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Monday, January 30, 2017

Free jazz concert, Feb. 1, St. John's, Lafayette Square


Jazz singer Sara Jones

Did someone say Billie Holiday?   

Jazz singer Sara Jones, the winner of a Billie Holiday competition, will present a free lunchtime concert at St. John's Episcopal Church on Lafayette Square Wednesday to sing the greats of Cole Porter and George Gershwin, among other composers.

Accompanying her for Winter Escape will be Steve Heberman on the guitar and Paul Langosch, bass.

St. John's quotes Ms. Jones describing the concert as "jazz standards and Brazilian bossa novas that will keep you warm during this wintry and blustery season.  With songs lovingly curated from the Great American Songbook, we will explore songs about love of travel, love of warmth, and love of life!"  

A prelude to Valentine's Day!

The concert is one of St. John's First Wednesday Concert series, presented without charge.
 
St. John's Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square, Washington, DC/Photo by Patricia Leslie

St. John's was founded in 1815 and is known to Washington residents as the yellow church at Lafayette Square. It's often called the “Church of the Presidents” since beginning with James Madison who was president from 1809 to 1817, every president has attended services at the church. A plaque at the rear of St. John's designates the pew where President Abraham Lincoln often sat when he stopped by the church during the Civil War.  

Benjamin Latrobe, the architect of the U.S. Capitol Building, designed St. John's Church in the form of a Greek cross.  

The church bell, weighing almost 1,000 pounds, was cast by Paul Revere's son, Joseph, in August, 1822, and hung at St. John's that November where it has rung ever since. Wikipedia says two accounts report that whenever the bell rings on the occasion of the death of a notable person, six male ghosts appear at the president's pew at midnight and quickly disappear.  (Who are the six?)

Following tradition, President Donald J. Trump and his family began his presidency on the morning of January 20, 2017 with private services at St. John's.

For those on lunch break Wednesday, food trucks are located at Farragut Square, two blocks away.

 

A concert not to miss! 

Who: Jazz vocalist Sara Jones

What:
First Wednesday Concerts

When: 12:10 p.m., February 1, 2017

Where:
St. John’s, Lafayette Square, 1525 H Street, NW, at the corner of 16th, Washington, D.C. 20005

How much: No charge

Duration: About 35 minutes

Wheelchair accessible

Metro stations: McPherson Square (White House exit), Farragut North, or Farragut West

For more information: Contact Michael Lodico, St. John's director of music ministry and organist, 202-270-6265 or
Michael.Lodico@stjohns-dc.org
 

Other dates and artists of the First Wednesday Concert Series are:
 

(The first Wednesday in March is Ash Wednesday.)

April 5: Soloists from St. John's Choir will sing.

May 3: Thomas Smith, the director of music at Christ Church, Georgetown, will play A Journey to Merrie Olde England - A Recital of English Organ Music.

June 7: Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 will be played by the U.S. Air Force Strings with trumpeter Mary Bowden.


patricialesli@gmail.com






Sunday, January 29, 2017

The 2017 Presidential Inauguration and Parade


 
The Pride of the Southland Band from the University of Tennessee at the West Building, National Gallery of Art, Inaugural Parade, Jan. 20, 2017/Photo by Patricia Leslie


 The U.S. Capitol, Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2017/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Dear All, yes, I know I'm a week+ late, but "better late than never," and here are some photos of the big event last week in Washington, D.C., the inauguration of Donald J. Trump on Jan. 20, 2017.  Above, sharp shooters are stationed high  over the speakers and members of Congress, former presidents, wives, members of the U.S. Supreme Court, and many others seated below.
Approaching the U.S. Capitol, Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2017/Photo by Patricia Leslie 

We had orange standing room tickets and had no problems entering the U.S. Capitol grounds, saw short or no lines, and far fewer people than at either of Barack Obama's inaugurations when I had a seat at both events (courtesy of a lobbyist).

Law enforcement at the Capitol was not too gruff, unlike the strict ones a few hours later who examined everything (taking apart my compact!) for parade admittance at the Frances Perkins Building, U.S. Department of Labor.
The U.S. Capitol grounds, Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2017/Photo by Patricia Leslie 

Early in the morning, entering the orange standing room side.  The picture captures the gray and gloomy day.  At least, it wasn't too cold, and the wind was absent.  Yes, a few drizzles of rain, but nothing like the forecasts predicted.
The U.S. Capitol grounds, Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2017/Photo by Patricia Leslie 

Since I had virtually no Northern Virginia friends going to the inauguration (an indication of the local lack of interest), my out-of-town family and I decided to take a chance and try and find a parking spot at the East Falls Church Metro station (normally packed on weekdays).  Voila!  Plenty available at 7:15 a.m., and the Metro was far less crowded than on a typical work day.

