Theater & Music Archive


Embassy Series’ concert and dinner at the Czech Embassy To Honor Bob Doubek

Thursday, June 9 at 7:30 pm

By Bill Outlaw, Guest Correspondent

What do the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the American Friends of the Czech Republic, the memorial to Czechoslovak hero Tomáš Masaryk in Washington, D.C., and the rebuilding of a monument in Prague in honor of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson all have in common? They all are historic, legacy-building projects led or substantially supported by Robert W. Doubek, an American originally from the Chicago area whose grandparents came to the U.S. from the kingdom of Bohemia (now part of the Czech Republic).

His leading role in developing these projects is the reason the Czech Republic and the Embassy Series are honoring Doubek at their June 9 concert at the Czech Embassy. Details on DCdigest Calendar Of Events at

“We are pleased to dedicate this Embassy Series’ concert performance to the leadership role Bob Doubek has played, both in the United States for his role in the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and on behalf of the Czech Republic,” said Jerome Barry, Embassy Series founder.

The Embassy Series’ concert at the Czech Embassy will feature the performance of international prize-winning pianist and Czech native, Veronika Böhmová.

"I am especially pleased that this concert is dedicated to Robert Doubek, a founder and past president of the American Friends of the Czech Republic (AFoCR), said Petr Gandalovič, Ambassador of the Czech Republic to the U.S. “ During his presidency of AFoCR, he was instrumental in mobilizing public support for the accession of the Czech Republic to NATO. Moreover, he launched and directed a project to rebuild the Woodrow Wilson Monument in Prague. We are further grateful for his support and role in the establishment and creation of the Thomas G. Masaryk Memorial and the Václav Havel Place tribute at Georgetown University in Washington, DC."

Doubek’s dedication and determination led him to play leading roles in building historic tributes in both countries. He co-founded the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund in 1979 and served as its executive director and project director until the completion of the Memorial (often called the “Wall”) in 1983. It pays tribute to those who served and those who gave their lives fighting in the Vietnam War.

After graduating from the University of Illinois in 1966, Doubek served in Vietnam in 1969 as a U.S. Air Force intelligence officer. After his service, he earned a law degree and was working for a law firm in Washington, D.C, in the late 1970s when he met Vietnam veteran Jan Scruggs, who conceived the idea of building the Vietnam Veterans Memorial as a way to recognized the service and sacrifice of all who served in Vietnam, especially to those who gave their lives. This was at a time when Vietnam veterans had not received recognition and often had been disparaged for their service in the politically controversial war.

“We perceived its purpose as recognizing the service and sacrifice of those who served in Vietnam, instead of continuing to use them as tools in arguments for and against the war. A hoped-for byproduct would be that the memorial could help reconcile the country’s divisions over the war. Ideally, both the war’s supporters and its opponents could agree that the veterans deserved recognition,” said Doubek. Doubek last year published his memoir about the project, called “Creating the Vietnam Veterans Memorial: The Inside Story,” which describes the challenges faced in getting the Memorial built. Despite strong opposition from some political circles and from some veterans, the Wall is now the most visited memorial in Washington and its design is considered brilliant.

Doubek’s next monumental project came about in tribute to his Czech origins. He grew up in the Chicago suburbs of Berwyn and Riverside, where many people had Czech roots. His four Czech grandparents had immigrated in the ten years before World War I.

His experience in organizing and obtaining support for the Vietnam Memorial helped guide him in creating an organization called the American Friends of the Czech Republic (AFoCR), to support efforts of the Czech Republic to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). This came about a few years after the newly formed Czech Republic and other Central and Eastern European nations had broken free from the East Bloc, ruled by the Communist government in Russia.

AFoCR has worked to strengthen ties between the U.S. and the Czech Republic in business, trade, culture, education, diplomacy, and security. A main goal was to enhance understanding and friendship between the peoples of the two countries, while informing U.S. government leaders, media, and other opinion makers about the Czechs. After its efforts on NATO, AFoCR’s next major project, in 2002, was to establish a monument to Tomáš G. Masaryk, the founding President of Czechoslovakia, on Embassy Row near DuPont circle in Washington, D.C.

Inspired by the gratitude and pride expressed by Czech visitors to the Masaryk Memorial, Doubek proposed that AFoCR rebuild the monument to Woodrow Wilson in Prague that had been destroyed by the Nazis in 1941. The proposal was embraced by AFoCR’s leadership, the Czech Ambassador, and the Lord Mayor of Prague, and Doubek directed it to completion in 2011. Noting that many Americans wonder about the connection between Wilson and the Czechs, Doubek explains: “Woodrow Wilson was the godfather of the independent Czechoslovak state in 1918, which fulfilled a centuries-old dream.”

Doubek is now with the U.S. State Department, where he buys and sells real property worldwide for diplomatic use.

“With these projects I sought to provide lasting recognition to individuals who made significant sacrifices and contributions to their societies and the world. I am gratified that for many Vietnam veterans the creation of their Memorial has imparted genuine healing,” concluded Doubek.

Guest Correspondent Bill Outlaw is a Vietnam Veteran and former reporter who first wrote about the building of the Vietnam Memorial when it was built in the early 1980's.


Pay What You Can Theater Tickets


thru May 29

Theater J (WDCJCC, 16&Q Street, NW).

Pay-What-You-Can performance Mon, May 2 at 7:30pm. Tickets at the door 90min prior to show time; some sales in advance online.

This engrossing and provocative play tells the true story of the extraordinary friendship between playwright Dan O'Brien and war reporter Paul Watson, whose Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of a dead American soldier being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu reshaped the course of global events. In a journey spanning Rwanda to Afghanistan to the Canadian Arctic, and with powerful, theatrical language, O'Brien explores mental health, war, friendship and the ethical consequences of personal actions. Don't miss the winner of the 2014 Horton Foote Prize for Outstanding New American Play in its regional premiere.

Theater J


April 21 thru May 22

Constellation Theatre (at Source, 1835 14th St, NW)

Pay-What-You-Can performance Thurs, April 21 at 8:30pm and $15 Previews on Fri, April 22 at 8:30pm and Sat, April 23 at 8pm. PWYC tickets are sold at the door at 7;30pm first come, first served basis, cash/check/credit card. You can buy tickets for $15 previews in advance online.

