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The Company of the First North American Tour of “Come From Away.” With a book, music and lyrics by Tony and Grammy Award nominees Irene Sankoff and David Hein and direction by Christopher Ashley, “Come From Away runs November 28, 2018 through January 6, 2019 at Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, CA. For tickets and information, please visit CenterTheatreGroup.org or call (213) 972-4400. Media Contact: [email protected] / (213) 972-7376. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Stage & Screen: December 2019

Through Sunday, December 22

The Woman in Black
Stephen Mallatratt adapted this British play based on the horror book of the same name, and Robin Herford is directing this eerie production at Shakespeare Theatre Company leading up to the holidays. The play is about Arthur Kipps (Adam Radcliffe) who asks an actor (Dominic Price) to help tell his dark story, and each performance will take the audience from a Victorian theater to the creepy Eel Marsh House. Just remember to be cautious around the Woman in Black. Various dates and times. Tickets $39-$79. Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Michael R. Klein Theatre: 450 7th St. NW, DC; www.shakespearetheatre.org

Through Thursday, January 5

Eureka Day
Anti-vaxxers, pay attention. This play is about a mumps outbreak in a Berkeley school. Watch as the community experiences a diverse environment clash when mandatory vaccinations take center stage. The play also displays projections that show how people behave online when the subject matter is controversial. Everyone will enjoy a night of satire with this award-winning play that looks at mandatory vaccinations in a humorous way. Various dates and times. Tickets $10-$32.50. Atlas Performing Arts Center: 1333 H St. NE, DC; www.atlasarts.org

The Second City’s She The People: The Resistance Continues!
Your favorite all-female show is back. These comedians will offer a satirical view of what the world can be like for a woman, as the show pokes fun at stereotypes and how absurd things can be. This political sketch-comedy show is one that you do not want to miss. The Second City is a renowned comedy troupe with notable alumni including Tina Fey and Steve Carell, and many other talented comedians. Various dates and times. Tickets $20-$109. Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company: 641 D St. NW, DC; www.woollymammoth.net

Sunday, December 8

It’s a Wonderful Life
This classic film is a staple for the holiday season that audiences have enjoyed since 1946. The American Film Institute has recognized It’s a Wonderful Life as one of the 100 best American films ever made. The movie takes place on Christmas Eve when George Bailey is about to take his own life, but things change when his guardian angel Clarence gets involved. Watch Clarence show George what the town would be like if he had never been born. 3:30-5 p.m. Tickets $10. National Museum of American History: 14th Street and Constitutional Avenue in NW, DC; www.si.edu

Tuesday, December 10

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Joel and Clementine loved each other. But after a breakup, the couple opts to erase their memory of each other. Join the Embassy of France and watch this award-winning film starring Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet. The movie plays with flashbacks and a nonlinear narrative as the audience learns about the former couple’s love life. Enjoy this film from director Michel Gondry about people falling in love again despite doing what they could to forget the other. 7-10 p.m. Free to attend. The Embassy of France: 4101 Reservoir Rd. NW, DC; www.franceintheus.org

Tuesday, December 10 – Sunday, December 15

Fiddler on the Roof
Matchmaker, matchmaker, this is a good musical for you. Tony-winning director Bartlett Sher gives his spin on the 10-time Tony Award-winning musical. In 1905 Russia, Tevye tries to maintain his Jewish religious and cultural traditions while the world changes around him. This musical is a story of family, love and attitudes toward Judaism. The popular Broadway songs, the orchestra and the cast will put on a delightful performance that will prove why Fiddler on the Roof once held the record for the longest-running Broadway musical. Various dates and times. Tickets $54-$114. National Theatre: 1321 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, DC; www.thenationaldc.com

Tuesday, December 10 – Sunday, January 5

Come From Away
A true story of kindness inspired this musical. It started on 9/11 when 38 planes were grounded in Grander, a small town in Canada. The 10,000 residents of Gander welcomed the 7,000 passengers in one of the darkest days in modern history. During the short period of time, the residents and passengers formed a bond made of compassion and kindness. Music enriches the story, and the show will remind you that there is light in the darkest times. Various dates and times. Tickets $49-$169. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts: 2700 F St. NW, DC; www.kennedy-center.org

New York Premiere LATIN HISTORY FOR MORONS Written and performed by John Leguizamo Directed by Tony Taccone In a co-production with Berkeley Repertory Theatre Scenic Design: Rachel Hauck Lighting Design: Alexander V. Nichols Original Music and Sound Design: Bray Poor

Stage & Screen: November 2019

THROUGH SUNDAY, DECEMBER 22

Disney’s Newsies
Seize the day and see Newsies at Arena Stage. The musical, based on the popular Disney film, follows the charismatic Jack Kelly and his fellow newsboys. When newspaper tycoon Joesph Pulitzer decides to raise the price of papers, Jack and the newsies decide to go on strike. Teaming up with enthusiastic reporter Katherine, this ragtag group shows standing up for what you believe in can prove victorious. Various dates and times. Tickets $66-$115. Arena Stage: 1101 Sixth St. SW, DC; www.arenastage.org

THROUGH SUNDAY, JANUARY 5

A Chorus Line
Signature Theatre is known for bringing big, dazzling musicals to the DMV and this production is no exception. A Chorus Line is the story of the talent and passion it takes to make it in the world of professional dancing. Step inside the audition room as 17 hopeful dancers put their dreams on the line through elaborate displays of jazz, ballet and tap. Featuring classics such as “What I Did for Love” and “At the Ballet.” Various dates and times. Tickets start at $66. Signature Theatre: 4200 Campbell Ave. Arlington, VA; www.sigtheatre.org

