Metro Weekly

Hot Picks of the Week: Golden Girls with Puppets, Wunder Garten Après Ski, and more!

Jesus Christ at the Kennedy Center, the Capital Remodel + Garden Show returns, and an iconic country duo

The Golden Girls Puppet Parody -- Photo courtesy  of Strathmore
The Golden Girls Puppet Parody — Photo courtesy of Strathmore

THAT GOLDEN GIRLS SHOW! A PUPPET PARODY

Six years ago, Jonathan Rockefeller, a puppeteer and leading purveyor of theater for children and young adults, veered slightly off-course, developing a show whose unstated but understood key target audience is as gay as they come. And wouldn’t you know it, his loving parody of The Golden Girls, in which the show’s famous four leading ladies are portrayed by puppets, was a hit Off Broadway, subsequently becoming a gay-popular draw touring around many cities in a few different countries over the years. During the pandemic, Rockefeller even buckled down to create 16 brand-new episodes of the show, which the subscription-based streaming service Broadway On Demand released in the fall of 2020. Whether portrayed by people or puppets, the show’s four main characters are always presented as roommates, best friends, even chosen family members, all of them effectively single. The foursome’s bond and repartee has especially endeared them to gay men of a certain age, yet the The Golden Girls has built-in, inherent LGBTQ appeal that runs deep and spans ages.

Earlier this week, Rockefeller Productions announced the puppet show’s Off Broadway return with a month-long run through Memorial Day Weekend, a result of renewed interest in the wake of Betty White’s recent passing. Yet there’s no need to wait or travel to take in that production, which is advertised as being the show’s “final bow,” as Strathmore plays host to one of the show’s last touring stops next week, a date rescheduled from April 2021.

From the Music Center stage, fans will enjoy a show styled as a three-episode binge of the sitcom, with classic TV moments quoted and referenced throughout but told in new ways and as part of all-new material written by Doug Kmiotek and directed by Michael Hull. In the puppet parody, the characters are all played by female actors, except, that is, for puppeteer Dylan Glick, who commandeers Dorothy. The full quartet features Miranda Cooper as Sophia, Lu Zielinski as Blanche, and Samantha Lee Mason as Rose. Tuesday, Feb. 22, at 8 p.m. Strathmore is at 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, Md. Remaining tickets are $34 to $54. Call 301-581-5100 or visit www.strathmore.org.

MARYLAND LYRIC OPERA: TURANDOT

After waiting more than two years to get back to live staged performances, the Maryland Lyric Opera, a regional company created “for musicians, by musicians,” isn’t playing around. In fact, the company is pulling out all the stops for its triumphant return, which also serves as its debut at the Music Center as a member of the Strathmore Affiliate Network.

A staggering 175 artists will take the stage at Strathmore to bring to life Turandot, the epic fairy tale and timeless masterpiece that became the last opera from Giacomo Puccini and features the beloved tenor aria “Nessun Dorma.” Alexandra LoBianco plays the titular icy princess opposite Jonathan Burton as her noble suitor Calàf, with Nicole Heaston as the lovelorn Liù completing the love triangle, plus Morris Robinson as Timur, Mauricio Mirando as the Emperor Altoum, and many alumni of the MDLO Institute in supporting roles.

The company’s Music Director Louis Salemno will lead the supersized musical forces of the MDLO Orchestra & Chorus alongside Chorus Master Steven Gathman. Performed in Italian with projected English titles. Friday, Feb. 25, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 27, at 2 p.m. 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, Md. Tickets are $25 to $150. Call 301-581-5100 or visit www.strathmore.org or www.MDLO.org.

But I’m a Cheerleader: Clea DuVall and Natasha Lyonne
But I’m a Cheerleader: Clea DuVall and Natasha Lyonne

ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE CINEMA: DC BRYANT STREET

Shortly before Christmas last year, the national Alamo Drafthouse Cinema chain opened its first location in D.C. proper — and the DC Bryant Street location has certainly added to the goings-on in its nascent section of Northeast D.C.’s Edgewood neighborhood, also home to the Van Gogh Experience and metrobar DC, and surrounded by one gleaming, new apartment building after another after another continuously rising from the landscape.

The Alamo is almost guaranteed to have a movie you want to see, or see again among its extensive lineup of upcoming offerings. And where else, outside of your own home theater, can you watch a movie over brunch? The Alamo’s “Special Menu: Brunch” weekend programming features a standard menu of food and drink — serving up brunch staples such as Egg BLT, French Toast, and Breakfast Tacos, as well as cocktails including Desert Spring Water and Italian 75 — touted as “movie-inspired spectacular specials…like nothing else you’ve ever experienced.” Check it out while taking in upcoming screenings of But I’m a Cheerleader (2/19), The Batman (3/5, 3/6), or Almost Famous (3/12).

