It’s going down on Tuesday, Dec. 13, kicking off a seven-week run that will stretch through Jan. 29. The ambitious production features “a cast, crew and orchestra of more than 50 artists and an inventive new 360 degree staging in Signature Theatre’s intimate 330 seat MAX Theatre,” according to a press release.
Signature’s Artistic Director, Eric Schaeffer, promises a first-class experience.
“I’ve always loved the musical Titanic and I have felt that Signature should reinvent this musical for our audiences in an exciting new way,” said Schaeffer, in a statement. “Audiences will feel they are aboard this ‘ship of dreams’ surrounded by Maury Yeston’s beautifully haunting score. It truly will be the musical event of the season in Washington and an experience like none other.”
The epic disaster tale comes at a busy time in the Washington area — it will overlap with Christmas, New Year’s, president-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration and possibly a Redskins playoff run.
Those who want to get on board for the musical performance will need to take the plunge to the tune of $40 to $109 per ticket.
The full press release about “Titanic” and its casting is below.
Steamy Stretch Starting — It’s hot and humid outside today and through the end of the week. Afternoon storms are possible each day. During this hot stretch, authorities are warning people to stay hydrated and to make sure their air conditioners are in good working condition. [Washington Post, Twitter, Twitter]
Ultra-Nationalist Group Based in Arlington — The National Policy Institute, the “institutional center” of the nationalist movement that has come out of the woodwork in the U.S. thanks to the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump, is based here in Arlington. The Southern Poverty Law Center has called the think tank a “white supremacist” group. [Forward]
New Book About Arlington — Local author HK Park has published another book about Arlington. This kid-oriented, 44-page paperback is called “How Your City Works!! Behind The Scenes In Arlington, VA.”
Discussion of Pike Development — Arlington County Board members Libby Garvey and Christian Dorsey discussed the approval of the Rappahannock Coffee site redevelopment in the county’s Board meeting wrap-up video. [YouTube]
Signature Theatre Announces New Cast — The cast for the Signature Theatre production of “Jelly’s Last Jam” includes a Tony Award winner, a Helen Hayes Award winner and a star jazz pianist. The musical begins at the Shirlington theater in August. [Playbill]
Arlington’s Got Talent Winner — Lyfe, a spoken word artist, is the 2016 winner of the Arlington’s Got Talent competition. [InsideNova]
Photo courtesy B. Heather
Shirlington’s Signature Theatre has unveiled the lineup for its 2016-2017 season.
Among the productions scheduled are the Tony Award-winning Titanic: The Musical, Freaky Friday based on the novel and Disney movies and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic Jesus Chris Superstar.
Here’s the full list:
- Jelly’s Last Jam (Aug. 2-Sept. 11) — A musical about “famed and notorious jazz entertainer Jelly Roll Morton,” featuring his music.
- The Gulf (Sept. 13-Nov. 6) — The world premiere of a “provocative new comedy” set in the Alabama Delta, written by D.C. playwright Audrey Cefaly.
- Freaky Friday (Oct. 4-Nov. 6) — The world premiere of the body-swapping musical comedy based on the Disney films.
- Silver Belles (Nov. 22-Dec. 24) — Another world premiere musical comedy that’s billed as “a raucous send up of small town Christmas pageantry.”
- Titanic: The Musical (Dec. 13-Jan. 29) — A new production of the 20-year-old musical, featuring “a cast, crew and orchestra of over 50 artists and an inventive new 360 degree staging.”
- Mrs. Miller Does Her Thing (Feb. 28-March 26) — A new comedy written and directed by Pulitzer Prize winner James Lapine and starring Emmy and Tony Award winner Debra Monk.
- Midwestern Gothic (March 14-April 30) — A new musical that “paints a vivid portrait of a young woman whose imagination runs wild in a desperate to escape her desolate surroundings.”
- Jesus Christ Superstar (May 9-July 2) — Signature’s season concludes with the classic Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice rock opera about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
Signature is also planning a cabaret series featuring “Woodstock,” with music from the music festival, in addition to its annual open house on Saturday, July 23.
