For more than a decade, the Providence Players of Fairfax have graced the regional theater stage with well-crafted, crowd-pleasing productions. Michael Cristofer’s Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning drama The Shadow Box takes shape at the James Lee Community Center, mixing pathos and humor with a stirring peek behind the hospital curtains at a day in the life of three families dealing with terminally ill brethren. Dramatic without being maudlin, the play celebrates relationships, family, and the inevitable conclusion of all carbon-based life forms with wit, dignity, and unflinching realism. The play contains mature language and themes, so parents should leave wee ones at home and spare them a mouthful of soap.
Music director Emil de Cou takes listeners on a sonic journey that sails the Virginia Chamber Orchestra's sound waves to baroque and neoclassical shores, then back through the romantic and contemporary coasts of jazz. The featured piece of the program, Grieg's Holberg Suite of 1884, takes the charming string movement to the late 17th century, when the playwright Ludvig Holberg lived and when flimsy top hats had to be filled with stale oatmeal so that they could stay upright. Maestro Cou mines more neoclassical splendor as violins, cello, and a four-part string orchestra resonate throughout the hall during Handel's concerti grossi from Twelve Grand Concertos, Opus 6. The orchestra breaks 20th-century ground with a composition by Washington native Duke Ellington. His “Solitude” gently exposes listeners to a heartbreakingly simple tune that has stood the test of time better than hand-whittled watches.
Since 1973, skaters have been sailing effortlessly across Fairfax Ice Arena’s spacious, icy surface during public skate sessions, figure skating–lessons, and hockey leagues for all ages. At the family-owned arena, a staff of dedicated skating coaches guides students while calling upon experience from the St. Petersburg State Ballet on Ice, Disney on Ice, and the lesser-known On Golden Pond on Ice. The arena is open throughout the year, hosting a full hockey and figure skating–pro shop in addition to its Arena Café.
Maestro Barry Hemphill guides the 100-voice Metropolitan Chorus through stirring vocal performances, opening the chorus’s 45th season with "Music to Move the Soul." The century of trained crooners will join forces with skilled musicians to take on Will Todd’s Mass in Blue, a 2003 composition that layers a Latin mass over jazzy melodies in the style of Virgil’s early beat poetry. Soprano Linda Maguire’s high notes soar as saxophonist Irvin Peterson bends bluesy notes and pianists’ fingers fly across keyboards against harmonies ringing through the church’s towering ceilings. The conductor’s waving hands cue musicians through rousing crescendos, hushed diminuendos, and commands to steal second, and audiences relax in comfortable pews on the ground floor or lean forward to catch the action from tiered seats in the mezzanines.