January 13, 2011 | by David J. Hoffman
Arts news in brief

'The Finding of Erichthonius,' a 1632 painting by Peter Paul Rubens that's part of the Phillips Collection. None of the art work was damaged or destroyed by last year's fire. (Image courtesy of the Phillips Collection)

Phillips Collection reopens after serious fire

After its disastrous fire Sept. 2, this weekend is the welcome-back celebration/grand reopening of the newly renovated Phillips House, a museum since Duncan Phillips opened its doors in 1921 as America’s first museum of modern art. It’s full of his collection of works by Renoir and Monet, van Gogh and Degas, Picasso and Klee, and more.

The fire was restricted to the roof and a suite of offices directly under it, and the famed art was not harmed, but there was extensive water damage to 12 galleries inside the 1897 building, at 1600 21st St. N.W., in Dupont Circle near 21st and Q.

Now everything is back in place as the museum kicks off its 90th anniversary year under the banner of “90 Years of New,” beginning with this weekend’s reopening when the regular $12 admission charges are waived and complimentary champagne will be uncorked. The museum is open Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. A host of programs, installations, films and more are promised.

The year’s celebration culminates on Nov. 5 with the 90th-anniversary “birthday bash.” More details are here.

Gay arts group to honor King holiday

A “Remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” sponsored by the GLBT Arts Consortium with the Capitol Hills Arts Workshop will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church, 4th and Independence Avenue, S.E.

Participants include the Rock Creek Singers of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington (GMCW); light jazz, pop and folk music from Not What You Think, a 12-person ensemble from the Lesbian and Gay Chorus of Washington; and Fortissima, D.C.’s feminist chorus open to “sopranos and altos of all genders,” known as the Bread and Roses Feminist Singers until 2009. Youth will also talk and sing, from the Bokamoso Youth Centre in Winderveldt Township near Pretoria, South Africa. The Centre offers AIDS awareness and other services and each year 12 of the students in its performing arts program receive scholarships for a month-long performance tour in the U.S.

The consortium is a collaboration of varied arts organizations including singers, painters, actors, dancers and filmmakers. For more details, go here or call its co-manager Jill Srachan at 202-547-4102.

St. Marks Players unveil new ‘Inherit the Wind’ production

Also on Capitol Hill beginning today is a new production by the St. Marks Players of “Inherit the Wind,” the play about the famed “Scopes Monkey Trial” of 1925, when a school teacher was tried for the crime of teaching Darwin’s theory of evolution, in contradiction to fundamentalist understandings of biblical creation.

The playwrights, Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee (the same team who wrote “Auntie Mame”), were writing in 1955, and taking specific aim at McCarthyism, according to Blake Cornish, who plays Henry Drummond, the character loosely based on civil liberties lawyer Clarence Darrow who battled but lost in the Tennessee courtroom against three-time presidential candidate and religious fundamentalist William Jennings Bryan.

Cornish, who has sung with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington and is a former National Gay and Lesbian Task Force attorney, says the play is relevant in 2011 because it “explores issues around the relationship between religious teachings and secular law, and pertains to LGBT equality in lots of different ways, when people use religious beliefs in ways that many in gay community would find to justify bigotry.”

Performance dates are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m. through Jan 29, at St. Marks Episcopal Church, 3rd and A Streets, S.E. For tickets, go here or call 202-546-9670.

‘Pocket operas’ series continue at the Source

Eight-time Helen Hayes award-winning director Joe Banno brings two more of the In Series’ “pocket operas” to the Source Theater weekends (8 p.m. with 3 p.m. matinees) until Jan. 22. The In Series, a small, performing arts organization has specialized for more than 25 years in an eclectic blend of opera, cabaret, theater and dance, and Latino-heritage productions.

This time it’s 19th century Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona’s “Maria la O,” a “Zarzuela,” the Spanish lyric-dramatic genre incorporating operatic and popular song, about a white plantation owner who must choose between the mulatta he loves, the Havana nightclub star Maria, and the aristocratic woman he is expected to wed. Love of course is darkened by betrayal and death. Mezzo soprano Anamer Castrello stars as Maria.

The other opera is Italian composer Ruggiero Leoncavallo’s world-famous 1892 opera “Pagliacci” (Clowns), where a troupe of entertainers visits a village and their show intertwines tragically with real life. The desperately sad clown Canio, destined to make the world laugh while he stands at the brink of self-destruction, is portrayed by tenor Peter Burroughs.

Tickets for $20-$39 at 202-204-7763 or inseries.org. If you must miss this pairing in January, shows have been added in late April/early May at the Atlas Performing Arts Center on H Street N.E.

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