Things to See and Do in November and December in the Bethesda Area
Our picks for comedy shows, theater productions and more
Back in Black
Comedian and Silver Spring native Lewis Black is known for his humorous rants on current events, politics and life’s general absurdities. Starting in 1996, national audiences got a taste of his trademark yelling and finger-pointing on The Daily Show, with his recurring “Back in Black” segment. The Springbrook High School graduate returns to his hometown for two nights of stand-up comedy at the Fillmore. Expect to get an earful about this year’s presidential contest.
8 p.m. at The Fillmore Silver Spring, $49.50-$69.50, www.fillmoresilverspring.com
Tale As Old As Time
Nov. 19 through Jan. 15
It’s been 25 years since Disney first delighted audiences with Beauty and the Beast. Imagination Stage in Bethesda brings to life the beloved story of Belle and a beast who turns out to be more than he seems. The production will include all the classic music, such as “Be Our Guest” and, of course, “Beauty and the Beast,” but designers are planning a more sophisticated look than the typical Disney fare. Clocking in at just an hour and 15 minutes, the show—recommended for ages 4 and up—may be easier for children to sit through than the 2½-hour Broadway version.
Imagination Stage, $10-$42, www.imaginationstage.org
Merry and Bright
Nov. 18 through Dec. 31
Visitors can drive through 3.5 miles of sparkling light displays with themes such as Teddy Bear Land, Victorian Village and the North Pole at Gaithersburg’s Winter Lights Festival. The season kicks off with special events, including S’more Lights and Trolley Rides (Nov. 18), when guests can make their own s’mores, take a trolley ride through the lights display and get a picture with Santa; Wine Under the Lights (Nov. 20), which includes wine tastings, live music and trolley rides; and a Leashes ‘n’ Lights pet night (Nov. 22), when furry friends are invited for a holiday romp.
Seneca Creek State Park, $12-$15 for cars, SUVs and minivans, www.gaithersburgmd.gov
Sounds of Silence
Through Nov. 20
Long before the age of stadium seating, computer graphics and surround sound, there was silent cinema. Movies were black and white, and live musicians often provided a cinematic score. Modern audiences can get a taste of that experience when the AFI Silver Theatre presents its annual Silent Cinema Showcase, featuring silent movies accompanied by live music, ranging from solo organists to a full orchestra. The lineup includes some of the most popular silent films from the early 1900s, including Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925) and Charlie Chaplin’s The Circus (1928).
AFI Silver, $8-$20, www.afi.com/silver
Courtesy of Round House Theatre
Christmas With the Darcys
Nov. 23 through Dec. 18
Jane Austen fans wishing to revisit their favorite characters from Pride and Prejudice get a holiday treat in Miss Bennet Christmas at Pemberley at Round House Theatre in Bethesda. The new play by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon is a sequel to Pride and Prejudice and picks up two years after the classic Austen story leaves off. Set in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Darcy, it centers on Mary Bennet, the bookish younger sister of Elizabeth, as jealousies, feuds and secrets swirl around invited and uninvited guests.
Round House Theatre, $36-$65, www.roundhousetheatre.org
Jazzing Up a Classic
From traditional ballet to hip-hop stylings, there’s a variation on Tchaikovsky’s classic holiday ballet The Nutcracker for every taste. In a new twist, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is offering A “Swingin’ Nutcracker” à la Ellington at Strathmore. Inspired by Duke Ellington’s swing version of the original, jazz composer Paul Murtha created a two-act show that features Step Afrika!, a Washington, D.C., dance company that blends percussive stepping with traditional African dance.
8 p.m. at The Music Center at Strathmore, $12.50-$60, www.strathmore.org
Swinging in the New Year
Looking for a New Year’s Eve celebration that welcomes all ages, yet still feels special, festive and sophisticated? Check out the New Year’s Eve Swing Dance at Glen Echo Park’s Spanish Ballroom. The Tom Cunningham Orchestra, which is known for playing original arrangements of the swing era’s most popular and enduring music, performs in the park’s restored art deco dance hall.
8 p.m. to midnight at the Spanish Ballroom at Glen Echo Park, $25, www.glenechopark.org
Courtesy of Stephanie Berger
No Strings Attached
Demolishing Everything with Amazing Speed, a surreal show by puppeteer Dan Hurlin, features dozens of puppets in four plays based on scripts written by Italian futurist Fortunato Depero in 1917. Hurlin discovered the plays in 2013 and was interested in their political message. Futurism, one of 20th-century Europe’s fringe cultural movements, celebrated technology, speed, violence, change and destroying older forms of culture. Full of bizarre and nonsensical imagery, the plays, which have no dialogue, are harrowing and disturbing, but also playful. Although they feature puppets, they certainly aren’t for children. At the American Dance Institute in Rockville, the plays will be performed as four acts, each with puppetry, music and elements of video.
8 p.m. at American Dance Institute, $15-$30, www.americandance.org
Joi Brown courtesy of Strathmore
The Lady Behind the Curtain
Since becoming vice president of programming at Strathmore in September 2015, Joi Brown has brought diverse acts to its three venues: the Music Center, the Mansion and Amp. A graduate of Thomas S. Wootton High School, Brown, 54, lives in Rockville.
To decide what to put on Strathmore’s stages, Brown stays on top of fresh acts and finds the best way to present them. She also sees as many performances as possible. Over the summer, she traveled to festivals in Scotland and Rhode Island to scope out acts, some of which will head to the Music Center this season. We asked her which performances she’s most excited about in the 2016-2017 season:
Piedmont Blues (Dec. 10)
“[This] is a brand new project that will research the music out of the North Carolina tobacco area, the whole Piedmont Blues style, with a phenomenal blues pianist who’s doing all of the research—his name is Gerald Clayton—and Lizz Wright, who is just one of the most outstanding jazz vocalists and blues vocalists on the scene right now.”
4×4: Ephemeral Architectures (Jan. 22)
“It’s a collaborative piece that blends ballet, juggling and a live string quintet on stage, and it’s beautiful. These things that are being juggled in space become completely complementary to the ballet dancing that’s going on, so the movement is really fluid and the dancers are moving in and out of flying sculptures.”
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis: All Rise (Feb. 24 and 26)
“[The performance] is a massive music piece that includes Jazz at Lincoln Center, Wynton, a 62-piece orchestra and a 150-person gospel choir. So that’s not something that will ever tour. It has to be created, and it takes a commitment from a venue and the resources they can pull together to make it happen.” n