Summer Show Stopper

Rachel Zampelli, Deborah Lubega and MaryLee Adams in Pop!
Scott Suchman
Rachel Zampelli, Deborah Lubega and MaryLee Adams in Pop!

Who would have thought that fur—event thinking about it, let alone wearing it—would be so popular in town, especially in this weather?

But when it’s “Venus In Fur,” playwright David Ives’ witty, hot – yes, hot – and, if you’ll pardon the expression, whip-smart take on Sacher-Masoch’s shocking 19th century novel about a stage audition, sexual and creative power struggles between an actress and director, people just can’t stop talking and going.

The production—one of the best and beguiling of the year anywhere—has been extended yet again on final time to July 31 at the Studio Theatre where you can watch a breakout performance by Erica Sullivan, in assorted nasty getups and with a range that creates whiplash in the audience. If you haven’t seen this show, by all means go. If you’ve already seen it, go again. David Muse, the Studio’s new artistic director is in charge here, and he handles matters with a deft, intelligent manner.

There’s more reason than “Venus” to visit the Studio these days. There’s the appropriately entitled “Pop,” a new musical-mystery-pop-show by Maggie-Kate Coleman and Anna K. Jacobs focusing on the heady (and final) days of Andy Warhol’s New York Factory scene, where Andy reigned supreme in his pursuit of putting sizzle in all things mundane and plain. If you’re interested in all things Warhol and pop art, this is your cup of tea (no sugar please), and if not it’s an education on a number of American obsessions, not the least of which is Warhol, who turned greenbacks and tomato soup into high and low art, and once made a day-long movie which had nothing but the Empire State building as its focus.

Warhol will be talked about and written about forever, so why not a musical? Especially if it has Warhol staple members in it like Candy Darling, Ondine and assorted would-be and not artists, hangers-on, feminists and girlies and whatever lies in between. Keith Alan Baker, the Studio’s pop-meister, directs with Hunter Styles and Jennifer Harris. “Pop” runs through July 31.

And speaking of the Studio Theater, we would be remiss if we did note the recent departure of David Cale’s “The History of Kisses,” a sweet, lovely string of pearls and tales performed by the one-man-show and playwright that is Cale. Less fraught with tensions and puzzles and less flamboyant than some of his previous work, this saw Cale pondering the puzzles of how people meet, love – or not – bounce and stumble into and out of other people’s lives.

An ocean theme—one of the characters was a man attending a gathering of sea shanty aficionados in California—carried the tide, so to speak, saw one woman meet an inarticulate Portuguese sailor for ship-board encounter that produced a son, if not lasting love, two gay men meeting cute and ending up deliriously in awe in front of a fish tank, an Australian land-wrecked at a seaside motel and a man remembering a wistful encounter with Judy Garland during a beach walk.

These stories pop up in my mind occasionally during a land-locked, hot summer. So sing a shanty to Mr. Cale.

The Millennium Stage, the Kennedy Center’s nightly series of free performances of music and dance has added something new for the hot month of August—it will offer a Happy Hour Series every Monday night at 6 p.m. On August 1, 8, 22 and 29, the Kennedy Center’s Atrium on the Roof Terrace will become a summer lounge with couches, a dance floor and a full bar. The Lounge will continue on August 15 at the Kennedy Center’s Grand Foyer.

It’s a different way to catch entirely characteristic performances that have been the hallmark of the Millennium Series. The Happy Hour Series includes singer Badi Assad, who presents a world flavor with an exotic mixture of ethnic sounds on August 1. DeboBand presents Ethiopian flavored music August 8. New Orleans singer/songwriter Mia Borders blends funk, soul and contemporary styles August 15. August 22 brings Alma Tropicalia and a tribute to the classic BrazilianTropicalia movement of the 1960s. On August 29, Rahim AlHash and the Little Earth Orchestra are on hand with its group of world musicians from Iraq, Brazil, Africa, Palestine and America.

And now for something completely different. At Georgetown University’s Davis Performing Arts Center and its Devine Studio Theatre, there’s a chance to see “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” a world premiere production of an adaptation of Michael Pollan’s famed non-fiction book about how, why, where and what people eat in the modern world. It’s written, conceived and directed by Natsu Onada Power of Georgetown University, and can be seen July 27-29 and July 30 and 31. Check for details.

Want to find something to laugh about—and God knows we all do? Check out the opening of D.C.’s new Riot Act Comedy Theater with a grand opening celebration of the city’s own star comedians, Big Al Goodwin, Tony Woods and Charles Fleischer, who perform at 801 E St. beginning August 11-13.
And we would also be remiss without mentioning, although we do it with some trepidation, the impending last performance of Cherry Red Productions, arguably the city’s filthiest—in a good way—theater company ever. We could produce some of the more memorable titles from the Cherry Red past as offered, but can’t. Suffice to say that Cherry Red offered—often in small and dark places—dark plays that had the whiff of a zeitgeist that combined the American 1980s with the worst and best times of Weimar Berlin. I think.

In any case, founders Ian Allen and Chris Griffin are closing out with a production of “The Aristocrats,” a stage version of what’s described as the dirtiest joke of all time. Cherry Red’s promised to do bad things to the joke, which also came in movie form with an all-star cast of potty-mouths like Sarah Silverman.

Look for it at the Warehouse Theater August 27 at 8:30 and 11 p.m.

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Tue, 27 Jun 2017 08:14:22 -0400

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