Metro Weekly

Hot Picks of the Week: Beauty and the Beast, Pizzeria Paradiso’s 30th, an Ice Cream Thanksgiving, and more!

A week of anniversaries celebrated in concert and on the plate, along with wild twists on Disney, ceramics and ice cream

Pizzeria Paradiso -- Photo: An-Phuong Ly
Pizzeria Paradiso — Photo: An-Phuong Ly

Pizzeria Paradiso: 30th Birthday Celebration

“30 Days of Paradiso” is a month-long celebration marking 30 years since chef Ruth Gresser opened the first Pizzeria Paradiso in Dupont Circle. Gresser helped raise the quality of pizza available in the city, building a local chain of restaurants serving gourmet savory pies and developing strong community ties in the process. The special anniversary promotion includes the return of three “vintage” menu items, each for a different 10-day period. After kicking off with slices of Mozzarella Fresca as an appetizer, the current vintage offering, available through Nov. 20 on the dessert menu, is Pear Marsala, oven-baked pears flavored with wine and topped with crumbled biscotti ($5). That’s followed by the addition of a Panzanella Salad offered the last 10 days of the month, starting Sunday, Nov. 21 ($10). One special available for the entire month is a seasonal Roasted Pumpkin Pizza, a pie topped with sage-roasted onions, bacon, roasted pumpkin, and butternut squash, ricotta cheese pesto, pumpkin seeds, Grana Padano cheese, and pumpkin oil drizzled arugula ($16 for a 9″ pie, $23 for a 12″).

To celebrate its independent craft beer program dubbed Birreria Paradiso, the restaurant has partnered with local brewery friends, including 3 Stars Brewing, which will pour free samples at the Dupont location on Friday, Nov. 12, at 6 p.m.; DC Brau, offering samples of their Public Pale Ale at the Georgetown location Saturday, Nov. 13, at 2 p.m.; and Cork Spring Valley will pour select wines throughout the day on Sunday, Nov. 28, at their new retail storefront attached to the Spring Valley Paradiso. In addition to a series of weekly tap takeovers on Tuesdays, Paradiso will also kick off its 11th annual partnership with DC Brau, in which the brewery’s spent grains gain a second life as a pizza crust. Starting Friday, Nov. 26 and running through the end of the year, any Paradiso pizza can be made with a special “Brewer’s Grain” crust for an additional $2, the proceeds of which benefit Bread for the City. Pizzeria Paradiso locations are in Dupont Circle (2003 P St. NW), Georgetown (3282 M St. NW), Spring Valley (4850 Massachusetts Ave. NW), and Hyattsville (4800 Rhode Island Ave.). Visit www.eatyourpizza.com.

Beauty and the Beast

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

Olney Theatre resumes its holiday tradition of presenting big, heartwarming musicals with this Broadway blockbuster based on a now 30-year-old Disney animated classic. Jade Jones, the multi-Helen Hayes Award nominee who during the pandemic also became known as queer, Black rapper Litty Official, stars as Belle. The Beast is portrayed by Evan Ruggiero, a Drama Desk-nominated actor and dancer who lost a leg due to cancer. The “thoroughly inclusive [production] aims to celebrate ‘beauty’ in all its forms,” says Tony-nominated director Marcia Milgrom Dodge, who reunites with her 2009 Ragtime choreographer Josh Walden. The 21-member cast features Michael Burrell as Gaston, Bobby Smith as Lumiere, John Sygar as Lefou, and Iyona Blake as Mrs. Potts. Through Jan. 2, 2022. Olney Theatre Center, 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, Olney, Md. Tickets are $42 to $99. Note the venue’s strict Vaccination Policy requiring masks and proof of COVID vaccination with the proviso, “We do not accept proof of a recent negative COVID test in lieu of vaccination.” Call 301-924-3400 or visit www.olneytheatre.org.