We arrived at the Capitol a little after 8:15 a.m. (plenty of police at the Metro stations) and stood in one spot a total of four hours since the swearing-in began at 11:30 a.m. and lasted about an hour.  If you left your group to go to the portable john (toilet paper in good supply all day, another indicator of smaller crowds v. 2009 and 2013), it was extremely difficult to find your friends later. We stood behind the big wall where Number One Guests (Congress, et al.) sat.  Not a great spot for viewing pleasure. (Please see below.)
The U.S. Capitol, Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2017/Photo by Patricia Leslie

 My children refused to move from our original spot so we could have a better view of the big screen without tree branches. A mother always listens to and obeys her children.
The U.S. Capitol, Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2017/Photo by Patricia Leslie

 I haven't read this anywhere else, but I think President Trump neglected to mention President and Mrs. Jimmy Carter when Mr. Trump recognized former presidents in Trump's introductory remarks. 

Previous to the omission, thousands of Republicans at the Capitol warmly greeted the Carters when they descended the steps to the platform, and the crowd was almost as welcoming to the Obamas when they emerged from the Congressional shelter at the top of the steps.

The reception for Bill and Hillary Clinton was not unexpected, one of loud boos and some choruses of "lock her up!"  which rang out every time Hillary's face later appeared on the big screen.

Whether you voted for her or not, you must admire Hillary's bravura, poise, and attendance at the inauguration and the luncheon afterwards, unlike 60 or so of her Democratic friends in the U.S. Congress who started the Trump presidency on the wrong foot with their announced rejections of the invitations to the inauguration.  How can you negotiate when you don't communicate?

However, at the swearing-in, the loudest boos were reserved for U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y) because he talked so long and began a history lesson.  (Attention:  Inaugural speakers, including preachers and excluding the president: Please consider those standing in the cold and speak no more than 90 seconds!  Thank you.)

Why was Schumer given so long to speak?  Because the opposition party gets on the agenda?  Who chooses or chose him?  Even I, a Democrat, became weary, and after a little while, none, repeat none, of his words could be heard among the thousands booing and screaming for him to sit down.

It seemed like Florida sent most of its Republicans who voted for Trump to the inauguration since throughout the day, about 75% of the folks we talked with came from the Sunshine State. 

One lady, who I believe said she was from Sumter County north of Orlando, told me 89% of registered Republicans in her county turned out to vote!  That's an incredible number.  One of their canvassers was a 99-year-old woman on a walker.  Folks, in 2020, I am certain the Democrats will have that kind of enthusiasm, anger, and energy to boot the Republicans out the door (if we are not under martial law then). It will happen in 2018, too.
From the U.S. Capitol, Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2017/Photo by Patricia Leslie 

The Obamas make their departure in the helicopter above, and some Republicans told me they were sad.  So were we!  Fare thee well! When George Bush's helicopter flew over the Capitol on January 20, 2009, thousands on the ground cheered and applauded his exit. (See a picture here.) 

 
At the U.S. Capitol, Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2017/Photo by Patricia Leslie
 This couple got their way!  (And their men.) 
 
Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2017 near First and C streets, NW/Photo by Patricia Leslie 

After the ceremony ended, we exited on the Constitution Avenue side of the Capitol and headed to Union Station for something to eat before the parade began. Protesters up ahead (someone said they were Jesus protesters) blocked and slowed us down until law enforcement opened a barricade to let we the people out.

For various reasons, we wound up at the Alibi restaurant where a 20% tip was automatically added to the entire bill with tax.  Questions:  Is this because we were a party of three?  It was a special day?  We had no Alibi?  I try to avoid eating in the District for tricky reasons like this!
On Constitution Avenue in front of the Frances Perkins Building, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W.,  Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2017/Photo by Patricia Leslie 

We stood in front of the Frances Perkins Labor Building (only three barricades between us and the parade participants) to watch the parade where these young fellows on the fence line were overtaken by sleep. See the progression of the little one on the left in the photos below.
On Constitution Avenue in front of the Frances Perkins Building, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W.,  Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2017/Photo by Patricia Leslie

On Constitution Avenue in front of the Frances Perkins Building, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W.,  Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2017/Photo by Patricia Leslie
On Constitution Avenue in front of the Frances Perkins Building, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W.,  Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2017/Photo by Patricia Leslie
At last the parade began with military leading the way.
On Constitution Avenue in front of the Frances Perkins Building, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W.,  Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2017/Photo by Patricia Leslie
On Constitution Avenue in front of the Frances Perkins Building, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W.,  Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2017/Photo by Patricia Leslie
On Constitution Avenue in front of the Frances Perkins Building, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W.,  Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2017/Photo by Patricia Leslie
On Constitution Avenue in front of the Frances Perkins Building, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W.,  Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2017/Photo by Patricia Leslie