ARLnow Suffers Server Issue — ARLnow.com’s web server was down this morning due to a technical problem. It came back up at almost exactly noon. We apologize for any inconvenience. For those seeking an explanation of what went wrong, we’ve compiled some of our tweets from this morning. [Storify]
Big Apartment Development Proposed in Pentagon City — Vornado, which recently put several planned projects in Crystal City on hold, has filed a preliminary site plan application for a huge new apartment tower in Pentagon City. The 22-story, 558-unit residential building would be part of the Metropolitan Park development, next to a currently under-construction, Whole Foods-anchored apartment building, also owned by Vornado. Expect objections from some residents in nearby single-family home neighborhoods, who are already fretting about Vornado’s proposed addition of 1,100 apartments at the RiverHouse complex. [Washington Business Journal]
Lane of Memorial Bridge Reopens, For Now — The eastbound curb lane of the Memorial Bridge has temporarily reopened. It will close again early next year for additional repairs to the aging bridge, a National Park Service spokeswoman said. [Twitter]
DEA Seeking New Headquarters — The Drug Enforcement Administration may be looking to move from its Pentagon City headquarters. The GSA is seeking a new lease for the DEA, which employs some 2,500 people in Pentagon City. Competition among building owners is expected to be fierce. [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington Affordable for Millennials? — Despite high rents, the website RealtyTrac has ranked Arlington among what it says are the more affordable locales for young adults. Among places that are considered millennial magnets, Arlington has one of the more affordable ratios of average millennial income to average apartment rent. [RealtyTrac]
Positive Review for West Side Story at Signature — Signature Theatre’s production of West Side Story has choreography that’s “near-perfection,” at least according to a review in the University of Maryland Diamondback student newspaper. The production at the acclaimed Shirlington theater has been extended through Jan. 31. [Diamondback Online]
Woman Takes Stage to Find Bathroom — An apparently intoxicated woman climbed on stage during a recent Signature Theatre production in Shirlington, made her way backstage and asked a cast member for directions to the bathroom. [Playbill]
Spout Run Closure — The eastbound lanes of the Spout Run Parkway will be completely closed from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. today for road paving. No detours will be in place and “alternative routes should be used,” according to the National Park Service.
Arlington Murder to Be Featured on TV Show — This coming Sunday, at 10 p.m., the show “Deadline: Crime with Tamron Hall” on Investigation Discovery will feature the 2012 homicide of Mack L. Woods Sr. in Arlington. [Patch]
Charleys Now Open in Pentagon City — A Charleys Philly Steaks restaurant is now open in the food court of the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall food court. “Charleys brings a unique experience to the food court with its grilled-fresh-in-front-of-you flavor,” the company said in a press release.
Food Truck Stops Taking Cash — The Lemongrass food truck, which frequents Arlington, has decided to stop accepting cash. The truck now only takes credit and debit cards. [Washington Post]
Why Arlington Went to Paper Ballots — Arlington reintroduced paper ballots this year after dumping its electronic voting machines. Why did it get rid of the more modern tech? The WINVote system was found to be grossly insecure and the touchscreen devices were dubbed the “worst voting machines” in America. [Wired]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Justice Dept. Investigating Arlington Jail — The Justice Department has launched an investigation into treatment of deaf inmates at the Arlington County Detention Center. That follows a lawsuit by a deaf inmate who said he was not given access to a sign language interpreter during a six-week stay at the jail. [Associated Press]
Deer Takes the Stage at Signature Theatre — A deer wandered onto the stage at Signature Theatre in Shirlington on Tuesday. The deer apparently entered through a loading dock while crews were working on the set for an upcoming production. [NBC Washington]
‘Most Wanted’ Deadbeats — The Arlington Sheriff’s Office is making a push to promote a program for tracking down “deadbeat parents” who are late on child support payments. Many of the addresses on file for deadbeat parents are no longer valid, so deputies have taken to finding the offenders on social media. [Connection Newspapers]
Flickr pool photo by Brian Irwin
