Tysons, VA

Tysons’ 1st Stage Theatre is one of seven arts organizations receiving a grant from ARTSFAIRFAX.

ARTSFAIRFAX awarded grants totaling $105,296 to local arts groups in Fairfax County for fiscal year 2020, according to a press release. The grants range in amounts from $1,000 to $30,000.

The grant for 1st Stage will allow the theater to work with the Maryland-based Olney Theatre on a co-production of “The Royale” —  a story about the first African-American heavyweight boxing champion in the U.S. The show played at Olney from Sept. 25 to Oct. 27 and comes to Tysons in January.

“What we are witnessing is how these grants are helping propel the artistic growth of these grantees as their work reaches new audiences within and beyond the county,” Linda Sullivan, the president and CEO of ARTSFAIRFAX, said in a press release.

“Project awardees presented innovative and creative means to engage the community and bring people together to experience arts in fresh and unusual ways,” according to the press release.

Other recipients include the Greater Reston Arts Center, the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra and the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts.

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What will the future hold for Tysons 30 years from now? Developers and business representatives tackled that question at the “Tysons 2050” event last night (Thursday).

Panelists imaged how people might live, work and play in Tysons several decades from now — and what needs to get done to foster a stronger sense of community.

Julie Clemente, the president of Clemente Development, said that one of the most important aspects to community development is cohesion in the planning process.

Clemente told the audience that Tysons lacks parks and community recreation centers. Without these things, she is worried that community members will become lonely and find it hard to break out of “silos.”

“For Tysons to be successful, it needs to be connected,” she said.

She mentioned the Spring Hill Recreation Center (1239 Spring Hill Road) as one of the closest opportunities for people in the Tysons area but said it wasn’t enough to meet the growing demand.

“The Spring Hill Recreation Center is overused and everyone goes there,” she said.

Clemente hopes that The View — a recently approved mixed-use project by the Spring Hill Metro station — will add the city center that she says Tysons lacks.

In addition to adding the tallest building in the region, the development plans to build a black box theater, an art walk, a seasonal ice loop and an open-air theater on the green, along with a Tysons Community Center at a nearby site.

“Tysons doesn’t have it now — a center of growth, a heartbeat — and that’s what we want it to be,” Clemente said about The View.

Deirdre Johnson, the vice president of asset management for Federal Realty Investment Trust and new Tysons resident, echoed Clemente’s concerns about connectivity and a sense of community.

“It’s been hard to find points of natural, authentic and emotional connection,”  Johnson said about her time in Tysons. Places like shared green space and cafe seating — as well as art, medical services and religious worship — can help fill that void, she said. 

While roughly 100,000 people work in Tysons during the day, only about 20,000 live in the area, Johnson said.

“After 5 [p.m.] is very important because it helps you become who you are,” she said.

She wants to fix this by creating places where people of all ages — but especially seniors and young people — can feel fulfilled in every aspect of their lives, noting that retail options that appeal to a wide age range and incomes is one solution. 

Another idea from speaker Linda Sullivan, the president of ARTSFAIRFAX, is to institute an artist in residency or creative spaces pop-up program around Tysons.

Artists would have the opportunity to take advantage of affordable housing opportunities while focusing on their work, she said. She also threw out the idea of flex spaces hosting comedy clubs.

Ultimately, whatever the future holds for Tysons will likely focus on innovation around living, working and playing in the same community.

Paul Siemborski, an architect focused on designing performing arts facilities, said Tysons has the opportunity to “break the mold” and try new things.

“Art and play is not a luxury. It’s a necessity,” Siemborski said.

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As 1st Stage Theatre outgrows its current Tysons home, the theater is hoping to move to a proposed mixed-use development by the Spring Hill Metro station.

The theater’s artistic director Alex Levy told the Fairfax County Planning Commission Wednesday night that the theater is negotiating with the county and the developers of the proposed Tysons West development known as The View.

“The stunning new venue that was designed in The View was built specifically for a thriving company like ours,” Levy said. “It will serve as the heartbeat of an exciting and thriving new development.”

Levy told Tysons Reporter last year that the theater has been growing in attendance by 15% year after year — creating capacity issues at the theater’s current space at 1524 Spring Hill Road.