These marchers are, I think, members of the U.S. Coast Guard.
On Constitution Avenue in front of the Frances Perkins Building, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W.,  Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2017/Photo by Patricia Leslie


On Constitution Avenue in front of the Frances Perkins Building, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W.,  Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2017/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Minutemen from 1812 came.  Long life!
On Constitution Avenue in front of the Frances Perkins Building, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W.,  Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2017/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Maybe these are minutemen who play the flute.  Flutists from 1812.
On Constitution Avenue in front of the Frances Perkins Building, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W.,  Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2017/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Ahoy, mates!  Photographers on trucks ahead!

On Constitution Avenue in front of the Frances Perkins Building, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W.,  Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2017/Photo by Patricia Leslie

President Trump may be in the back seat with thumb up.
Near the Frances Perkins Building, U..S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W.,  Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2017/Photo by Patricia Leslie 

A patriot from Montana
 
Inauguration Day Parade, Jan. 20, 2017/Photo by Patricia Leslie
 
Proudly marching were the Pipes & Drums of the Emerald Society of the New York City Police Department, comprised of the relatives of the Irish who came to this nation to find a better life. (Hope President Trump doesn't lock out their brothers and sisters who may wish to come over.)
 
Inauguration Day Parade, Jan. 20, 2017/Photo by Patricia Leslie 

The Pipes & Drums of the Emerald Society of the New York City Police Department
 
Inauguration Day Parade, Jan. 20, 2017/Photo by Patricia Leslie 

"Victories for Veterans." I may be able to explain part of those empty bleacher seats.

For Barack Obama's second inauguration, I bought a parade seat ticket ($44), but when I finally got around to the gate (having exited on the Independence Avenue side of the Capitol-mistake!-from the swearing-in, forced by barricades to walk to the Washington Monument and up 18th to reach the parade gate at 14th and F), the Secret Service refused to let me in.  It might have been because the Obamas were near and walking up Pennsylvania Avenue. Ticket holders for parade seats for Trump's inauguration may have also been denied entrance for this reason. 

A Falls Church couple we met on the Metro returning home later that night (2017), said hundreds did not get in or on the Mall grounds for Trump's swearing-in because Security took so long. I do know law enforcement was strict and exacting when checking at the security gates for parade admission.  (BTW, I fought and got back my $44 from the 2013 whatever committee.)
 
Inauguration Day Parade, Jan. 20, 2017/Photo by Patricia Leslie 

West Monroe High School Marching Band, West Monroe, Louisiana in front of the West Building, National Gallery of Art
Inauguration Day Parade, Jan. 20, 2017/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Nassau County Firefighters Pipes and Drums, Long Island, NY
 
Inauguration Day Parade, Jan. 20, 2017/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Nassau County Firefighters Pipes and Drums, Long Island, NY
 
Inauguration Day Parade, Jan. 20, 2017/Photo by Patricia Leslie

The renowned Texas State University Strutters mix it up with a very important fellow (in yellow) at the parade, a pooper scooper.  It was the Strutters' second inaugural parade: Their first was JFK's in 1961.  Those struts must be the secret to their maintaining youth and beauty for they have not aged a day.
 
Inauguration Day Parade, Jan. 20, 2017/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Members of the Marching Tornadoes from Talladega College, Talladega, AL, a college founded in 1867 by two former slaves. Their march in the 2017 Inaugural Parade was not without controversy.
 
Inauguration Day Parade, Jan. 20, 2017/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Members of the Marching Tornadoes from Talladega College, Talladega, AL, high step in front of the West Building, National Gallery of Art.
Inauguration Day Parade, Jan. 20, 2017/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Members of the Marching Tornadoes from Talladega College, Talladega, AL, at the West Building, National Gallery of Art.
Inauguration Day Parade, Jan. 20, 2017/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Boy Scouts of America
Inauguration Day Parade, Jan. 20, 2017/Photo by Patricia Leslie
 Inauguration Day Parade, Jan. 20, 2017/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Families of America's Fallen Heroes, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors
Inauguration Day Parade, Jan. 20, 2017/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Inauguration Day Parade, Jan. 20, 2017/Photo by Patricia Leslie


Inauguration Day Parade, Jan. 20, 2017/Photo by Patricia Leslie 

The Pride of the Southland Band from the University of Tennessee.  Parade watchers joined the music and sang "Rocky Top" when the band marched by.


Inauguration Day Parade, Jan. 20, 2017/Photo by Patricia Leslie 

The Pride of the Southland Band from the University of Tennessee at the West Building, National Gallery of Art.