This ancient Chinese legend tells the story of a Buddhist monk who travels from China to India in search of sacred scriptures. A rambunctious monkey, an insatiable pig and a fierce river monster join Tripitaka, the monk, on his epic adventure. Imaginative spectacle, action sequences and live music intertwine to create a world that is part vaudeville, part mystical dreamscape. Playwright Mary Zimmerman's distinctive style has led to box office hits for Constellation in the past with The Arabian Nights & Metamorphoses.

Constellation Theatre



April 21-May 15

Rorschach Theatre (at Atlas Performing Arts Ctr, 1333 H Street, NE)

Pay-What-You-Can performances Thurs, April 21 to Sat, April 23 at 8pm. Pay-What-You-Can tickets are available one hour before each performance.

When a young man is killed in a car accident, a group of fractured souls encounter a magical baby and begin to rewrite the stories of their lives. Folk tales and folklore weave throughout this darkly comic story of sad endings, strange beginnings and the unlikely people that get you from one place to the next.

Rorschach Theatre




Save $15 per/ticket with code "MUSIC"


"Black Pearl not only sings, but soars. This is a play of discovery-of self, of personal power, of the importance of heritage-but it is also a vivid reminder that the things that connect us are often stronger than the things which divide us."


"This powerful play with music resonates on a higher plane, spiritually and dramatically."

- Dallas Observer

" arms and head for the real deal endearing examination of women and race."

- Philadelphia Enquirer

"...conjures something akin to an exquisite agony, the sense of a trapped people finding ways to transform unfathomable pain into beauty."

- Washington Post

"By the time 'Pearl' reached its climax in a heartrending duet, there wasn't a dry eye-mine included-in the house."

- San Francisco Chronicle





(Washington, DC) Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company is pleased to announce its 2016-2017 season, beginning with a world premiere and continuing with hotly-anticipated new plays by award-winning playwrights. Woolly’s new season features the work of Jen Silverman, Guillermo Calderón, Clare Barron, Nilaja Sun, Taylor Mac, and The Second City.

Jen Silverman’s Collective Rage: A Play in Five Boops is an absurdist romantic comedy about five women named Betty colliding at the intersection of anger, sex, and the representation of female identity. Kiss, by Guillermo Calderón, is a farcical soap opera that abruptly reveals itself to be a politically charged drama; the play is making its U.S. premiere at Woolly. Baby Screams Miracle, Obie Award winner Clare Barron’s gripping family drama about a religious household and an impending storm, comes to DC after a successful engagement at Clubbed Thumb (NYC). Nilaja Sun returns to Woolly for the first time since 2008’s No Child with her transformative, critically-acclaimed new solo piece Pike Street. Taylor Mac’s Hir, a bold new comedy deemed “audacious” and “uproarious” by the New York Times, rounds out the season. And as a special holiday treat, The Second City will bring some of Chicago’s most creative black comedians to fantasize about the racial future of America in the brand new provocative satire, Black Side of the Moon.

Woolly Mammoth’s 2016-2017 Season celebrates the courage, resilience, humor, and even eagerness of the collective human spirit in the face of terrifying, confusing, cataclysmic, and electrifying change,” says Woolly Mammoth Artistic Director Howard Shalwitz. “As the ground shifts beneath our feet and everything that we thought we knew about gender, culture, race, faith, and family is called into question, what do we do? Is the response to dig in our heels and hold fast or to embrace the chaos and collapse? Either way, the storm is coming, whether we want it to or not. Who knows what (and who) will emerge from the wreckage?”

THE 2016-2017 SEASON:


By Jen Silverman

Directed by Mike Donohue

September 14-October 9, 2016

Betty is rich. Betty is lonely. Betty’s a dutiful wife, but Betty’s busy working on her truck. Betty wants to talk about love, and Betty wants Betty, but Betty needs to hit something. And Betty keeps using a small hand mirror to stare into parts of herself she’s never examined. Meanwhile, Betty decides to stage a production of that play-within-a-play from…what’s it called? Summer’s Midnight Dream?

In Collective Rage, five different women named Betty collide at the intersection of anger, sex, and the “thea-tah.” Award-winning playwright Jen Silverman’s absurdist romantic comedy is at once hysterical, inspired, and boldly uncompromising. When you’re done laughing, you’ll be ready to deliver a knockout blow to a thousand different well-worn tropes about female identity… and dare them all to say “Boop.”


By Guillermo Calderón

Directed by Yury Urnov

October 10-November 6, 2016

A standing double-date quickly becomes a hilarious farce as four friends unburden their hearts and reveal their secret passions. But is anything really what it seems to be? An intense, furtive video chat with what might be an exiled author, living on the run while escaping persecution, slowly upends both their world and ours. Can we recover what’s been lost in translation?

This U.S. premiere by “Chile’s most acclaimed playwright-director of the last two decades” (LA Times) is a disquieting exploration of the limitations of art in grappling with the suffocating effects of an oppressive regime. Politically charged and emotionally urgent, it dares us to question whether we can truly understand other cultures… because just when we think we get Kiss, it gets us instead.


By Clare Barron

Directed by Howard Shalwitz

January 30-February 26, 2017

A small house is besieged by an apocalyptic storm. Great trees crack and splinter, garbage shatters windows, a deer impales the car windshield, and the wind hurls a trampoline into the living room. While their family home collapses all around them, a prodigal daughter and her zealous relatives try to pray their way to safety.

Obie Award-winner Clare Barron’s new play is “a genuinely fragile, complex piece of work” (Time Out New York): a Rorschach test for the faithful and the faithless alike. You’ve never seen anyone pray quite like this. You’ve never met a family like this. But if you enter the eye of the storm with them, you might find an imperfect, harrowing miracle.


By Nilaja Sun

Directed by Ron Russell

March 27-April 23, 2017

From the one-woman dynamo who brought the Obie Award-winning No Child to Woolly in 2008 comes a rich slice of Puerto Rican immigrant life that “glows with humor” (New York Times). If you’ve ever seen Nilaja Sun’s virtuosic performance style, you’ll want to experience it again… and if you haven’t, you must not miss the chance to be transported to Pike Street.

