
Victura Park — Photo courtesy of the Kennedy Center
VICTURA PARK CAFE AT THE KENNEDY CENTER
While the main building and all theater spaces of the Kennedy Center remain closed, the institution is capitalizing on the expansive, gorgeously landscaped outdoor area overlooking the Potomac River unveiled last year to great fanfare. Specifically, the Kennedy Center has turned the area outside the River Pavilion in the REACH into a pop-up wine garden and café, complete with shade umbrellas and picnic and café tables spaced apart at appropriate social distances, plus the opportunity to spread out a blanket on the grass for a picnic. Named Victura Park, the pop-up is a partnership between the Hilton Brothers (Gibson, Brixton, El Rey) and chef Erik Bruner-Yang (Maketto, Brothers and Sisters, ABC Pony) and features a limited, standard-priced selection of wine, beer, hard seltzer, and cocktails — with the exception of Gibson Punch, a mix of Bombay gin, Bulleit bourbon, and St. Germain liqueur topped with raspberry and lemon that is served for two and priced at $24. The lite fare-focused food menu offers a Charcuterie & Cheese Board, two kinds of subs, marinated olives, and Fattoush Salad, plus seasonal fruit and ice cream. Victura Park is open Fridays from 3 to 10 p.m., Saturdays from noon to 10 p.m., and Sundays noon to 8 p.m. through the remainder of summer. Visit www.victuraparkdc.com.
Edgar Degas: Dancer with a ouquet curtseying on Stage, 1878 — Copyright RMN; Grand Palais / photo: Hervé Lewandowski / Art Resource, NY
DEGAS AT THE OPÉRA
Approximately 100 of Edgar Degas’s best-known and beloved works are on display in a special exhibition at the National Gallery of Art which, last week, became the first major cultural institution in Washington to reopen since March. The reopening is still limited, with access only to select galleries on the ground floor of the West Building — and only to those who obtain free timed passes, released every Monday at 10 a.m. for the following week. (Passes are not required to explore the museum’s Sculpture Garden.) The passes, most of which get snatched up within hours of release, limit the flow and number of visitors, allowing ample social distancing space to take in displays of Impressionist still-life paintings, modern sculpture, decorative arts, American furniture, plus the temporary exhibition True to Nature: Open-Air Painting in Europe, 1780-1870. The true star attraction is a different temporary show, Degas at the Opéra, touted as the first exhibition to focus on the artist’s fascination with opera (rather than the far more common love of ballet). Organized in partnership with Paris’s Musées d’Orsay, the exhibit features many renowned works, ranging from paintings to pastels, prints to sculpture, all associated with the Paris Opéra and presented to commemorate the 350th anniversary of its founding. On display through Oct. 12. Outer Tier of the Ground Floor Galleries in the West Building, 6th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. Free. Call or visit www.nga.gov.
Photo: National Museum of Women in the Arts
NATIONAL MUSEUM OF WOMEN IN THE ARTS
Another museum joining the re-opening ranks this weekend is one that bills itself as “the only major museum in the world solely dedicated to championing women through the arts.” The National Museum of Women in the Arts will cap the number of daily visitors to its grand downtown edifice to 200, with timed-entry tickets available for purchase in advance. Once granted admission, mask-wearing guests will be able to see and explore all of the museum’s exhibitions, installations, and artworks on display — including the Spotlight Installation Return to Nature, a showcase of modern and contemporary photographs by women who played integral although often ignored roles in advancing the field of nature photography; Graciela Iturbide’s Mexico, a temporary exhibition extended to Aug. 23, featuring poetic and intensely beautiful photographs capturing the rich and varied cultures of the artist’s homeland; and the New York Avenue Sculpture Project’s display of four totemic structures made using rubber tires by Mexico City-based artist Betsabeé Romero, whose intricate sculptures also incorporate interior lighting, giving each piece an otherworldly glow after dark. Re-opening day is Saturday, Aug. 1, at 10 a.m. The museum is located at 250 New York Ave. NW. Admission is $10. Call 202-783-5000 or visit www.nmwa.org.