 Who'll be marching in 2021?

patricialesli@gmail.com

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

'Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike' make great company in Reston


Will MacLeod is Spike in Reston Community Players' Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike/photo by Traci J. Brooks

Some call it a dark comedy. I would label it a grey comedy, not as bleak or black, but a stimulating work which is a terrific beginning to another new year of our lives, where you just might recognize some of the characters on stage,  maybe yourself, in the Reston Community Players' newest production, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.
Suzy Alden, left, is Nina, and Joanne Maylone is Masha in Reston Community Players' Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike/photo by Traci J. Brooks


Familiar themes are included:  young v. old, the passage of time and life, material possessions, the longing for something bigger, better, more.  This is a comedy?

Why don't you get up and do something?  
 
The play opens with middle-aged siblings, Vanya (Andrew JM Regiec) and Sonia (Lee Slivka), sitting at home in their jammies, musing the coming day, whiling away their time, like they do every day, bored, listless, and hungry for something more, something to jolt them from complacency which comes that day and every day in the form of a fight over the silliest of things.  

Of course.  Isn't that the way it always is?

On this particular day (which takes place in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, the home of the playwright, Christopher Durang), more friction arrives in the person of their moneyed sister, a whirlwind actress, Masha (Joanne Maylone) who comes for a visit and announces she may sell the house since she's the one who bought it, she's the one who has paid the bills, paid for their now dead parents' care, and she's the one who has paid for it all! 

Never mind that her reclusive brother and sister live in the house, who cared for their aging parents, who have nowhere to go. 

What's consideration got to do with it? 

Or love? 

Oh, what a shame it all is:  Masha's been married and divorced five times, boo hoo hoo, and Sonia's life has been nothing but a waste.  Cry me a river, but carried on Masha's arm is her latest charm, a 20s something lad, Spike (or Spite) (Will MacLeod) who loves to sport his physical prowess in exaggerated form throughout the show, always a laugh. He strips and prances around in his underwear like a unicorn, to the delight of the male and females on stage (not to mention those in the audience).

Another late entrant to the party is the pretty and dainty Nina (Suzy Alden) whose youth, smile, 
exuberance and failure to recognize diatribes heaved at her, contrast sharply with the aged and emotionally infirm brother and sisters into whose house Spike enthusiastically welcomes Ninabelle. 

Soothsayer and housemaid, Cassandra (Alexa Yarboro) is my very favorite character.  She adds a balanced element to the drained family, with her charm, words of wisdom, and frequent spinner of the future. She is like an infusion of a power drink gulped every so often, whose literary masterpieces flung hither and yon are hilarious. 

Direction by Tel Monks is fabulous. Witness the sparking performances.  Among other things, he skillfully draws out Masha's flamboyance (she has wings) which reminded me of Joan Crawford (probably because I just saw Mommie Dearest on the telly, a true horror show!).  

The single set (by Maggie Modig) is all that is needed to carry the play, and far more than expected of a regional theatre.  From a large, heavily decorated parlor, the characters make their ways to an offsite kitchen, or stairs to bedrooms, or they gaze through binoculars to watch the naked at the pond in the distance.

Lighting by Adam Konowe is expertly crafted from the changing of the day to the car headlights to spotlights on an individual.  

Knowledge of Russian Anton Chekhov's writings is not required, but increased listening pleasure is a surety for those who have it (or some of it).

In 2013 Vanya and friends won the Tony for Best Play, the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play, and the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best Play, among other distinctions.



The setting says "morning room" which becomes "mourning room" which becomes the "morning of the rest of your life."  You'll come away with thoughts which linger beyond your short time to mingle with Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.  

Give a girl a tiara and sequins and see what she can be!

The production team includes JoAnn Monks, assistant director; Amy Headlee, stage manager; Bea and Jerry Morse, producers; Mary Jo Ford, properties design; Jon Roberts, sound design; Judy Whelihan, costume design, Sandy Dotson, property mistress; Lilya Eberle, running crew chief; Tom Geuting, master carpenter; and Sue Pinkman, hair and makeup.

WhatVanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

When:  8 p.m., Jan. 27 and 28; Feb. 3 and 4; and 2 p.m., Jan. 29, 2017

Where:  Reston Community Center, 2310 Colts Neck Road, Reston, VA  20191

How much: $21, adults; $18, students and seniors

Tickets:  Buy online or call 703-476-4500 and press 3 for the 24-hour ticket ordering system.

Language:  Adult, with F-bombs dropping occasionally. 

Duration:  About 2 1/2 hours with one 15-minute intermission.


patricialesli@gmail.com