On the Lower East Side, a mother works hard to keep the electricity flowing for her daughter’s respirator while a hurricane looms nearby. As she prepares for disaster, a vibrant host of characters— a decorated war veteran, her ne’er-do-well father, her octogenarian downstairs neighbor—bring new meaning to the phrase “it takes a village.”


By Taylor Mac

Directed by Shana Cooper

May 22-June 18, 2017

Isaac, a veteran, returns to his childhood home and discovers that his family’s been transformed. His mother, freed from the constraints of her marriage, has begun a crusade to subvert the patriarchy, and his former sister has become a transgendered queer anarchist who uses the pronouns ze and hir. Meanwhile, his once-abusive father now wears clown makeup and downs estrogen pills… against his will.

Obie Award winner Taylor Mac’s “audacious, uproarious black comedy” (New York Times) flips the script on gender power dynamics and asks a key question: does destroying the past really free you from it? It’s a sly kitchen-sink drama covered in glitter, and you’ll laugh your way through to an answer.


Performances Begin Next Week!

Previews October 22-24

Pay-What-You-Can Preview: Thursday, October 22 at 8:30 PM

Want to see Avenue Q for only a few bucks? Come to our very first public performance and Pay-What-You-Can for a ticket!

For our Pay-What-You-Can Preview, the box office opens one hour prior to the scheduled curtain time. Patrons can purchase tickets at the door on a first come, first served basis. We encourage you to make a small donation in exchange for your ticket!

$15 Previews: Friday, October 23 at 8:30 PM & Saturday, October 24 at 8:00 PM

Tickets for our second and third preview performances of Avenue Q are only $15.

At this time, all advance sale tickets for the Friday and Saturday previews are sold out. Please check our website as tickets may become available at the last minute!

Can't make it to a preview performance? No problem!

Avenue Q will be performing through November 22,

Wednesday through Monday, 8 shows a week!

Visit our website for a full performance calendar.




(Washington, DC) Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company announces its first production of Season 36, the world premiere of Women Laughing Alone with Salad by playwright Sheila Callaghan, directed by Kip Fagan. Women Laughing Alone with Salad will run from September 7 to October 4 as part of the inaugural Women’s Voices Theater Festival.

What’s on the menu for Meredith, Tori, and Sandy: the three women in Guy’s life? Healthy lifestyles, upward mobility, meaningful sex? Or self-loathing and distorted priorities? Sheila Callaghan serves up a new play on a bed of bawdy language in a gender-bending comedy vinaigrette, inviting everyone—men and women, mothers and sons—to savor this complex recipe of desire and shame.

This is the second world premiere by Sheila Callaghan to be launched at Woolly Mammoth: Fever/Dream, an adaptation of Pedro Calderón de la Barca’s Life is a Dream satirizing corporate America, appeared on Woolly’s stage in 2009. Callaghan’s previous play Crumble (Lay Me Down Justin Timberlake) appeared in DC in 2008, presented by Catalyst Theater Company. In the TV world, Callaghan has garnered acclaim for her work as a writer and producer on the celebrated Showtime original series Shameless.

“I'm thrilled to welcome Sheila Callaghan back to Woolly to be part of the Women’s Voices Theater Festival,” says Woolly Mammoth Artistic Director Howard Shalwitz. “Women Laughing Alone with Salad is an outrageous work that stakes its own stylistic territory while raising provocative questions for both women and men. By dealing forthrightly with advertising, body image, feminism, desire, and shame, the play is sure to stir many lively conversations that will stimulate audiences and energize the festival.”

Women Laughing Alone with Salad is Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company’s contribution to the Women’s Voices Theater Festival, a citywide celebration of new work by female playwrights from more than 50 professional theaters throughout the Nation’s Capital region, taking place in D.C. for the first time this fall.

More information about Woolly’s 36th Anniversary Season can be found at More information about the Women’s Voices Theater Festival can be found at

Women Laughing Alone with Salad runs September 7, 2015 to October 4, 2015, with performances Wednesday-Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 3pm and 8pm (Saturday, September 12 at 8pm only), and Sunday at 2pm and 7pm (Sunday, September 13 at 7pm only). Monday, September 7 and Tuesday, September 8 will be Pay What You Can performances, which will begin at 8pm.

Patrons who are 30-years-old and younger may, at any time, purchase Section B tickets for $20 to any performance. There are also discounts available for first responder men and women and active US military personnel, spouses, and veterans. More information is available at


Woolly Mammoth’s Connectivity Department will be hosting a series of companion events around the production of Women Laughing Alone with Salad to take place through October 4. All events are free and open to the public.

Stop Losing the Last 10 Pounds: Ending Bad Relationships with Food, Fitness and Your Body*

Wednesday, September 23rd


Rehearsal Hall

Why are we so focused on changing our bodies? And what can we do to get past the sense of malaise, fear, and sadness that surrounds our size and shape? In this interactive workshop with acclaimed wellness and recovery coach Kaila Prins, we’ll explore these questions and more!

Skip the Garnish: A Local Riff on “Salad”*

In Collaboration with Art in Praxis

Friday, September 25th


Rehearsal Hall

Are you tired of laughing alone with your salad? Poke fun at the popular meme with up-and-coming funny, fearless DC comediennes that are sure to leave you hungry for more. Warm up for the play with Emcee Shelly Bell and a fierce line-up including: Dana Fleitman, Elahe Izadi, Sarah Lawson, Curt Mariah, Chelsea Shorte, and Anu Yadav. Start your Friday off right with happy hour and original beats from 6pm until the show starts at 8:00pm!

Stretching Expectations: Supportive Yoga for Every Body*

Saturday, September 26th


Rehearsal Hall

Have you wanted to try yoga, but worry that it isn’t for you? Or perhaps you’d like to learn to better support your body in your yoga practice? Join Annie Carlin of Supportive Yoga for a workshop that challenges the idea that yoga is only for one type of body, and offers practical tools, modifications, and enhancements to help you explore all the amazing possibilities for your practice. All levels and all bodies welcome. Please wear movement friendly clothing and bring your own yoga mat (if possible).

