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Arlington 6-Year-Old Becomes Viral Theater Critic

Theater critic Iain Armitage has never given a bad review. Even the shows that aren’t his favorites, he says he tries to focus on the “happy things” in the show.

Most would scoff at a critic who has never given a bad review, but Iain has an excuse: he’s only 6 years old, and he’s been taught it’s not nice to say mean things by his parents, Broadway star Euan Morton and theater producer Lee Armitage.

6-year-old theater critic Iain Armitage“I wish more critics were like him and didn’t give bad reviews,” Armitage said with a laugh.

Iain started reviewing shows on Armitage’s YouTube channel five months ago, reviewing 21 different shows include “Phantom of the Opera” and “Pippin” — his two favorites so far — and, most recently, the Signature Theatre production of “Sundays in the Park with George.” That review has more than 16,000 views and got Iain enough attention to be featured on MTV.com.

It all started when Iain saw Hairspray at Signature and started talking about it. Lee filmed him with her smartphone, and the rest is history.

“I really don’t know why it’s gotten so popular,” Armitage said. “With all the videos, we would have friends in the shows and they’d watch them because he said funny things. We also did it to keep up with what shows he’s seen.”

Iain is homeschooled at the family’s home near Virginia Square, and also likes ice skating, dancing (there’s a video of a dance recital on the YouTube channel) and playing piano. Although being an elementary school-aged theater critic is a rarity, he wishes it were more common.

“I wish there were more little critics like me,” he told ARLnow.com in Ballston this morning with his mother. “Then we could be friends and see the same shows and get famous together.”

Iain said some of his favorite shows are the ones he can watch his father — who was nominated for a Tony award in 2004 for his portrayal of Boy George in “Taboo” — because he likes “the feeling when my dad’s on the stage. If I wave to him after the show, he’ll always wave back to me.”

Armitage said the Signature Theater is a big part of why Iain developed a love for musicals — Signature Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer is Iain’s godfather — and Iain said he wished “more kids in Arlington could see shows.” Iain also wishes he could see more shows. He said he “would like to see every show ever made,” and has gotten frustrated when his parents kept him out of productions that are inappropriate for 6 year-olds, like “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” a show about an East German transgender singer.

Iain said he’s “still mad” about not being able to see the show, but is enjoying the spoils of being a viral video star. He smiled and said “I like it” when he was asked about the trappings of fame, but couldn’t confirm he was practicing his autographs for future fans.

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Meet Cooper, Arlington’s Cutest Dog

Cooper the cocker spaniel/poodle mix is officially Arlington’s Cutest Dog. Cooper captured a whopping 1,238 votes in the final round of our inaugural contest.

Cooper and his owner, Joe, will receive a brand new Apple iPad courtesy of Siena Park, the new pet-friendly luxury apartment community on Columbia Pike.

If you’re still not convinced that Cooper is, in fact, Arlington cutest dog, we present the following photographic evidence:

Meanwhile, Lucy the Dachshund made a spirited run at first place but came up just short. For placing second, Lucy and her owner, David, will receive a $100 gift certificate to Wylie Wagg in Clarendon (2509 N. Franklin Road). We think Lucy may appreciate the store’s great selection of healthy food and supplies for dogs (and cats) more than some fancy techno gizmo.

Bentley the English lab placed third and will receive a $50 Wylie Wagg gift certificate.

The three top finishers will also receive a soccer ball fetch toy in honor of the World Cup, which we tried to tie-in with the contest but then sort of gave up on (whoops).

Prizes will be presented at a reception at Wylie Wagg. We’ll announce the details later this week.

Congratulations to the prize winners and a big thank you to all contest participants. Your enthusiasm helped make this contest such a smashing success. We hope to see you all at the reception.

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VOTE: Arlington’s Cutest Dog Contest (Final Round)

This one’s for all the Milk-Bones. The final round of our Arlington’s Cutest Dog contest is here, and five of the area’s most charming canines are competing for your affection.

Like the group stage, voting for the final round will last a week. Unlike the group stage, you’ll only be able to vote for one contestant, so choose carefully.

Here is what’s at stake in the final round:

  • Grand Prize: Apple iPad (courtesy of Siena Park, the new pet-friendly luxury apartment community on Columbia Pike)
  • Second Prize: $100 Wylie Wagg gift certificate (courtesy of Wylie Wagg in Clarendon, featuring healthy food and supplies for dogs and cats)
  • Third Prize: $50 Wylie Wagg gift certificate
  • All top three finishers will receive a soccer ball fetch toy from Wylie Wagg, in honor of the World Cup.