County Seeks Input for County Manager Search — Arlington County is seeking public input as it begins its search for a new county manager. “In the coming months, [executive recruiters] will be evaluating candidates for the position,” the county said in a press release. “They are seeking your input, suggestions, and comments on what will be important in the selection of a County Manager.” The county is conducting an online survey and holding a public meeting on July 20 to gather public input. [Arlington County]
Tejada Attends Trump Protest — Retiring Arlington County Board member Walter Tejada is getting a bit of national media attention after joining other local officials in a demonstration in front of Donald Trump’s under-construction hotel in D.C. The “Dump Trump” protest was held in response to the Republican presidential candidate’s inflammatory comments about Mexican immigrants. [CBS News, MyFoxDC]
Bernie Sanders Speaks in Ballston — Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders drew a “boisterous crowd” of nearly 500 supporters at a policy forum in Ballston last night. Sanders railed against the political influence of the “billionaire class” while calling for a $15 an hour minimum wage, expanded Social Security, guaranteed health care coverage and free public college tuition. [Washington Post]
Arlington College Student Gets Reality TV Show — Monica Ten-Kate, a 21-year-old Fairlington resident who is currently attending Penn State, has scored her own reality TV series — “Monica the Medium” — on ABC Family. Ten-Kate claims she can talk to the dead, and the “docuseries” will follow her as she balances classes and homework with her part-time profession of charging people money for “readings.” The show will premiere on Aug. 25. [Patch, ABC Family]
Signature to Launch Revamped Singing Competition — Signature Theatre in Shirlington will launch “Signature Voice,” a new singing competition, at its annual open house on Aug. 2. “The new ‘Signature Voice’ competition will replace the popular Signature Idol Competition held over the last five years,” according to a news report. “Held in Signature’s MAX Theatre, the competition will host a panel of three celebrity judges in search of the best undiscovered singers in the DC region.” [Broadway World]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Sephora Coming to Clarendon — Skincare and cosmetics retailer Sephora has signed a lease at Market Common Clarendon. The company plans to open a store at the shopping center later this year. [Washington Business Journal]
Contractor Causes Flood in Rosslyn — A contractor on a backhoe caused a mini flood on Wilson Blvd yesterday afternoon, after striking a fire hydrant line. The incident also caused several hours of water service disruptions in the area. It’s at least the second time in the past few months that someone at the construction site hit a water line and caused flooding. [WJLA]
New Website for Rep. Beyer — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) launched a newly redesigned website this week. The site features a background image of Rosslyn and the Potomac River. [U.S. House of Representatives]
Village Sweet Bakery Opens — Village Sweet, a new bakery in Westover, opened for business on Tuesday. Owner Dawn Hart decided to open the brick-and-mortar store as an expansion of Monster Cookie Co., her online, customized sugar cookie business. The bakery is located at 5872 Washington Blvd, next to Lost Dog Cafe. [Facebook, Washington Post]
McAuliffe Signs Auditor Bill — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has signed Del. Patrick Hope’s bill that will allow the Arlington County Board to hire an independent auditor. The bill will become law in July. Board members Jay Fisette, Libby Garvey and John Vihstadt say they support the hiring of an independent auditor. Board member Walter Tejada, who’s retiring at the end of the year, has expressed reservations about the position. [InsideNova]
Signature Casts Wesley Taylor — Shirlington’s Signature Theatre has cast Wesley Taylor — who has held prominent roles on NBC’s “Smash” and Broadway’s “Rock of Ages” — in its upcoming production of “Cabaret.” The show will run from May 12 to June 28. [Associated Press]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Apartment Tower Proposed for Carpool Site — A 22-story, 330-unit luxury residential tower has been proposed for the site at 4000 Fairfax Drive in Ballston currently occupied by Carpool. It’s unclear if the bar would move to a new location during construction or whether it would move back after. [Washington Business Journal]
Buses to Use Shoulders on I-66 — Monday, March 23 has been set as the launch date for a pilot program that will allow buses to use the shoulder lanes on I-66 inside the Beltway. The speed limit for buses using the shoulders will be 25 mph. [Washington Post]
Equalizing Treatment of Ticketed Cars — This weekend, County Board members are expected to approve a measure that would treat tickets issued by police officers the same as tickets issued by so-called public-service aides. The change would specifically apply to tickets for expired registration tags, personal-property decals and state safety inspections. Currently, tickets for such violations issued by officers can be dismissed administratively by the commonwealth’s attorney’s office, while tickets issued by PSAs require a more lengthy appearance before a judge. [InsideNova]
