Metro Weekly

Spotlight: Kennedy Center Summer Highlights

From the return of Hamilton and Second City zaniness to Blue Man Group and Ben Folds, the Kennedy Center has a bit of everything.

Hamilton -- Photo: Joan Marcus
Hamilton – Photo: Joan Marcus

Over the next few weeks, the Kennedy Center features a bevy of appealing, original, and widely diverse programming to lure you. The main immediate attraction at the moment is “The Black Outside Again Weekend with Amanda Seales,” a three-event program put together by the comedian/actor known for playing Tiffany DuBois on HBO’s Insecure and also a former co-host of The Real.

The weekend kicks off with a live version of Seales’s music/comedy trivia game Smart Funny & Black, described as “a head-to-head battle of wits [testing contestants’] knowledge of Black history, Black culture, and the Black experience” (7/22, Concert Hall), followed by a live taping of the podcast Small Doses with Amanda Seales in which the host “brings you potent truths for everyday use” (7/23, Terrace Theater), and concluding with the standup special “An Evening with Amanda Seales” (7/23, Concert Hall).

Second City's "The Revolution Will Be Improvised" -- Photo: Scott Suchman
Second City’s “The Revolution Will Be Improvised” – Photo: Scott Suchman

Meanwhile, six master improvisers from Chicago’s renowned Second City troupe bring their show The Revolution Will Be Improvised! to the Theater Lab. To quote the official description, “The masters of wit are back to snap audiences out of their endless doom-scrolling and binge-watching with this brand-new, totally original comedy show that lampoons our new normal — including the return to the office, the hidden heroes of American history, and our 24/7 news cycle.” (7/18-31)

Other attractions include two National Symphony Orchestra programs, a special DECLASSIFIED “laid-back, late-night” program featuring NSO Artistic Advisor Ben Folds as host and headliner teasing new music from his forthcoming album with special guests Cody Fry and Leyla McCalla, with Enrico Lopez-Yañez conducting the NSO (7/20, Concert Hall), and Barlow and Bear’s The Unofficial Bridgerton, a world-premiere “Musical Album Live in Concert” event focused on the 2022 Grammy-winning Best Musical Theatre Album featuring creators/performers Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear with special guests including Kelli O’Hara, Solea Pfeiffer, Denée Benton, and Ephraim Sykes, with the NSO led by Steven Reineke (7/26, Concert Hall).

There’s also a two-week run of the drumming and comedy phenomenon the Blue Man Group, where “the men are still blue but the rest is all new” (7/19-31, Eisenhower Theater); a free outdoor Millennium Stage Films screening at dusk of the 2019 documentary Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am, an intimate, comprehensive portrait of the late Nobel Prize-winning writer (7/21, REACH Lawn); a return engagement of the revolutionary and remarkable musical phenomenon Hamilton (8/2-10/9, Opera House); and a performance from the newly created Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra led by Canadian-Ukrainian conductor Keri-Lynn Wilson and featuring recently refugeed Ukrainian musicians, Ukrainian members of European orchestras, and other top musicians from Ukraine performing Silvestrov, Chopin, Beethoven, and Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 (8/20, Concert Hall).

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