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 5 – SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 22

Amadeus
How does friendship between two esteemed composers end in murder? In Peter Schaffer’s Amadeus, Antonio Salieri cannot let the young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart outshine him. Because of this internal drive, Salieri’s mission in life becomes ruining Mozart’s career. Now in 1823 Italy, Salieri tells the tale of how he murdered Mozart 32 years prior. Various dates and times. Tickets $27-$85. Folger Shakespeare Library: 201 E. Capitol St. SE, DC; www.folger.edu

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 7 – SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 10

2019 Alexandria Film Festival
The Alexandria Film Festival is back for its 13th year. Come and check out films from both local and regional filmmakers. This four-day fest will feature more than 50 free and ticketed films. Several films will be premiering including Daddio from Alexandria native and Saturday Night Live alum Casey Wilson. A special “veteran’s showcase” will include films such as Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn? Various prices, dates and times. AMC Hoffman Center 22: 206 Swamp Fox Rd. Alexandria, VA and Charles E. Beatley, Jr. Central Library: 5005 Duke St. Alexandria, VA; www.alexfilmfest.com

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 8

The NPR Politics Podcast Live: The Road To 2020
Looking for a fun way to be informed on all thing elections 2020? NPR has you covered. Join their live podcast and gain political insight from Tamara Keith, Scott Detrow, Asma Khalid, Ayesha Rascoe and Domenico Montanaro. This is an opportunity to get an up-close view of the nation’s top political podcast and ask the burning questions you have for the pundits. Doors open at 7 p.m. Podcast at 8 p.m. Tickets $34-$54. Warner Theatre: 513 13th St. NW, DC; www.warnertheatredc.com

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 8 – SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 30

Airness
You don’t need an instrument to be a rock star. For instance, Nina intends to become one by entering an air guitar contest. After meeting a group of nerdy air guitar enthusiasts, she realizes this childish activity may not be as easy as it seems. Does Nina have what it takes to rock the competition? Find out in the 2017 Humana Festival favorite. Various dates and times. Tickets $41-$51. Keegan Theatre: 1742 Church St. NW, DC; www.keegantheatre.com

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 12 – SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 17

Rent
La Vie Bohème! Johnathan Larson’s Rent has been inspiring audiences for 20 years. Don’t miss the opportunity to celebrate one of Broadway’s most beloved musicals. The National Theatre is bringing this story of struggle, loss and “Seasons of Love” to DC. Join Mark, a filmmaker capturing his friends as they navigate life in the late 90s, New York City under the AIDS epidemic. Various dates and times. Tickets start at $54. The National Theatre: 1321 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, DC; www.thenationaldc.com

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 20 – FRIDAY, DECEMBER 22

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Step inside the mind of Christopher John Francis Booth. Christopher is a 15-year-old boy who sees the world in math and puzzles. He might have some “behavior problems” but his brilliant mind is just what’s needed to solve a neighborhood mystery. Playwright Simon Stephens brings the awarding-winning book by Mark Haddon to life with stunning visuals and projections. Various dates and times. Tickets start at $32. Round House Theatre: 4545 East-West Hwy. Bethesda, MD; www.roundhousetheatre.org

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 21 – SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 23

John Leguizamo’s Latin History for Morons
If you’ve noticed the lack of diversity in American history textbooks, you’re not alone. If you’ve created a one man show about Latin History for morons, you’re probably John Leguizamo. Prepare to get educated in the most entertaining way. This performance was Tony-nominated for Best Play in 2018, Leguizamo will hilariously take you through Latin History all the way from the Mayans to Pitbull. Various Times. Tickets start at $59. The National Theatre: 1321 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, DC; www.thenationaldc.com

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 21 and SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 23

Venus and Adonis at The Corcoran
Opera Lafayette takes opera to the next level. As the only period-instrument opera in America, the orchestra uses old or modern replicas to pay homage to composers from the 17th-19th century. For more than 20 years, Opera Lafayette has been bringing its new take on old compositions to DC, New York and France. For only two performances, they are bringing John Blow’s tale of Roman Gods and mortals, Venus and Adonis, to the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design at George Washington University. Times TBA. Tickets $60-$105. Flagg Building at The Corcoran Gallery of Art: 500 17th St. NW, DC; www.operalafayette.org

Photo: courtesy of James June Schneider

Deep Cuts: New Documentary Delves into DC’s Punk History

You always hear how difficult touring is for bands. I’m not talking about large-scale tour buses rivaling the comforts of first-class flights you read about in Rolling Stone profiles. I’m thinking of the little guy: the DIY band making their first sojourn through the Midwest or a five-piece indie outfit huddled together in a minivan with a shaky air conditioner on an adventure through the South.

Over the past two months, DC filmmaker James June Schneider experienced a similar cross-country trip while showcasing his documentary Punk the Capital: Building a Sound Movement.

Following the film’s world premiere at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center this summer, the documentarian packed up his car with film in tow and drove across the country, hitting spots along the East Coast before venturing through the Midwest to California.

He wrapped up his road tour last month, looping through the Southwest on his way back to the District. In a sense, he mimicked his very subjects by touring art on a shoestring budget. Though he’s not in a band or a traveling musician, his mission to showcase the spirit of DC’s punk scene has taken him on somewhat of a journey.

“A film about DC punk done the way we do it really celebrates an American subculture that is a great chapter in American history,” Schneider says. “One that is still being discovered – an active history. This is a chance to celebrate a thread of American history.”

