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Arts & Entertainment

Hot Hits & Hidden Jewels

Concerts, performances, exhibitions and more!

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Wolf Trap Opera Company: Opera’s Greatest Hits from Wolf Trap Opera’s Alumni Stars Wed, Aug 24 Wolf Trap. 1-877-WOLFTRAP. For one night only, singers representing all four decades of WTOC’s history gather on the Filene Center stage to perform arias and ensembles from their signature roles by Verdi, Wagner, Puccini, Mozart and more.

Featuring sopranos Tracy Dahl, Mary Dunleavy, and Emily Pulley, mezzo-sopranos Stephanie Blythe and Denyce Graves, tenors Lawrence Brownlee, Nicholas Phan, Carl Tanner, and James Valenti, baritones Richard Paul Fink and Robert Orth, bass-baritone Alan Held, and bass Matt Boehler.

ArtJamz at the Corcoran: Painting Big Sessions Wed, Aug 24 thru Fri, Aug 26 Corcoran Gallery of Art. 202-393-3939. Experience the art party that is taking D.C. by storm! Enjoy wine and soft drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and great music in Gallery 31 as you create a wonderful work of art–which is yours to take home. Paints and canvases provided.

Reggie Watts Live in Concert Tue, Aug 23 thru Fri, Aug 26 Woolly Mammoth. 202-393-3939. Reggie Watts–hailed by GQ magazine as “the coolest comedian on the planet” Is a comedian and musician of New York’s alternative-comedy scene.  His performances are all created on-the-spot so no two performances are ever the same.

The Guide to Arts & Culture is provided by CultureCapital, a program of the Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington.

LAST CHANCE

Sun, Aug 21 Race to the End of the Earth Exhibition, National Geographic. 202-857-7700.

Steel Magnolias, Keegan Theatre, Church Street Theater. 703-892-0202.

The Importance of Being Earnest, SCENA Theatre at H Street Playhouse, H Street Playhouse. 703-683-2824.

LIMITED ENGAGEMENT

Aug 19 – Aug 20 Gipsy Kings, Wolf Trap.

ONE NIGHT ONLY

Fri, Aug 19 Jazz in the Garden: Alex Brown, National Gallery of Art. 202-737-4215.

Sat, Aug 20 Film Series: UCLAís Annual Festival of Preservation: On the Vitaphone, 1928ñ1930; Rendezvous with Annie preceded by A Selection of ‘Soundies’, National Gallery of Art. 202-737-4215.

George’s Intervention/Morgue Story Double Feature, Artisphere. 703-875-1100.

Hollywood and the Civil War, Surratt House Museum. 301-868-1121.

Sun, Aug 21 Film Series: UCLAís Annual Festival of Preservation: Strangers in the Night followed by The Big Shakedown, National Gallery of Art. 202-737-4215.

The Beach Boys, Wolf Trap. 1-877-WOLFTRAP.

Mon, Aug 22 5th Annual Charles Guggenheim Tribute Program: A Time for Justice, National Archives. 202-357-5000.

Tue, Aug 23 Ballet West, Wolf Trap. 1-877-WOLFTRAP.

Wed, Aug 24 The Rich Have Their Own Photographers, Artisphere. 703-875-1100.

Thu, Aug 25 Environmental Film Festival Screening: The City Dark, E Street Cinema. 202-342-2564.

HILTON ‘TRE’ FELTON TRIO: Live Jazz Happy Hour Thursdays, Artisphere. 703-875-1100.

The National Womanís Party and Political Rhetoric: Visual Propaganda in the Battle for the Vote, National Archives. 202-357-5000.

The Temptations & The Four Tops, Wolf Trap. 1-877-WOLFTRAP.

Tribute To Simon & Garfunkel and Paul Simon, Strathmore. 301-581-5100.

ONGOING-STAGE

‘Pop!,’ The Studio Theatre. 202-332-3300.

