Metro Weekly

Hot Picks of the Week: Undead drag, APO celebrates country, DC Beer Fest returns!

The best in arts, entertainment, and dining this week in D.C.!

Night of the Living Drag
Night of the Living Drag — Credit: VossEvents.com

Night of The Living Drag

Two fistfuls of RuPaul’s Drag Race queens will haunt MGM National Harbor this weekend, conjuring spooky spirits and holiday horrors with their special show-patented blend of Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve, and Talent. Violet Chachki hosts this year’s 10th annual “spooktakular” presented by Voss Events, with additional sights and frights courtesy of GottMik, Rosé, Aquaria, Jaida Essence Hall, Alyssa Edwards, Kandy Muse, Plastique, and Kim Chi. One by one during the live stage show, each queen will sashay away with a “deadly performance” — a “Lip Sync To Their Death,” if you will. Yet Chachki is determined to prove there’s still life — or really, after-life — in ye olde dames yet. As the official description puts it: “Violet summons them back from the dead as flesh-craving drag zombies in the show’s grand finale!” Saturday, Oct. 30, at 8 p.m. Theater at MGM National Harbor, 7100 Harborview Ave., Oxon Hill, Md. Tickets are $58 to $88, plus Ticketmaster fees. Call 844-346-4664 or visit mgmnationalharbor.com or vossevents.com.

IN Series: BOHEME in the Heights

This weekend, the IN Series offers multiple screenings with live music performed by the original cast of its new, pandemic-born reimagining of Puccini’s La Bohème — one quite unlike Rent or any other adaptation of the quintessential classic opera you’ve ever seen before. An animated, Afro-Latinx opera-film set in Columbia Heights during COVID-19, BOHEME in the Heights features a Spanish-language libretto by Mario Montenegro as performed by several popular returning IN Series artists plus a few from the company’s recently established Cardwell Dawson Fellowship for  singers of color, including Melissa Wimbish as Museta and Carl DuPont as Schaunard.

All seven lead vocalists recorded and filmed their parts individually in collaboration with music director and pianist Carlos Cesar Rodriguez, while Matthew Oltman led and recorded small, distanced groups of choral students from Shenandoah Conservatory to form the ensemble and to voice crowd scenes. From there, the film’s director Emma Ayala guided a team of nearly two dozen student animators from the Baltimore School for the Arts and Maryland Institute College of Art to create vibrant hand-drawn and computer animation as well as imagined backgrounds for the film, which screens with English subtitles. Friday, Oct. 29, at 8 p.m. Patterson Theater, 3134 Eastern Ave., Baltimore. Tickets are $28. Call 410-276-1651 or visit www.creativealliance.org. Also Saturday, Oct. 30, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 31, at 3 p.m. GALA Theatre, 3333 14th St. NW. Tickets are $35 to $59. Call 202-234-7174 or visit www.inseries.org.

This Is a Formation

At its first LGBTQ-focused dance festival this past June, Dance Place screened This Is an Invitation, filmed performances of choreography by jumatatu m. poe and Jermone Donte Beacham. The LGBTQ duo’s longstanding collaborative series of works Let ’im Move You focuses on the prancing and bucking style of group choreography popular in gay Black circles in the South — to say nothing of Beyoncé — and known as J-Sette, which was first put in motion in the 1970s by the female drill team at Mississippi’s Jackson State University. Decades later, the mostly Philadelphia-based poe and Houston-based Beacham have helped to queer the form.

Their latest work in the series, This Is a Formation, highlights the style’s specific rules around group formation, order, and public assembly, while confronting the queer implications when performed by a group of seven Black male dancers. At Dance Place, the performances are more immersive than the typical fare as the audience is encouraged to stand on stage alongside the performers rather than sit in chairs at a considerable remove, with the added disclaimer, “chairs will be available as needed.” Thursday, Oct. 28, through Saturday, Oct. 30, at 7 p.m. Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Theater, 3225 8th St. NE. Tickets are Pay-What-You-Can but suggested at $40, $65, or $100, as well as the venue’s standard $25. Call 202-269-1600 or visit www.danceplace.org.

