When the Old Town Theater was remodeled in 2012, the owners discovered an architectural gem that waited 98 years to be uncovered. Throughout the theater, they found pressed tin dating back to the venue’s inception as a vaudeville and silent-film house in 1914. The most amazing discovery, however, was a grand staircase that had been left out of the building plans since the 1930s. Now the theater pays homage to its roots, even while offering modern amenities such as spacious seating, a professional light-and-sound system, and a television that shows stuff in color.
Even though the banquet hall at Medieval Madness is eternally stuck in the 15th century, its court isn't content to perform the same show forever. Every four months, the troupe updates its production of comedy and knightly combat, swapping out nods to politics and modern life as often as kings jail their favorite jesters for disobeying the fashion police. Each evening's reverie begins with a four-course meal served family style at long banquet tables. Like the show, the menu regularly rotates, though it always includes a succulent pear sauce crafted from an 800-year-old recipe, a perfect complement when drizzled over roasted meats or smeared on an opposing clan's coat of arms. Throughout the evening, guests watch on as the duke and duchess lob insults at each other, wenches break into tawdry songs, and knights fully clad in chain mail part the tables to challenge one another in exhilarating sword fights.
An old-fashioned ambiance reigns in The Carlyle Club, expressed in an art-deco design scheme, frequent visits from respected jazz musicians, and guests’ predilections for saying “horse feathers.” Tall palm fronds back cushy leather booths and elegant marble tables loiter near the bar, all within sight of the intimate, blue-curtained stage. A bow-tied wait staff completes the back-in-time vibe, as do vintage posters and the intricately patterned wallpaper.
John Strongbow fills plates with a blend of ancient and modern European cuisine, delivered straight to tables as soon as they're finished cooking. Root vegetables, such as boiled red potatoes and pureed yams, pair with heartier mains including trout in brown-butter sauce and slow-roasted prime rib. For drink, the bar slings mead and beers, many of which date back centuries. One beer, Weihenstephaner, can trace its lineage back to 761, the same year beer pong was invented.
When Kim Allen Kluge took over as music director of the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra in 1987, the outfit was made up of a small but enthusiastic group of community musicians. Sensing the potential of the orchestra, Kluge augmented the ensemble with freelancer virtuosos, quickly establishing the ASO as the premier professional symphony in northern Virginia. Today, the collective performs in the elegant Schlesinger Concert Hall on the Northern Virginia Community College campus, which makes for an acoustically friendly venue and a convenient base of operations for pranks on the Dean.
The Metropolitan School of the Arts - formerly the Metropolitan Fine Arts Center - was founded more than 14 years ago. This multidisciplinary performing-arts organization takes a holistic approach to teaching and encouraging performance-arts skills, creating performance opportunities in dance, music, and theater for a diverse population of students of all ages and abilities. Its students have gone to perform on Broadway, at The Juilliard School, and in highly esteemed companies, such as the Mark Morris Dance Company, The Washington Ballet, and Ford's Theater and Signature Theater. Youth programs include year-round programs in dance, theater, music, music-theater, and acting, as well as a performing-arts program in the summer, all for children as young as 2. Adult classes range from basic to advanced, including ballet, jazz, and tap lessons, plus yoga and ballet-barre fitness workouts.