Sydney Theatre Company’s ‘Uncle Vanya,’ Kennedy Center. 202-467-4600.

‘Grease,’ Olney Theatre Center. 301-924-3400.

‘A Child Shall Lead Them,’ Clarice Smith. 301-405-7794.

‘The Capital City Showcase,’ DCAC. 202-462-7833.

ONGOING-MUSEUM EXHIBITONS

Corcoran Gallery of Art. Recent Photography Acquisitions, Free Summer Saturdays at the Corcoran, Chris Martin: Painting Big. 202-639-1700.

National Gallery of Art. A Masterpiece from the Capitoline Museum, Rome: The ‘Capitoline Venus’, In the Tower: Nam June Paik, Italian Master Drawings from the Wolfgang Rajten Collection, The Gothic Spirit of John Taylor Arms, From Impressionism to Modernism: The Chester Dale Collection, A New Look: Samuel F.B. Morse’s ‘Gallery of the Louvre’. 202-737-4215.

National Geographic. Machu Picchu: A Lost City Uncovered, Photographs from the Hiram Bingham Expeditions 1911-1915, The Etruscans: An Ancient Italian Civilization. 202-857-7700.

Museum of Women in the Arts. Pressing Ideas: Fifty Years of Women’s Lithographs from Tamarind, The Guerrilla Girls Talk Back. 202-783-5000.

ONGOING-ART GALLERIES

‘Local Color,’ Gallery plan b. 202-234-2711.

Janis Goodman | Paintings, Reyes + Davis Independent Exhibitions, Stage Premier Realtor.

‘Scapes,’ The Art League. 703-683-1780.

14th Annual National Small Works, Washington Printmakers Gallery. 301-273-3660.

Barcode Orchestra, ‘Repetition is a Form of Change: The Process and Practice of GIF Art Online,’ Mantra Samplers: Maribeth Egan, Artisphere. 703-875-1100.

‘PHOTO 2011: Annual Juried Mid-Atlantic Photo Exhibition,’ Artisphere. 703-875-1100.

‘1460 Wall Mountables!,’ DCAC. 202-462-7833.

‘The Spirit of Wood: Sculpture by Katie Dell Kaufman and Lynda Smith-Bugge,’ Zenith The Gallery, Eleven Eleven Sculpture Space.

‘1st Annual Workhouse National Ceramics Exhibition,’ Workhouse Arts Center. 703-584-2900.

2nd Saturday Art Walk, Workhouse Arts Center. 703-584-2900.

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Music & Concerts

DC Different Drummers Jazz Band to perform ‘Oasis’

Performance by combo ‘2nd Independence’ scheduled

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The DC Different Drummers Jazz Band will perform on Sunday, Oct. 16 at 3 p.m. at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Central Library.

This concert, titled “The Oasis,” will feature the 20-person big band playing jazz pieces in a variety of styles, from swing to bossa nova to jazz fusion and more. There will also be a performance from the improvisational jazz combo, 2nd Independence.

Admission is free and more details are available on the event’s website

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Out & About

Smithsonian Zoo programming is back

Family-friendly Halloween event begins Oct. 28

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(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Smithsonian National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute will host “Boo at the Zoo” starting on Friday, Oct. 28 at 5:30 p.m. 

This is a family-friendly Halloween event that includes special after-hours access for animal viewing at the Elephant Community Center, Small Mammal House, Reptile Discovery Center, Great Ape House and Think Tank, a Halloween souvenir treat bag, dance party and 30 trick-or-treat stations around the festively decorated Zoo. 

Tickets start at $25 and can be purchased on the Smithsonian’s website.

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Theater

‘Hamilton’ star boosting Afro-Latinx, queer representation

Gonzalez and partner launch DominiRican Productions

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Pierre Jean Gonzalez (Photo courtesy Ambe J. Photography)

‘Hamilton’
Through Oct. 9
The Kennedy Center Opera House
2700 F St., N.W.
$59–$399
Kennedy-center.org

For gay Latinx actor Pierre Jean Gonzalez, playing the title Founding Father in the national tour of “Hamilton” isn’t just another part.