Leslie Jordan, Travis Howard, APO, country
Leslie Jordan + Travis Howard + APO — Credit: Elman Studio LLC/Nouveau Productions LLC

One Voice: The Songs We Share

This Friday, Oct. 29, PBS will debut two new episodes from the American Pops Orchestra’s series One Voice: The Songs We Share, also part of the pandemic-inspired #PBSForTheArts initiative. Emmy Award-winning actor Leslie Jordan, who earlier this year released a country duets album, hosts a 30-minute foray into the heart of country music, exploring the American art form and its rich musical history with banjoist Jake Blount and Broadway star Claybourne Elder, all accompanied by the orchestra, led by Maestro Luke Frazier, and filmed at Poorhouse Farm Park in Martinsburg, West Virginia, Frazier’s home state.

Meanwhile, Native American music, as well as folk and spirituals, get the spotlight in “American Roots” hosted by Frank Waln, a Sicangu Lakota hip-hop artist and music producer, who will be joined by pianist Jacqueline Schwab, musical actor Mauricio Martinez, and young opera singers Asako Tamura and Amber Merritt, plus the orchestra in a performance from the Marinoff Theater in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Premiering Friday, Oct. 29, at 10 p.m., on PBS Stations, with streaming available later from various PBS platforms. Visit www.pbs.org or theamericanpops.org.

DC Beer Fest

Over 80 breweries will fill the concourse at Nationals Park to help spread beer cheer the first Saturday in November, pouring 200 varieties of beer, with a particular focus on fall seasonal offerings. Atlas, DC Brau, Red Bear Brewing, and Right Proper are among the D.C. craft breweries represented, plus ANXO Cidery. Also on hand will be a smattering of D.C.’s top food trucks, including Bun’d Up, Roaming Rooster, and Urban Poutine. Additional entertainment from dueling pianos, live bands, DJs, and more. Saturday, Nov. 6, from noon to 3 p.m. or 5 to 8 p.m. 1500 South Capitol St. NE. Tickets are $50 per session and include unlimited drink tastings, or $90 for VIP Admission including exclusive access and commemorative merch. Visit www.dcbeerfestival.com.

The Wonder of the Human Voice 

This weekend ushers in the triumphant return to live, in-person performances of the Choral Arts Society’s full chorus — 160 voices strong and unified. Designed as a heart-stirring showcase of the a cappella beauty and harmonious power of both the choral repertoire and this esteemed organization, “The Wonder of the Human Voice” will feature mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Bishop joining to perform Aaron Copland’s In The Beginning. Other program highlights include Dett’s Listen to the Lambs, Hailstork’s serene Nocturne, Ginastera’s dramatic Lamentations of Jeremiah, and favorites from Raachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil. Artistic Director Scott Tucker will lead this first concert in a very active, 18-performance season, the Society’s 56th — which will also mark Tucker’s 10th and final year. Saturday, Oct. 30, at 7 p.m. Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center, Alexandria. Tickets are $15. Call 703-548-0885 or visit www.choralarts.org.

The Magic Duel
The Magic Duel

The Magic Duel Comedy Show

The audience serves as on-stage assistants, judges, and jury, ultimately deciding who deserves the title of Best Magician in what is billed as a real-time competition between “two petty rivals [competing] for the votes of the audience.” Slightly confusing the conjuring matters is the fact that these two locally-based entertainers just so happen to have the same last name. On one side representing Baby Boomers there’s Mark Phillips, a veteran magician and corporate conjurer-for-hire. On the other is Ryan Phillips, a young “Zoomer” magician, and actor. The resulting show from these “snarky sleight-of-hand masters” has been a recurring draw at the Mayflower Hotel. On the eve of Halloween 2021, they’ll conjure up a night of comedy, magic, and audience participation at the Atlas Performing Arts Center — making for a quirky, non-frightening holiday alternative. Saturday, Oct. 30, at 8 p.m. Lang Theatre, 1333 H St. NE. Tickets are $45 to $65. Metro Weekly readers can save 50% when ordering by using the code METROMAGIC. Call 202-399-7993 or visit www.atlasarts.org.

Michele’s Restaurant

Chef Matt Baker of Ivy City’s Michelin-starred Gravitas is due to open a new restaurant next week on the ground floor of the downtown hotel The Eaton DC. Named after his late mother, Michele’s will pay homage to Baker’s French heritage and upbringing in Houston and New Orleans and will emphasize seasonal produce as well as fresh, local seafood — with an expansive raw bar offering seafood tower options and classic caviar service, plus a planned 18-course omakase menu. The midsize brasserie will offer family-style dishes with a slight twist, such as a whole free-range chicken, prepared three ways — with roasted breasts, braised thighs, and crispy fried legs — and Hamachi Al Pastor, a reimagining of Houston staple Tacos al pastor but served as crudo with a delicate crust, pineapple, guajillo dressing, and avocado mousse. Andrew Cleverdon (Siren, Bourbon Steak) will serve as Chef de Cuisine with Aisha Momaney as Pastry Chef and Judy Elahi as Beverage Manager. The opening date is Wednesday, Nov. 3. Located at 1201 K St. NW. Call 202-758-0895 or visit www.michelesdc.com.