The film is set to return to the AFI in Silver Spring, Maryland for a three-night screening from November 9-11, including Q&A’s with Schneider, his co-directors Paul Bishow and Sam Lavine, and special guests like the Slickee Boys, Boyd Farrell, Anne Bonafede and others.

“I do think that people will be moved, whether they’re new to DC or grew up here,” he says. “They’ll get where it came from and hopefully be inspired by what’s happened. The great thing about DC punk is when you learn the ideas behind the scenes and the approaches to creativity, it can be applied not only to DC musicians but musicians anywhere.”

The film focuses on the early days of the capital’s punk scene, specifically from 1976 to 1983, and took more than a decade to produce. In the early development stages, the trio archived countless hours of interviews and gathered materials ranging from memorabilia to videos to photos. Combined with Bishow’s already extensive collection, the materials were so plentiful in volume that the team decided to narrow its focus to DC punk’s humble beginnings.

“It’s definitely an origin story,” he says. “As we were making the film, we discovered that there was a real need to investigate the earlier time period. It hadn’t been discussed in any great degree, the pre-hardcore scene. The history means a lot to a lot of people – not just in DC, but to people around the world.”

For a local like Schneider, the subject matter of the genre’s historic rise in the late 70s and early 80s hits extremely close to home. Ever since purchasing a Minor Threat album at 12 years old, the music has served as a soundtrack to his life, helping him remember a community that has remained important to him through adulthood.

“This is the music I grew up with. I had been in a bunch of bands and started making films in the 90s. When I discovered my friend Paul had all this great [footage] from the late 70s, it became evident that we should team up and do a film about it.”

Because of the uncharted territory and mostly forgotten material, Schneider says 95 percent of the people they approached about the film were enthusiastic about participation. Most interviews proved long and fruitful, which made editing the film down to its 88-minute runtime a difficult task. Like any labor of love, the filmmakers logged long hours piecing the documentary together, and watched various cuts several times before finally deeming it ready for public consumption.

“All three of us watched the film every few weeks, usually with other people in Paul’s apartment,” Schneider says. “Those were amazing screenings with hours-long discussions afterwards about the film and the community.”

Whether in their living rooms, at small-scale showings or at the bigger tentpole events like the three coming up at AFI, the resounding impact on viewers has been palpable.

“It is a music scene, so we have to say first and foremost that the music for the size of the scene is amazing,” Schneider continues. “What’s given it more longevity is the ideas behind it. The lyrics are fairly timeless. People weren’t just singing about [President] Reagan and current events. They were singing about their own trials and tribulations.”

The sentiment behind punk music will forever remain relevant to DC’s larger culture, as much as go-go and any other musical genre thrown into the mix. With the federal government sitting on most corners of the city, there will always be a need to protest – and no music has a reputation for antagonizing Big Brother quite like DC punk.

“It’s definitely continuing to this day,” Schneider adds. “There are a lot of great bands that have carried on from back then, and even musicians from back then that are playing today. It’s continued, but it’s transformed. Other people are just continuing to make music great music like they’ve been doing for 40 years.”

Don’t miss screenings of Punk the Capital from November 9-11 at AFI Silver. Showtimes and tickets are available at http://silver.afi.com. Learn more about the documentary at www.dcpunkrockdoc.info.

AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center: 8633 Colesville Rd. Silver Spring, MD; 301-495-6700; http://silver.afi.com

Photo: Scott Suchman

Ford’s Theater Brings August Wilson’s Masterpiece to Life with Fences

By the end of Fences, August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece now playing at Ford’s Theatre, we know a lot about Troy Maxson: his hard-scrabble Southern childhood, his stint in jail, and his time as a star in baseball’s Negro Leagues. We know that he is a liar, a cheater and sometimes, a thief. We know that he is consumed by bitterness and convinced that life didn’t give him a fair shake.

But what we don’t know is whether or not we like him.

Audiences will find him captivating and hang on his every word of this brilliantly penned play. And just like Troy’s wife Rose, whose years of loyalty Troy spits on with one selfish act, or Troy’s son Cory, whose life Troy derails before it has really started, it’s easy to be drawn into Troy’s orbit, despite its ruinous impact.

Troy Maxson is one of American theater’s great tragic heroes. The success of any production of Fences hinges on finding the right actor to tell the story of this former baseball star who now scrapes by as a sanitation worker in segregated 1950s Pittsburgh. In Ford’s production, Craig Wallace proves himself the ideal performer to fit the role.

As Troy, Wallace portrays a complicated man who holds us spellbound for the nearly three hours he is onstage, entrancing us with every story and monologue. This performance is a crowning achievement in Wallace’s already long and successful career.

Wallace is joined onstage by six other consummate actors as Troy’s friends and family. With director Timothy Douglas (who has directed nine out of the ten plays in August Wilson’s Century Cycle, documenting African American life in each decade of the 20th century), they breathe glorious life into what is some of the most beautiful and natural dialogue ever written by an American playwright.

Erika Rose shines as Rose Maxson, Troy’s wife of 18 years, who grows throughout the play, eventually becoming a hero in her own right. Rose conveys a simmering intensity; when confronted with the truth of her husband’s betrayal, she gives her own share of masterful monologues that are a joy to watch.

Justin Weeks burns as Troy’s youngest son Cory, who grows from frustrated teen to responsible adult before our very eyes. Doug Brown (as Jim Bono), KenYatta Rogers (as Lyons Maxson), Jefferson A. Russell (as Gabriel Maxson), and the two young girls who alternate the role of Raynell Maxson (Janiyah Lucas and Mecca Rogers) all contribute to the production’s success.