Apart from brunch, look for the Alamo’s Signature Programming offerings, a grab-bag of classics, cult favorites, and curiosities, including an upcoming month-long Sunday screening series “The Complete Harry Potter Series,” kicking off with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2/20) and running through to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (3/27).

Also on tap are special one-off screenings of classics in the horror and thriller genres, everything from the Alfred Hitchcock classic The Birds, billed as “the most hair-raising movie ever inspired by a story from Good Housekeeping magazine” (2/21), to Jordan Peele’s Us (2/22), to a 30th Anniversary screening of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, a time-shifting series prequel that was DOA upon initial release with critics and fans alike, yet is is “now regarded as one of Lynch’s best films” (2/24).

Every now and then, you’ll find a cinematic diamond buried in the bunch, seemingly apropos of nothing. Case in point: the Wednesday, March 2, screening of 2017’s Best Picture Oscar winner Moonlight. And then, during the transitional period when February turns to March and winter turns to spring, the Alamo has sprinkled in a few musicals, for no obvious specific reason, just because. See: Grease Sing-Along, advertised as “an interactive, prop-filled” movie party that even kicks off “with a pre-show hand jive” (2/26), Labyrinth Quote-Along, in which the Jim Henson/David Bowie cult favorite will run with on-screen subtitles and animated cues for the most memorable lines and for every song lyric” (3/13), and Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Sing-Along, the 2016 Andy Samberg/Lonely Island musical comedy that will feature prop handouts including “inflatable microphones…glow necklaces and ribbon wands…and an American flag for you to wave around during Conner’s erotic ode to patriotism” (3/22). Alamo’s DC Bryant Street is at 630 Rhode Island Ave. NE. Call 202-558-4341 or visit www.drafthouse.com.

JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR

In 2020, the stars had aligned so that the special 50th anniversary staging of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s classic rock musical would be ensconced at the Kennedy Center starting on Tuesday of Easter Week. After a long two years, the Opera House curtain will finally rise on the show, which will stick around through the beginning of Lent. Set during the final weeks in the life of the titular messiah, as seen through the eyes of his apostle Judas, and spawned from a 1970 double concept album, Jesus Christ Superstar is a proven and enduring worldwide musical phenomenon, and the 50th anniversary production, which won the Olivier Award for Best Musical Revival, is billed as “a reinvention for this millennium.”

Aaron LaVigne leads the North American cast, which also features Omar Lopez-Cepero as Judas, Jenna Rubaii as Mary, Alvin Crawford as Caiaphas, Tommy Sherlock as Pilate, and Tyce Green as Annas, surrounded by a 24-member ensemble. Timothy Sheader directs, with choreography by Drew McOnie. Opens Tuesday, Feb. 22 and runs through March 13. Tickets are $45 to $185. Call 202-467-4700 or visit www.kennedy-center.org.

Wunder Garten -- Photo: Brandon Bayton
Wunder Garten — Photo: Brandon Bayton

WUNDERGARTEN APRÈS SKI

Even during the coldest and shortest month of the year, when temperatures dip below freezing, Wunder Garten, the large, festive, outdoor beer garden in NoMa, manages to stay warm and inviting, retaining its stature as a local hotspot. Wunder Garten has pulled off its February feat over the past few years courtesy of its winter resort-themed Après Ski series of events and promotions. First and foremost among the seasonal attractions is the Hot Chocolate Bar, featuring eight boozy varieties of the warming, sweet beverage, available all day, everyday. Also available at all times are two featured winter beers on tap, this year Great Lakes Irish Red and Port City Optimal Wit.

Aside from year-round weekly offerings, including Yappy Hour on Sunday afternoons for pet pooches and their human handlers and rounds of trivia on Monday and Wednesday nights, things don’t really heat up until the Friday Fresh Vibes party led by DJ Adrian Loving (2/19 and 2/25). On Saturday afternoon, the Wunder lodge gets hot in a hurry with a Bourbon Tasting starting at 2 p.m. featuring samples of Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare, and Woodford Reserve brands. Local live bands add to the ambiance starting at 3 p.m., with DTC on tap this Saturday, Feb. 19, and Chasing Autumn set for next Saturday, Feb. 26.

This Saturday night, in particular, ushers in “The HAUS of GAGA,” a party, starting at 9 p.m., where “dance, fashion and fantasy converge,” including a musical mix of Lady Gaga tunes spun by DJ Tezrah in between short, live performances by drag acts and others paying homage to the diva’s various looks. “We’re reenacting one of Lady Gaga’s stage entrances, one of the openings to one of her concerts,” teases Wunder Garten’s Brandon Bayton. Expect a spectacle. Après Ski runs through Feb. 27. Wunder Garten is at 1101 First St. NE. Free. Visit www.wundergartendc.com.

