The theater’s production of the rock-fable “Fly by Night” racked up nine nominations, while the father-son story “Swimming With Whales” and Aaron Sorkin’s “The Farnsworth Invention” each earned six nods. One nomination for “A Civil War Christmas” brought 1st Stage up to a total of 22 nominations — the second most for any theater, trailing Arena Stage’s 25.
Named after the “First Lady of American Theatre” Helen Hayes, the awards recognize excellence in professional theatre in the D.C. area and are split into two main categories: the “Hayes” for productions featuring a majority of theater union members and the “Helen” for productions with fewer union members.
Here is 1st Stage Theatre’s full list of wins:
- Outstanding Direction in a Musical (Helen): Kathryn Chase Bryer for “Fly by Night”
- Outstanding Ensemble in a Musical (Helen): “Fly by Night”
- Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Musical (Helen): Caroline Wolfson in “Fly by Night”
- Robert Prosky Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play (Helen): Matthew Wilson in “Swimming With Whales” (also shared with Josh Adams in Theater Alliance’s “The Events”).
- Outstanding Production in a Musical (Helen): “Fly by Night”
Yesterday’s awards ceremony boosted the theater in nominations and wins from last year.
In 2018, 1st Stage won two of its 10 nominations. Frank Britton took home the Robert Prosky Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play (Helen) for 1st Stage’s production of “Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train.” Also, Jose Guzman received the James MacArthur Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play (Helen) for the same show.
Photo via Twitter
Named after the “First Lady of American Theatre” Helen Hayes, the awards recognize excellence in professional theatre in the D.C. area. The awards are split into two main categories: the “Hayes” for productions featuring a majority of theater union members and the “Helen” for productions with fewer union members.
The Tysons theater racked up 22 total nominations in the Helen categories and trailed Arena’s 25 nominations for the most for any theater, along with the second most for a single production — nine for rock-fable “Fly by Night” — behind 13 for “The Wiz” at Ford’s Theatre.
The father-son story “Swimming With Whales” and “The Farnsworth Invention” by Aaron Sorkin — the screenwriter and director behind “The West Wing” and “The Newsroom” — both received six nominations for the theater, while “A Civil War Christmas” earned one.
Here is 1st Stage Theatre’s full list of nominations for each show:
- “Fly by Night” — Musical Direction, Direction in a Musical, Ensemble in a Musical, Supporting Actor in a Musical, Supporting Actress in a Musical (2), Lead Actor in a Musical (2), Production in a Musical
- “Swimming With Whales” — Costume Design, Sound Design, Direction in a Play, Ensemble in a Play, Robert Prosky Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play, Production in a Play
- “The Farnsworth Invention” — Direction in a Play, Ensemble in a Play, Supporting Actress in a Play, Robert Prosky Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play (2), Production in a Play
- “A Civil War Christmas” — Musical Direction
Last year, 1st Stage won two of its 10 nominations. Frank Britton took home the Robert Prosky Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play (Helen) for 1st Stage’s production of “Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train.” Also, Jose Guzman received the James MacArthur Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play (Helen) for the same show.
The winners for this year’s nominations will be revealed tonight (May 13).
Photo by Ryan Maxwell Photography
“The Member of the Wedding” will open tonight (May 9) at Tysons’ 1st Stage Theatre, closing out the theater’s 11th season.
Based on the 1946 novel of the same name by Carson McCullers, the drama focuses on a young girl’s dreams of leaving her small Southern town with her brother and his fiancee.
Here is 1st Stage Theatre’s description of the show:
In 1945 rural Georgia, the long, hot days of summer bring struggle, longing, and opportunity for 12-year-old Frankie Addams and her family’s housekeeper Berenice Sadie Brown. Frankie longs to escape with her newlywed brother on adventures in the Alaskan wilderness. Berenice struggles to balance enduring the deeply entrenched racism of the rural South with her role as surrogate mother to Frankie and her 6-year-old cousin. Adapted from the beloved novel of the same name, this evocative, poetic coming of age drama explores the pains of youth and the meaning of family.
The play will run until June 2. Performances for “The Member of the Wedding” are:
- Thursdays — 7:30 p.m.
- Fridays — 8 p.m.
- Saturdays — 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
- Sundays — 2 p.m.
General admission tickets are $39 or $36 for seniors over 65. Students and military tickets are $15.
Photo via Facebook
The play weaves together factual testimonies from survivors and community members with fictional representations of students impacted by the shooting.
The play was written by Stephen Karam and PJ Paparelli and first premiered in Silver Spring, Maryland in 2005. The 1st Stage production is directed by Alex Levy, artistic director at 1st Stage, and Juan Francisco Villa.
The plan opened March 28 and is scheduled to run until April 20.
Tickets for the show are $39 for general audiences, $36 for seniors, or $15 for students or military.