Part of the joy – and the sorrow – of Fences lies in watching these characters interact with Troy, at first merely satellites, trapped in his orbit but eventually, finding the strength to launch out on their own, as they retreat from the corrosive effects of his self-destruction and forge their own destinies.

If you haven’t seen Fences before, this production is a great introduction to the genius of Wilson. If you are a seasoned Wilson vet, you will find that Ford’s iteration successfully taps into the pure beauty of Wilson’s work. Through Douglas’s direction, Wilson’s dialogue is so natural, so endearing, his characters so consistently fleshed out, that you immediately feel a kinship with the characters onstage.

Though his character’s lives may be drastically different than yours (and in my case, they are), Wilson’s genius lies in his ability to tap into the universal humanity in us all. The fact that he did so through the lens of African American life that had – until his arrival – been deplorably absent from American stages, makes his accomplishments as a playwright one of the most important in the history of American theater.

Lauren Helpern’s scenic design features a two-story projection of 1950s Hill District Pittsburgh that feels almost too dilapidated and dystopian but, set against the cozy brownstone in which the Maxsons live, clearly drives home the point that Rose – and Troy – worked painstakingly over many years to forge a comfortable home. The soft touches of a flowered curtain poking out of the kitchen window or the shadow of a lone tree falling on the brick rowhouse (lighting by Andrew R. Cissna) hint at Rose’s grit and dedication to her family.

And then, of course, there’s the fence. Troy has been building it throughout the show at Rose’s request. “Some people build fences to keep people out, other people build fences to keep people in,” Troy’s friend Bono tells him near the end of the play.

And that’s one of the great gifts that Ford’s Theatre’s production of Fences offers audiences: The opportunity to reflect on how we, as individuals, react to adversity.

We don’t need to like Troy Maxson, but witnessing his story allows us to ponder his choices and the choices we all face as humans.

August Wilson’s Fences runs at Ford’s Theatre through October 27. Various dates, times and prices. Run time is three hours including one fifteen-minute intermission.

Ford’s Theatre: 511 10th St. NW, DC; 202-347-4833; www.fords.org

Photo: Tony Powell

Everybody Promotes Inclusivity + Explores the Impermanence of the Human Condition

What would it look like to put our baggage onstage, in the role of Stuff? Or our regrets, in the role of All the Shitty Things One Has Ever Done in Their Life? Playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins puts these weighty emotions into physical form along with the elements of Time and Love and Death, among others, in Everybody. The production comes to Shakespeare Theatre Company (STC)’s Lansburgh Theatre from October 15 to November 17 under the direction of Will Davis in the most original of ways. Each night, six of the nine roles will be assigned to actors onstage as part of a bingo-style lottery. At the center of this comedy about death is the Hero, picked at random each night to embark on a journey where he or she prepares to die. Heavy in subject matter but light in thematic style, Davis walked me through what drew him to this play, why it’s so important to connect with audiences and how diversity in casting is multifaceted.

On Tap: How does it feel to be directing the first production of the season at STC, as well as the first production under new artistic director Simon Godwin’s leadership?
Will Davis: It’s such a privilege, honestly. It means a lot to me to be entrusted with Simon’s first season opener and I have really enjoyed the time that I’ve had to speak with him so far. He’s so obviously a leader and a director who’s interested in creating space for other artists, which I think is the number one thing you want in an artistic leader.

OT: Have you ever directed anything like Everybody before where a different role is assigned to a small cast of actors onstage each night?
WD: I’ve never directed anything that has this particular lottery concept in it but I have definitely made it a focal point [to direct pieces that are] really ambitious for the theatre to accomplish. [One] of the things I’m looking for in a play is some element of the impossible involved. In this case, [the] little piece of impossibility is there’s actually no way for me to rehearse each actor doing every possible combination of roles that they could perform. [I have to] think about, “How do I rehearse this? How do I create the right container for this play to really succeed knowing that to a certain extent, chance is built into the concept of the play?”

OT: What was your role in the casting process? How important was it to cast a diverse range of actors for this production?
WD: I’m definitely interested in making sure that the cast is racially diverse and also that the gender presentation of the folks cast is diverse as well. I’m a trans person so part of what is exciting for me is giving audiences an opportunity to think about gender parity a little bit bigger than this binary idea of men and women. [Instead], to think about gender being a more holistic thing [and] far more about the gray areas than one thing or another. The other thing I think about when casting is age. This play has a really beautifully open casting template. You’re looking for someone who is going to play Time and Love and Death and God. Just saying, “Which person’s energy best feels like it represents the concept of love?” leaves it far more open. It’s a far more exciting casting process.

OT: What feelings do you hope to evoke from the audience?
WD: What I’ve been trying to say is, there’s a dark comedy irony to it that I think leaves you feeling a sense of comradery. The audience should have a real sense of kinship with everyone else who’s in the theater with them on that given night and of course, one of the reasons they have that feeling is because the show they see will be unique. No one else who sees the show the day before or the day after will see the same show. It’s such a smart, smart thing that the playwright’s done in writing this play that’s a meditation on impermanence and humanity, [and] every night that an audience comes to see it will be its own impermanent moment.