GLENSTONE MUSEUM REOPENS ITS PAVILIONS
A museum of modern and contemporary art integrated into nearly 300 acres of gently rolling pasture and woodland near Potomac in Maryland’s Montgomery County, the Glenstone Museum reopened a few weeks back, allowing guests to visit the outdoor sculptures set up throughout the property, including Jeff Koons’ Split-Rocker 2000 and Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller’s FOREST (for a thousand years…) 2012. But last week, the museum started letting visitors back into the exhibitions and indoor art spaces in the Pavilions, as well as the Water Court in the center of the building. On display are single-artist installations by Lawrence Weiner, Ellsworth Kelly, On Kawara, Robert Gober, Michael Heizer, Shirin Neshat, Charles Ray, Roni Horn, Brice Marden, Cy Twombly, and Lorna Simpson. (Still closed are the Gallery, the Café, the Patio, and the Environmental Center.) Visits require advanced booking, generally three months in advance — with tickets in the month of October becoming available on a first-come, first-granted basis starting Saturday, Aug. 1. Hours are Thursdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Glenstone is located at 12002 Glen Road, Potomac, Md. Call 301-983-5001 or visit www.glenstone.org.
UNLEASHED AT GALLERY UNDERGROUND
A gallery in Northern Virginia has unleashed a new exhibition featuring works of art from all over the country and representing a variety of media — yet all touch, in some way — whether literally or figuratively — on the notion of something being “unleashed.” To participate in this National Juried Exhibition, overseen by Joseph Toole, artists were asked to submit works created with a specific definition of “unleashed” top of mind — “to free from or as if from a leash; let loose; or to throw, shoot, or set in motion forcefully.” Toole’s top picks among the many resulting works of art, expressed using painting, photography, glass, fiber art, and mixed media, feature in the latest month-long exhibition at the Focus Gallery of Gallery Underground, the visual arts space for the Arlington Artists Alliance and part of Crystal City’s Art Underground. Opens on Saturday, Aug. 1. On display through Aug. 31. Call 571-483-0652 or visit www.galleryunderground.org.
NATIONAL ZOO REOPENS
Because it offers a largely open-air experience, the National Zoo has become the first in the Smithsonian collection of museums to reopen in the wake of COVID-19. Yet unlike prior visits, you can’t just pop in to the urban getaway on a whim or wander around freely and at will. While access to the park remains free, timed-entry passes are required to visit during current limited daytime hours, with admittance capped at 5,000 guests per day — or a fraction of the 25,000 guests the zoo typically averages this time of year. While all the usual residents are present and accounted for, certain exhibits remain closed to the public, including the Small Mammal House, the Reptile Discovery Center, Amazonia, and, last but hardly least, the Giant Panda House — although the upper overlook and outdoor path is open, offering views of the bears if and when they decide to frolic outdoors (something most likely to happen before 10 a.m., according to zoo officials). Elephants, cheetahs, apes, and wild cats are among the animals most likely to be seen. Meanwhile, all human guests in the park above the age of six are required to wear face masks, follow safety guidelines indicated by signs and markers, and practice appropriate social distancing. Although kid-centric attractions from the playgrounds to the carousel are closed, the Visitor Center, outdoor gift shop kiosks, food stands and food trucks, and select bathrooms will be open and operating as usual, plus the addition of more frequent Enhanced Cleaning procedures and the placement of hand-sanitizing stations throughout the park as well. The National Zoo is currently open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and located at 3001 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free timed-entry pass, or $30 paid parking pass, required. Call 202-633-4800 or visit www.nationalzoo.si.edu.
TALKING TO OUR TIME
The Hirshhorn National Museum of Modern Art has launched a series of free conversations with several of today’s leading artistic innovators exploring ideas shaping 2lst-century culture. “Talking to Our Time” features a different creative each week in an online discussion with a Hirshhorn curator, styled as an expansion of the museum’s popular in-person artist talks with the potential for far greater reach and global impact. Upcoming highlights in the series, which continues every Wednesday through Labor Day, include “(At Home) On Art and Community: Artist Talk with Aliza Nisenbaum,” a Mexican-born artist known for community-based, intimate portraits, often of fellow immigrants, including Mis Cuatro Gracias (Brendan, Camilo, Carlos, Jorge)(“The Four Graces”),” a painting, recently added to the Hirshhorn’s permanent collection, exploring themes of body awareness, queerness, and social inclusion (Aug. 5, at 8 p.m.); “(At Home) On Art and Healing: AA Bronson and Adrian Stimson,” two LGBTQ-identified artists whose collaborative installations explore the role that art can play in conflict resolution, healing, and relationship building (Aug. 19, at 2 p.m.); and “(At Home) Artist Talk with Doug Aitken,” the multi-media artist whose genre-defying installations — including SONG 1, the acclaimed 2012 site-specific work that turned the Hirshhorn’s exterior into a 360-degree audiovisual spectacle — are generally rooted in the interchange between art and artistic expression with the world around us (Aug. 26, at 2 p.m.). Each discussion, taking place on Zoom and requiring advanced registration, will be recorded and posted to the Hirshhorn’s YouTube channel. Through Sept. 2. Visit www.hirshhorn.si.edu.
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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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