Wardian Sets Another Crazy Record — Superhuman ultramarathoner and Arlington resident Michael Wardian has set another record. This time, he set the record for fastest 50K on a treadmill. And he set the record after attempting it, unsuccessfully, 30 hours prior to his record-setting run. What’s more, Wardian accomplished the feat on a cruise ship in the Caribbean while sweating profusely. [Runners World]
Sondheim Revue Coming to Signature — In honor of composer Stephen Sondheim’s 85th birthday, Signature Theatre in Shirlington is planning a “Simply Sondheim” revue, to run from April 2-19. [Playbill]
Flickr pool photo by Joseph Gruber
Car Towed With Dog Inside — A car was towed from a private parking lot in Arlington while the owner’s 8-year-old Golden Retriever was still inside. Car owner Jennifer Geisler said she didn’t know she was parking illegally while running a 20 minute errand. She took a cab to get her car back from Advanced Towing, then complained to local TV stations about the incident. [NBC Washington — WARNING: Auto-play video]
Arlington Nursing School Shut Down — The Virginia Board of Nursing has shut down the Medical Learning Center, an Arlington nursing school. The school’s students say administrators left them in the dark and they’re now out thousands of dollars while their nursing careers are in limbo. [WJLA]
Historical Society’s Future Ambitions — The president of the Arlington Historical Society says that in coming years the society hopes to hire a professional staff and establish a countywide “heritage center.” In the shorter term, the society wants to extend its reach and “introduce many more Arlingtonians to our shared local history.” [InsideNova]
‘Diner’ Scores Good Review — The stage adaptation of the movie Diner, which premiered at Shirlington’s Signature Theatre on Dec. 9, has received a glowing review from trade publication Variety. The show’s seven-week run at the 276-seat Signature has already sold out. [Variety]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
The decision came just hours after County Manager Barbara Donnellan recommended closing Rosslyn’s Artisphere next June. The County Board ultimately decided that the two arts organizations’ situations were different enough to begin a new investment as it acknowledged the failure of a previous one.
“Signature really is an Arlington treasure,” County Board Chair Jay Fisette said. “It reaches into our community and impacts our community in substantial ways.”
The theater will receive the loan at a low, 1 percent interest rate; it will no longer have to pay $411,000 in unpaid county taxes and fees; and $2.7 million of its $7.7 million debt to United Bank will be forgiven.
“Signature will pay back this loan in full and on time,” the theater’s managing director, Maggie Boland, told the Board. “We often joke that ‘hope is not a strategy’ at Signature. We don’t commit to a production plan that we can’t afford.”
Signature’s yearly debt payments will be reduced from more than $1 million to about $300,000, a difference that county Director of Management and Finance Michelle Cowen called “transformative.”
“It allows them to bulk up on their balance sheet, which is in poor shape,” Cowen said.
There were 11 speakers from the public, and eight of them spoke in support of the County Board’s action. Many of the supporters were either current or former members of the Signature in the Schools program, Shirlington business owners or those with active interests in the theater’s success.
“We believe Signature is vital to the overall success of Shirlington and the greater Arlington County community,” Ken Mosig, director of asset management for the Village at Shirlington’s parent company, Federal Realty Investment Trust, said. “Their programs attract people to the Village of Shirlington. Having Signature Theatre as an entertainment venue has helped bring 100,000 people to the area per year.”
Among the dissenters were Jim Hurysz and Tim Wise, two frequent County Board critics and opponents of government spending.
“Taxpayers who oppose public subsidies for the arts do not oppose the arts,” Wise said. “We just think the arts should pay for themselves.”
Board member Libby Garvey asked Boland why they couldn’t raise ticket prices to generate the additional revenue, needed, but Boland said that if the tickets were any more expensive, “that would be detrimental to our business.”
Although the County Board unanimously approved the loan — the money for which comes from FY 2014 closeout funds — several members indicated that this would be the last chance Signature has for county funding for some time.
“We don’t want to be here again,” Fisette said.
Photo via Signature Theatre website
(Updated at 4:10 p.m.) Arlington County could come to the rescue for Signature Theatre‘s financial troubles.