While the theater wants to expand, Levy has said that 1st Stage wants to stay in Tysons.

Levy praised the county and developers for working on the art spaces with specific users in mind and aiming to offer reduced rent for a not-for-profit company, like 1st Stage.

“What makes 1st Stage’s success remarkable is it happens in a landscape in which most of the D.C. region has strong arts funding and subsidized venues,” Levy told the commissioners.

Paul Kohlenberger, the president of the Greater McLean Chamber of Commerce, told the commissioners that he supports the idea of subsidizing the lease for 1st Stage at The View.

“Visionary Project”

Vienna-based Clemente Development Co.’s development would add six buildings, including a 600-foot-tall office building that would snatch the “tallest building in the region” title from Capital One’s headquarters in Tysons East and the Washington Monument.

Plans for The View also include a 455-foot-tall office building, a 394-foot-tall building for hotel and residential uses and a 108-foot-tall building with retail and office space.

“We think the diversity of height in and around Tysons is absolutely critical,” a representative for the developer told the Planning Commission.

Known as the Iconic Tower, the tallest building would capitalize on its height with a publicly-accessible botanical garden and observation deck.

While the commissioners have lingering concerns about making the buildings bird-friendly and the logistics with an athletic field tied to the project, they were mostly supportive of The View — especially its focus on the arts.

“One thing that doesn’t work is a theater that is designed for everyone,” John Carter, the commissioner for the Hunter Mill District, said. “Those tend to fail because there’s no such design that works for everybody.”

That’s Entertainment

In addition to the planned black box theater, The View wants to have an art walk, seasonal ice loop, open-air theater on the green and a Tysons Community Center at a nearby site.

“The arts are essential to thriving and robust communities,” Linda Sullivan, the president of ARTSFAIRFAX, said, along with pointing out that Capital One’s planned performance hall and The View will be “important anchors and drivers” of the arts locally.

The Landing Public Sky Park would include an outdoor amphitheater. Meanwhile, the Theater on the Green — also known as the Common Green — would be located between The Landing and one of the buildings.

“The Theater on the Green will provide space for outdoor dining, an open lawn, wayfinding, special paving and banding to visually guide pedestrian flow, a stage for events and performances, outdoor seating, outdoor games, artful lighting, access to multi-modal paths and a continuation of the Art Walk Loop,” according to county documents.

The 20,000 square-foot theater would be available for 35 years.

More from the developers’ plans for the black-box theater:

The proposed development anticipates that the applicant will construct the 199-seat black-box theater, which will be leased to an arts, entertainment, or theatrical group at a very significantly discounted rate. The theater will include “back of house” space for rehearsal, set construction, and other support activities.

The applicant has been in discussions with local theaters and arts groups, as well as national experts in this field; these discussions have continued to inform the design and practical parameters of the proposed theater space.

“The arts can have a ripple effect,” Sullivan said, adding that national studies have shown that arts have a positive economic impact.

Phillip Niedzielski-Eichner, the commissioner for the Providence District, deferred the decision on the “visionary project” to next Thursday, Oct. 10.

The View heads to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, Oct. 15.

Images via Fairfax County

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Tysons’ 1st Stage Theatre is back with a show exploring generational divides to launch its new season.

Trying” explores the relationship between Judge Francis Biddle, the chief judge of the American Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, and his young Canadian assistant — the last in a long line of unsuccessful secretaries.

The play’s regional premiere is this Thursday (Sept. 19). The show runs until Oct. 20.

Performances for “Trying” 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 $42 or $39 for seniors. Students and military tickets are $15.

The drama is the first show for 1st Stage’s 12th season, which has five more shows, including “Airness” and “The Royale.”

First photo by Teresa Castracane, second photo via 1st Stage/Facebook

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Next week, the 1st Stage theatre will host the Logan Festival for Solo Performance for a third consecutive year.

From July 11-21, national names in talent will perform live plays, give talks and host workshops at 1524 Spring Hill Road.

Headlining performances for this season include: “The Things They Carried,” “Joy Rebel,” and “The Happiest Place on Earth.”  Each play touches on dynamic topics including societal views of race, family tragedy and the legacy of the Vietnam War.

