Thursday, February 27, 2014

Scenes from a musical petting zoo at the Kennedy Center

"Johann, this is how you hold it." At Sunday's "instrument petting zoo" at the Kennedy Center/Photo by Patricia Leslie

What fun to go and see all these fine instruments up close! To touch them, to hold them, and blow them all up!

Between performances at last Sunday's Peter and the Wolf at the Kennedy Center, everyone was invited to check out and play instruments on the Terrace Level. KenCen volunteers and members of the Lake Braddock High School Band were on hand to help the budding musicians, clean mouth pieces, and provide direction.  Smiles, galore!  What fun!  And free.

Which instrument do you think was the most popular?  Just take a guess, and I'll bet you are wrong. Answer is in the photos.

At Sunday's "instrument petting zoo" at the Kennedy Center ("I don't know if I trust this guy or not. He's a little scary to me in that checkered shirt.")/Photo by Patricia Leslie

"Stand back!  It's my turn, and I don't need your help! I can play these just fine."  Rat-a-tat-tat! At Sunday's "instrument petting zoo" at the Kennedy Center/Photo by Patricia Leslie

"Now, honey, it's Daddy's turn." At Sunday's "instrument petting zoo" at the Kennedy Center/Photo by Patricia Leslie
At Sunday's "instrument petting zoo" at the Kennedy Center/Photo by Patricia Leslie

"Open wide like you're at the dentist's and say "'aahhhh.'" At Sunday's "instrument petting zoo" at the Kennedy Center/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Cameras, photographers, and proud parents were in abundance at Sunday's "instrument petting zoo" at the Kennedy Center/Photo by Patricia Leslie

At Sunday's "instrument petting zoo" at the Kennedy Center/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Shoulder-to-shoulder or instrument-to-instrument at Sunday's "instrument petting zoo" at the Kennedy Center it was /Photo by Patricia Leslie

And the Number One Most Popular Instrument at Sunday's "instrument petting zoo" at the Kennedy Center was the cello.  The line to play it stretched from wall to wall, far more than for any other instrument.  Where was the bass?  Hiding in the orchestra pit/Photo by Patricia Leslie
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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Hark! The angels sang at Dumbarton Concert

Dumbarton Church in Georgetown, one block off Wisconsin Avenue, is the home of Dumbarton Concerts/Photo by Patricia Leslie

For all the babies and children who have trouble going to sleep, for parents and caregivers, the ethereal 
"Good Night" by Anton Seidl (1850-1898) which the Washington National Cathedral Boy and Girl Choristers sang at the Dumbarton Concert Saturday evening is an answer to prayers for slumber.

Had a host of angels descended upon the sanctuary of the historic Dumbarton United Methodist Church to enthrall the audience with beauty and harmonies never anticipated?  I believe all in the packed hall would have agreed.

More than 100 years have passed since the composition was last performed, according to musicologist Joseph Horowitz who discovered the score while conducting research for a book.

Anton Seidl, 1895/Arnie Dupont/U.S. Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons

The choristers, under the direction of Cannon Michael McCarthy, were the featured artists on the program entitled "Scenes From Childhood," presented to honor the centennial birthday of Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) and the bi-centennial birthday of Richard Wagner (1813-1892) whose written works for children were performed.  Mr. Seidl was a Wagner protege. 

Benjamin Britten, 1968/photo by Hans Wild/Wikimedia Commons

The evening's program began with "In Paradisum" from Requiem, Op. 48 by Gabriel Faure (1845-1924) which the choir sang from the balcony where their heavenly sounds seemed to have better effect, filling the church of stained-glass windows and lighted candles more eloquently than from the main stage of the sanctuary, their destination where they walked while singing the first of 11 movements of Mr. Britten's A Ceremony of Carols, Op. 28 which only lasted 20 minutes. They sang in Middle English and Latin.

What words are there to adequately describe such music, chimes and reception?  Made more perfect by the accompaniment of the harp, played by Jacqueline Pollauf, who rewrote the piano composition of  "Good Night" for harp.

After intermission and "Good Night," the choristers presented  "Schlaf, Kindchen, Schlafe," a lullaby they sang with a lonely oboe's hymn.  It is part of Wagner's Siegfried Idyll which the PostClassical Ensemble performed as the night's last selection and the audience answered, to no one's surprise, with a standing ovation.

