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 1,000,000 homes.

Thursday, October 29, 2015


    Who knew lovable looking puppets could be a little bit dirty? Well, that’s what we have in a really funny musical called, “Avenue Q”  produced by Constellation Theatre in the District. Just so you know, the puppets are attached to the hands and arms of real people, but honestly, you can’t take your eyes off the crazy antics of the puppets. The story is  about a young college grad named Princeton, played to perfection by Matt Dewberry. He has dreams about making it big in New York City and arrives without a job, a place to live and very little money. He finds a shabby apartment on “Avenue Q”  where his neighbors are raunchy puppets.  Constellation vet Katy Carhuff plays Princeton’s girlfriend Kate Monster. This show is so much fun—no wonder it won Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Original Score and Best Book. Constellation did a great job with this show thanks to director Allison Arkell Stackman, musical director Jake Null and a wonderful ensemble cast. The show is playing at the Source Theatre at 1835 14th St. NW. For information and tickets, call 202-204-7741 and check the website at

Monday, October 26, 2015


     I’m a Sushi lover and have had it many places in the Metro area and beyond. Little did I know that I would find the best Sushi in my own back yard at Sushi-Zen in the Lee Harrison Shopping Center. Not only is the Sushi great, but so is the service in this family operation led by Shoji Mochizuki, his wife, Rosie Gordon and their son, Brian. Sushi-Zen has been open since 1997 and consistently receives well deserved rave reviews. There’s Sushi, Sashimi, Teriyaki and Tempura dishes for both lunch and dinner and carry-out.  Check out the Bento boxes for lunch. Sushi-Zen’s wide variety of  rolls are not only works  of art, but delicious as well. One of my favorites is the President’s roll made with soft shell crab, cucumber, avocado and salmon drizzled with eel sauce. Another favorite is the crunchy spicy salmon rolls. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed  the Tempura dishes—lightly deep fried shrimp and vegetables—really scrumptious. In true Japanese fashion, Sushi-Zen’s Teriyaki is pan seared with their own specially blended sauce and you can choose from chicken, rib eye beef, salmon or shrimp. There’s so, so  much more including Japanese beer, sake and some interesting antioxidant beverages. Thanks to my friend Chuck Toftoy for introducing me to Sushi-Zen. I suspect I’ll become one of their many regulars like Chuck.  For more information, call Sushi-Zen at 703-534-6000 and check their website at


“The  Tale of the Allergist’s Wife”
     There’s nothing like a New York Jewish family. As a Brooklyn kid myself, I found the family in “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife,” currently playing at The Little Theatre of Alexandria, right on the mark.  It’s about  Marjorie, played by Karen Jadlos Shotts and her husband, Ira, played by Jack Stein, a retired allergy doctor. Marjorie is depressed because she feels she has nothing to show for her life. They live in a Manhattan apartment where her meddlesome mother, Frieda, played beautifully by Janice Zucker,  lives down the hall.Marjorie and Ira are a riot dealing with Marjorie’s depression and her mother’s digestive disorders. The surprise arrival of  Lee,  played by Marianne Meyers, a childhood friend of Marjorie’s, pushes the married couple  to the limit with lots of laughs. Omar Rocha plays Mohammed, the doorman with common sense. LTA is very good about  producing comedies and “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife” is a great example. I’d like to think the producer could bundle it up and take it to Broadway. Great direction by Michael Kharfen, Don’t miss this fun-filled show before it closes on Nov. 14. For information and tickets, call 703-683-0496 or check the website at

Saturday, October 24, 2015

ARENA STAGE - -“Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End”

     The twin sisters who wrote, “Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins,” are back again at Arena Stage in D.C. with, “Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End.” The sisters are Allison and Margaret Engel. The play is one hour and stars Barbara Chisholm as Erma Bombeck. She is assisted by recorded voices of her husband, children and Betty Friedan. Chisholm plays the role with the warmth and humor Erma is so remembered for and we got a good idea of the mother/housewife who wrote for 900 newspapers and authored 12 books. We were also reminded how involved Erma was in equal rights for women. Erma passed  away at the age of 69 in 1996. She was one of my wife’s favorite columnists and authors. Don’t miss this humor-packed show which is part of the Women’s Voices Theatre Festival going on through October.  “Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End” runs through Nov. 8. And on a personal note, the Engel sisters’ sister, Joan Horwitt, is a neighbor of ours here in Arlington. For tickets and information, call 202-488-3300 and check the website at


    Shakespeare Theatre Company’s entry in the ongoing Women’s Voices Theater Festival is a 90 minute reinterpretation by Yaël Farber of the  biblical figure, “Salome.” You will recall that Salomé was the daughter of King Herod and for some reason demanded the head of John the Baptist. Farber is presenting this story from a feminist viewpoint and Salomé is no longer a villain. I have to admit I had a little trouble wrapping my mind around this version that had  political overtones. The lead role of Salomë  is actually played by two actors, Nadine Malouf and Olwen Fouere as Nameless Woman. At first I thought Nameless Woman was an older Salomé expressing regrets about her earlier years.This is an example of Farber’s use of extreme poetic license. John the Baptist was played by Ramzi Choukair. The whole cast was made up of internationally acclaimed actors. “Salome” runs through Nov. 8 at STC’s Lansburgh Theatre at 450 – 7th St NW in the District. For information and tickets, call 202-547-1122 and check the website at www.ShakespeareTheatre,org. Next up at STC is “Kiss Me Kate,” a musical version of “The Taming of the Shrew”. It opens Nov. 17.