Monday, December 4, 2017

Free noon Christmas concert at St. John's, Lafayette Square, Dec. 6

The Episcopal High School Chamber Choir will sing music of the season in a free noontime concert on Wednesday, December 6, at St. John's Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square. 

On the program are: 
O Come, O Come Emmanuel
Adam lay ybounden - Boris Ord
Sicut cervus - Palestrina
Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day - Nicholas White
Unclouded Day - arr. Shawn Kirchner
Steal Away - Nicholas White
Go Where I Send Thee - arr. Paul Caldwell & Sean Ivory
Carol of the Bells - Peter Whilhousky
What Sweeter Music - John Rutter
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer - arr. Mac Huff
The choir sings under the direction of Brent Erstad who teaches at EHS and is the assistant director of music at St. John's.

The presentation is one of St. John's First Wednesday Concerts, always performed without charge and lasting about 35 minutes, beginning at 12:10 p.m.

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, and several have been members. 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, known as the "father of American architecture" and the architect of the U.S. Capitol Building and the White House porticos, 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 was hung at St. John's that November where it has rung 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.
St. John's Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square, Washington, D.C./Photo by Patricia Leslie

Dolley Madison, wife of President Madison, was baptized and confirmed at St. John's, according to the National Park Service, which calls the church "one of the few original remaining buildings left near Lafayette Park today."

Following inaugural tradition, President Donald J. Trump and his family began his presidency on 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.

Who: The Episcopal High School Chamber Choir sing seasonal music

What: First Wednesday Concerts

When: 12:10 p.m., December 6, 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 or 202-347-8766

Other First Wednesday concerts, all beginning at 12:10 p.m. and lasting until 12:45 p.m., are:

January 10, 2018: Music from French composers by Julie Vidrick Evans, organist

February 7: Soloists
from St. John's Choir

March 7: Preludes and Fugues from Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier by Mak Grgic, guitar, and Stephen Ackert, organ

April 4: The premiere of Paul Leavitt's Fanfare for Trumpet and Organ by Lisa Galoci, organist, and Chuck Seipp, trumpet

May 2: Music for Angels, including Craig Phillips' Archangel Suite by Michael Lodico, director of music and organist, St. John's

June 6: Music by Women Composers, including Margaret Sandresky's Dialogues for Organ and Strings by Ilono Kubiaczyk-Adler, organist, with the U.S. Air Force Strings


Sunday, December 3, 2017

Last day to see Trump satire on stage!

From left, John de Lancie, Brian George, and Haaz Sleiman in Mosaic Theater Company's Vicuna and The American Epilogue/photo by C. Stanley Photography

It's at the Mosaic Theater on H Street, easily accessible by the free trolley which runs up and down H, boarding behind Union Station, and it's a h-u-g-e show, amazing (!), really, really great.  It's beautiful with some very, very good laughs. A surefire winner!  And everyone loves a winner, right?
In Vicuña & The American Epilogue, John de Lancie is "Kurt Seaman," a really, really smart person and also a presidential candidate getting ready for a debate. Director Robert Egan ensures Mr. de Lancie is as non-p.c. and morally outrageous as possible, enough to inflame belly gut laughter from the audience which, at times, is so loud, dialogue cannot be heard. But, no matter, it's all part of the fun and the show's pleasure.

You will likely recognize Mr. de Lancie. His presentation and remarkable delivery will leave you wanting more. 

The production concerns the egotistical candidate (with never a mention of comparison to the current president) who preps for his debate, in words and apparel, as a clothier, Anselm (Brian George), tries to outfit him in vicuna wool, a precious material whose cost makes it affordable for only the One Percent.  (Costuming by Brandee Mathies is a mite improbable since Mr. Trump does not wear brown and grey, but this is not about Trump, believe me.)

Complementing the fantastic comedy are incredible, amazing men and women, an all-star cast which leaves audience members in awe of their fast-paced dialogue and flawless memories.

First on the rung is "Senator Kitty" (Kimberly Schraf), who does a fantastic job and happens to be the head of the Republican National Committee who will pay Mr. Seaman an outrageous sum if he'll agree to withdraw from the race.  (Fat chance. Ms. Schraf is so realistic, she must have held elected office at some point.)

Laura C. Harris is Mr. Seaman's daughter, Srilanka (a tad more liberal than her dad), and Haaz Sleiman is an apprentice to his father.

The effective set (by Debra Booth) is a modern, fab-50s styled New York apartment with excellent use of an "elevator" center-stage, a handy device for quickly moving actors on and off the floor.

Jon Robin Baitz is the writer of this area premiere and the dark epilogue which is the world premiere here in Washington. 

Other creative team members are Brigitte Thieme-Burdette, understudy as Srilanka; Alberto Segarra, lighting; Karl Lundeberg, music and sound; Michelle Elwyn, properties, and C. Renee Alexander, stage manager.

In his short three years at the helm of Mosaic after a departure from Theater J, Ari Roth's success leaves one marveling at what all he has achieved with one hit after another.  Congratulations to him and his staff.
Mosaic's mission statement includes: "Our plays speak truth to power and to the private parts of our soul. In short, we make art with a purpose and strive for impact." And that, playgoers, is what Mosaic has done again.  Bravo for theatre in D.C.!

And, while I am at it, the Atlas Performing Arts Center is absolutely stunning, comfortable, modern and more, a thoroughly delightful place to be and, easily accessible.

Vicuña & The American Epilogue
When: December 3, 2017 at 3 p.m.

Where: Mosaic Theatre, Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H Street NE, Washington, D.C. 20002

Getting there: Riding public transportation from Union Station on the streetcar is easy and free, if you can master the first hurdle, that of finding the streetcar behind Union Station. Signage in the station is inadequate. Parking options are available for those who wish to drive. 

Tickets start at $20 for students and those under age 35. Neighbors, seniors, military, and first responders get discounts. Other tickets start at $45. A $4.50 "box office fee" is added per ticket online. Order by phone (202-399-7993, ext. 2), online (, or at the box office.

Language: Adult (but not much)

Duration: About two hours minutes with one intermission.

For more information: Please call the box office and leave a message: 202-399-7993, ext. 2.