OT: In the time I’ve been covering local theatre, STC has done a fantastic job not only of being inclusive and diverse in its casting but also in expanding the identity of gender and exploring those gray areas you mentioned earlier.
WD: I love that you say that. The thing that occurs to me is the exploration of that gray area or areas. Every single one of us lives there. There isn’t actually any person that you or I know that is definitively male or definitively female. We’re all a loose collection of traits and identities that makes sense to us. I think the more we see that onstage, the more we [can] embrace that in ourselves and our families and our children. And the other thing about Shakespeare that I always find so funny is when I read Shakespeare, all I can think to myself is, “My God, this material is so punk rock.” There’s so much space inside of Shakespeare for an openness about people’s humanity and I think it’s a great place for us to be able to show each other that. It’s a space where a lot of the conversations we’re having as a culture can really be explored and cherished.

OT: What makes Everybody relatable to millennial audiences?
WD: The way the playwright writes is that he takes things that feel old, discarded or not relevant and pulls them through a modern framework and creates this whole other world. He, in his own way, is a really punk rock writer. I also think speaking from my part of the circle, I’m trying to create an experience that will be really deeply affecting but also have a festival atmosphere. The whole design of the play is based around balloons. There’s a dance break in the middle of the show where the full cast is going to be performing with some very, very large balloon sculptures. I spend a lot of time thinking about, “What are the ways to tie these larger theatrical gestures to something that feels really meaningful and emotional?” I think that’s what we need to do onstage is really pay attention to the fact that it’s a live form and people who show up as an audience need to be respected and cherished for the fact that they are alive and in the room.

Experience a completely unique performance of  Everybody between October 15 to November 17 at STC’s Lansburgh Theatre. Young Prose Night is Friday, October 18 at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $49. Learn more at www.shakespearetheatre.org.

Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Lansburgh Theatre: 450 7th St. NW, DC 202-547-1122; www.shakespearetheatre.org

Photo: Aliviah Jones

Thriving in Chaos: Music Director Walter “Bobby” McCoy

As we sat over a cup of coffee, 25-year-old Walter “Bobby” McCoy spoke to me in a way only someone who has been in the theatre world for 10 years can: vividly and with gusto. The Helen Hayes Award-winning music director’s smile reached up to his eyes with every story he shared with me about his experiences. McCoy, who hails from Falls Church, Virginia and now resides in nearby Manassas, commutes to Shirlington’s Signature Theatre, Dupont Circle’s Keegan Theatre and the DMV’s Levine School of Music for various projects. He’s currently juggling music direction for Keegan’s Legally Blonde from August 3 to September 1 while working at several theatre camps with students of all ages.

Not everyone can say that they thrive in chaos – some may even find it overwhelming. But when you are in the theatre world, it is often your life. McCoy fits into this chaos in his own way: starting off as a piano accompanist for his high school chorus at 14, he was able to pick up the scores easily. This ultimately led him to be on the other side, directing kids and adults alike and garnering attention from the professional theatre community with three Helen Hayes Award nominations by his early 20s. I picked McCoy’s brain on a recent July day about his foray into DC’s theatre scene.

On Tap: Tell me how you first got started with music growing up.
Bobby McCoy: I think my first experience was in my general music class in elementary school. I was really attracted to accompanying singers and watching the interaction between my music teacher and the accompanist. I loved being a part of that and seeing how she would work with people.

OT: Where did your passion for music come from?
BM: My passion started when I started taking chorus class in seventh grade. I had just started playing the piano. I was fascinated with the accompanist, [the idea of] someone playing with a whole group of people. [That was] the bug that bit me. Eventually, this led to me playing full concerts as an eighth grader.

OT: What brought you into the theatre world as a musician?
BM: I took a leap. I saw that Marshall High School was doing Company, so I signed up. Eventually, I was an assistant music director. I was very green. After that, I did Chicago, and then that summer I saw that the Little Theatre [of Alexandria] was doing Company and I went in [and got the job of rehearsal pianist at 15]. It has been sort of nonstop since that moment.

OT: Why did you want to pursue GALA Hispanic Theatre’s In the Heights as a music director? What about the storyline stood out to you?
BM: I grew up in a Hispanic family, and a lot of the things that they go through and the cultural aspect of the show was really appealing. The music was something that reminded me of the authentic culture I grew up with as opposed to the stereotypical Latin number that you would see in a show like Chicago, for example.

OT: How did you feel when you were nominated for three Helen Hayes Awards and won for In the Heights at only 23?
BM: It was really weird. I was happy I won but I was nominated for three shows, so I was sort of like, “Which one am I rooting for?” I did a lot of work for Heights. It was my first time going out of town for a show. I was proud of that show and happy that it got the recognition.

OT: Why did you choose Levine School of Music’s Performance Institute as an institution to work as a music director?
BM: I’ve been on the faculty here for three years. I like inspiring young kids to find their voice. There are a lot of times when people don’t have artistic opportunities, and I love being able to help people become better artists.

OT: How would you describe your directing style?
BM: Collaborative. I like seeing what people bring to the roles, but I am also particular about the way I teach things. I know a lot of people who will teach a number and then clean it [up] after, but I do the opposite. Breathing and dynamics are from the get-go for me – if it gets lost to technique, it won’t happen.

OT: What has been your favorite show to direct? What would be a dream production for you?
BM: Legally Blonde. I’ve done it three times – it’s my first professional production [and] definitely a different caliber of performers. Dream productions: Sweeney Todd with a full orchestra and Sunday in the Park with George. Both are [Stephen] Sondheim musicals and I love all of his works.

To catch McCoy’s work in action, be sure to check out Legally Blonde at Keegan Theatre from August 3 to September 1. Various times. Tickets are $62.

