Things to See and Do in January and February in the Bethesda Area
Our picks for comedy shows, theater productions and more
Caroline, or change. Courtesy of round house theatre
Jan. 25-Feb. 26
For its staging of Caroline, or Change, Round House Theatre in Bethesda is rolling out the largest cast, orchestra and budget for any production in its 30-year history. The Tony-nominated musical, loosely based on American playwright Tony Kushner’s Caroline, uses blues, gospel and traditional Jewish melodies to communicate the ideologies that dominated the civil rights movement. The story is set just before President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in 1963. When money goes missing in a middle-class Jewish home in the South, the family suspects their African-American maid and single mother of four, Caroline.
Round House Theatre, $46-$61, www.roundhousetheatre.org
Courtesy of Strathmore
Knights Who Say “Ni!”
For fans of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, there’s at least one thing better than a screening of the cult classic: It’s a screening of the film followed by a Q&A session with Python co-founder and comedian John Cleese. When Cleese—who’s 77 and has a newly launched YouTube channel—comes to Strathmore for only one night, he will share anecdotes from his career and personal life. Ridiculous questions are encouraged.
8 p.m. at The Music Center at Strathmore, $55-$250, www.strathmore.org
If I Were President
Only six days after the presidential inauguration, New York comedian Joey Vega will debut his “If I Were President” stand-up show at the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club. He honed his comedic chops working as a staff writer for George Lopez’s Lopez Tonight, opening for Marc Anthony and touring with Jennifer Lopez and Chris Rock. He’s also acted alongside Tom Hanks, Sally Field, Matt Damon and other celebs in a variety of TV episodes and films, and has supplied some punch lines for a long list of movies, including Grown Ups and What to Expect When You’re Expecting.
8 p.m. at Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, $25, www.bethesdabluesjazz.com
Courtesy of Imagination Stage
Funky Fairy Tale
Feb. 11-March 18
Imagination Stage takes a fairy tale to the future, setting Snow White in the year 3000 and calling it The Freshest Snow Whyte. Writer and director Psalmayene 24 (Gregory Morrison), who has put hip-hop spins on three past plays for Imagination Stage, pits Snow Whyte against Kanye East in a graffiti art competition. A character reminiscent of reality-TV judge Simon Cowell decides which artist makes the “freshest” images of the universe. Exiled to a distant planet where she encounters twin alien rappers (drawing upon the conventional story’s Seven Dwarfs), Snow Whyte learns that the secret to talent is that it is shared, rather than belonging to only one person.
Imagination Stage, $12-$30, www.imaginationstage.org
Can six local theater companies—including Adventure, Flying V and Round House—write, direct, rehearse and perform an original 10- to 20-minute play when given only 24 hours to prepare? The 13th annual Play in a Day event kicks off on Friday, Feb. 17, when playwrights and directors from three theater companies will be given the same line of dialogue and props, and the other three companies will be given another line of dialogue and set of props. Rehearsals begin the following morning, and at Saturday night’s performance audiences can try to spot the similarities and differences between the typically comedic PG-13 scenes.
8 p.m. at Imagination Stage, $15, www.bethesda.org/bethesda/play-day
Courtesy of Strathmore
Music with a Message
Feb. 24, Feb. 26
The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Wynton Marsalis, the National Philharmonic and a 150-person gospel choir come together in All Rise, Marsalis’ post-9/11 work about “the rise from destruction to creativity, drawing joy out of tragedy and refusing to be beaten down.” Each of the 12 movements contains hints of New Orleans flare, though such details may be overlooked by jazz novices in the audience. That’s why Marsalis mentee and musician Damien Sneed will host a preconcert lecture before both shows, at which he will discuss the elements of what makes up Marsalis’ signature sound. The lecture is free for those with a ticket to the concert.
Feb. 24 at 8 p.m. and Feb. 26 at 4 p.m., The Music Center at Strathmore, $65-$175, www.strathmore.org
Behind the Rock ’N’ Roll Scenes
Guitarist Danny Gatton, a Washington, D.C., native, never belonged to one music genre but instead experimented with a variety of sounds, including blues, jazz and honky-tonk country music in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. Gatton was 49 when he died in 1994, but his musical legacy lives on via Anacostia Delta, a documentary concert film debuting at AMP. The title came from Gatton, who had dubbed Prince George’s County “Anacostia Delta” in reference to the Mississippi Delta, which was popular for producing music legends. The 90-minute documentary features photos, footage and fan videos from Gatton’s heyday performances, and interviews from a 2015 concert celebrating him at The Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia. The screening is accompanied by a live performance featuring musicians who appear in the film and were also directly connected to Gatton, including John Previti on bass, Jim Stephanson on guitar/vocals and Tim Ford on piano/vocals.
8 p.m. at AMP by Strathmore, $25-$35, www.ampbystrathmore.com
Courtesy of iStock
The Year of the Rooster
When the Chinese Lunar New Year is ushered in on Jan. 28, it will become the Year of the Rooster. While some might choose to sweep out the dust, dirt and grime of the past year in preparation for the new, here are some other ways to celebrate the Chinese holiday.
Ring in the new year at a free event at Thomas S. Wootton High School on Jan. 28, hosted by Rockville’s mayor and council and the Asian Pacific American Task Force. Performances spanning multiple generations will take place between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., and an Asian cuisine tasting will begin at noon.
Long-Running Lunar Fun
Keeping with tradition, Lakeforest Mall in Gaithersburg will host its 18th annual Lunar New Year Festival, kicking off with a noon ceremony on Jan. 28 and continuing through Feb. 5. A variety of dance groups will perform between noon and 5 p.m. on Jan. 28 and 29, and on Dec. 4 and 5. This year’s festival features a tai chi exhibition led by Rockville-based TCCII, an associate club of Gaithersburg’s Chinese Culture and Community Service Center.
Celebrate in the Libraries
A few of Montgomery County Public Libraries’ branches host Lunar New Year celebrations every year. The Gaithersburg, Potomac and Rockville Memorial branches are among the 2017 celebrators. The library in Gaithersburg will host a performance by Rockville’s Li-Ming Chinese Academy at 2 p.m. on Jan. 28. On Feb. 4, Rockville Memorial will feature dance and ballet performances by Madison Chinese Dance Academy from 11 a.m. to noon, and at 2 p.m., the Li-Ming Chinese Academy will perform at the library in Potomac.