Things to See and Do in the Bethesda Area in May and June
Our picks for live music, theater and other entertainment
June 26-Aug. 11
The Ballad of Mu Lan comes to Bethesda’s Imagination Stage, combining elements of martial arts, traditional Peking opera, and musical theater with themes of honor and courage. Based on a traditional Chinese folk tale, the story tells of Mu Lan, a young girl who goes to battle in place of her father after China orders one man from each family to join the army fighting against invaders. Mu Lan befriends her fellow soldiers and (spoiler alert) ultimately saves the day and proves that girls can do anything. The show premiered at the Honolulu Theatre for Youth in 2017. Original playwright and director Alvin Chan and original musician Matt Mazzella join this production, which includes a revamping of the original music and a larger cast to incorporate more martial arts talent and live percussion. Recommended for ages 4 and older.
$15-$35, Imagination Stage, imaginationstage.org
According to legend, a certain kind of magic, luck and serendipity led to the creation of the Buena Vista Social Club, the landmark 1997 album that helped introduce the world to the sounds of 1940s and ’50s Cuban music. Musicians from Mali were supposed to join a group of Cuban musicians to record an album, but when the Africans couldn’t obtain visas, the Cuban group had to improvise, creating a multigenerational orchestra that included some performers who had retired long ago. The album, recorded over six days in a vintage 1950s Cuban recording studio, sold millions of copies worldwide. Strathmore hopes to rekindle that magic at El Gran Festival de Musica Cubana, a concert that will bring together veteran musicians from the Buena Vista Social Club and other celebrated Cuban performers.
8 p.m., $78-$128, The Music Center at Strathmore, strathmore.org
Let It Glow
The city of Gaithersburg lights up the night in two ways at SummerFest, its annual celebration of our country’s independence. Despite taking place several days before July 4, the event will feature a spectacular fireworks display and a glow-in-the dark after party. First up is a street festival featuring live music, food vendors, craft beer tastings from local breweries, strolling entertainers and kids activities, including inflatable amusements, face painting, balloon twisting and lawn games. The fireworks start at dusk. After that, get your glow sticks ready for the SummerGlo After Party, where the music continues and LED-illuminated hula-hoopers, jugglers and stilt-walkers entertain the late crowd.
5-11:30 p.m., free, Bohrer Park at Summit Hall Farm, gaithersburgmd.gov