Media as Mirror: Reflections on Representation

Friday, Oct. 2nd, following the 8pm performance.

In the Theatre.

What are the visual tropes of women in the media, advertising, and stock photography, where do these clichés come from, and how do we move beyond them? Interrogate perception vs. reality with award-winning feminist writer, media critic and activist Soraya Chemaly and a panel of prominent journalists, ad execs, and media-makers.

Locally (Re)sourced: Community Organizations for DC Women and Allies

In Collaboration with the Mayor’s Office of Victim Services

Saturday, October 3rd


In the Lobby

In observance of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Woolly will host a pop-up resource fair showcasing local orgs seeking to empower women, combat gender violence, and establish gender equity. Participants include service providers, grassroots activist organizations, gender and social policy institutions, including Men Can Stop Rape, The Women’s Center, Right Rides/Collective Action for Safe Spaces and many more!

Women’s Voices Theater Festival Special Event: The Glass Curtain*

Sunday, October 4th


In the Theatre

Women Laughing Alone with Salad playwright Sheila Callaghan, and other notable members of the national theatre community, join us for a special conversation about gender parity in the American theatre and supporting the work of women theater makers.


Guilford Station Arts Club

Music, Antiques and Lebanese Cuisine Lure Us Out Beyond the Beltway!

editor & photo credit - Donna Christenson

Some of my finest dining experiences have been in the Washington, DC area …not just downtown but in places like Bethesda, Alexandria or Potomac. I also love traveling and the opportunity to

try more exotic local cuisines …trips to France, Italy, and Brazil top my list of "great food" experiences. For unusual food, it seems my mind drifts to places that require a plane trip …good things often begin at Dulles Airport.

Dulles is in Loudoun County, the home of Leesburg and Purcellville …interesting places perhaps, but a bit far away. For many of us city-dwellers, the obstacle is traffic-congested roads. The idea of venturing way, way out beyond the Beltway fills many with "Traffic Anxiety Syndrome".

But it turns out you can find a truly authentic Lebanese meal in a quaint, rustic setting in less driving time than it takes to find a parking place in Georgetown …in Sterling, VA, near the afore-mentioned Dulles Airport. Combine excellent food with classical music performed live in an intimate setting, all at a bargain price of only $15, and you have a great reason to explore or re-discover the suburbs.

I’ve had the food fortune to attend musical “salons” at Jackie Anderson's home in Mclean for many years, and the tradition certainly pre-dates me. I always admire the precision, comfort and grace Jackie gives these events, seemingly effortlessly. Anybody who visits Jackie's house is immediately impressed by her collection of beautiful and practical antiques, lovingly curated over decades.

When she recently retired from her National Symphony Orchestra-violinist career, Jackie knew she wanted to do something special to stay involved in the wonderful world of music she loved, and to blend that with her passion for antiques.

Jackie (in photo at left with her husband, Bill Ewing) is now focusing her interest and experience into an “Arts Club” – a place to meet other artists, discuss ideas, collaborate, practice, teach and learn – all with Turkish coffee (and eventually wine, too, if things work out.) The Guilford Station Arts Club provides a wonderful performance space for musicians and offers audience members a rare opportunity to hear marvelous music in a charming, intimate setting. Imagine delightful musical evenings reminiscent of a bygone era, before live music performed in private homes was replaced by electronic reproductions.

This all takes place in an elegant 1860’s-era farmhouse that truly transports you to a new and wonderful Early American world – complete with Jackie’s golden touch. The Guilford Station Arts Club is just North of Dulles, in old Sterling (called Guilford when the railroad first came through.) Jackie has always liked the idea of opening an antiques shop but a place filled with relics could potentially be stodgy. That fate has been precluded with the emphasis on music and the arts, and by, quite literally, spicing things up …with aromatic Lebanese cuisine.

Mona’s Café is a delightful feature of the Guilford Station Arts Club. Mona Abul-Hosn has been cooking for Jackie for well over a decade and wanted to move beyond her home-based catering business. They already knew they had the right chemistry …when the two of them get together, the laughter is contagious. Mona is as productive as she is authentic, laughing engagingly as she bustles in the kitchen, whipping up a batch of baba ghanoush, kibbeh and stuffed grape leaves quicker than most of us can slice a melon. Mona (center) shows off a platter of falafel, Samaha (left) holds spinach pies, and Mariella has meat pies.

At a woodwind quintet salon performance there a few weeks ago, I sampled a wide array of Mona's delicacies – lamb with rice, falafel, hummus. The package deal including the musical performance was incredible at $15, and Mona's everyday, prices are better than reasonable, too.

So if you have an EasyPass (worth getting to avoid long lines in the cash toll lanes …or you might prefer just to take Route 7) it’s a terrific excuse to take a drive to what was, until recently, considered “out in the country”. I highly recommend planning a trip to Mona's Lebanese Café and the Guilford Station Arts Club. You can check them out at and, (both ready for you to “like” on Facebook.)

The next salon performance at the Guilford Station Arts Club is Sunday, July 12 at 4:00 p.m., followed by a light buffet of Mona's delectable Lebanese cuisine. Guests are encouraged to bring a bottle of wine or their favorite beverage. Reservations are required!

Details on our Calendar of Events page or at See you there!

Editor's Note: We have taken the unprecedented step of posting this on several different pages on www.DCdigest because it is just too good to miss! Tell your friends!