Wagner wrote Siegfried Idyll in 1870 for a special birthday gift for his wife, Cosima, to honor their son's birth in 1869. Several years later, Cosima was dismayed to learn her private birthday gift would remain private no more for her husband had to "go public" with it to satisfy creditors.  How would the couple ever know their anguish would become a gift for millions for more than a century? 
Fritz Luckhart (1843-1894) made this photograph of the Wagners on May 9, 1872 in Vienna/Wikimedia Commons

The PostClassical Ensemble's music director, Angel Gil-Ordonez, was the evening's conductor.  Mr. Horowitz is the ensemble's executive director.  Ensemble members are David Salness, concertmaster, Claudia Chudacoff, violin, Chris Shieh, viola; Evelyn Elsing, cello;  Ed Malaga, bass;  Beth Plunk, flute; Fatma Daglar, oboe;  David Jones and Chris Reardon, clarinets;  Erich Heckscher, bassoon;  Chandra Cervantes and Mark Hughes, horns; and Chris Gekker, trumpet.    

The 22 members of the Washington Cathedral Choristers are Elliott
Bamford, Caroline Blanton, Grace Brigham, Elizabeth Brogan, Landon Chin, Constantine Desjardins, Sophie Evans, Selin Everett, Doris Farje, Nathan Heath, Madeline Kushan, Maya Millward, Luke Mott, Nolan Musslewhite, Bronwyn Redvers-Lee, Annabel Ricks, Christian Schmidt, Lucie Shelley, Teresa Speranza, Rubii Tamen, Ben Vacher, and Logan Whittaker.

                    Good-night! And sweet be thy repose
                    Through all their shining way,
                    Till darkness goes, and bird and rose,
                    With rapture greet the day,--

From Edna Dean Proctor's poem which Mr. Seidl adopted for "Good Night"

The next and last Dumbarton Concert for the 2013-14 season is:

March 15: A quintet with the Linden String Quartet and pianist Michael Brown

Where: Historic Dumbarton Church, 3133 Dumbarton Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20007

Tickets: $30 to $35

For more information: 202-965-2000

Free parking is available beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Hyde School, 3219 O Street on a first come, first served basis. Your ticket is necessary for the attendant.

Metro station:  Not in Georgetown

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Saturday, February 22, 2014

A stellar afternoon with the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra

Maestro Kim Allen Kluge with the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra/photo by Carol Pratt

What a fantastic voyage to spend Sunday afternoon with the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra playing two of my favorites, Debussy's Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun and George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue.  And those were the reasons I went.

What an odd combination, I thought beforehand, but once I heard the explanation from Maestro Kim Allen Kluge, it all made sense.  For Valentine's Day weekend, the theme was "To Be Passionate." Of course.

Never mind that Prokofiev's Suite No. 2 from Romeo and Juliet, Op. 64ter and Wagner's Prelude and liebestod from Tristan and Isolde were also part of the program, accompanied by an original piece, Rhapsody for Lily, written by the maestro and his wife, Kathryn, in honor of their newborn daughter, all stunning in their deliveries, the apricots for the almond clafoutis.

That the audience did not respond as well as I would have liked at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and in the manner to which I am accustomed when I hear the National Symphony Orchestra play at the Kennedy Center, was perhaps due to a sleepy Sunday after wild Valentine abandon and the Alexandria crowd's familiarity with the excellence of the ASO and Maestro Kluge's passion which may explain its pallor, an exaggerated term to describe it, but it describes it, nonetheless.

With one exception, Rhapsody in Blue, did the crowd respond as eagerly as I believe it should have.  Is it aware that although Mr. Kluge has been ASO's director for 25 years (!), another orchestra might swoop in and carry him off? 

Debussy's Prelude's must be the shortest ten minutes of any hour. If it were only longer, but, like the daffodils which blossom in the spring, would we admire it as much? Considered by some as the beginning of modern music, the singular flute, strings, and harp made magic together in shimmering waters.

Before the Debussy began, the maestro urged  audience members to transport themselves to the Mediterranean on a hot summer's day, to be Greek-Roman fauns pursuing nymphs, daydreaming about pursuit.  Easy enough to do and float.

An errant horn missed an entry from time to time, but the flow nor mood was thwarted.   