“It’s a powerful thing,” says Gonzalez, recognizing the enormity of the job. “We all learned history in school. We know who’s who when we look at a textbook; but when people who look like you are telling the story, it shifts.”

Currently moored to the Kennedy Center Opera House through Oct. 9, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s seminal 2015 sung-and-rapped through musical presents early American history in a novel and inclusive way, focusing on the life experience of one man. With 11 Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the show continues to be the hottest draw in town wherever it pitches its tent. 

“When I step on stage as Hamilton, I’m continually amazed by the pandemonium in the audience, especially the younger fans. If we miss a single lyric, the children know,” he says. 

“It’s a drama, a soap, and an action movie. An ambitious immigrant, Hamilton pushes through obstacles, creates his own narrative, and doesn’t throw away a shot. Audiences like that.”

Reared in a housing project in the Bronx as the only boy in a Dominican/Puerto Rican family it wasn’t cool to be queer, says Gonzalez. So, he played it straight until his second year at Rutgers University when a comfortably out friend inspired him to follow suit. Back at home, the family wasn’t all that surprised, he adds with a chuckle.

Navigating through life as his authentic self gives Gonzalez a leg up. He explains, “I think feeling more connected and open makes me a better actor.”

As a drama student at Rutgers University in New Jersey, Gonzalez spent a life-altering junior year studying Shakespeare at the Globe in London: “For me the metronome, cadence, the words and music in ‘Hamilton’ are very much connected to Shakespeare, and that’s why I’m here now.”

After school, despite finding an agent and auditioning, those first four years weren’t good. “For a Latinx actor with my look there were three roles: thug #3, a dishwasher, or hitman.”

He was dismayed. Despite possessing training, talent, energy, and good looks, casting agents didn’t see him as a leading man. But with “Hamilton,” the industry changed and so did Gonzalez’s self-perception: “Finally, I knew I was the right choice to play a leading man.”

In total, Gonzalez has toured with “Hamilton” for five years counting 18 months of “pandemic nothingness,” he says. Before being promoted to playing Alexander Hamilton in August of 2021, he was standby, covering Hamilton, Burr (the villain) and Britain’s King George. At a moment’s notice he might have been called on to play one of three tracks. “It was turning me on artistically,” he says. “One of the last crazy days before the pandemic, I was Hamilton for a Saturday matinee and that same evening I was Burr. Not a lot of actors can say that.”

During the early days of the pandemic and before, Gonzalez and his fiancé Cedric Leiba Jr., an Afro-Latino actor, had many conversations surrounding career frustrations. They discussed the challenges faced by actors of color, and how those challenges can be compounded when said actors are also queer.

In 2020, the couple founded DominiRican Productions, an award-winning film production company whose mission is to ramp up Afro-Latinx and queer representation both behind and in front of the camera.

“It kind of happened as a protest,” he explains. “George Floyd had just been killed and the country was starting to look at itself and ask why are Black and Brown bodies treated this way?”

Success has ensued with two collaborative, celebrated shorts — “Release” and “Rhythm Is Gonna Get Who?” — both directed by Gonzalez. 

While working with your partner can sometimes be a lot, it also has its advantages, says Gonzalez. He appreciates the pair ultimately always have one another’s back. Also, they’re different in complementary ways. “Cedric is more type A, really gets things done,” says Gonzalez “He keeps me tethered to the ground.” 

For the moment, the affianced actors have put nuptials on the back burner, preferring to invest their time and money in the company. Gonzalez says, “We don’t have kids or a mortgage, the company is our child; it’s what drives us.” 

And what about “Hamilton”? “Another year, maybe longer? Whatever happens, I’m taking it one day at a time and feeling a lot of gratitude,” he says. 

Pierre Jean Gonzalez as Hamilton. (Photo by Joan Marcus)
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