Rich Massabny is a theatre, arts, & food critic in the nation's capital. He has been quoted in the Washington Post and Washington Times. One of the most visible cable television personalities in the Washington, D.C. area, his celebrity chefs on cooking shows, his weekly reviews and his hour long talk show, reach over 3,000,000 homes.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

ARENA STAGE - - “Five Guys Named Moe”


The Arena Stage has a delightful and energetic musical called, “Five Guys Named Moe.”  It’s a tribute to Louis Jordan known as The King of the Jukebox during the 30s and 40s. A few of his hits were “Is you Is or Is You Ain’t my Baby,” “Caldonia” and “Messy Bessie.” The theatre was really rockin’ with the Five Moes, plus a lovelorn Nomax (Kevin McAllister). The group of  sharply dressed Moes, backed by a great band, led by Darryl G. Ivey,  were Sheldon Henry (Big Moe), Jobani Parker-Namdar (No Moe), Travis Porchia (Four Eyed Moe), Clinton Roane (Little Moe) and Paris Nix (Eat Moe). It’s a fast-moving, foot tapping show with one intermission. Robert O’Hara, director, presented a modern version of Jordan’s  music. Fun choreography by Byron Easley. “Five Guys Names Moe” runs through December 28. For information and tickets call 202-488-3300 and check the website at www.arenastage.org.



THEATER J



“The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to 
Capitalism andSocialism with a Key to the Scriptures”
The current show at Theater J in the District will, I’m sure, win an award for producing the play with the longest title in 2014. Not only does it have the longest title, but it may well be the longest play period. “The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures” runs three and a half hours. Written by Tony Kushner, the play centers around the head of a family, Gus Marcantonio (Tom Wiggins), a retired longshoreman,  who tells his three adult children that  he’s sick of life and is going to commit suicide. Quite a talented cast of characters make up this very diverse family and others  including  Gus’ daughter, a  lesbian labor lawyer called Empty (Susan Rome), her ex-husband Adam (James Whalen), Pill (Lou Liberatore), a history teacher married to theologist Paul (Michael Anthony Williams), but in love with Eli (Josh Adams). The remaining cast members include pregnant Maeve (Lisa Hodsoll),  Gus’ son Vito (Tim Getman), his wife Sooze (Sue Jin Song), Gus’  sister Zeeko (Rena Cherry Brown) and Shelle (Jenifer Belle Deal).  The acting is real and compelling and holds your attention. See this unusual slice of life through Dec. 21. For information and tickets, call 202-777-3230 and check the website at theater.org.                 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

ARENA STAGE - - “Fiddler on the Roof”



     I saw “Fiddler on the Roof” with Zero Mostel at The National Theatre 50 years ago and several different versions over the years. The current production at Arena Stage does the “Fiddler” tradition justice and is flat out wonderful. At first, when I saw Tevye, I thought he was a tetch small in stature for the role, but he (Jonathan Hadary) soon won me over.  The entire cast of “Fiddler” is superb and Molly Smith’s direction, flawless. The story takes place in a small Russian village at the beginning of a revolutionary era in the early 1900’s. Teyve and his wife Golde (Ann Arvia) have five daughters and we witness their family’s struggles between progress and tradition. In addition to Hadary and Arvia, there  are many standouts including Valerie Leonard (Yente), Hannah Corneau ( Hodel), Erick Devine (Lazar Wolf), Tracy Lynn Olivera (Fruma Sarah), Joe Peck (Rabbi), Dorea Schmidt (Tzeitel), Chris Sizemore (Constable), Thomas Adrian Simpson (Mordcha) and Alex Alferov (the Fiddler). Just a few of the popular songs are  “Matchmaker,” “Tradition,” “If I Were a Rich Man,” “To Life” and “Sunrise, Sunset.” “Fiddler on the Roof” at Arena Stage  in the District is a Don’t Miss Show!  It runs through January 4. For information and tickets, call 202-488-3300 and check the website at www.arenastage.org.

BETHESDA BLUES and JAZZ SUPPER CLUB



Comedienne Kim Coles & Dave Damiani Jazz Combo
In March 2013, the Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club opened and hit the ground running. Owner Rick Brown took over what was formerly the Bethesda Theatre, originally  built in 1938. It has undergone an eight million dollar renovation and is listed as a National Historic Registered Property. The Club has a 300 person dining area adjacent to the stage and 200 theatre style seats in the rear of the room. Brown has already brought in over 300 entertainers and  served more than 70,000 guests. Last week I was there  for comedienne Kim Coles who many also remember from two comedy sitcoms. She charmed the packed house with personal stories about her  life and family. What a breath of fresh air to have a comedienne who can be funny without being dirty. She’s a winner!  On the same bill was the Dave Damiani Jazz Combo who performed many familiar songs in their own style and arrangements. The food at the Club is quite good as is the service. Also good to know is there’s free parking in the Cheltenham garage which is also connected to the theatre. The Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club is located at 7719 Wisconsin Avenue. For information and reservations, call 240-330-4500 and check the  website at www.bethesdabluesjazz.com


ALEXANDRIA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA (ASO)



“DARE to Transcend”
 In its 75th season, the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra (ASO), under the direction of musical director Kim Allen Kluge, opened the season last weekend with the theme, “DARE to” at the Rachel Schlesinger Arts Center and Concert Hall. Guest musicians were the young Parnas sisters, Madalyn, age 23, a violinist and Cicely, age 21, a cellist. They performed Brahms’ Double Concerto in A minor, Op.102 in three movements. They were fabulous. Following an intermission, the Symphony performed Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 72. Conductor Kluge led them through the four  beautiful and exciting movements with an enthusiasm of his own that is so infectious. The next ASO concert will be February 14, 2015  featuring “DARE to Follow Your Heart.” For more information call 703-548-0885 and check the website at www.alexsym.org.