The first movement, Montagues and Capulets, of the Romeo and Juliet, began loudly with booming percussion and grand pronouncement that change is about to happen, the foreboding, enough to make chills.   The playful and rapturous Child Juliet, the second movement, conveys the young girl running through a field, happy, and energetic.  Strings and cello make way for Friar Laurence, the third movement, in heavy tones, as he enters into the secret. A short dance follows, and then the sad separation of the legendary couple and Romeo's visit to Juliet's grave, a sweet sadness with a commanding ending which returns to the sonorous beginning and the powerful percussion. 
Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say goodnight till it be morrow. 
For the Wagner, the ecstatic maestro shouted out at times to members of the orchestra who played with gusto, conveying the anguish and pain of the couple so much in love they died. Alas.  Based upon applause, Tristan and Isolde was the second favorite selection of the afternoon.

Gershwin's sexy jazz, Rhapsody in Blue, was as magnificent as I have heard played.

Up and down on the bench with hair flying from side to side as he bobbed his head, almost as in a silent movie, Maestro Kluge played the piano, while conducting the orchestra simultaneously, spinning his outstretched left arm round and round like a fast-moving carriage wheel, pausing long between sections and adding his own variations to Gershwin's composition.  His shouts of joy mingled with the orchestral sounds, and soon gave way to long-lasting broad smiles from two bass players and a cellist. 
The Alexandria Symphony Orchestra/photo by Carol Pratt

With the exception of the first violinist for various groups, never have I seen orchestral members smile during a performance and seem to have a good time, enjoying the spirit of the moment with a glow to spread all around.

Kluge's enthusiasm matches that of a new member of the orchestra, and, indeed, a special surprise came at the end:  the Rhapsody to Lily, as thrilling, light and beautiful as one could imagine.  Mr. Kluge asked us to consider for a moment joining Lily's long former residence in amniotic fluid and letting the music surround and wash over us.  Coming from a conductor at a symphonic performance, it was a little disconcerting, but at this concert, everything came out just fine.

Mr. Kluge said he honestly believes that when people come together for a presentation of live music, lives are changed forever. I believe mine was!

ASO's next performances are March 29 and 30, 2014 with Fanfare for an Angel (2011) by James Stephenson (b. 1969) and, with the Metropolitan Chorus of Arlington, The Armed Man:  A Mass for Peace (1999) by Karl Jenkins(b. 1944).

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Book review: 'Boy Kings of Texas' highly recommended

I picked up this book from my favorite shelves, the new non-fictions, at my favorite public library, Fairfax County's. 

I have always loved memoirs.  This is a memoir.

That it was a finalist for the 2012 National Book Award certainly attracted my attention.  That award is more creditable than, say, the New York Times' picks for the year, since I believe those editors don't pick the best, they pick their friends' books.  But, anyway...different subject.

The Boy Kings of Texas is all about growing up Mexican American in the 1970s and 1980s in Texas, Brownsville, Texas, with a cruel father who mistreated his children, and a mother who stood by and watched.  It's about family love with lots of humor scattered in-between the tales of drugs, sex, rock and roll, and fights.   It's a first-person account of fights, and I just hope my sons don't fight like this.  Or do drugs. Domingo Martinez describes what hard drugs can do to you and the worlds they reveal.  High school adventures, skipping school, all his different friends, and their abilities to "get by" are his life. 

The book becomes a mea culpa, a love song to his older brother, Dan. 
It's heartbreaking when Martinez leaves behind his little brother, Derrick.  But the sisters turned out all right, and who will ever forget the "Mimis" ?  What a hoot.

The author's move to Seattle become part of his darker story, nearer the end which digresses more into the hell of life as he mixes in day-to-day living with the jobless, the down-and-outers, the people who float in and out of our lives, and their effects upon us.  While I was reading, I kept thinking what a fantastic movie this would make, and now I see HBO has optioned it.

Boy Kings is excellently written, gripping, and very sad.  Why do people treat each other so cruelly? How Martinez was able to escape the madness of his upbringing mentally and emotionally is left unsaid.  Because he hasn't?

It's eye-opening for those of us who may have little or no contact with this segment of society, and it creates sensitivity (I hope) which was not there before.  Once you know a little about someone's background, there's not as much explaining to do. Kudos to the book's cover designer, Diana Nuhn.