Solas Nua: Prime Cut Festival
Solas Nua: Prime Cut Festival

Solas Nua’s Prime Cut Festival

Four dynamic plays from Northern Ireland get U.S. premieres as part of this weekend-long digital theater festival. Solas Nua, the D.C.-based organization dedicated to presenting contemporary Irish arts, offers the first North American showcase of Prime Cut Productions, an award-winning contemporary theater company in Belfast. The lineup includes Father The Father, Gilly Campbell’s debut that shines a light on “the dark ages of secrecy that surrounded ‘illegitimate’ children in Ireland”; My Left Nut, a dramedy by Michael Patrick and Oisín Kearney loosely based on Patrick’s experience of “growing up with no father to guide him and a giant ball to weigh him down” — literally so, given a swollen left testicle and the pronounced bulge it produces, becoming grist for his school’s rumor mill; Removed, an award-winning work from Fionnuala Kennedy relating experiences of young people growing up in the foster care system of Northern Ireland and advocating for its reform; and East Belfast Boy, presenting an unvarnished look at a young man fueled by toxic masculinity and tumbling his way into adulthood, captured in a new film featuring dancer Ryan O Neill with voiceover by actor Terence Keeley, and directed by Prime Cut Productions’ Emma Jordan, who also directed Fintan Brady’s original stage production. The productions will stream on-demand starting Thursday, Nov. 18, and ending Sunday, Nov. 21. Tickets are $15 per production or $50 for a Festival Pass. Visit www.solasnua.org.

The Washington Ballet: The Nutcracker -- Photo: Brianne Bland
The Washington Ballet: The Nutcracker — Photo: Brianne Bland

The Nutcracker

Seventeen years ago, during his tenure as artistic director, Septime Webre developed an all-American twist on the international family favorite, with its glorious, iconic Tchaikovsky score, that still serves as the Washington Ballet’s signature holiday offering. Set in historical Washington, first and foremost a Georgetown mansion where a bustling Christmas party has drawn the likes of Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Harriet Tubman, and Frederick Douglass as guests, the tale centers around Clara and her gift of a Nutcracker who eventually springs to life — here, becoming George Washington in a heroic battle with King George III as the Rat King. Opens Saturday, Nov. 27 and runs through Sunday, Dec. 26. Tickets, now on sale, are $49 to $145. Warner Theatre, 513 13th St. NW. Call 202-889-5901 or visit www.thewashingtonballet.org.

Creative Alliance: Martha Graham Cracker Cabaret
Creative Alliance: Martha Graham Cracker Cabaret

Martha Graham Cracker Cabaret

The Philadelphia Inquirer has called Martha Graham Cracker “the drag queen king of Philadelphia.” For her part, Cracker opts for the more descriptive designation as “the world’s tallest and hairiest drag queen.” She is predisposed, after all, to tower head and hairy shoulders above everyone else in a room, clocking in at 6 feet, 8 inches tall in heels — pumps she naturally slips onto big hairy feet. Cracker was concocted by Dito van Reigersberg, a Philadelphia-based actor and co-founder of Philly’s celebrated Pig Iron Theatre Company. He decided to name her after the larger-than-life modern dance pioneer, even though there’s very little in the way of dance or choreography at a Cracker performance. What there is a lot of is actual live singing, set to accompaniment by Cracker’s four-piece rock band. “I sing in a kind of high tenor-y place, sometimes in falsetto,” van Reigersberg told Metro Weekly a few years back. Next weekend, she makes a long-overdue return to the region with a stop in Baltimore to show off new arrangements and mashups of songs by artists as varied as Prince, Black Sabbath, Lady Gaga, and Nina Simone. Expect a tall tale or two amidst a bevy of improvised banter and humorous hijinks and high kicks, not to mention a slew of “balls-to-the-wall rock and roll,” all of it “intended for mature audiences.” Friday, Nov. 19, at 8 p.m. Creative Alliance, 3134 Eastern Ave., Baltimore. Tickets are $25 to $28 plus service fees, or $185 for a “VIP In The Action Table for 4.”. Call 410-276-1651 or visit www.creativealliance.org.

Washington Improv Theater

Washington Improv Theater: grATTITUDE

D.C.’s leading improv entity presents a mixed program injecting “some energy and attitude” into the fall’s season of gratitude, one it further describes as “a series of shows that celebrate the good things even in tough times.” At each grATTITUDE show, a handful of ensembles perform vignettes, many broadly touching on themes of thanks, all taking shape and playing out on-the-fly, spurred by audience suggestions, ensuring that no two skits are alike. Furthermore, no two shows are alike either, as each performance features a different mix of performing ensembles. Highlights among the more than 30 ensembles in the rotating lineup include the queer-themed team PANdemiSEXual, the all-female-identifying group Hellcat, the improvising playwrights of iMusical, the improvised rockers in Heavy Rotation, the metaphorically mad troupe 1-800-FIREDEPARTMENT, the team of off-the-cuff mystery-solving scientists in The Hypothesis, the food-inspired improvisers of Your Favorite Cookie, and a real-life improv couple improvising songs in character as legendary country duo Georgia Lee Grace and Tennessee Hawkins in “An Evening with Georgia Tennessee.” Weekends to Sunday, Nov. 21. Regular tickets are $15.

