March-April 2017 | Featured Article

Things to See and Do in the Bethesda Area This Spring

Our picks for contests, concerts, theater productions and more

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They Will Survive 

March 5

From 1991 to 2002, Sierra Leone was devastated by a brutal and bloody civil war that forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes, many to refugee camps in the Republic of Guinea. Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars are musicians who met in the camps and went on to create songs of hope, faith and joy. Over three years, two American filmmakers documented the story of their exodus, struggle to survive and subsequent travels from camp to camp to perform for fellow refugees. The 2005 film, Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars, led to four albums and performances on some of the world’s most prestigious stages. The group, which has two original members and three newer performers, is currently one of Africa’s top touring and recording bands and often speaks out for the millions of refugees worldwide.
8 p.m. at AMP by Strathmore, $30-$40, www.ampbystrathmore.com.
 

Gotta Sing

March 3

Someone will win $10,000 at the third annual Bernard/Ebb Songwriting Awards. Entries for best original song, submitted by songwriters in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., have been narrowed down to eight finalists. They will perform for a live audience and three judges, and the winner and the best young songwriter (under 18) will be named at the end of the show. Finalists include Silver Spring resident Pete Garza of Band of Us, and, in the youth category, Matthew Hemmer, who lives in Bethesda and is a senior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. Also performing will be Justin Jones, last year’s grand prize winner.
7:30 p.m. at Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, $10-$15, www.bethesda.org
 

Sex & Stilettos

March 24

Sex and the City ran for six seasons on HBO, but New York actor/improviser/writer/producer Kerry Ipema covers it all in 90 minutes in One Woman Sex and the City: A Parody of Love, Friendships and Shoes. Ipema wrote the parody/tribute with TJ Dawe, who co-created and directed One Man Star Wars Trilogy, One Man Lord of the Rings and PostSecret: The Show. Last year, Ipema toured with PostSecret, a show about Frank Warren, who began a long artistic journey by asking 3,000 visitors to the 2004 Artomatic art show in Washington, D.C., to return postcards to him containing their innermost secrets. By 2014, 500,000 people had mailed confessions, and he turned them into five books and the play Ipema helped bring to life. Luckily, in the new 11-week national tour of One Woman Sex and the City, Ipema has to keep up with only a couple dozen characters from the long-running TV show.
8 p.m. at AMP by Strathmore, $30-$40, www.ampbystrathmore.com
 

Muggles Meet Up 

March 26

As PotterCon graduated from a small party of friends in Brooklyn to a big event in a warehouse bar three years ago, the Brooklyn Paper referred to it this way: “Call it Harry Potter and the Goblet of Beer.” Now, this convention for adult Harry Potter fans has made its way across the country and to The Fillmore in Silver Spring. The event, for ages 21 and older, involves day drinking, trivia and a costume contest. Butterbeer is served, and people will be sorted into the various Hogwarts houses. 
2 p.m. at The Fillmore, $15.50, www.fillmoresilverspring.com
 

Word Up 

April 21-23

Check out two book-filled festivals on the same weekend. The Bethesda Literary Festival, from April 21 to 23, offers more than 20 free events, including readings and book signings by local and national authors, journalists and poets. Among them: John A. Farrell, who has written biographies of Richard Nixon and Clarence Darrow; Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times Pentagon correspondent Helene Cooper; and former local and national broadcast journalist Christina Kovac. 
On April 23, about 85 authors will line Howard Avenue for the 12th annual Kensington Day of the Book Festival. Interspersed with the writers will be music stages, a children’s stage, special program tents and food trucks. A crafts fair will be held on Armory Avenue.

Bethesda Literary Festival: various times and locations, free, www.bethesda.org; Kensington Day of the Book Festival: 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Old Town Kensington, free, www.dayofthebook.com
 

A Bolly Baloo

April 22-May 28

The Disney cartoon version of The Jungle Book has become a classic. In the rewrite by Britain’s Greg Banks—re-created at Bethesda’s Imagination Stage by Artistic Director Janet Stanford and set designer Daniel Ettinger—the adventure aims closer to Rudyard Kipling’s 1894 stories about Mowgli, the boy raised in the jungles of India by wolves. The set is multilevel with “jungle ambience and elements of Kipling’s own house in Bombay [now Mumbai],” Stanford says. Also: a moon that lights up, monsoon rain effects and “a dramatic drop from a cliff for the evil Shere Khan.” Stanford adds a Bollywood beat and dance steps. Only five actors play all 16 parts, quickly transforming with animal headdresses and their voices. Recommended for ages 4 and older.

Imagination Stage, $12-$30, www.imaginationstage.org
 

Rent Recalled 

April 28

Twenty years have passed since the groundbreaking Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Rent debuted. Original cast members Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp, handpicked in 1996 by Jonathan Larson for the roles of Roger Davis and Mark Cohen, respectively, share highlights from their post-Rent careers and perform songs from their solo albums, plus new arrangements of Larson’s evocative tunes. (Larson died in 1996 on the morning of Rent’s first off-Broadway preview performance.) The emotional evening will remind the audience to “measure your life in love,” as one of the show’s tunes goes.
8 p.m. at The Music Center at Strathmore, $30-$75, www.strathmore.org
 

 

The Change Artist 

Multimedia artist Roni Horn has spent her career illustrating the constancy of change. Photos taken milliseconds apart appear identical but are different. A massive cube of pink glass seems simultaneously solid and liquid. Her oversize Ant Farm, which debuted in 1974, is a close-up view of how a living system evolves.

Glenstone museum in Potomac offers a four-decade retrospective of Horn. The 30-plus works, drawn exclusively from Glenstone’s collection and selected by Horn, will fill the museum’s 9,000 square feet of gallery space. This is believed to be her first solo showing in the D.C. area, says Laura Linton, Glenstone’s chief administrative officer. Here are five things to know about the show:

It Takes a Colony: Horn’s Ant Farm measures 47 inches by 70 inches, with an ant farm between two plates of glass roughly 1 inch apart. The museum is consulting with an Arizona State University entomologist to get and maintain the ant colony and procuring “a mineral-rich local soil from New Market, Maryland,” Linton says. 

A Bold Move: Pink Tons, a 4½-ton cube of cast optical glass, will be moved from Glenstone’s storage facility and installed by professional art handlers. 
making light: Gold Field is a sheet of pure gold only 100th of a millimeter thick, measuring 49 inches by 60 inches. It undulates across the floor. “Gold Field is so thin that it’s as close as you can get to making a surface of pure light while still having a material object,” Linton says.

Birds of a Nation: Horn, who has divided her time between New York and Iceland since the late 1970s, includes paired photos of the backs of taxidermic Icelandic birds’ heads in the show.

Getting a Glimpse: The 61-year-old artist will return to Glenstone several times during the run of the show to participate in programs.

March 9-January 2018 at Glenstone, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday-Sunday, free, visits must be scheduled online, www.glenstone.org