Voting closes at 3:00 p.m. on Monday, July 12.

See the contestant “biographies” and vote for your favorite, after the jump.


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Buster — Buster is “very friendly” and is the “best dressed” Chihuahua in town, says his owners. He also “loves to Hoover around the house and eat anything that is edible and sometimes non edible.”

“He makes our life very interesting and has changed it in many ways,” says Ruchi and Arun, his owners. “He is the best thing that has come our way for a long time.”

Buster is one and a half years old.

Mago — Mago (pronounced MAH-go) was “born on the mean streets of Kentucky and lived her first few months foraging through dumpsters.” She eventually wound up at Wagamuffins rescue in Frederick, Md. She was adopted and brought to live in Rosslyn (zip code 22209) on Feb. 22, 2009 (or 2-22-09).

Mago, who is believed to be a whippet-beagle mix, is allergic to dog food and eats “a prescription vegetarian diet.” But that doesn’t stop her from participating in long walks or from “ninja-ing” into her owners’ bed late at night.

Bentley — Bentley was born on St. Patrick’s Day four years ago (a bit ironic for an English lab) at a farm in Winchester, Va. He moved to his new home in Arlington shortly thereafter.

He’s a big fan of the Clarendon dog park, but he could do without some of the thieving dogs who steal his toys. He eats only the finest organic dog food and is an accomplished swimmer.

Bentley considers himself a lucky dog, his owners say. Probably because everywhere he does people can’t seem to resist petting him.

Lucy — A graduate of the Olde Towne School for Dogs, Lucy is a miniature Dachshund whose interests include “sleeping, napping, lounging, sunbathing, resting, kicking back, relaxing and siesta-ing.”

“In between her daily 20 hours of sleep, Lucy enjoys begging for bacon at the table as well as chasing squirrels in Butler Holmes Park,” we’re told.

Lucy “has been the greatest impulse purchase our family has ever known,” her owners say.

Cooper — The biggest vote-getter in the first round, Cooper resides in a small townhouse in Fairlington with his owner, Joe.

Cooper “escaped from the evil clutches of New Jersey to reside here in luxury,” Joe says. He “is a sucker for bacon and eggs” and “loves to play with bouncy balls.”

An unlikely guard dog, Cooper “is always on alert to keep off pesky robbers and the most stubborn of mail carriers.”

* * *

Thank you again to our fantastic sponsors, Siena Park and Wylie Wagg.


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Cooper and Lucy Capture Last Two Spots in Cutest Dog Finals

We know you’ve probably already started the weekend, but before you fire up the grill or get on that plane, you might want to know the results of Group D in our Arlington’s Cutest Dog contest.

With 3,724 votes cast and 148 comments registered, this was definitely the most competitive and active group of the contest. But in the end, Cooper (a.k.a. Coopini) the Cocker Spaniel / poodle mix came out on top. Cooper captured 800 votes, the largest single vote total so far.

Cooper “escaped from the evil clutches of New Jersey to reside here in luxury,” his owner says. “He is the guard dog and is always on alert to keep off pesky robbers and the most stubborn of mail carriers.”

Cooper is “is a sucker for bacon and eggs, as breakfast is his favorite meal of the day.” Plus he “loves to play with bouncy balls.”

But Cooper isn’t the only contestant from Group D advancing to the final round, which will start on Monday.

Lucy the miniature Dachshund captured the “at-large” spot in the final round with 671 votes, the most of any second-place finisher.

A graduate of the Olde Towne School for Dogs, Lucy is an educated but otherwise lackadaisical lady. Her interests include “sleeping, napping, lounging, sunbathing, resting, kicking back, relaxing and siestaing.”

“In between her daily 20 hours of sleep, Lucy enjoys begging for bacon at the table (this bacon thing seems to be a trend -Ed.) as well as chasing squirrels in Butler Holmes Park.”

Lucy “has been the greatest impulse purchase our family has ever known,” her owners say.

A tip of the hat to Tito the Chihuahua, whose enthusiastic supporters propelled him to 601 votes, the next-highest vote total in Group D.

Thank you again to all our great contestants and congratulations to the very worthy finalists. To those who did not make it to the final round: we look forward to seeing you at Wylie Wagg for a reception after the contest (you will receive details via email).

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Bentley Heads to Finals from Group C

McGruff isn’t the only dog making news today for his looks. Bentley the English lab has bested the competition in Group C and will advance to the final round of our Arlington’s Cutest Dog contest.