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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Washington Post assigns troop deaths to the bottom

Coffins of U.S. troops stationed in the Middle East arrive at Dover Air Force Base, Dover, Delaware/Wikipedia

The Washington Post deems an employee at the U.S. Embassy in Egypt, the civil war in the Central African Republic, and a likely seafaring impostor far more important that the deaths of two of our troops killed by Afghan troops in another "insider job." In its article of 125 words in the February 13, 2014 edition on page A8 at the bottom of the page, the Post fails to mention four American troops injured in the same attack.

(Why does the U.S. continue to pour money and blood into Afghanistan?)

The Post's headline across the entire page says the Egyptian police have detained a U.S. Embassy employee.  The article has 14 paragraphs and two sub-titles. 

Below it is a large article with two color photographs, a color map, one sub-title, and 27 paragraphs about the Central African Republic.

Below it is the likely impostor story which states a survivor "drifted at sea for more than a year" in the Pacific Ocean yet the man, from El Salvador, showed no evidence of his journey other than a "fragile" mental state. The Post gave it 198 words in five paragraphs.

Further across the page at the bottom are four paragraphs devoted to the deaths of the two Americans. Their murders are not "news."  They are "has-beens."  They are killed and injured often enough it is not news, not after 11 years, not another story about Afghan troops who turn on us, whose government the U.S. has supported with more than $100 billion in non-military aid, 2,312 American lives, and close to $650 billion in U.S. military spending through last year.

Who cares? Not the Washington Post.  I suppose readers should be thankful the troops were even mentioned at all.

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Friday, February 14, 2014

Olney scores another hit with 'How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying'

"I Believe in You" the men sing in How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying on stage now through March 2 at the Olney Theatre Center/photo by Stan Barouh

If you need anything to shake off this winter's doldrums and snow, you can do no better than ride out to the Olney Theatre Center and enjoy its newest production, How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, which will warm you up, for sure.

Oh, what a lot of fun it is!  Two hours and 40 minutes?  No way!

It was originally produced in 1961, but the theme (and means) of climbing to the top are timeless, and what a lark to see men in suits attended by secretaries in full skirts pecking away at typewriters and following their bosses around like puppies. 

It's a fast moving musical with laughs galore and terrific dancing.  Men are a'kickin' and high steppin' more than the women in this show with songs not real familiar, but what does it matter with splendid choreography (by Tommy Rapley) and perfectly unified red ties and hankies in jacket pockets flying all together now.

The World Wide Wicket Company employees really need a coffee break!/Photo by Stan Barouh

Using a self-help book entitled How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying to guide him to the top of the heap, young J. Pierrepont Finch (Sam Ludwig) enters the business world, starting in the mail room at the World Wide Wicket Company on Park Avenue, where he first encounters the Big Boss's nephew, Bud Frump (Dan Van Why), who is always jealous of promotions and ascendancy.

In the first act Finch is something of a goody-goody while he learns his way around, but his pretense is quickly shed as he begins to climb. The second act really brings out the best in Mr. Ludwig's performance as he grasps "how it's done."

But it is nephew Frump (whose name epitomizes his person) who steals the show with his greased-up hairdo, mannerisms, and delivery.  His shoes (costuming by Seth Gilbert) give impetus to his character, an obnoxious mama's boy who cries every time he doesn't get his way.  Have you ever worked with one of those?



Did anyone mention sex? 

What's a show without sex?  Dull. 

Naturally, romances develop and Rosemary (Angela Miller) chases Finch from the get-go.  Her apparel and demeanor reminded me of a pollyanna throughout the play, too good and kind to be attractive to most men.  Will she ever get her man? 

It is blonde bombshell Hedy La Rue (Colleen Hayes) bearing a striking resemblance to femme fatale, Marilyn Monroe (who died in 1962) who ignites flames late in the first act when she makes her way on stage in flamboyant costume, accompanied by flashy strip-tease music. She is, of course, the girlfriend of the married Big Boss, J. B. Biggley (Lawrence Redmond).

Mr. Biggley's secretary, Ms. Jones or "Jonesie" as he calls her (Sherri L. Edelen), is another show stealer, a storm trooper, who crosses the stage often in her buttoned man suit and librarian shoes, barking orders until she, too, is captured by Mr. Finch's flattering words which succeed in helping him in his race to the top. 