Barry Williams
Barry Williams

CAPITAL REMODEL + GARDEN SHOW

In 2019, actor Barry Williams appeared alongside all five of his fictional TV siblings for the HGTV series A Very Brady Renovation. Specifically, The Brady Bunch crew came together to renovate the real California house depicted as the family’s home in the hit ’70s-era ABC sitcom. Since his days as the teen heartthrob who played the eldest boy Greg, Williams has also become known as the lead singer of Barry Williams and the Traveliers, a Branson, Mo.-based, nostalgia-inspiring touring act. At the Capital Remodel + Garden Show, he’ll conduct a Q&A session and then perform select pop and rock standards from the Main Stage, at noon on Saturday, Feb. 26.

Also featured at this year’s show is author and gardener Joel Karsten, a leading proponent of soil-free Straw Bale Gardening, which the New York Times has characterized as “a revolutionary gardening method” said to eliminate the physical challenges associated with the traditional soil-based approach. Karsten will appear on the Main Stage Saturday, Feb. 26, at 3 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 27, at noon and 2 p.m.

All told, the show, presented by Marketplace Events, brings together more than 200 exhibitors offering the latest products and services in the home and design fields — a kind of one-stop-shop for homeowners seeking to remodel or renovate their spaces, from the interior to especially the exterior, with an emphasis on landscaping and garden design. A highlight of the show every year is the Feature Gardens space, in which local designers, including those from Meadows Farms, create distinct displays showcasing trends and ideas capable, as the official description puts it, of making “your yard…the envy of the neighborhood!” Friday, Feb. 25, and Saturday, Feb. 26, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 27, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 4320 Chantilly Shopping Center in Virginia. Single-day tickets are $12 at the box office or $9 online, or free for those coming by Metro and public transportation on Friday, Feb. 25. Visit www.capitalremodelandgarden.com.

Kathy Mattea and Suzy Bogguss -- Photo: Doug Crider
Kathy Mattea and Suzy Bogguss — Photo: Doug Crider

KATHY MATTEA & SUZY BOGGUSS

Kathy Mattea is credited as the first major country star to speak out about AIDS 30 years ago — at a time, in 1992, when even a modest show of support for someone affected by the disease was viewed as a tacit show of support for the suffering gay community as a whole. As a presenter at the Country Music Awards in 1992, Mattea did exactly that, defying event organizers by wearing three red ribbons and, from the podium, explaining that each ribbon represented a friend who died from the disease.

Last year, at his annual star-studded Concert for Love and Acceptance fundraiser, Ty Herndon honored Mattea with an award in recognition of her early LGBTQ-related advocacy — also including her help in spearheading country music’s first major fundraiser for AIDS two years later. On the 1994 Red Hot + Country compilation, Mattea featured on both a duet with Jackson Browne (“Rock Me on the Water”) and an all-star cover of the Crosby, Stills & Nash standard “Teach Your Children” with Suzy Bogguss and Alison Krauss, along with the original songwriters, a Grammy-nominated single attributed to The Red Hots.

All these decades later, two of the Red Hots have teamed up again, this time in a more substantial way. Bogguss — known for hits including “Outbound Plane,” “Aces,” and “Someday Soon” — has developed new material in tandem with her longtime friend Mattea, who’s responsible for hits including “Where’ve You Been?” and “Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses.” The pair are currently out on a joint tour, “Together at Last,” a double-billing finding the artists showing off their new material along with all the old standards and standbys, and “armed with two careers’ worth of stories and more hits than they can fit.” It should amount to a show well worth the wait — two times as good as usual and too good to miss. Friday, Feb. 25, at 8 p.m. Weinberg Center for the Arts, 20 W. Patrick St. Frederick, Md. Tickets are $28 to $38. Call 301-600-2828 or visit www.weinbergcenter.org.

Uma Thurman and Reneé Flemming
Uma Thurman and Reneé Flemming

RENÉE FLEMING AND UMA THURMAN WITH THE EMERSON STRING QUARTET

In a unique collaboration with a non-musical artist, soprano Renée Fleming pairs up with actor Uma Thurman in a concert with the Emerson String Quartet focused on composer André Previn’s final work Penelope. The titular role will be portrayed by a “singing” Fleming and a “speaking” Thurman in this Kennedy Center co-commission with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Ravinia Festival, and Aspen Music Festival and School, originally intended as a celebration of Previn’s 90th birthday in April of 2019. Sadly, Previn died two months short of that milestone and prior to the work’s completion, something that his friend and editor David Fetherolf belatedly oversaw.