Bentley amassed a whopping 560 votes out of the 2,967 that were cast. The closest competitor was Cooper, the teddy bear-like toy poodle who has “a strange obsession with popcorn.” Cooper received 456 votes.

Hats off to Cooper and the other 10 strong competitors in this group. And a special shout-out to Waffles the Dachshund, who gets the honorary (and arbitrary) award for cutest name and most patriotic photo.

Some background on Bentley: he was born on St. Patrick’s Day four years ago (a bit ironic for an English lab) at a farm in Winchester, Va, but moved to Arlington shortly thereafter. He’s a big fan of the Clarendon dog park, he eats only the finest organic dog food, and he is an accomplished swimmer. Bentley considers himself a lucky dog, his owners say.

See results from Group C here. And be sure to cast your vote(s) for our final group of 12, Group D, by 2:00 tomorrow afternoon.

Voting in the final round of the contest will start Monday.

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Mago Advances from Group B

Mago, a female whippet-beagle mix, has captured the most votes in Group B of our Arlington’s Cutest Dog contest. She will advance to the final round of the contest, which starts Monday.

Mago garnered 280 out of 1,520 votes cast. A special tip of the hat to her closest competitor, Fred the Dachshund, who waged an especially spirited campaign.

A bit about Mago: she was “born on the mean streets of Kentucky and lived her first few months foraging through dumpsters.” She eventually wound up at Wagamuffins rescue in Frederick, Md. She was adopted last February and now resides in Rosslyn.

Mago is allergic to dog food and eats “a prescription vegetarian diet.” But that doesn’t stop her from participating in long walks or from sneaking into her owners’ bed late at night.

Congratulations to Mago and thank you to all the fantastic Group B contestants. We’ll be sending you details about a reception at Wylie Wagg for all contest participants.

In the meantime, don’t forget to vote for Group C and Group D.

7 Comments

Buster the Chihuahua Tops in Group A

With 431 votes out of 2,222 cast, Buster the Chihuahua has claimed the top spot in Group A of our Arlington’s Cutest Dog contest.

Buster’s owner says he is “very friendly” and is the “best dressed” Chihuahua in town. Also, “he loves to Hoover around the house and eat anything that is edible and sometimes non edible.”

Congratulations, Buster!

The final round of the contest will begin on Monday. Meanwhile, voting for groups B, C and D will be ending at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday respectively.

Thank you to all our great Group A contestants. Check back for details about a reception Wylie Wagg will be hosting to honor all contest participants.

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VOTE: Arlington’s Cutest Dog Contest (Group D)

It’s Friday. That means everybody is leaving work early to get ready for a weekend of beach/barbecue/cheering on Team USA/etc.

So in fairness to Group D of our Arlington’s Cutest Dog contest, we’re getting voting started early.

Before you run out of the office, vote for up to three of the dogs below (after the jump). It’s the perfect way to start the weekend, really.

Voting for Group D will end on Friday, July 2 at 2:00 p.m.

Here’s a reminder of what’s at stake in the final round:

  • Grand Prize: Apple iPad (courtesy of Siena Park, the new pet-friendly luxury apartment community on Columbia Pike)
  • Second Prize: $100 Wylie Wagg gift certificate (courtesy of Wylie Wagg in Clarendon, featuring healthy food and supplies for dogs and cats)
  • Third Prize: $50 Wylie Wagg gift certificate
  • All top three finishers will receive a soccer ball fetch toy from Wylie Wagg, in honor of the World Cup.

Good luck to all the contestants!


148 Comments

VOTE: Arlington’s Cutest Dog Contest (Group C)

It is darned hot outside today. It’s so hot, that June is starting to feel like, dare we say, the dog days of summer.

Speaking of which, today we’re voting on Group C in our Arlington’s Cutest Dog Contest. So avoid unnecessary perspiration: stay inside and vote for up to three of the cool pups below.

Voting for Group C will end on Thursday, July 1 at 2:00 p.m.

Here’s a reminder of what’s at stake in the final round:

  • Grand Prize: Apple iPad (courtesy of Siena Park, the new pet-friendly luxury apartment community on Columbia Pike)
  • Second Prize: $100 Wylie Wagg gift certificate (courtesy of Wylie Wagg in Clarendon, featuring healthy food and supplies for dogs and cats)
  • Third Prize: $50 Wylie Wagg gift certificate
  • All top three finishers will receive a soccer ball fetch toy from Wylie Wagg, in honor of the World Cup.

Good luck to all the contestants!