Nationally Renowned Jazz Artist Marcus Johnson to Host A Series of

New Album Release Performances at Blues Alley July 16-19, 2015

editor & photo credit - Donna Christenson

Nationally renowned jazz musician, producer and entrepreneur Marcus Johnson will debut his latest album titled Marcus Johnson Live & Direct Featuring The Urban Jam Band with a series of performances at Blues Alley, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary in July. Two shows will be performed each evening on July 16-19, the first at 8 PM with an encore performance at 10 PM. Tickets are priced at $27.50 per person plus a $5 processing fee, available at the Blues Alley box office between 12 PM and 8 PM daily, online at, or by calling (202) 337-4141. There is a $12 food or beverage minimum per person per show; seating is available on a first come first serve basis.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Marcus Johnson’s first CD release. Over the past two decades he has gained critical acclaim across the board from peers, media and the music industry. Johnson is the owner of FLO Brands, LLC and a Washington native, as well being an internationally renowned, Billboard Top 10, NAACP Image Award-nominated jazz musician and entrepreneur. He has performed at clubs throughout the United States and has been a featured performer at many jazz festivals, including his hometown Capital Jazz Festival, the Bermuda Jazz Festival, Atlantic Artscape, the Latin Meets Jazz Festival and the Huntington Beach Jazz Festival. Over the last decade, the self-starting Johnson has released 15 studio albums, all of which have been met with critical and commercial success. Johnson created FLO Brands, a lifestyle company that aspires to enhance lives through small pleasures, such as music and wine (three varietals in photo at left). For more information about Marcus Johnson please visit

Blues Alley is located in the heart of historic Georgetown at 1073 Wisconsin Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20007; less than a mile from the Foggy Bottom-GWU metro station, accessible on the orange, blue and silver lines. For additional information please call (202) 337- 4141 or visit


Star Line-Up of Local Favorites to Join showTunes & Cocktails

theatreWashington’s Monthly Sing-Along Event Celebrates the Best of Broadway

As spring turns to summer, some of the area’s most popular – and hard-working – musical theatre celebrities join the sing-along crowd at the Beacon Bar and Grill for theatreWashington’s showTunes & Cocktails. May 11 sees special guest Pamela Bierly Jusino – currently in Kafka’s Metamorphosis at the Alliance for New Music-Theatre – partner with Maestro Glenn Pearson to share her favorite standards and encourage the piano-bar attitude that makes these gatherings a must-do for music theatre lovers. On June 8, guest Evan Casey takes a break from rehearsing the title role in Adventure Stage MTC's production of Garfield, the Musical with Catitude; and on July 13, Stephen Schmidt shares a precious Monday night off from performing in The Producers at the Olney Theatre Center. Each event, from 7 – 10 p.m., features happy hour prices, signature cocktails, and a chance to win free tickets to the Washington area’s top shows.

Pearson – equal parts raconteur and master pianist – is a renowned orchestra leader and a mainstay of Washington’s social scene. Working with his co-host theatreWashington Vice President Brad Watkins, he inspires the best – and beltiest – from a growing crowd of showTunes regulars and newbies.

Just one element in theatreWashington’s year-round efforts in audience-building and theatre advocacy, showTunes & Cocktails is funded through the Beacon Bar & Grill’s generous donation of 10% on all purchases, and a Pay What You Can admission policy. Scheduled on Monday nights when theatre professionals are free to mix and mingle with their theatre-loving public, future showTunes & Cocktails events are slated for August 10, September 14, October 5, November 9, and December 14, with guest artists to be announced. For further information, visit


"Laugh" a Little, but Not Much More

Theater review by Barbara Twigg

Hopes rise for a play entitled, "Laugh," which aims to capture the zany spirit of silent films in old Hollywood. Crimes of the Heart author and Pulitzer Prize-winner Beth Henley wrote it as a self-described vacation from intense theatrical topics. Among such achievements are The Miss Firecracker Contest (both play and screenplay), The Wake of Jamey Foster, The Debutante Ball, The Lucky Spot, and Abundance. Her most recent plays are Signature, Control Freaks, L-Play, Impossible Marriage (with Holly Hunter in the lead), and The Jacksonian, directed by Robert Falls at the Geffen in Los Angeles and The New Group in New York. In addition to the screenplays of Crimes of the Heart and The Miss Firecracker Contest, Henley has written several television and movie screenplays, including “Survival Guides” with Budge Threlkeld for PBS, the films Nobody’s Fool and True Stories (the last is collaboration with Steven Trobolowsky and David Byrne of the rock group Talking Heads).

"Laugh" takes its plot line directly from that silent era, with gold mines, dastardly characters, thwarted love, and dreams of making it on the silver screen. Cheerfully directed with a fair amount of sight gags and physical comedy, the play recreates that melodramatic movie-making with a talented cast, and captures the feel of old theaters with wonderful live piano and narration provided on stage by Tony Award nominee, composer Wayne Barker. That was a treat! However, though blessed with fine music, staging, and acting, the play itself does not transcend the plot and character types of its cinematic ancestors. It is silly, and aims to be, but not enough of a modern twist on silly to make it very interesting. But maybe I'm just a humbug??...

SYNOPSIS: The West. The 1920s. Mabel’s had a hard few weeks. A dynamite accident at a gold mine has left her wealthy but orphaned, and she’s shipped off to a calculating aunt whose nephew is charged with seducing her to control Mabel’s fortune. This hapless courtship reveals a shared love of silent movies and a plan for greater things. A story of mishaps and moxie, the romance of Hollywood and ultimately a Hollywood-caliber romance. A world-premiere slapstick comedy from the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of Crimes of the Heart.

"Laugh" by Beth Henley. Though April 19 at Studio Theatre, 1501 14th St. NW DC. Box Office 202-332-3300 or visit



Theater review by Barbara Twigg

If you can picture two suburban couples from Houston's oil industry seriously considering trading their metropolitan lives for permanent residence in a North Carolina campground, you might really like "Cherokee," the new American play by award-winning playwright, Lisa d'Amour at Woolly Mammoth. I quite enjoyed the first act, as John and Janine, Mike and Traci launch their wooded vacation. There is much humor, very entertaining video effects, and a cast of beguiling characters. However, after the mysterious disappearance of the creature-phobic Mike, played with great verve by Thomas W. Jones II, the rapid shake-up in relationships strained my credulity. Not that the play is meant to be taken so literally... But, since it does probe serious questions of life and love and marriage in its own quirky way, the plot situations seemed too far fetched to support them. That said, the production is very well done, and much of the audience seemed genuinely enthusiastic. But for me, it ultimately seemed silly, rather than soul-searching. Maybe "Cherokee" is essentially a comedy, but it seemed to reach for more, yet fall a bit short.

It is worth noting that the multi-talented actor in this production, twelve-time Helen Hayes award winner Thomas W. Jones II, also wrote, directed, and choreographed the excellent musical Bessie's Blues, running now through March 15th at MetroStage in Alexandria. Read the review below for more details.

