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.
Saphira, the matriarch and founder of Saffron Dance, didn’t even exist 20 years ago, much like “I survived Y2K” bumper stickers. Saphira was known as Rachael Galoob-Ortega, a lawyer who practiced in DC and Florida for a decade. But her high-power career and hefty paycheck couldn’t extinguish her passion for dance. And so she became Saphira, an international belly-dance artist and instructor with numerous accolades, including being featured in American Belly Dancer, a documentary about belly dance in the United States.
Saphira opened Saffron Dance six years ago, and along with 18 fellow instructors, channels her years of expertise into dance courses that get progressively more challenging from week to week. Welcoming all levels, her classes teach both Egyptian-inspired belly dance and community-focused tribal belly dance. Regardless of the class type, Saphira and her teachers encourage pupils to express their unique voices through dance, all while keeping proper alignment, mastering precision, and having fun.
Established as the Washington Shakespeare Company in 1990, WSC Avant Bard is dedicated to updating classic theater for modern audiences, revitalizing well-worn drama with challenging interpretations. Under the leadership of newly appointed artistic director Tom Prewitt, the theater treats audiences to daring productions of established classics, new works, and little-known Shakespeare fan-fiction about him teaming up to fight crime with Queen Elizabeth I.
Today's side deal gets you a ticket to see Jane Franklin Dance's new work, Of Bones and Bridges. Inspired by nature's cycle of growth, destruction, and change, this composition explores the tension between people and the natural world. Head to Source, a recently renovated black-box theater in the 14th Street Corridor, for an evening performance at 8 p.m. on Saturday, February 27, or a matinee on Sunday, February 28 (a $28 value). Pick up adult tickets at the box office on a first-come, first-serve basis for your chosen evening; if you're planning on bringing children, call ahead to reserve special $10 kids' pricing (to be paid out of pocket to the theater, normally $16).