REDEYE Night Market

The bustling open-air night markets of East and Southeast Asia are the key inspiration for D.C.’s first annual street festival that will also shine a helpful spotlight on merchants and members of the region’s rich Asian-American and Pacific Islander community. The brainchild of Peter Chang of creative agency/event production company No Kings Collective and presented in collaboration with Events DC, the REDEYE Night Market will be set up in roughly the same four blocks of Pennsylvania Avenue NW as the Capital Pride Festival. Over 50 local vendors will participate in the market, offering an array of food and beverage options as varied as Filipino pastries, Korean fried chicken, and Taiwanese shaved ice. The starting lineup includes noted restaurants Incheon, Tiger Fork, Maketto, China Chilcano, Thip Khao, and Nihao. The evening will also offer various cultural and musical performances. Saturday, Nov. 6, from 4 to 11 p.m. Pennsylvania Avenue between 3rd and 7th Streets NW. Free. Visit theredeye.nokingscollective.com.

Frederick Jazz Festival

Terence Blanchard, the multi-Grammy-winning, Oscar-nominated musician and composer (BlacKkKlansman), headlines this year’s premiere live jazz event in Frederick, taking place at the Weinberg Center for the Arts and co-presented by Frederick Music Productions. Blanchard will perform with his band the E-Collective as well as the Grammy-winning Turtle Island Quartet for an all-star tribute to “the past, present, and future of Wayne Shorter,” Blanchard’s mentor, inspired by their newly released joint Blue Note album Absence. Also set to perform is female vocalist Tracy Hamlin, Anthony Walker & Friends led by its namesake contemporary pianist and composer, Steve Fidyk’s Philly Fliers, a group led by a noted jazz professor also known as the retired drummer of the Army Blues Big Band, and the Mike Kamuf Little Big Band, led by the D.C. trumpet player and music educator. Saturday, Nov. 6, starting at 1 p.m. 20 W. Patrick St. in Frederick. Tickets for reserved seating are $55 to $60 plus fees. Call 301-600-2828 or visit frederickjazzfest.com or weinbergcenter.org.

Come Home: A Celebration of Return

The Washington National Opera returns to live, in-person performances at the Kennedy Center with a fittingly star-studded homecoming celebration also serving as a musical tribute to one of the organization’s greatest champions, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Selections from the late Supreme Court Justice’s favorite operas will factor into an opera’s greatest hits-type  program, over two hours in anticipated length, including Rossini’s William Tell, Verdi’s Nabucco, Wagner’s Tannhäuser, Beethoven’s Fidelio, Bizet’s Carmen, and Verdi’s La traviata. WNO Principal Conductor Evan Rogister will lead the orchestra and chorus plus a lineup of WNO favorite soloists, including Isabel Leonard, Lawrence Brownlee, and Alexandria Shiner. Opera superstar Pretty Yende will make her company debut alongside heldentenor David Butt Philip and bass-baritone Christian Van Horn. Performances are Saturday, Nov. 6, at 7 p.m., Monday, Nov. 8, at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 10, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 14, at 2 p.m. Opera House. Tickets are $45 to $299. Call 202-467-4600 or visit www.kennedy-center.org.

Tomorrow I May Be Far Away

Next week Laura Downs, the celebrated pianist and host of NPR’s Amplify with Lara Downes, will lead Tomorrow I May Be Far Away, presented by Washington Performing Arts and billed as “a kaleidoscopic evening of music and poetry inspired by myriad stories of migration and transformation.” Downes will be joined by special guests including Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Rita Dove and the Thalea Quartet, the graduate string quartet in residence at the University of Maryland School of Music. The musical portion of the program includes works by Duke Ellington, Florence Price, Nina Simone, and William Grant Still. Wednesday, Nov. 3, at 8 p.m. Sixth & I Historic Synagogue, 600 I St. NW. Tickets are $40. Call 202-408-3100 or visit www.sixthandi.org.

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