Through March 8 at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company

641 D Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004

Box Office: 202--393-3939


Need some hot music to warm up a cold winter night? Try

Bessie's Blues, running through March 15th at MetroStage in Alexandria.

Theater review by Barbara Twigg

Written, directed, and choreographed by twelve-time Helen Hayes award winner Thomas W. Jones II, this musical review explores the life, career and trials of famed blues singer, Bessie Smith, portrayed by the outstanding Bernardine Mitchell, reprising a role she has made her own. I expected that level of excellence from her, but what surprised me were the contributions of the other seven cast members, four men and three women, who provided a rich and energetic evening of music and dance. Backed up by a terrific live band led by music director William Knowles, with some sweet saxophone, Bessie's Blues moves from heartbreaking ballad to roof-raising stomp. Though the narrative story was a little confusing at times, the performers were always a joy to watch and hear.

And don't let the fear of Old Town Alexandria parking challenges keep you away. MetroStage is located on the less congested northern edge of Old Town, with its own free parking lot, as well as plenty of street parking. .More details on the DCdigest Calendar of Events at


Studio Theatre's 'Bad Jews'

Two Theater Reviews

Barbara Twigg writes: What should one expect from a play with such a politically incorrect, and daring title like "Bad Jews"? If you answered, "a wild comedy built around serious themes that can alternately offend, pillory, and delight both Jew and Gentile" you'd be in the right ethnic ballpark. It has squabbling, fierce and impressive monologues, on purpose horrendous singing, and enough funny lines to make even the the sleepiest audience member laugh out loud. It takes a lot to get me over that laughter threshold, and I quite enjoyed such an invigorating theatrical experience. Yet behind the dueling cousins gathered for their grandfather's funeral lurk the powerful and poignant emotions that characterize the complexity of family relations. The cast of four is terrific,and the 90 minute, no intermission show moves at breakneck speed. Written by Julliard grad Joshua Harmon, Bad Jews is nominated for a Helen Hayes award for outstanding play--right along with Master Shakespeare at the Folger!

And a funny p.s. for me: the Gentile actress is portrayed as being from Delaware (like myself), and potentially marrying a Jew (as I did) and having a half Jewish child (as I did), who grew up to marry an Asian (as mine did). The next generation was projected to potentially marry a black Puerto Rican, effectively watering down the Jewish culture into extinction.... May I live to see the unfolding of that generational chapter!

Rozanne Weissman writes: Millennials Liam & Daphna argue in-your-face at Studio Theatre's 'Bad Jews'– reminding me somewhat of the bitter battles between Richard Burton (George) and Elizabeth Taylor (Martha) going at it with take-no-prisoners insults in the film 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?' Except that the actors played a married couple & Liam & Daphna are cousins who argue ironically over who is more worthy of their dead grandfather Poppy's 'chai' (Hebrew for 'life') necklace. There's a wonderful story & legacy behind grandfather's gold necklace which made it through a holocaust death camp despite the Nazis' capture of all prisoners' gold & valuables.

"The best comedy of the season!" --The New York Times

A savage comedy about family, faith, and identity politics, now extended through February 15 at Studio Theater. or Box Office at 202.332.3300


PayWhatYouCan performances - Bargain Tickets for Two New Productions at Two Different Theaters

ABSOLUTELY {perhaps} - Constellation Theatre Company (Source Theatre, 14th & T Street NW)

PayWhatYouCan performances, Oct 9 & 10 at 8:30pm, Oct 11 at 8pm. Tickets are sold at the theatre the evening of the show 1 hour prior to showtime. OR purchase in advance advance online for just $15.

By Luigi Pirandello. A wildfire of gossip and speculation breaks out when Signor Ponza and his wife move to town and shockingly take up residence in a separate house from his mother-in-law. With no regard for privacy, the community of this Italian village decides they absolutely must get the inside scoop. What these snoops discover sends them spinning - tales of love-induced trips to the madhouse, secret letters delivered by a bucket on a rope and pulley, and a case of mistaken identity that has been maintained for years.

Constellation Theatre Company


FETCH MAN, MAKE CLAY - Round House Theatre (4545 East-West Highway, Bethesda, MD)

PayWhatYouCan performance, Sat, Oct 11 at 3pm and Wed, Oct 15 at 7:30pm.. PWYC tickets go on sale in person at Box Office 1 hour prior to curtain. The patron decides the admission price. Cash/exact change only, limit of 2 tickets per person.

In the days before one of the most anticipated fights in boxing history, heavyweight champ Muhammad Ali forms an unlikely friendship with controversial Hollywood star Stepin Fetchit. This true story explores the improbable bond that forms between these drastically different, influential cultural icons - one a vibrant and audacious youth, the other a resentful, almost forgotten relic - as they fight to shape their legacies amidst the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.

Round House Theatre



Carrie: the Musical

Theater review by Cary Pollak and Donna Christenson

Studio Theater’s 2ndStage has taken on a significant challenge by putting on a musical version of Carrie: the Musical, Stephen King’s 1974 best-selling thriller that was turned into Brian de Palma’s blockbuster 1976 movie. The movie's success was due in part to spectacular special effects that could not possibly be duplicated on stage. But Carrie's story is a fascinating one that has the potential to captivate a theater audience, especially with the addition of good singing and dancing. Studio 2ndStage is pulling it off and the play is well worth seeing. Spoiler alert: most of you likely know this story from reading the book or seeing the movie. This review gives away some surprises, but we think you will find the play entertaining even if you know what is coming.

Despite the overwhelming success of the book and film versions, the original Broadway production of Carrie: the Musical may have been the biggest flop in that era’s theatrical history. The 1988 show ran for only five performances and resulted in a financial loss of perhaps eight million dollars. It was a very bold move even to consider another attempt at a similar production, much less to turn this somber tale into a musical. That composer Michael Gore and lyricist Dean Pitchford (with book by Lawrence D. Cohen) were able to do so with such great success is a tribute to their many talents. Director Keith Alan Baker combined exuberant choreography by Michael J. Bobbitt and minimalist set design from Luciana Stecconi to showcase the action and voices of this energetic young cast.