In addition, WIT has brought back in-person jams, where everyone regardless of improv experience level is welcome to come play — with two upcoming LGBTQ Jams providing a safe and supportive environment for members of the queer community to connect through improvisation. Sunday, Nov. 21, from 2 to 3:30 p.m., and Thursday, Dec. 30, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Suggested donation of $5 to $20 per person. Source Theatre, 1835 14th St. NW. Call 202-204-7770 or visit www.witdc.org.

New Orchestra: Trent Johnson

New Orchestra of Washington Turns 10

“The Gift of Music: Dolor and Delight” is the title of the New Orchestra of Washington’s first indoor concert since the pandemic and also the kickoff to the 10th anniversary season of the chamber orchestra led by the husband-and-wife team of Alejandro Hernandez-Valdez and Grace Cho. Featuring works by composers of diverse backgrounds including George Frideric Handel, Alessandro Marcello, Antonio Vivaldi, George Walker, and Jessie Montgomery, the program explores contrasting yet connected concepts of pain and pleasure, darkness and light, consonance and dissonance. Featured guests include organist and composer Trent Johnson, who will lead a performance of his Elegy for Organ and Strings in its American premiere, while also joining to perform the organ portion of Handel’s Concerto in F Major; and two oboists, Stephen Key performing “Adagio” from Marcello’s Oboe Concerto in D Minor, and Key with Lillian Copeland to jointly tackle Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Oboes in D Minor. Friday, Nov. 19, at 7:30 p.m. Westmoreland Congregational Church in Bethesda. Tickets are $40 for two guests through a special buy one, get one free promotion using promo code BOGO. Call 301-320-2770 or visit www.neworchestraofwashington.org.

Aesop’s Fables

A troupe of student actors helped inspire Laura Connors Hull of Creative Cauldron to reimagine the classic morals credited to Aesop, the ancient Greek storyteller. And those same student actors, part of the Virginia theater and arts organization’s Learning Theater Youth Ensemble, are now bringing to life Hull’s modernized theatrical adaptation featuring original music by Matt Conner. Anchored by two professional adult performers — Will Stevenson and E. Augustus Knapp — the 17-member Youth Ensemble will reenact a number of Aesop’s timeless tales, including “The Tortoise and the Hare,” “The Ants and the Grasshopper,” “The Lion and the Mouse,” and “The City Mouse and the Country Mouse,” with a view toward how they might play out differently in a contemporary context. For instance, what if “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” had access to a smartphone? Weekends to Nov. 21, with the performance this Saturday, Nov. 13, at 7:30 p.m. to be live-streamed on YouTube. ArtSpace Falls Church, 410 South Maple Ave., Retail 116. Tickets are $18 to $20 for socially distanced seating. Call 703-436-9948 or visit www.creativecauldron.org.

Choral Arts Society: The Golden Hour

Its first live, in-person concert since the pandemic began was only two weeks ago, and yet the Choral Arts Society is already ready to go with its second concert in what will be a very active 56th season featuring a total of 18 productions, or more than three times the typical number. “The Golden Hour” will feature the Choral Arts Chamber Singers in a program honoring composers with ties to the area, including Duke Ellington, Joshua Fishbein, William Kenlon, Clif Hardin, Eric Kitchen, and Paul Leavitt, plus the world premiere of compositions by two Black women composers, B.E. Boykin and Choral Arts’ own Diedre Robinson. Artistic Director Scott Tucker selected music for the program evoking fond memories of childhood and conveying hope for a bright future, and anchored by John Corigliano’s setting of the youth-praising poem Fern Hill by Dylan Thomas. Saturday, Nov. 13, at 4 and 8 p.m. Live! at 10th and G, 945 G ST. NW. Tickets are $30. Call 202-244-3669 or visit www.choralarts.org.