Keegan Theatre: 1742 Church St. NW, DC; 202-265-3767; www.keegantheatre.com

Small Mouth Sounds at Roundhouse Theatre

Stage and Screen: August 2019

THROUGH SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 7

Aladdin
We all remember seeing Disney’s iconic animated film Aladdin as 90s kids. With a recent adaptation of the film, this is the best time for the hit Broadway musical to make its way to the Kennedy Center. From the producer of Broadway’s The Lion King comes the timeless story of Aladdin, a thrilling new production filled with unforgettable beauty, magic, comedy and breathtaking spectacle. It’s an extraordinary theatrical event where one lamp and three wishes make the possibilities infinite. Various times. Tickets start at $39. John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts: 2700 F St. NW, DC; www.kennedy-center.org

TUESDAYS THROUGH SEPTEMBER 24

Harold Night
Harold Night is Washington Improv Theater’s weekly homage to the world-famous long-form improv performance known as Harold. The show begins with suggestions from the audience, and the players create what the audience is imagining right before their eyes. The night ends in a free jam where the audience is invited to try improv side by side with the actors and performers – no experience necessary. Seating is first-come, first-serve so it would be best to get there on the earlier side. Pay what you choose. Show starts at 8 p.m. The Source: 1835 14th St. NW, DC; www.witc.org

MONDAY, AUGUST 5 and MONDAY, AUGUST 19

Comedy, Magic & Martinis
Mix and mingle with your fellow speakeasy-goers at the Mansion on O’s magical event. Instead of a stage and curtains, this will be closeup magic and it’s sure to shock and surprise you every step of the way. The speakeasy will be a bit hidden, so you may have to do a bit of sleuthing to find the six famous Houdini clocks. You’ll also be able to enjoy themed rooms and exhibits as well as $10 martinis. Doors at 5 p.m. Show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $50. The Mansion on O: 2020 O St. NW, DC; www.omansion.com

THURSDAY, AUGUST 15 – SATURDAY, AUGUST 17

DC Black Film Festival
The Miracle Theatre and Mayflower Hotel present this festival featuring notable films like Solace, Oklahoma is Black and Murder in Mobile, as well as web series and television content by and about people of African descent. Visit the website for more information about the 2019 festival showcase, including a full schedule of events. Various times. Tickets start at $15. The Miracle Theatre: 535 8th St. SE, DC; www.dcbff.org

SUNDAY, AUGUST 18

Signature Theatre Open House
To start off its 30th season with a bang, Signature Theatre will be hosting its annual open house in mid-August. Starting at noon, you’ll be able to enjoy performances every 15 minutes as well as master classes, family cabarets, games, crafts and much more. One new addition this year: you’ll be able to enter a lottery to win free tickets to the theatre’s production of Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins. The event runs from 12-7 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Signature Theatre: 4200 Campbell Ave. Arlington, VA; www.sigtheatre.org

THURSDAY, AUGUST 22

Brian Parise
After being nominated for an Emmy for his writing on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Brian Parise is back to provide many laughs and standup for audiences of all ages to enjoy. Parise got his start in the DC comedy scene and quickly became a rising star before moving on to host a monthly comedy show in Brooklyn. Doors at 6:30 p.m. Show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15. The Comedy Loft of DC: 1523 22nd St. NW, DC; www.dccomedyloft.com

MONDAY, AUGUST 26

Spotlight Berlin
The Goethe-Institut Washington is partnering with Scena Theatre to present a series of workshops featuring selections of the latest and greatest plays to appear on the Berlin stage. This reading features Look Who’s Back, a play adapted from the novel – both of which were written by Timur Vermes. This will be the last reading of the series, so don’t miss it. Show starts at 6:30 p.m. Tickets free with registration. Goethe-Institut Washington: 1990 K St. NW, DC; www.goethe.de

THURSDAY, AUGUST 29 – MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 23

Small Mouth Sounds
To start off Roundhouse Theatre’s 41st season, Small Mouth Sounds focuses on six people who find themselves on a weeklong silent retreat in the woods. As they move through the week together, they begin to realize that being able to look “inward” is much more difficult when you are trying to get to know those around you first. Artist Director Ryan Rilette has created a show where the audience will find “equal parts humor and tenderness.” Various times. Pay what you can. Roundhouse Theatre: 4545 East-West Hwy. Bethesda, MD; www.roundhousetheatre.org

Signature Theatre's Blackbeard

Stage and Screen: Jubilee, Blackbeard, Twisted Melodies and More

THROUGH SUNDAY, JUNE 9

Jubilee
For centuries, the Fisk Jubilee Singers broke racial barriers internationally by entertaining kings and queens across the world. The acapella group first established themselves as entertainers at Fisk University in Nashville and used their collective musical talent to raise money for college. Tazewell Thompson’s Jubilee brings creativity and emotionally provoking music to the stage by highlighting themes of suffering, strength and endurance. Various dates and times. Tickets $92-$115. Arena Stage: 1101 6th St. SW, DC; www.arenastage.org

TUESDAY, JUNE 4 – SUNDAY, JUNE 7

Hello, Dolly!
Broadway legend Betty Buckley stars in Hello, Dolly! at the Kennedy Center this month. Acclaimed as “the best show of the year” by NPR, the musical takes audiences back to 1955 and follows the story of the matchmaker as she travels to Yonkers, New York to find a match for the half-a-millionaire Horace Vandergelder, played by Lewis J. Stadlen. Various dates and times. Tickets $49-$159. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts: 2700 F St. NW, DC; www.kennedy-center.org

