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 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.


Friday, November 14, 2014

PORT CITY PLAYHOUSE



“In the Next Room”
This play set in the early 20th century could never have been staged back then. I’m talking about Sarah Ruhl’s “In the Next Room,”  produced by Port City Playhouse. With the advent of electricity, a vibrator became an important instrument in the hands of  Dr. Givings (Will MacLeod) for his female patients with all kinds of  problems. He treats women who are nervous and near hysteria with the relaxing vibrator applied to the appropriate area. Two patients get the benefit of Dr. Giving’s handiwork: Elizabeth (Kadira Coley) and Mrs. Daldry (Alexandra Guyker). However, the woman who needs
Dr. Givings handiwork the most is Mrs. Givings (Madeline Byrd). Rounding out the cast were  understudy Derek Critzer who stepped in as Leo Irving and added a lot of humor; Kelly L. Moran as Anne, the nurse assistant and Cal Whitehurst as Mr. Daldry.  “In the Next Room,” as you can imagine, evoked a lot of titillating laughter. Mary Ayala-Bush directed. The play runs through November 22 at The Lab at Crestwood Drive and Quaker Lane in Alexandria. For information and tickets, check the website at www.portcityplayhouse.org.

ENCORE STAGE & STUDIO



“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”
The current stage production of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” by Encore Stage & Studio, is the legendary ghost story written by Washington Irving.  It’s recommended for ages six and above, but the kids around me who were under six, were sure having a good time. Encore specializes in kids’ classics. Sleepy Hollow is a little town full of ghost stories like the tale of the Headless Horseman. However, with the arrival of a new school teacher, Ichabod Crane (Colin Meek), strange things begin to happen especially after he comes face to face with the ghost. With a cast of two dozen students, the show is wonderfully entertaining. Susan A. Keady is the director and Sara Strehle Duke is the executive director. “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” runs weekends through November 16 at the Thomas Jefferson Community Theatre. Encore’s next production is “Cinderella”, January 9 through January 18 also at TJ. For more information, call 703-548-1154 and check the website at www.encorestage.org.  Discounts are available for group tickets.owever, with the arrival
. . . Susan A. Keady.