Pianist Simone Dinerstein joined to premiere the work in 2019 with Fleming and the Emerson Quartet — consisting of violinists Philip Setzer and Eugene Drucker, violist Lawrence Dutton, and cellist Paul Watkins — and she reprises that role again for the Washington premiere. Part of a season marking the 25th anniversary of pianist Joseph Kalichstein’s tenure as both artistic director of the Fortas Chamber Music Concerts and artistic advisor for chamber music at the Kennedy Center, the program also includes the performance of Samuel Barber’s String Quartet in B minor and William Walton’s String Quartet in A major. Monday, Feb. 28, at 7:30 p.m. in the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater. Tickets are $20 to $69. Call 202-467-4700 or visit www.kennedy-center.org.

Vumbi Pride — Photo: Michael Nichols

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MUSEUM

Nearly two years after closing to the public at the start of the pandemic, the National Geographic Museum has finally reopened, a feat that the institution is celebrating by offering a sweetheart deal: free admission for everyone through February. The reward is two new exhibitions rooted in, and ultimately celebrating, the organization’s powerful legacy of exploration and photography.

On one side there’s Once Upon a Climb: Stories of Everest, featuring gripping first-person narratives from climbers, mapmakers, and scientists who weathered some of the most extreme conditions on earth to make it to the highest mountain on the planet. The exhibit delves into the history of the mighty mountain, while also glimpsing into its future, through artifacts and objects, photographs, film footage, and immersive media, all helping to transport visitors to the legendary slopes. It’s not styled as an escape from present-day reality, but rather a means to bear witness to the fact that, even at 29,045 feet into the sky, the effects of climate change are increasingly being recognized — with consistent glacial mass loss recorded by scientists over the last 60 years. And this melting ice in the Himalayas is already wreaking havoc further downstream, where once rare flooding is now happening more regularly and unpredictably.

After scaling Everest, visitors to the museum are next guided into the wilderness to witness the power and beauty of wildlife and to explore the wonders of the natural world. National Geographic’s Greatest Wildlife Photographs is an exhibition featuring more than 60 of the most compelling photographs ever published in the magazine, yet rendered here in even more compelling fashion as large-format prints highlighting the level of detail and technical skill. The exhibition also offers the story-behind-the-photograph for a handful of images as well as an interactive component. Both shows are up through May 1. The National Geographic Museum is at 1145 17th St. NW. Tickets are free in February for those who pre-register, or $12 to $15 otherwise. Call 202-857-7588 or visit www.ngmuseum.org.

Travel and Adventure Show
Travel and Adventure Show

WASHINGTON DC TRAVEL & ADVENTURE SHOW

Andrew McCarthy, the Brat Pack actor turned award-winning travel writer and author (The Longest Way Home: One Man’s Quest for the Courage to Settle Down) is one of several celebrities and travel authorities appearing at this popular show, returning to the Convention Center after a two-year hiatus. Naturally, the first show since the pandemic will address some of the issues and concerns people are confronting as they start making travel plans again.

In fact, that’s the overriding theme of discussions at this year’s two-day event, which includes “A Return to Travel” featuring Pauline Frommer, editorial director of the Frommer Guides and publisher of www.Frommers.com, sharing her insights into “how to plan the most appealing vacations for this unusual moment” as well as tips on finding the best values no matter the budget. Other experts will explore topics ranging from “Navigating How to Safely Cruise Post Pandemic” and “Post-Pandemic Travel to Europe,” to the moderated panel “Our Favorite Solo Travel Tips” and a session sharing “Tech Tips for Smarter Travel.”

The show will also feature prolific author and CBS News Travel Editor Peter Greenberg delivering “A Special Report: The Brave New World of Smart Travel, Where You Can Go, and Where You MUST Go, in the Next Year,” a “Fireside Chat with Brian Kelly: Everything You Need to Know about Travel and Credit Cards” from the founder and head of The Points Guy (TPG), and Laurie Woolever with “What I Learned from Traveling with Bourdain,” reflecting on the years she spent as assistant to and co-author with the late world-renowned travel host and writer Anthony Bourdain.

Experts representing over 200 destinations worldwide will be on hand sharing site-specific recommendations — everything from the best time to visit, how to get there, and what to see. Representatives from Alaska, Aruba, Antarctica, and the Dominican Republic will be among those on hand promoting their particular locale. Meanwhile, one destination-specific highlight is the LGBTQ-focused “Rejuvenate in Miami” discussion led by Dan Rios of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, set for Saturday at 12:15 p.m. Show hours are Saturday, Feb. 26, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 27, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. At the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, 801 Mt. Vernon Pl. NW. Tickets are $16 for one day or $24 for two days at the box office, or $11 for one day and $18 for two days online. Call 202-249-3000 or visit www.travelshows.com/washingtondc.

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