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 5 – SUNDAY, JUNE 30

A Doll’s House, Part 2
Nicole A. Watson’s A Doll’s House, Part 1 ends with protagonist Norma Helma leaving her husband Torvald by the slam of a door. The follow-up production to this feminist battle cry opens with Helma knocking on that same door in search of closure, but she’s ultimately surprised by the reactions from those she left behind. Various dates and times. Tickets $55-$70. Round House Theatre: 4545 East-West Hwy. Bethesda, MD; www.roundhousetheatre.org

THURSDAY, JUNE 13

Kennedy Center x Frank Brown and DC Millennials with
Port City Brewing Co.
June 3 marks the first Records on the Rooftop event, the Kennedy Center’s free summer happy hour series offered in partnership with local and national partners who curate each event. The rooftop will transform into a modern lounge space with an eclectic lineup of live music featured throughout the series. Three of DC’s top DJs will set the scene mixing summery, feel-good hits atop one of the District’s most unique rooftops with brews from Port City Brewing Co. 5-8 p.m. Free to attend. Kennedy Center Rooftop Terrace: 2700 F. St. NW, DC www.kennedy-center.org

TUESDAY, JUNE 18 – SUNDAY, JULY 14

Blackbeard
Blackbeard takes a look at English pirate Edward Thatch, who navigated by ship through the West Indies and North American colonies. The production staged entirely on a pirate ship begins with Blackbeard learning he’s a wanted man by the British army. But perhaps Signature Theatre’s website sums up the new production best: “Blackbeard and his crew of maritime marauders embark on a fantastical journey across the globe to raise an undead pirate army from the depths of the sea.” Various dates and times. $40-$84. Signature Theatre: 4200 Campbell Ave. Arlington, VA; www.sigtheatre.org

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 19 – SUNDAY, JULY 21

Twisted Melodies
This immersive one-man show performed by Kelvin Roston, Jr. takes a look at the life of 70s soul singer and composer Donny Hathaway, best known for his duets with Roberta Flack like “The Closer I Get To You.” Twisted Melodies provides a glimpse into the musician’s last days, his inner struggle with mental illness and the muses that inspired him. Various dates and times. Tickets $20-$68. Atlas Performing Arts Center: 1333 H St. NE, DC; www.atlasarts.org

SATURDAY, JUNE 22 – SUNDAY, JUNE 23

A Sense of Wonder
A Sense of Wonder by Dance Exchange brings a creative performance that innovatively brings science and dance together on the Dance Place stage. As always, Dance Exchange is meant to inspire change and connect people of all ages to the questions that often provoke the medium of dance and its many beautiful performances. Starts at 8 p.m. on Saturday and 7 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets $15-$25. Dance Place: 3225 8th St. NE, DC; www.danceplace.org

Arena Stage’s “Jubilee” Provides Musical Portrait of HBCUs

Jubilee, showing at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, takes a necessary step to illustrate the importance of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, also known as HBCUs. Written and directed by Tazewell Thompson, a transcendent experience is facilitated with the help of choral singing, witty dialogue and a cast worthy of praise.

Quite like most uplifting minority stories not considered for mass population, Jubilee centers around a narrative, though familiar to few, resonates with the masses. Thompson’s original piece, inspired by a public television documentary, tells of the plight of a courageous group of college students – some teenagers – who advocated for what was considered a trivial, lofty pursuit back in the mid-1800s.

Thompson’s eye-opening portrayal carefully leads theatregoers down a road of resiliency, where thirteen hopefuls endure the wrath of the south.

In 1871, Fisk University, overcome with financial hardships and on the verge of foreclosure, organized an a cappella group to fundraise for the institution. Hoping to fundraise their education, which they designated as their opportunity for survival, the group encountered all that could be imagined while traveling the Bible Belt, post American Civil War.

Most of Thompson’s theatrical ideation leans on the traditional spirituals sung throughout the Underground Railroad. Selections include “Swing Low Sweet Chariot,” “There’s a Balm in Gilead,” “Come Down Moses” and the list goes on.

Each of these historical songs, still sung in churches today, encouraged and carried these idealistic yet realistic youth through extreme hardships that were synonymous with bigotry.

Thompson takes this surreal tale and imbeds humor to keep the inspirational a cappella tribute in fact inspirational. You will have the opportunity to deeply bond with these heroes, as they share the truth behind being part of the African Diaspora. The tale recounts childhood, love formed, painful memories that are beautifully expressed in song and spoken word throughout the performance.

Be prepared to be mesmerized by the varying genres of music naturally harmonized onstage. Each cast member has the responsibility of being pitch perfect, and they all rise to the occasion. The surprising part about the vocal talents for this performance was the four roles played by understudies. I can only imagine the heartfelt soul shaking vibrato that would have lifted us further from our seat, if those primarily cast had been in attendance.

Again, each singer is able to carry their own, and they were undeniably put to the test as each were presented with opportune solos. Thompson, evidently, has a knack for pairing singers and selections. While the vocals varied and tunes were broad, the curation was heavenly. The diversity of complexions (organically referenced in throughout the play) paralleled the diversity in tone, makes this spectacle a true sight to see.

Viewers who enjoy opera styled sopranos will feel at home. Those who favor raspy jazz riffs will be most delighted. Those craving soft melodies will croon. And those desiring a deep full bass will fall out of their seats. It was a dream come alive.

Jubilee runs at Arena Stage’s Mead Center for American Theater through June 9th. Various times and ticket prices. For more information, visit
www.arenastage.org/tickets/season-landing/jubilee/.

