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That rabbit is dynamite! - Nevermind the unladen swallow

If you’re looking for light entertainment, catch the last show (July 23) of “Spamalot,” the current offering of the Rockville Musical Theatre.

The show earned 14 Tony nominations when it came to Broadway in 2005, staged by gifted theater and film director Mike Nichols, who started his career as a comic. “Spamalot” won the Tony for Best Musical of the Year.

The show is based on the 1975 cult classic — “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” -- or, as the theater program for “Spamalot” declares, it was “ripped off from the motion picture.”

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Fringe festival has enough for everyone to find a niche of pure fun

Only five more days remain in the vast, multifaceted, and overwhelming (in a good sense) Capital Fringe Festival 2017.

Though only in its 12th year, the annual event founded by artist and community organizer Julianne Brienza seems to have been around forever.

Its goal according to the web site, is “expanding audiences’ appetites for independent, Fringe theatre, music, art, dance, and unclassifiable forms of live performance and visual art – and serving as a catalyst for cultural and community development.”

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Imagination Stage offers fun for those serious about the arts

Elyon Topolosky has been in the area only about four years, but he’s already performed in four productions at Imagination Stage.

Most recently, he appeared in “Bye, Bye Birdie” in one of the summer camps run by the community arts organization, whose mission is to integrate the arts into the lives of children.

“I love Imagination Stage,” said Topolosky, 13. “It’s not just a month of auditioning, learning your part, and putting on a performance. It’s a whole process – of learning different techniques, like drama, music, makeup, puppetry, dialects, and stage combat.”

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Plath and Dietrich take a new turn in the limelight

Marlene DietrichMarlene Dietrich. COURTESY PHOTO  The two women couldn’t have been more different.

Marlene Dietrich was an internationally known movie star who radiated sexual magnetism. She was also unapologetically androgynous and bisexual, at a time neither was openly accepted. A married woman whose list of lovers seemed endless, Dietrich was defeated only by aging, which made a dent in her prodigious selfconfidence.

Sylvia Plath was a shy but influential poet and novelist. While she captured the public imagination of other artists and lovers of her art forms and won a Pulitzer Prize, she never became the household name Dietrich was. Plath is also known for her turbulent relationship with husband and fellow poet Ted Hughes. After several bouts of depression and suicide attempts (possibly due to bipolar disorder), Plath took her own life at the age of 30.

Dietrich and Plath are now posthumously “sharing the same space,” in exhibitions dedicated to them at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.

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One-act plays dominate community theater festivals

Two Montgomery County community theaters will offer multi-week festivals of one-act plays this summer, featuring characters such as a lonely woman at a bar and a former U.S. president (in separate works).

The Montgomery Playhouse, which describes itself as “Montgomery County’s Oldest Community Theater,” will present its festival consisting of seven plays at Commotion Fitness Studios in Germantown, a new venue for the company. The plays will take place on the last two weekends of July.

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A Renaissance man turns 83

As a child, Mike Ritter was drawn to the sound of classic big bands. Now at the age of 83, the Oscar-winning filmmaker leads The Not So Modern Jazz Quartet, a band dedicated to preserving the big-band music he first fell in love with.

Ritter first achieved fame when he placed second in the 1957 National All-Army talent competition. Ritter’s act for the initial round was a one-band act to show off his command of different instruments.

“What I did was, I played piano, then called a friend to take over on piano. Then I played bass and called a friend out to play bass, then played horn and asked a friend to play the horn,” Ritter said.

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Local artist Raul Midón captures all that jazz

Raul MidonBlind musician Rául Mídon performs at Bethesda Blues and Jazz. PHOTO BY MATT HOOKE  BETHESDA — Raul Midón, midway through his concert Thursday night at Bethesda Blues and Jazz, showed off his ability to play bongos, guitar, and sing at the same time.  The crowd erupted in applause, and people grabbed their phones to record the feat.  Raul, however, didn’t see the flashing of cameras, or the cheering faces of his audience, because he is blind.  

Midón has been blind since birth. However, despite this he picked up music at a young age, playing drums at age four, guitar at age six.

“It gives me a different perspective,” Midón said when asked about his blindness, “People look at a crowd and think it’s this type of crowd or that type of crowd, but I just feel it.”

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There’s some “Dangerous Curves” here

unnamed 1 The band Dangerous Curves performs at Hershey’s Bar and Grill.   PHOTO BY MARK POETKER  GAITHERSBURG — By day John Brian Jameson works as an arborist in Montgomery County. By night Jameson trades his work gloves for leather ones, as he fronts the hard rock band Dangerous Curves. The band celebrated the release of their self-titled debut album, Saturday at Hershey’s Bar and Grill in Gaithersburg.                                                                                  

Ten of the eleven songs on the album are original.

“I’ve written hundreds of songs since I was a kid. I tried to share them, but it never worked until now,” said Jameson. “We have something here that fits together.”

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Re-envisioned “My Fair Lady” mostly delights at Olney

My Fair LadyDanny Bernardy and Brittany Campbell star in the Olney Theatre Center's production of "My Fair Lady." COURTESY PHOTO  Virtually any production of “My Fair Lady”  – one of the best-beloved musicals ever – is always welcome.

Based on George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion,” with books and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe, the 1956 Broadway hit has seen several revivals, inspired a major Hollywood film, and is expected to return to the Great White Way next year.

Who doesn’t know the story of the uneducated British flower girl transformed by the sophisticated phonetics professor, who, unbeknownst to him at first, changes as well? And who doesn’t love such delightful songs as “The Rain in Spain” and “On the Street Where You Live?? Happily, the show can be seen now at Olney Theatre Center. With its fine acting and singing and clever, but mostly minimalist set, this production overall rekindles the affection and admiration many of us feel for this classic musical and will no doubt win over younger generations as well. The production’s “fair lady,” Brittany Campbell, has a “loverly” voice (to quote one of her songs), which soars above the difficult high notes of “I Could Have Danced All Night.” But also packs a vengeful punch in “Just You Wait, Henry Higgins.

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Takoma Park lights it up with Jazz Festival

Takoma Jazz FestivalThe Chuck Redd Quartet performing at the Takoma Park Jazz Festival.   PHOTO BY MATT HOOKE  TAKOMA PARK – On Sunday Takoma Park hosted its 22nd annual jazz festival. The two-stage, 12-act event showcased representatives from multiple genres, from traditional dixieland and bossa nova to modern go-go interpretations.

“We are promoting America’s unique music: music that connects people from around the world,” said Bruce Kohner, the president of Takoma Jazz Inc.

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