The 1st Stage Theatre also offers post-show programs for many of its productions.
- Saturday, April 6 — a discussion with the cast of the show.
- Saturday, April 13 — Dr. Ebony White, assistant clinical professor of behavioral health counseling at Drexler University, is scheduled to discuss the behavioral health and trauma issues related to the play.
Photo courtesy Teresa Castracane/1st Stage Theatre
The Weekly Planner is a roundup of interesting events coming up over the next week in the Tysons area.
We’ve scoured the web for events of note in Tysons, Vienna, Merrifield, McLean and Falls Church. Know of any we’ve missed? Tell us!
Tuesday (March 12)
- Workshop: Fair Housing Protections for People with Disabilities — 12-1 p.m. at The Arc of Northern Virginia (2755 Hartland Rd.) — Non-profit organizations Arc of Northern Virginia and Housing Opportunities Made Equal are hosting a workshop on fair housing protections for people with disabilities focusing on what state policies are for housing discrimination and what people with disabilities should look out for when moving into a home.
Wednesday (March 13)
- McLean Public Safety Program — 7:30 p.m. at the McLean Governmental Center Community Room (1437 Balls Hill Road) — The McLean Citizens Association invites the public to its Public Safety Program featuring Richard Schott, Fairfax County’s police auditor and Anna Northcutt, a member of the Fairfax County Police Civilian Review Panel.
Thursday (March 14)
- Community Forum on Housing for All — 7-8:30 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Vienna (450 Orchard St NW) — The Fairfax County NAACP will be hosting an event discussing issues related to affordable housing in Fairfax.
Friday (March 15)
- Farewell Bell’s at Tysons Biergarten — 11-2 a.m. at the Tysons Biergarten (8346 Leesburg Pike) — The Biergarten is celebrating Bell’s before the company’s beer is no longer sold in Virginia. Everything from fruity drinks to a selection of stouts will be on offer. Registration for the event is free. The event is free and open to the public. A similar event will be held in the Lost Dog Cafe in Merrifield on Wednesday.
- Chubbies Tysons Grand Opening — 5-8 p.m. at Tysons Corner Center (1961 Chain Bridge Rd.) — To coincide with the coming of spring, shorts chain Chubbies is celebrating with music and free gifts for the first 100 purchasers of items over $99.
- Backbeat Underground Live — 8-10 p.m. at 1st Stage Theatre (1524 Spring Hill Rd.) — The Backbeat Underground and Virginia Chamber Orchestra will be performing a “souljazz” concert in the Tysons black-box theater. Tickets are $25 at the door, $20 for seniors or advance purchasers, or $15 for students or military.
Sunday (March 17)
- The 8th Annual Nowruz Festival — 10 a.m.-6 p.m. at Tysons Corner Center (8100 Tysons Corner Ctr) — A bazaar with music, dance and costumed characters will be held at the mall to celebrate the Persian New Year. The event is planned to include six hours of live performances and an array of traditional Persian sweets, pastries and other dishes.
- Trade-In and Trade-Up Bicycle Blue Book Event — 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at Spokes Etc. (224 Maple Ave E) — The Spokes Etc. Vienna location is offering credit for anyone who trades in an old bicycle and an additional 10 percent through March 31 for anyone upgrading to a Trek Disc Brake Road Bike. The Blue Book value guide can help assess the value of the bike for trade-in credit.
- Capitol Steps in Vienna — 4-6 p.m. at James Madison High School (2500 James Madison Dr.) — Bipartisan political satire crew Capitol Steps will perform at James Madison High School in a fundraiser for the school’s booster organization. Tickets range from $25 to $30.
Photo via Facebook
In a panel discussion on the role of arts in a rapidly gentrifying D.C. region, 1st Stage Theatre’s artistic director Alex Levy spoke on WAMU’s Kojo Nnamdi Show yesterday about the theater’s role in Tysons’ ongoing evolution.
Levy said on the show that before he came to Tysons, he’d heard it called a cultural wasteland — comparing it to the spots on old maritime maps where it’s just mermaids and openness.
“As I got here, that’s the conversation I heard forever, that this thing doesn’t belong out here,” said Levy. “But as soon as the company started, there was a great love for it because people want the arts in their community. They need it in their community.”
The theater is located above a garage and a salsa/bachata nightclub and Levy said many visitors don’t realize the theater is there until they walk inside.
“Anybody who has driven around Tysons, the thing you see most is a crane,” Levy said in the interview. “Most of what they’re building are large residential buildings. One of the reasons I moved my family to this community was to be a part of that conversation… You can’t build a community — the thing Tysons wants to be — without a cultural life.”
Here are some arts events — predominately concerts and theater showings — showcased by ARTSFAIRFAX around the Tysons area in March.