111 Comments

VOTE: Arlington’s Cutest Dog (Group B)

After Team USA’s heart-stopping stoppage-time win, you may not think you have any energy left to become emotionally-invested in another thrilling competition. But with faces like these, how can you resist?

Vote for the pooch you think should advance to the final round of our Arlington’s Cutest Dog contest (you can vote for up to three), after the jump.

Voting for Group B will end on Wednesday, June 30 at 2:00 p.m.

Here’s a reminder of what’s at stake in the final round:

  • Grand Prize: Apple iPad (courtesy of Siena Park, the new pet-friendly luxury apartment community on Columbia Pike)
  • Second Prize: $100 Wylie Wagg gift certificate (courtesy of Wylie Wagg in Clarendon, featuring healthy food and supplies for dogs and cats)
  • Third Prize: $50 Wylie Wagg gift certificate
  • All top three finishers will receive a soccer ball fetch toy from Wylie Wagg, in honor of the World Cup

Good luck to all the contestants!


80 Comments

VOTE: Arlington’s Cutest Dog (Group A)

Get your vuvuzelas out, it’s finally here. The first round of our Arlington’s Cutest Dog contest has begun.

Below you’ll find our first 12 contestants (out of 48). Take a look at the photos below, then make the jump to cast your votes (you can vote for up to three). The top vote-getter will advance to the final round, and the second place finisher will have a chance for an at-large bid.

Voting will end on Tuesday, June 29 at 2:00 p.m.

Here’s a reminder of what’s at stake in the final round:

  • Grand Prize: Apple iPad (courtesy of Siena Park, the new pet-friendly luxury apartment community on Columbia Pike)
  • Second Prize: $100 Wylie Wagg gift certificate (courtesy of Wylie Wagg in Clarendon, featuring healthy food and supplies for dogs and cats)
  • Third Prize: $50 Wylie Wagg gift certificate
  • All top three finishers will receive a soccer ball fetch toy from Wylie Wagg, in honor of the World Cup

Without further adieu, here’s Group A:

Vote for your favorites, after the jump.

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Voting Starts Tomorrow for Our Expanded Arlington’s Cutest Dog Contest

Last week we asked you to submit entries for our inaugural Arlington’s Cutest Dog contest. Thanks to a tremendous response, we’re happy to announce that we’ve picked up another great sponsor. And both of our sponsors have pitched in additional prizes for the winners.

Siena Park, a new pet-friendly luxury apartment community on Columbia Pike (see photos of the apartments, the pool and the lobby here), has upped the ante by supplying an Apple iPad as our new grand prize.

Wylie Wagg, Clarendon’s new hometown pet store, will now supply a $100 gift certificate as our second prize, a $50 gift certificate for third prize, and soccer ball fetch toys for all three top finishers, in honor of the World Cup. Plus, Wagg will be holding a patio party for all contestants at the end of the contest (well-wishers will also be welcome to attend).

The deadline for submissions has passed and a field of 48 is now set. Taking some inspiration from the World Cup, we’ll divide the field into four groups of 12. Voting for Group A will begin on Tuesday, Group B on Wednesday and so on. Voting for each group will last a week. We’ll advance a final group of five — the four top vote-getters from each group, and the second place finisher with the most votes. After a week of final round voting, we’ll announce the winners on July 12, a day after the championship game of the World Cup.

Arlington, I hope you’re ready for three weeks of canine cuteness and cutthroat competition.

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Call For Entries: Arlington’s Cutest Dog Contest

As if Arlington didn’t have enough good looking people, the county is also blessed with an inordinate number of cute dogs. In some places it’s hard to walk down the street without encountering some adorable mutt.

But whereas people have beauty pageants, what do local dogs have? Bupkis.

That’s why we’re teaming up with Wylie Wagg (2509 N. Franklin Rd.), Clarendon’s new hometown pet store, to bring you the Arlington’s Cutest Dog Contest. And in honor of the World Cup, we figured we’d do it tournament-style.

In a nutshell, here’s how it will work:

  • Email [email protected] with a clear photo of your pooch, along with his or her name, sex, breed, age and a one paragraph “biography.”
  • Next week the public will begin voting on the contestants by groups. A “Final Four” will be chosen from those votes.
  • The public will then vote on a Grand Prize winner.

The Grand Prize winner will receive a $100 Wylie Wagg gift certificate, good for anything from their selection of healthy food and supplies for dogs and cats (see below), and a very World Cup-appropriate mini soccer ball chew toy.

Note that if we get a large number of entries, we may have to narrow down the field by random drawing.

Photo above by christaki.

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