Whenever a new idea to stroke higher-ups occurs to Finch, lights dim, action halts, and with perfect timing, a bell rings at the instant a spotlight shines on his very brow nose, and he turns to the audience with a smirk and a smile, and the play resumes.

Spectacular lighting (by Joel Moritz) and set design (by James Dardenne with sound by Jeff Dorfman) contribute to the effects of this solidly entertaining show.  A silhouette of skyscrapers with changing sky and darkened buildings outlined in lights serves as backdrop. Lights along hallways cast shadows and give the premises a truly office feel which, with spiraling circular staircase, quickly becomes the mail room, the board room, the elevator, and a subway entrance. 

Adding immense enjoyment is the music, orchestrated by Christopher Youstra and led by Doug Lawler, also the pianist. Occasional flat horns from the nine-member group drew slight attention.

International star Ian McKellen, who presented a solo show at the Olney in 1987, is the recorded narrator for How To Succeed. You may see him on stage now, on Broadway's No Man's Land and Waiting for Godot.

Jason Loewith directed How To Succeed. Other cast members are MaryLee Adams, Kurt Boehm, Maggie Donnelly, George Dvorsky, Aileen Goldbert, Ashleigh King, Bryan Knowlton, David Landstrom, Allie Parris, Taylor Elise Rector, Chris Rudy, Harry A. Winter, and Jim Petosa.

How to Succeed is a good culture lesson for young folks about yesteryear's world of business and the roles men and women played and the way they dressed. Stepping on anything that gets in the way and stealing ideas on the way to the top of the pile, sigh, remain the same.

The play is based on the book by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock, and Willie Gilbert who used the 1952 book of the same name by Shepherd Mead. Frank Loesser wrote the music and lyrics. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1962 and seven Tony Awards.

Helen Hayes' nominations:

Outstanding Ensemble, Resident Musical

Outstanding Lighting Designer, Resident Production: Joel Moritz

Outstanding Supporting Actor, Resident Musical:  Dan Van Why

What:  How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying

When: Extended through March 2, 2014

Where: Olney Theatre Center, 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, Olney, MD 20832

How much: Tickets start at $31.

For more information: 301-924-3400

For more area productions and reviews, click DC Metro Theater Arts. 

Save 15% with promo code: PACKUP! Valid 2/1/14 - 2/23/14.

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Saturday, February 8, 2014

Folger's 'Richard III' is a haunting thriller

King Richard III and Queen Anne in stained glass in Cardiff Castle, Wales, U.K./Wikimedia Commons and VeteranMP

On February 4, 2013, British scientists confirmed the bones found under a parking lot in Leicester, England six months earlier were indeed the remains of the hated king, Richard III (1452-1485), just as the rumors spoke for 500 years.  And the debate continues on where to put them.

But now on stage with remarkable prescience, the Folger Theatre brings the man to life in William Shakespeare's Richard III. 

Richard is a serial murderer in the play whom the playwright charges rightly or wrongly with 13 deaths.  Maybe more.

For the first time the theatre has brought its stage to the people who surround the production without walls and who become members of the cast.  And I loved, loved, loved the production.

Splash!  Slash!  Cut and strangle!  Come one, come all for gory witness in England:

Bloody thou art, bloody will be thy end;
Shame serves thy life and doth thy death attend.

With a haunting set, the human beast perches on a railing and speaks to the audience, giving hints of what awaits.  After all,

Now is the winter of our discontent

The play takes off, and action never lets up.(In the performance I attended, students watched intently, hanging from the railings in the balcony.)

It is difficult not to fall prey to Richard, skillfully acted by Drew Cortese in a strong and forceful presentation.  Lady Anne (Alyssa Wilmoth Keegan) is unable to resist the power and hypnosis of the man who would be king,  whom you never doubt is every bit as evil as he portends.  If it's sympathy he seeks, he finds it not in audience abundance.

Drew Cortese is Richard in Richard III at the Folger Theatre/photo by Jeff Malet

If ever there was a worse man, name him.

Like Anne, we are supposed to be duped and magnetized by the unbelievable, but that possibility sent shudders up and down my spine, and I never felt the least affinity nor warmth towards the serpent with the hiccup.

And seem a saint, when most I play the devil.