“The Things They Carried” is an adaptation from the classic novel which tells a story of a Vietnam soldier who reflects on his life journey.

Meanwhile, “The Happiest Place on Earth” takes a more lighthearted tone when a man reflects on the women in his family while at Disneyland and what “true happiness” means.

“Joy Rebel” tells a story about a little girl who must face her beloved grandmother’s racism and disapproval of her own parents’ interracial marriage.

Before and after each show, community members are invited to take part in discussions about the productions and various other works of art. Though these forums are free, anyone planning to attend a performance must buy a ticket beforehand.

General admission ticket prices are $20 per show for adults and $10 for students with a valid ID. A festival pass includes tickets for all three performances and is available at a discounted rate of  $50. Tickets are available online or by calling 703-854-1856.

Photo via 1st Stage

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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 (June 25)

  • Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo 7-10 p.m. at Wolf Trap (1645 Trap Road) — Artists Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo — known for their songs like “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” and “Love is a Battlefield” — are performing at Wolf Trap as part of a 40th anniversary tour. Tickets are $35 with gates opening at 5:30 p.m.

Wednesday (June 26)

  • My Neighbor Totoro — 7-9 p.m. at Angelika Film Center & Café at Mosaic (2911 District Avenue) — Studio Ghibli classic My Neighbor Totoro will be on the big screen in the Mosaic District on Wednesday at 7 p.m. and Thursday at 11 a.m. Tickets are $14.50.

Thursday (June 27)

  • Diana Ross at Wolf Trap — 8-11 p.m. at Wolf Trap (1551 Trap Road) — Motown artist Diana Ross — the singer for classics like “I’m Coming Out” and “Stop! In the Name of Love” — will be performing at Wolf Trap this Thursday. Gates open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $40 for lawn seating.

Friday (June 28)

  • Summer Concert with Tauren Wells — 6:30-8 p.m. at Tysons Corner Center (1961 Chain Bridge Road) — WGTS 91.9’s concert series continues with Grammy-nominated artist Tauren Wells. The concert is free at The Plaza (near Lord & Taylor) on Friday. Space is first-come, first-served and attendees are invited to bring their own chair or blanket.
  • Macbeth Premiere8-8:30 at 1st Stage (1524 Spring Hill Road) — The 1st Stage Theater will host a production of The Scottish Play by Britches and Hose Theatre Company. The play premieres on Friday, but will have showings at 8 p.m. on Saturday and 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Saturday (June 29)

  • Yoga at Tysons Biergarten11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at Tysons Biergarten (8346 Leesburg Pike) — An hourlong, all-levels yoga event will be held inside the beer hall of Tysons Biergarten. Online tickets are $25 and walk-in tickets are $30. Tickets include a chip for a beverage after the class.
  • Junior Ranger Day — 12-3 p.m. at Wolf Trap (1551 Trap Road) — Children ages 5-12 are invited out to an event at Wolf Trap where they can be a ranger for a day, engaging in scavenger hunts and various ranger programs.
  • Feast for Fireworks Tasting Event12-4 p.m. at Balducci’s Food Lover’s Market (6655 Old Dominion Drive) — Balducci’s has prepared an early Independence Day celebration. The market is planning to include a grill event and a selection of “summer essentials” for upcoming barbecues.
  • Back to the ’90s: Incubus Tribute — 7 p.m. at Jammin’ Java (227 E. Maple Avenue) — Jammin’ Java is hosting a ’90s throwback evening with a celebration of Incubus on the 20th anniversary of the band. The evening will feature Incubus tributes from other bands. Tickets are $15 for general admission.

Photo via Wolf Trap/Facebook

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Tysons’ 1st Stage Theatre won five Helen Hayes Awards at last night’s ceremony — scoring four of its wins for its “Fly by Night” production last spring.

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

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Tysons’ 1st Stage Theatre will find out tonight if it gets to take home awards for any of its nearly two dozen Helen Hayes Awards nominations.

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 

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“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

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Tysons’s 1st Stage Theatre is remembering the 20th anniversary of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting with performances of the “docudrama” play Columbinus.

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

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