- Epic Grandeur — Tonight (March 1) at 7:30 in Saint Luke Catholic Church (7001 Georgetown Pike) — The Tysons McLean Orchestra will be performing a mix of Georges Bizet and Johannes Brahms. General admission tickets are $40.
- Thunder Knocking on the Door — Feb. 14 – March 10 at Creative Cauldron (410 S. Maple Ave) — The Creative Cauldron theater group is currently performing the Tony Award-nominated musical about a mysterious Faustian bargain in a small Alabama town. The show runs every weekend with adult admission tickets at $32.
- Olenna — March 7-15 at the Italian Cafe (7161 Lee Highway) — The Providence Players will present the David Mamet 1992 play about two people engaged in a power struggle over a sexual harassment scandal. The play runs approximately 80 minutes and with general admission at $10.
- In Celebration of Life: Mozart and Faure — March 9 at The Falls Church Episcopal Church (115 E. Fairfax Street) — Choralis will present a broad selection of Mozart’s music, from a song written at 18 to one just five months before his death. General admission tickets are $40. Audience members are encouraged to bring unneeded prescription eyeglasses to the concert for donation to the Lions Eyeglass Recycling Center of Northern Virginia.
- Reflections — March 17 at Saint Luke Roman Catholic Church (7001 Georgetown Pike) — The Reston Chorale will present an afternoon of choral and organ arrangements with members of the Piedmont Symphony Orchestra. General admission tickets are currently $25 until March 16. Active duty military can attend for free.
- A Bohemian Life — March 18 at The Falls Church Episcopal (115 E. Fairfax Street) — The Tysons McLean Orchestra will present a collection of musical selections from Central Europe. General admission tickets are $40.
- columbinus — March 28 – April 20 at 1st Stage Theater (1524 Spring Hill Rd.) — Tyson’s 1st Stage theater will present a docudrama following the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School. The production is comprised of excerpts from interviews with survivors, parents, and community members. General admission tickets are $39.
- Rachmaninoff: All Night Virgil — March 30 at Church of the Holy Cross (2455 Gallows Road) — VOCE will be presenting an acapella evening of the post-romantic music of Rachmaninoff. A second performance will be held on March 31 at the Church of Holy Comforter in Vienna. Tickets are $25.
In addition to the programming listed above, The Barns at Wolf Trap has extensive programming throughout March.
Photo via Facebook
(Updated at 12:20 a.m.) 1st Stage may be a little theater in Tysons, but it’s drawing some big attention from the regional theater world.
The play follows two brothers, as a hardworking man in the Louisiana bayou struggles to reform his brother, who was recently released from prison.
Currently the chair of playwriting at Yale School of Drama, McCraney achieved widespread acclaim after “Moonlight,” a movie he co-wrote and that was based on one of his plays, won the Academy Award for Best Picture last year.
“It’s a really stunningly beautiful, very tight three-person drama,” said Alex Levy, artistic director at 1st Stage. “It’s poetic and gripping and very funny. It’s a wonderful introduction to his world if folks are unfamiliar.”
Carrasquillo said he connects with the play on a very personal level. Like many of the characters, and like McCraney, Carrasquillo is a gay man and an artist of color. Like much of McCraney’s work, “The Brothers Size” tackles themes of machismo and differing views of manhood and sexuality in black communities.
“It’s been quite an exhilarating journey for me,” Carrasquillo said. “I’m a huge fan of the cultural spirituality that is inherent in everything he writes. I’m from Puerto Rico and can relate to a lot of that kind of religious and structure and deities… There’s a lot of feelings you have to keep to yourself, so in a way you have to live a double life because it’s seen as a sign of weakness.”
Carrasquillo said he’d been wanting to make the trip out to Tysons to work on a play for some time, and when Levy proposed directing “The Brothers Size” it seemed like a perfect fit. While Tysonians are predominately white and affluent, Carrasquillo notes that the region as a whole is diverse
“How do we bridge this? Because this community for this theater, they have embraced [Levy] and the work they do, but this feels like something really different than what they’ve seen,” Carrasquillo said. “I’m really hoping to have that dialogue with this community.”
“Theaters largely attract people that can afford that kind of ticket, but this is a very affordable theater,” said Carrasquillo. “This is a professional, young, hip community that come and support the work [at 1st Stage]. Those are people that will challenge you as a director because they really know their pop culture and they expect you to rise to their level of interest.”
Levy said the play is particularly important in light of current national conversations about black identity in America and the criminal justice system.
“I think theater is one of the last places where we’ve really come together and celebrate empathy and living in the lives of the people who are not like us,” said Levy. “It becomes a really important opportunity for those who are not part of the African-American community and important in our diversifying community that we celebrate voices and experiences of all of our community.”
The 1st Stage Theatre is a black box theater with very little distance between the audience and the stage, which Levy says is ideal for this type of play.
