Estelle Parsons stars in Arena premiere

By Michael Toscano
Posted on September 05, 2013

The Academy Award-winning star is getting ready to go to the theater, and she is fretting about clothes. But this is not about a red-carpet appearance, and she’s not concerned about how she looks.This is the dilemma of a working actor who is trying to find the essence of a character, and part of that search involves wardrobe. What the character wears onstage will tell the audience a... READ MORE

Blues legend Johnny Winter to perform

By Rebekah Sewell
Posted on August 07, 2013

It was 1962, and 17-year-old Johnny Winter was holding out hope that blues legend B.B. King would let him play guitar onstage. After all, Winter and his band, Johnny and the Jammers, had released music on a Houston recording label two years before. Winter and his brother Edgar waited in a club called the Raven in Beaumont, Texas, where they had come to see King perform. Both boys were... READ MORE

How to become more creative later in life

By Carol Sorgen
Posted on July 11, 2013

It’s never too late to develop your creativity, and two new books show you why and how.Contemplating life after retirement and its inevitable question of “What’s next?,” psychologist Francine Toder impulsively, and almost simultaneously, took up cello lessons and creative writing classes.What those two seemingly random events led to was an exploration of late (or... READ MORE

Shakespeare al fresco with Caribbean flair

By Anne Ball
Posted on July 03, 2013

Just as when Shakespeare’s plays were first performed, the Chesapeake Shakespeare Theatre brings its audience up close to the stage.And as in the first staging of Antony and Cleopatra and Taming of the Shrew back in the 1600s, the actors join the audience between exits and entrances.But that’s where the similarities to the Bard’s time end. Chesapeake Shakespeare’s... READ MORE

Melissa Etheridge rocks again at Wolf Trap

By Barbara Ruben
Posted on June 05, 2013

Singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge may have won two Grammy Awards, been honored by Washington’s Women in the Arts Museum last year and garnered a star on the Hollywood Walk of fame in 2011. But when she was a child in Leavenworth, Kan., a music teacher didn’t know what to make of her raw, gravelly voice. *My first choir teacher did tell me that my voice was so weird she had to... READ MORE

KC and the Sunshine Band still shaking

By Rebekah Sewell
Posted on June 05, 2013

When KC and the Sunshine Band released iconic dance hit "Get Down Tonight" in 1975, it was an instant success. Despite many changes in mainstream music, the band's hits have remained popular over the years. Video game series Dance Dance Revolution, for example, has used several of KC's songs to get players moving to the beat.When KC and the Sunshine Band entered the music... READ MORE

Theater has been ‘spot on’ over 50 years

By Dan Collins
Posted on May 27, 2013

817 Saint Paul St. That’s the spot. Or to be more exact, the Spotlighters Theatre, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in downtown Baltimore this past year.An exceedingly intimate in-the-round (though technically square) stage, “Spots” as it is affectionately known, has played host to Tony, Emmy and Obie Award winners, and even an Oscar nominee, Howard Rollins, Jr.While... READ MORE

Show takes American dream to new heights

By Michael Toscano
Posted on May 20, 2013

Bam! In the Heights hits the stage at full-throttle, a high-energy blast of Grammy-winning salsa and Latin pop, swirling choreography and quickly recognizable characters.Now at Toby’s Dinner Theatre in Columbia, the Tony Award-winning Best Musical of 2008 never lets up in its fervent attempt to ingratiate itself with the audience. And it usually succeeds.While the story is set in the... READ MORE

Oral history becomes performance art

By Connie George
Posted on May 04, 2013

For many thousands of years, cultural storytelling traditions have united generations through the wisdom and oral histories passed down from elders.In the 21st century, a D.C. theater group is drawing on the same ritual in order to help teach older and younger people how to better understand and communicate with each other.The multigenerational, multiracial Double Nickels Theatre Company... READ MORE

Valerie Harper’s riff on real-life characters

By Barbara Ruben
Posted on January 01, 2013

You know her as self-deprecating, big-hearted Rhoda Morgenstern. But Valerie Harper has also portrayed former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir and author Pearl S. Buck on stage.Currently, she channels actress Tallulah Bankhead at Arena Stage, nailing her smoky contralto slur.In a phone interview, Harper lowers her voice an octave or so and intones, “Hello, dahling. Let me tell you... READ MORE