Strathmore’s 2022 Artists in Residence

The latest crop of rising stars participating in Strathmore’s esteemed, multi-genre Artists in Residence program are ready for their closeup. Before settling in for a demanding year-long program of mentorship, professional development, live performances, workshops, and collaborative opportunities, the select six members of the A.I.R. Class of 2022 will be featured at a “Fresh A.I.R.” preview concert. The roster includes cellist Titilayo Ayangade, part of the Thalea String Quartet, the award-winning fellowship ensemble in residence at the University of Maryland; singer-songwriter Taisha Estrada, who blends Latin styles with jazz, R&B, and pop in ways similar to artists ranging from Omara Portuondo to Natalia LaFourcade to iLe; jazz pianist and composer James Fernando, a graduate of the Berklee College of Music whose genre-expanding original compositions merge jazz, classical, and electronic music; jazz flutist and vocalist Alex Hamburger, a D.C. native, born into an artistic family, gearing up for the release of her quartet’s debut album And She Spoke; jazz saxophonist and composer Langston Hughes II; and tap dancer Gerson Lanza, who began his training at the Harlem Tap studio and is currently an MFA student at the University of Maryland. Wednesday, Nov. 17, at 8 p.m. Amp by Strathmore, 11810 Grand Park Ave. North Bethesda. Tickets are $34 to $48. Call 301-581-5100 or visit www.ampbystrathmore.com.

Ice Cream Jubilee: Sage Stuffing

Ice Cream Jubilee: An All-Ice Cream Thanksgiving

Arguably the city’s best and most imaginative frozen creamery is working hard to solidify its bona fides with a limited series of new seasonal ice cream flavors inspired by Thanksgiving. The lineup includes creative twists on signature holiday desserts, with Ice Cream Pies available whole or by the slice in flavors of Pumpkin Honeycomb and Apple Butter Oatmeal Cookie, with the latter — apple butter ice cream churned with oatmeal cookie chunks — also available scooped into cups or cones. Another sweet treat to try is Sticky Toffee Pudding, or spiced date and brown sugar ice cream studded with crunchy chunks of candied toffee.

That brings us to two savory options only for the most adventurous ice cream lovers. We’re talking Honey Sage Stuffing, a sage- and rosemary-scented ice cream with chunks of cornbread that one could conceivably enjoy as a complement to turkey, as long as you don’t top it with gravy, and what the store bills as its “most savory ice cream ever” — Black Pepper Bacon, a frozen concoction with notes of pepper, vanilla, and maple, and scented with hickory smoke. If you think they’ve taken the whole concept one step too far, just be thankful they didn’t mess with the green bean casserole. Tasting flights for $12 are available at select times on weekends through Sunday, Nov. 28. Ice Cream Jubilee locations are in Yards Park (301 Water St. SE), 14th Street (1407 T St. NW), and Ballston Quarter (4238 Wilson Blvd., Arlington). Visit www.icecreamjubilee.com.

Pottery on the Hill: Tall mugs by Mathew Meunier

Pottery on the Hill 2021

Pottery on the Hill, the annual fall show and sale hosted by the Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital in Barracks Row, features predominantly functional pieces of earthenware created by some of the nation’s top ceramic artists. This year’s show continues the pandemic precedent of 2020 as another virtual to-do, with the Hill Center providing a portal to purchase wares from participating potters during a designated 48-hour period this weekend. More than 30 artists are featured, a majority of whom are returning show veterans from pottery-rich communities in North Carolina and Virginia. This year’s show welcomes three newcomers: Peter Jadoonath from Minnesota, presenting a collection of largely decorative, eye-catching curios; Kyle Scott Lee from Brooklyn, with his brightly colored, voluptuous vessels inspired by Basquiat and Mondrian; and Adero Willard from Massachusetts, known for boldly patterned, vibrantly colored, dramatically shaped ceramics. A shortlist of additional art and artists worth checking out includes the slightly whimsical, animal-themed ceramics from Carolyn Dilcher-Stutz of Rochester, New York; striking, stylishly embellished tableware from Kyle Carpenter of Asheville, North Carolina; and classic fermentation crocks from Miki Palchick of Philadelphia. Complementing the sale is a 10-day silent auction featuring donated pieces of pottery benefiting Hill Center, to help it cover operating expenses during the pandemic. Sales of a commemorative mug handcrafted by Pottery on the Hill creator Dan Finnegan and a new cookbook celebrating Hill Center’s 10th anniversary — sold as a combo for $150 — also benefit the cause. Opens Friday, Nov. 12, at 5 p.m., and closes Sunday, Nov. 14, at 5 p.m. The silent auction ends Sunday, Nov. 14, at 11:59 p.m. Visit www.PotteryontheHillDC.org.

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