More than forty years after its publication, the themes in Carrie: the Musical seem even more relevant today. The timeless issue of bullying is more prominent now in the aftermath of a series of horrific school shootings, some of which involved shooters with childhood histories of neglect, abuse or bullying. Though Carrie did not use a gun and her weapon was to say the least, unique, what is familiar is the devastating psychological impact caused by the endless tormenting inflicted upon Carrie by her classmates. Sensitively embodied by local actress Emily Zickler, the evolution of Carrie’s distress is made palpable.

Storyline aside, Carrie: the Musical is after all, a musical, so now for the music. While you may not leave the theater humming any of the tunes, you will have enjoyed a wide range of satisfyingly-delivered musical genres. The operatic range and powerful style of Emmy-award-winning Barbara Walch (standing behind Carrie in photo below) as Carrie’s domineering, religious-extremist mother was worth a trip to the theater, even if she had been the only musical star. Fortunately, all of the principal cast members deliver not only with vocal talent but also emotion-packed performances, ranging from playful excitement getting ready for the prom to lush ballads to soft, poignant reflections on the overwhelming pain and heartache that looms so large in teenage experiences. The intimate setting of Studio Theater’s Stage 4 is a great choice to increase the effect, with audience members literally just a few feet …or at times inches …away from the action.

As you may know, the main character is Carrie White, a naïve girl so sheltered that she feared she was dying when she began menstruation during gym class at school. The play, unlike the movie, is done as a flashback. This puts significant demands on the actress playing Sue Snell, who tried to befriend Carrie. She has to make several instantaneous switches from a person under oppressive, stressful interrogation then back to being an unsuspecting high school student. A good example is the scene where her boyfriend Tommy (played well by Robert Mueller in an appropriate "fun guy but good guy" fashion) takes her to an imaginary prom the night before the real one. She is as gleeful as could be, and then needs to switch her demeanor immediately as the scene jump-cuts to the interrogation. Actress Maria Rizzo does a great job in handling those transitions.

Carrie: the Musical’s interrogation and flashback format lets the audience know from the beginning that something horrible has happened …an interesting twist with dramatic effect. The movie version told the story very well in the present tense, and at the end the student survivor was at home getting sympathy, and understandably looked to be suffering from major PTSD. The musical version offered no explanation for why she is being treated like a criminal with blinding lights beamed at her face and disembodied voices repeating the same questions she already has answered. The voices explain only that they are seeking "the truth." There may be reason to be skeptical of the poor girl's story about the supernatural cause of the prom disaster, but it does not explain the harsh treatment. From a theatrical rather than logical point of view, however, this device certainly does add dramatic tension.

It would be an understatement to say that the prom, which the students correctly predicted to be a night they would never forget, does not go well. The blood pouring scene is done differently from the one in the movie, but still is quite effective. There is enough of it spattering in all directions that we assume that daily costume laundering needs to be a line item in the play's budget! Studio 2ndStage did not simply order a large quantity of "stage blood." They painstakingly created their own corn syrup-based concoction, with just the right consistency to adhere for dramatic effect and yet be easily washable …well-suited to this production.

There are a number of other theatrical effects, some of which are fun and a bit magical. For those who do not know the story, however, it is difficult to tell that there was a fire at the prom. Smoke was a good clue, but a projection of flames on the back walls would have been much better. Studio 2ndStage has the set up to do that powerfully and effectively, given that they were projecting silhouettes and images of Carrie and others on those walls throughout the play.

Overall, Carrie: the Musical is a very well done and entertaining production. Do go to see it …we predict that Carrie and her telekinetic powers will "move" you!

Carrie: the Musical is at Studio Theater, 1501 14th Street, NW, Washington, D.C. now through August 3. 2014.



Theater review by Barbara Twigg and Donna Christenson

"Grounded," by American playwright George Brant, provides 65 minutes of uninterrupted theatrical intensity for our time. This one woman show, engaging Washington, DC audiences after sold out runs in Britain, stars Lucy Ellinson, who hides her English accent very successfully, looking and sounding completely at home in her U.S. Air Force flight suit. This play presents the ultimate extreme in working-mother conflicts: how does a drone pilot in a Nevada windowless trailer find the balance between a numbing twelve hour shift of targeting "military-age males" for destruction in Afghanistan, and returning home nightly to husband and baby daughter. In an unfortunate dichotomy, absent the camaraderie of in-person soldiering with its ability to decompress together from horrific situations, supportive intimacy decreases at the same time that remote warfare also gives you a jarringly intimate view of the destruction you wreak. Needless to say, this struggle exacts a costly emotional price.

Though the play's title, "Grounded," originates from our heroine's pregnancy demotion from flying her beloved fighter jet, to being a desk-bound drone pilot in the dreaded "Chair Force," it also suggests her struggle to feel grounded by her life as mother and wife. Can those roles secure her strength and sanity, which are assaulted daily by the dehumanizing work that is modern warfare, visited upon the enemy from afar?

It is an interesting twist to create a female fighter pilot to illuminate the impact of wartime experience on one’s humanity and psyche, perhaps offering even greater contrast between our idealized image of “normal” family life and the realities of post-traumatic stress reactions. Reminiscent of the theme of Ernest Hemingway’s brilliant short story “A Way You’ll Never Be”, we must recognize that it is impossible for anyone who hasn’t actually experienced it to truly understand the full, life-changing impact of war experience, though this taut performance allows us an intense glimpse into that world.

Symbolically performed in a barren gauze cube, the production provides a powerful representation of alienation mixed with duty, of a range of powerful emotions struggling to break free or to stay contained. Lucy Ellinson is terrific, and the play becomes an engaging, thought-provoking metaphor for a decade that is droning on in a harrowing new way. "Fisher Price is not yet making drones," says our pilot mother, "but that can't be more than five years away."

Now extended through July Studio Theater


Freud’s Last Session - Extended Through July 6

Theater review by Donna Christenson

Rick Foucheux as Dr. Sigmund Freud and Todd Scofield as C.S. Lewis [photo credit: Stan Barouh ]

Theater J has done it again …selected a challenging, thought-provoking play and mounted another brilliant production. Freud’s Last Session, an acclaimed long-running Off-Broadway hit, posits a fascinating dialogue between two brilliant minds …the ground-breaking psychoanalyst Dr. Sigmund Freud and C.S. Lewis, Mediaeval and Renaissance scholar and author of popular books such as The Chronicles of Narnia. As if an exchange of diverse views between these two intellects on subjects like love, sex, the meaning of life and the existence of God were not enough, these topics are heightened by the fact that the conversation takes place on the very day England enters World War II.