Astonishing is Lady Anne's metamorphosis and transformation in minutes from a woman of hate for the man who murdered her husband and father-in-law, to one seduced in the same scene by the killer who soothes her with words to court her ego.

Was ever woman in this humour woo'd?
Was ever woman in this humour won?
I'll have her; but I will not keep her long.

Queen Elizabeth suffers the worst fate imaginable, the murders of her children:

So wise, so young, they say, do never live long.

Remy Brettell (left) is the Duke of York and his brother, Holden Brettell, the Prince of Wales in Richard III at the Folger Theatre/photo by Theresa Wood

She shouts her indignity and spews hate upon the murderer while simultaneously removing some of her clothing and joining the fray of those be smitten by him.  Naturally (?), she plants a big smacker on his mouth. 

Et tu, Elizabeth? 

Julia Motyka is Queen Elizabeth in Richard III at the Folger Theatre/photo by Theresa Wood

We can feel the rage and wrath of Queen Mad Margaret who nails the killer from the get-go in stunning deliveries whenever she appears:

Cancel his bond of life, dear God, I prey,
That I may live to say, The dog is dead!

Next up: The taking of Richard's niece, Princess Elizabeth, the queen's daughter, for she represents a certain path to the kingdom's glory and is a means to the end.

Intermittent chants, a howling dog and sounds from a bell, organ, and percussion increase the mood of death and angst (Eric Shimelonis) while, one by one, the hunted enter the pits, death's trap doors, n'er more to be seen again, except later in the hither light when their ghostly bodies are illuminated by green lights from below.

Was Richard's deformity the root cause of his evil, or simply an excuse, a crutch, used to beguile traumatized victims on his way to the crown at any cost? 

The Folger's balcony becomes an effective prop used by Richard's henchmen who call down to him, awaiting  direction on the next victim to seize.

Throughout the drama, Jim Hunter's lighting adds a atmosphere of dark and death to ghastly design for a dungeon's pit. Sunglasses are never necessary (although worn by a henchman) in this production also billed as a comedy (?), for there is no daylight, only darkness.

The costuming contrast (Mariah Hale) is at first vexing since different eras are represented by male and female characters, but the males' modern-day garb sheds light on the timelessness of the script.  All the men in black wear neckties, leather pants and coats, chains, and nose rings, like hoodlums or singers in a London band, whereas the women are dressed in Victorian  apparel with standout jewelry. 

Richard was only king for two years (1483-1485) until he was killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field, the last king to die in battle. 

A horse!  a horse!  my kingdom for a horse!

Go and see what effect the brute has on you.  Beware of his charms and gird yourself with mental sword to safeguard the theft of your being with sweet words of deceit. 
And upon closing, look center for bone-chilling reminders of  what's left of the dragon monster, the python who lingers amidst us all.  Beware, saints who enter here.

Shakespeare wrote Richard III around 1592 and since then, many actors have portrayed the assassin, including John Wilkes Booth.

What do I fear? Myself? There’s none else by.
Richard loves Richard; that is, I and I.
Is there a murderer here? No. Yes, I am.
Then fly! What, from myself? Great reason why:
Lest I revenge. What, myself upon myself?
Alack, I love myself. Wherefore? For any good
That I myself have done unto myself?
O, no! Alas, I rather hate myself
For hateful deeds committed by myself.
I am a villain. Yet I lie. I am not.
Fool, of thyself speak well. Fool, do not flatter:
My conscience hath a thousand several tongues,
And every tongue brings in a several tale,
And every tale condemns me for a villain.
Perjury, perjury, in the highest degree;
Murder, stern murder, in the direst degree;
All several sins, all used in each degree,
Throng to the bar, crying all, “Guilty! guilty!”
I shall despair. There is no creature loves me,
And if I die no soul will pity me.
And wherefore should they, since that I myself
Find in myself no pity to myself?

Other members of the cast and crew:  Jenna Berk, Andrew Criss, Daniel Flint, Sean Fri, Michael Gabriel Goodfriend, Nanna Ingvarsson, Paul Morella, Howard W. Overshown, Michael Sharon, Richard Sheridan Willis, Tony Cisek, scenic designer, Casey Dean Kaleba, fight director, Michele Osherow, resident dramaturg, Daryl Eisenberg, casting, Che Wernsman, production stage manager, Keri Schultz, assistant stage manager, Janet Alexander Griffin, artistic producer, Beth Emelson, assistant artistic producer. Daniel Polk, general manager, and Charles Flye, production manager.