“It’s inherently a very intimate show,” said Levy. “I love the way it fits into our space. It’s a show where all three actors are on the stage throughout the show and are very connected to the audience. Having a space where the performance is so close to the audience is what really attracted me to the play.”
The play stars Gary-Kayi Fletcher as Ogun Size, Thony Mena as Elgba, and Clayton Pelham Jr. as Oshoosi Size.
The play will run until Feb. 24. Performances for “The Brothers Size” are:
- Thursdays — 7:30 p.m.
- Fridays — 8 p.m.
- Saturdays — 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
- Sundays — 2 p.m.
General admission tickets are $39, or $36 for seniors over 65. Students and military tickets are $15.
A traveling musical about women’s suffrage, called “19” after the 19th amendment, is stopping in Tysons this weekend for two shows as part of a tour celebrating the upcoming 100th anniversary of the amendment’s passage.
The musical highlights the stories of Alice Paul, Ida B. Wells, Susan B. Anthony and other suffragists who fought for the right to vote.
“The inspirational story of these fearless women is brought to life through jazz, spoken word, dance, and audience interaction,” according to the musical’s website.
Tomorrow night (Friday) and Saturday, the show will perform at 1st Stage in Tysons. Each show starts at 8 p.m.
Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for students of members of the military.
Later this month, the 1st Stage theater will open “The Brothers Size,” a play by “Moonlight” co-creator Tarell Alvin McCraney about a pair of brothers reuniting in the Louisiana bayou. The play will run from Jan. 31 to Feb. 24.
Photo via Facebook
If you didn’t know it was there, it would be easy to miss the 1st Stage Theater.
The entrance is at the end of a long walkway over a garage and a new salsa/bachatta nightclub at 1524 Spring Hill Rd. But despite the humble appearance, for the last ten years has held the distinction of being Tysons’ only professional theater and one of the few arts venues in an area that can sometimes seem like a cultural vacuum.
Like the rest of Tysons, 1st Stage Theater has been finding an identity and working through growing pains.
The theater’s director, Alex Levy, took over the company four years ago. From the moment he walked in, Levy said he was in love with the location. Levy said the black box theater offers a large enough stage to produce shows of a grand scale, but is also close enough to its audience for a level of intimacy. But for the region, Tysons is still the frontier when it comes to arts and culture.
“It’s great being part of the [Washington D.C.] theater community, but it’s a challenge being at the edge of that,” said Levy.
Levy, who had previously worked in theater in Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago, said that before he moved here, there were people who tried to warn him away.
“People tried to warn me that it was a suburban community,” said Levy. “There’s this idea that art can only exist in the urban centers. But I think this shows that that’s not the case. I don’t think there’s anything we can’t do here.”
According to Levy, the theater has been growing in attendance by 15 percent year after year, but that’s starting to have its own challenges as well.
“We’re in a position where we’re starting to feel the limitations of our capacity here,” said Levy. “We have conversations all the time about what the next home might look like. We’re not leaving Tysons, and while we want to expand, we want to maintain that intimacy. But here, there’s a lot of things behind the stage we need to expand. “
Some of those constraints have become most palpable with the theater’s most recent production. Last week, “A Civil War Christmas”, directed by Deidra LaWan Starnes, opened at the theater. With a cast of 12 actors playing 48 characters, the play is ambitious for a black-box theater without any wings and a dining-room sized green room.
“We need better rehearsal rooms, we need more bathrooms, and we would love to be in a more high visibility area,” said Levy.
The theater has made some expansions, like a new rehearsal space they moved into next door to the black-box theater that allows the company to rehearse the next play while one is still being performed. There’s also costuming and storage space, but these are short term fixes for what Levy recognizes is a longer term challenge of the theater’s location.
But Levy said the script, written by Pulitzer Prize winner Paula Vogel, about disparate people coming together in a time of strife, was a message he thought was very relevant. Despite the challenges the scope of the play presented, Levy said he felt it was important for the theater to attempt.
“One thing that we always ask is ‘What does it mean to do this show at this time and this place?'” said Levy.
Next year, the 1st Stage Theater’s season is scheduled to continue in the spring with “The Brothers Size,” a play by life on the bayou by Tarell Alvin McCraney, the writer of “Moonlight.” Later that year, the company is scheduled to perform “columbinus,” a play about the Columbine High School shooting.
A “Civil War Christmas” also faced another challenge the week before its opening. Markus Williams, the musical director for production, died on Monday the week before opening night. The cause of his death is still being determined.
“Markus came to the theater as a musician,” said Levy. “This was his second time directing music for a play. He was always excited, and since it was all new there were no rules for him. He would play around with choral parts and he has a very staid personality that allowed for some exciting improvisation.”
There’s a photograph of Williams with a plaque honoring him in the lobby.