County Manager Barbara Donnellan is recommending the county lend the Shirlington theater $5 million, to be repaid over 19 years at a low 1 percent interest, she announced today.
The Arlington County Board will decide whether to approve the theater’s new financing plan at its recessed meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 17. If approved, the county would also forgive Signature for $411,000 in unpaid lease and utility payments, and not collect rent for the term of the loan.
“Signature Theatre is key to Shirlington’s success,” Donnellan said in a press release. “This restructuring will put Signature on a sound financial footing and help ensure that it will continue to draw thousands of people to Arlington every year. This loan, which Signature will repay over the next two decades, is the basis of a responsible financial plan. It will support one of the County’s most important arts organizations, an organization that yields important cultural and economic benefits for our entire community.”
The $5 million will be allocated from FY 2014 closeout funds, Donnellan said. The loan removes Signature from consideration for future county cultural grants. Last spring, the county awarded the theater a $250,000 grant to help it pay off its real estate and business taxes.
The loan negotiations have been ongoing for several years, the county said, and include Signature’s private lender, United Bank, forgiving $2.7 million of its $7.7 million loan.
“All of us at Signature are deeply grateful to our partners at United Bank and Arlington County for working with us to ensure that Signature can continue to thrive in Shirlington for many years to come,” Signature’s Managing Director Maggie Boland said in the release. “As the largest arts organization in Arlington, and Virginia’s largest theater, we are very pleased to cement this long-term partnership with the County.”
Signature, which won a Regional Theater Tony Award in 2009, is arguably the county’s most prominent arts organization. The theater is currently hosting the world premiere of the musical adaptation of Diner. It also conducts an education program for high school students called Signature in the Schools.
Janet Kopenhaver, chair of the Arlington Commission for the Arts, says the commission enthusiastically supports the county’s loan proposal.
“On behalf of the Arlington Commission for the Arts, I want to express our total support for this agreement with Signature Theatre — a critical asset to the County’s vibrant arts community,” Kopenhaver said. “We applaud the County for considering not only protecting a vital real estate investment in Shirlington, but also supporting our nationally-renowned, Tony-award winning theater company that we are so proud to have located in Arlington County.”
Photo via Signature Theatre
Wizards Look at Crystal City, Ballston — Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis is reportedly narrowing in on three sites — in Crystal City, Ballston and in D.C.’s Shaw neighborhood — as the potential location for the team’s future $40-50 million practice facility. [Washington Post]
New Cultural Affairs Director — Michelle Isabelle-Stark has been named Arlington County’s new Director of Cultural Affairs, overseeing Artisphere and the county’s art programs. Isabelle-Stark most recently held a similar position in Suffolk County, New York. [Arlington Economic Development]
Backup QB Leads Yorktown into Playoffs — Charlie Tiene, a top lacrosse prospect who skipped football for the golf team last year, will lead the Yorktown Patriots in the their first-round playoff game tonight. Tiene was named the team’s quarterback after starting QB Joe McBride went down with an ACL injury. [Washington Post]
Signature Developing Two New Musicals — Shirlington’s Signature Theatre is developing two new musicals: Midwestern Gothic and the Christmas-themed Silver Belles. [Playbill]
Snow in Arlington — Reagan National Airport reported a trace amount of snowfall overnight. [National Weather Service]
Flickr pool photo by Starbuck77
Sheryl Crow Musical Coming to Shirlington — The world premiere musical adaptation of the moving Diner is coming to Signature Theatre in Shirlington next month. Written by Academy Award-winning screenwriter Barry Levinson, with music and lyrics by Sheryl Crow, Diner will run from Dec. 9 to Jan. 25. [Signature Theatre]
Crossover Voting Strong in N. Arlington — Throughout Arlington, Democratic voters “crossed over” to vote for John Vihstadt on Tuesday. Overall, however, the residential portions of North Arlington had the greatest crossover vote for the independent County Board candidate. [Not Larry Sabato]
Voter ID Rule Mostly Affected Seniors — About 60 Arlington voters did not bring a photo ID to the polls on Tuesday, election officials said. Under new ID rules in Virginia, they could only cast a provisional ballot then come back and present photo ID. Most of those without ID were senior citizens, and many of those senior citizens were from the same local retirement home. [InsideNova]
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.
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.