Arena Stage: 1101 6th St. SW, DC; 202-554-9066; www.arenastage.org

Stage and Screen: September 2018

Through Sunday, September 23

Small Mouth Sounds
Six people sit in silence, escaping city noises and distractions in favor of necessary self-reflection. Cell phones? Not allowed. But then again, the retreat is led by a guru who can’t quite stick to the rules. Small Mouth Sounds serves as an adult edition of The Breakfast Club with a minimal set and sound. As you put your phone on silent and immerse yourself in the story, you might be surprised by your own self-reflection. Tickets are $51-$60. Round House Theatre: 4545 East-West Hwy. Bethesda, MD; www.roundhousetheatre.org

Monday, September 3 – Sunday, September 30

Gloria
As a journalist, writing about the lives of others becomes second nature. But when tragedy strikes a New York-based magazine, who gets to tell the story? After stories from iconic newsrooms have hit the big screen (Spotlight, The Post), Gloria acts out a contemporary journalism story – especially in light of the recent horror faced by staffers at the Capital Gazette. Tickets are $20-$41. Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company: 641 D St. NW, DC; www.woollymammoth.net

Tuesday, September 4 – Sunday, September 23

Macbeth
Step away from the toil and trouble of daily life and get into the spooky season with this adaptation of Macbeth. Witches promise him a future of riches and royalty, but Macbeth is too hungry to wait. A hero turns into a murderer, and the psychological aftermath spirals him and others involved into madness. Under director Robert Richmond, the timeless tale takes on a more modern life with some newly added scenes. Folger’s production features music performed by the Folger Consort, and is adapted and amended by Sir William Davenant. Adapted or not, one lesson remains the same: don’t trust a witch. Tickets are $42-$79. Folger Theatre: 201 E. Capitol St. SE, DC; www.folger.edu

Thursday, September 6 – Sunday, September 16

DC Shorts Film Festival
Experience 10 days of film with more than 130 movie options at the 2018 DC Shorts Film Festival. These indie films from around the world are also competing for titles like Best Local DMV Film, Best Animation and Best International Narrative. You’ll watch up to nine films in each 90-minute screening session, so attending just one or two sessions will expose you to many new perspectives from talented filmmakers. After watching, mingle with fellow film buffs at the various festival parties with cocktails, food and music included. Tickets prices vary. DC Shorts Film Festival: Various locations around DC; www.festival.dcshorts.com

Friday, September 7

On the Other Side of Freedom: The Case for Hope Discussion
Politics and Prose hosts a conversation removed from the Twittersphere on politics, culture and the Black Lives Matter movement with activist DeRay Mckesson. He was there at a pivotal moment for modern day civil rights – 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri – and now all of his experiences are bound in his new book On the Other Side of Freedom: The Case for Hope. The book “offers a new framework and language for understanding the nature of oppression,” according to its summary. Share in the discussion or come to learn. Each event on Mckesson’s tour will feature a special guest. Tickets are $10 for students, $26-$28 for non-students. Book included in ticket price. GW’s Lisner Auditorium: 730 21st St. NW, DC; www.politics-prose.com

Saturday, September 15

Kevin Hart: The Irresponsible Tour
Work hard, laugh hard. Except Kevin Hart’s the one working to make you laugh. The actor and comedian is stopping in DC for The Irresponsible Tour with all-new material. Twitter users have applauded the show online, saying the show’s worth every dollar. Hart also has a new movie with Tiffany Haddish out this month, Night School, making you wonder if he ran his jokes with her and was influenced by a fellow comedic genius. Despite his stature – the punchline to many jokes – Hart is only getting bigger in the comedy world. Tickets are $34 and up. Capital One Arena: 601 F St. NW, DC; www.kevinhartnation.com

Tuesday, September 18 – Sunday, November 11

Heisenberg
When 75-year-old Alex gets a surprise smooch from a comparatively younger stranger named Georgie, it’s not exactly what he expected when boarding the train on this average day. Even less expected was her finding him at his butcher shop sometime after the encounter. Georgie is confusing. Alex is confused. And so is the audience – left in suspense as the play’s runtime begins to unravel her true intentions. This unlikely duo with romantic relations is just another experiment conducted by Tony Award-winning playwright Simon Stephens. He’s just letting the audience in on his conclusive results. Tickets are $40-$89. Signature Theatre: 4200 Campbell Ave. Arlington, VA; www.sigtheatre.org

Friday, September 21 – Sunday, October 21

Born Yesterday
For DC natives, Born Yesterday may seem like an all-too-familiar story about gaining political power in the hub of the power hungry. But this satire set in the 1940s is more of a comedic retreat from the current stressful affairs, and the winnings don’t go to a who but to a what: the truth. Ford’s Theatre calls this production directed by Aaron Posner “political satire meets romantic comedy,” but all good stories are grounded in reality. Watch this for an entertaining mashup of unlikely allies and girl power to fight corruption. Tickets are $20-$62. Ford’s Theatre: 511 10th St. NW, DC; www.fords.org

Wednesday, September 26

Welcome to Night Vale Live Show
First-time visitors and regular listeners of the Night Vale podcast have a chance to experience a brand-new storyline with a live show tour. The alternate reality podcast production “promises to find unexpected ways to bring the audience into the performance,” according to the Welcome to Night Vale site. Live music by Disparition and special surprise guests will get you totally immersed in the mystery and spooky wonders of the small desert town brought to the Lincoln Theatre stage. In Night Vale, anything can happen. Prepare by tuning in to past episodes online. Tickets are $35. Lincoln Theatre: 1215 U St. NW, DC; www.thelincolndc.com