Despite the tensions of the situation and heady subject matter, there is much humor in the play right from the start. Mark St. Germain’s writing sets a light-hearted tone, and the evening proceeds with a very high energy level. This regional premiere features the talents of well-known and highly-regarded actors Rick Foucheux and Todd Scofield, each demonstrating a broad spectrum from wit and sarcasm to somber realism, each facing fears of war and death (Freud is ravaged by oral cancer) in different ways. The set design captures the appropriate ambiance of Freud’s study, complete with a vintage radio lending an air of authenticity broadcasting Churchill’s famous words announcing the beginning of the war.

Freud’s Last Session runs May 14 - July 6, 2014 at Theater J, located in the Washington DC Jewish Community Center at 1529 16th Street NW, Washington DC 20036. Call the box office at (800) 494-TIXS (8497) or buy tickets online where you also will find a variety of ticket discount opportunities.



Theater review by Donna Christenson

SYNOPSIS: John breaks up with his long-term boyfriend. Two weeks later, he’s grateful to be accepted back —and haunted by a passionate and unshakable encounter with a woman. In a world with so many ways to be happy, how do you know the right thing when you have it? Cock detonates the love triangle in this investigation of attraction, ambivalence, and commitment from Britain’s most provocative young playwright.

"An equivalently brilliant and blackly hilarious feat of provocation."

--The Independent

"A feisty, hypnotic and oddly energizing exercise in emotional carnage."

--The New York Times

John, appealingly played by Ben Cole, is a charming guy. In fact, he looks and sounds and has the charming mannerisms of a young Hugh Grant. His boyfriend is crazy about him ...and you will be, too it is not really a surprise when a woman he meets falls for him, too. The fact that he is a gay man does make his response to her surprising, most especially to John himself. His symbolically-named lovers are M and F, the male played by Scott Parkinson and the female by Liesel Yeager, and the intriguing style through which these characters play out their overlapping relationships makes for a high-voltage evening of revelations and discoveries. Who do we love ...and why do we love them? How much of who we are is inherent and what is shaped by how we see ourselves and who we become reflecting perceptions of others?

After-Show Discussions with the Cast of Cock

May 25, 2014, after the 2pm matinee

June 7, 2014, after the 2pm matinee

Cock PostScript

June 22, 2014, after the 2pm matinee

PostScript is a series of candid and invigorating conversations about our Season Subscription plays, like a book club for plays.

Now extended through June 29.

Call Studio Theater’s Box Office at 202.332.3300 or get tickets/details at



$15 (CODE: TALKBACK) CALL 703-548-9044



Brief Encounter: British Theatre at its Zany Best

Theater review by Barbara Twigg

The British Kneehigh Theatre company has stormed into Shakespeare's Lansburgh Theatre with a dazzling production of Brief Encounter, based on the 1945 movie and an earlier Noel Coward play, and directed by Emma Rice. The story follows a

chance meeting in a train station cafe of two already married people and their unfolding love affair as they decide to meet there on subsequent Thursdays.

I remember seeing the film on TV, a very poignant and touching portrayal of a man and woman struggling between their attraction to each other, and their devotion to current spouses and families. I don't recall it being particularly funny, if funny at all.

But how to describe this imaginative confection? What inspired Brit decided that the film's serious side could be kept intact, while decorated with zany, laugh-out loud humor, great music, and farce from the supporting characters? And this multi-media production is unlike anything I've seen. Can you picture an actor stepping through a slit in the background movie screen showing a departing train and then waving goodbye as part of the film? Or the woman's children as life-sized marionettes?

Somehow, it all works as a gloriously delightful evening of theatre. It's a madcap combination of love, sadness, laughter, and sight gags, all rolled into an inspired theatrical gem.

A two week run, closing April 13. See it!



Theater Review by Donna Christenson

When the audience rose to their feet to give a standing ovation at the end of the performance of TRIBES, it felt like an inevitable response to one of the most thought-provoking evenings of theater in recent memory. On the surface, TRIBES is the story of a family including a deaf son who falls in love with a young woman who is going deaf, and the wide range of communication issues all that entails. The choice of lip-reading and speaking versus signing, an ongoing controversy in the deaf community, is vividly brought to life as the characters illustrate the pros and cons of each choice.

But on a much broader scale, the issue becomes how we all communicate with one another …what do we reveal, what do we hide or obscure, what do we miss or misunderstand …and how do we find a way to really “hear” each other. This play will, of course, resonate with anyone connected to the deaf world, but it is equally powerful and important for all of us who ostensibly can hear.

Playwright Nina Raine successfully captures the flavor and nuance of family dynamics, the subtle spoken and unspoken messages between people who have been together a long time. And the actors, including James Caverly who is deaf, are uniformly excellent, leading us through an intense array of intellectual explorations and cascading emotions that will stay with you long after the play has ended.

Update: TRIBES has been extended again and now runs through March 16, 2014. Details below. Don’t miss it!

Studio Theatre is thrilled to announce the final two-week extension of Nina Raine’s dramatic comedy Tribes. With a 10-week run, Tribes will be one of the longest extended shows in Studio’s history. The critically acclaimed production has been praised as “one of the best shows Washington will see in 2014” (Washingtonian), and “wonderfully expressive” (City Paper) with “consistently honest, real, and unflinching performances”(BroadwayWorld).

On February 23, after the 2pm matinee, Studio offers PostScript, a series of candid and invigorating conversations, like a book club for plays. Concessions available.

On February 23, after the 7pm performance, join members of Gallaudet University's Linguistics and ASL & Deaf Studies faculty as they discuss Tribes, Deaf Culture and Linguistics.

Tribes Sign Interpreted Performances. two additional sign interpreted performances of Tribes on February 28 and March 1.

Check website or Box Office for additional events and interpreted performances.

Studio Theatre

1501 14th Street NW

Washington, DC 20005