What:  Richard III

When:  Now extended through March 16 , 2014

Where:  Folger Theatre

Tickets: $25 - $72

Metro station:  Capitol South or Union Station

For more information:  202.544.7077 or 202.544.4600

Special Richard events:

Pre-Show Talk Wednesday, February 12, 6:30 p.m.
A scholarly discussion of the play with Folger Director Michael Witmore. Includes light fare reception. Click
here for information and to purchase tickets.

Post-Show Talk with Cast  Thursday, February 20
Following the 7:30 p.m. performance

Folger Friday
Friday, February 21 at 6 p.m.
Poets Sarah Browning and Brian Gilmore respond to the play with original works. Browning is the executive director of Split This Rock and Gilmore is a public interest lawyer and professor. No charge.

Folger Friday
Friday, February 28 at 6 p.m.
Mimi Yiu, a scholar at Georgetown University, discusses early modern architecture in the context of the Folger's production of Richard III.  No charge.

Open-Captioned  Sunday, March 2, 2 p.m.
Call the box office at 202.544.7077 for details

Forsooth, Helen Hayes Nominations:

Outstanding Resident Play

Outstanding Director, Resident Play:  Robert Richmond

Robert Prosky Award for Outstanding Lead Actor, Resident Play: Drew Cortese

Outstanding Supporting Actress, Resident Play:  Julia Motyka

Outstanding Lighting Design, Resident Production:  Jim Hunter

Outstanding Sound Design, Resident Production:  Eric Shimelonis 

For a listing and reviews of other area performances, click here for DC Metro Theater Arts.

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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Free Valentine music Feb. 5 at St. John's, Lafayette Square

For those who need help recovering from the Super Bowl, alas, or who want to get a head start on Valentine's Day celebrations, or who may not have reason to celebrate Valentine's Day, sigh, or who just want to enjoy elegant music in a setting of tranquility and bliss, you are invited to a free concert of baroque music Wednesday, February 5, at St. John's Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square, beginning at 12:10 p.m. 

Four soloists from St. John's choir will sing romantic selections from Handel, Purcell, Dowland, Guedron, and Durant accompanied by text like Shakespeare's If Music Be the Food of Love, Sing On, and John Gay's Love Sound the Alarm.
Performing will be Sara MacKimmie, soprano; Lauren Campbell, alto; Matthew Hill, tenor; Brandon Straub, bass; Amy Domingues, viola da gamba; and Michael Lodico, organ.

Sara MacKimmie, soprano

Amy Domingues will play the viola da gamba at St. John's, at 12:10 p.m. Feb. 5, 2014
St. John's hosts First Wednesday concerts every month from October through June. The church is known to many Washington residents and visitors as the welcoming yellow church at Lafayette Square, the “Church of the Presidents.” President James Madison, who served as president from 1809 to 1817, began a tradition for presidents by either attending or joining St. John's. A plaque at the rear of the church designates the Lincoln Pew where President Abraham Lincoln often sat when he stopped by St. John's during the Civil War. 

Other St. John's First Wednesday concerts, all starting at 12:10 p.m., are:

March 12 (2nd Wednesday): Virtuoso Organist Dongho Lee performs Charles Ives's Variations on "America" and other works

April 2: The U.S. Air Force Strings conducted by 2nd Lt. Shanti Nolan, with Michael Lodico, organist, perform Francis Poulenc's Organ Concerto

May 7: Easter music for trumpet and organ with A. Scott Wood and Benjamin Hutto

June 4: Organist Alan Morrison

Valentine's Day Travel Discount
Who on February 5:  Sara MacKimmie, Lauren Campbell, Matthew Hill, Brandon Straub, Amy Domingues, and Michael Lodico to sing and play music for heartstrings

What:   First Wednesday Concerts at St. John's

When: 12:10 p.m., February 5, 2014

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

How much: No charge

Duration: About 35 minutes

Wheelchair accessible

Metro stations: McPherson Square, Farragut North, or Farragut West

Food trucks: Located two blocks away at Farragut Square

For more information: Contact Michael Lodico at 202-270-6265,

MICHAEL TODD true organics