Runaway Spoon

Barking Up The Tree at National Theatre

February 28, 2019

Tail wags all around.

National Theatre’s  musical Finding Neverland debuted Tuesday night for performances through Sunday March 3, with a cast that includes  a scene-stealing hairy pup and very talented youthful actors including  Josiah Smothers from Ashburn, Va. 

The Cast (Photo by: Jeremy Daniel) The Cast

The Broadway musical hit is about playwright J. M. Barrie and the family that inspired him to write Peter Pan.

The staging is nothing short of eye popping, with lots of pixie dust, Captain Hook and his pirates prancing, flying characters, pillow fights, sword battles and exceptional period costumes.  The stage goes to the dogs time and time again as the giant poodle-like pooch romps and sniffs.

Directed by Tony-winner Diane Paulus and based on the Academy Award winning film, Finding Neverland tells the story of how Peter Pan came to be. 

The boys of Finding Neverland (Photo by: Jeremy Daniel) The boys of Finding Neverland

The plot: playwright Barrie struggles to find inspiration until he meets four young brothers and their beautiful widowed mother. Barrie is enchanted with the lads’ make-believe adventures. He set out to write a play inspired by the antics of the boys that astounds London theatergoers.

The cast is led by Jeff Sullivan (Barrie) and Ruby Gibbs (Sylvia Lewelyn Davies) with a host of outstanding dancers and singers worthy of their challenging roles.

Josiah Smothers, Jeff Sullivan, Ruby Gibbs & Paul Schoeller (Photo by: Jeremy Daniel) Josiah Smothers, Jeff Sullivan, Ruby Gibbs & Paul Schoeller

The first nighter audience at National Theatre also was enthralled. Quite a few children were happy to be out late with the one-and-only Peter Pan. The play is recommenced for ages 7 and up.

Captain Hook threatening J.M. Barrie (Photo by: Jeremy Daniel) Captain Hook threatening J.M. Barrie

But, pushing the envelope a mite, this writer  brought her 6-year-old grandson, Jordan, who sat wide eyed for the 2 hour 25 minute performance.  He couldn’t wait for the intermission to end and the action to get on with it.

Sammy, trainer Bill Berloni and Bailey (understudy) (Photo by: KSP Images) Sammy, trainer Bill Berloni and Bailey (understudy)


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Pompeo Is Where He Wants To Be: The Nation's #1 Diplomat

January 29, 2019

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger

“I remember thinking when I was growing up in Orange County [California]; I want to be as important as Henry Kissinger.

I still do.”

So said Secretary of State Michael Pompeo.

The two diplomats rubbed shoulders Saturday at the Pre-Alfalfa Club luncheon sponsored by a think tank, the Center for Strategic International Studies, in Washington, D.C.  Kissinger is 95.

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

And that wasn’t all: a third man of the State Department, Rex Tillerson, and a fourth, George Shultz, also were among the several hundred guests trading memories and current views of the world.

Pompeo also made it clear he isn’t trading jobs despite press reports that he was recently pushed to run for the U.S. Senate in Kansas next year. “I’m not doing THAT. I’ve done THAT.” That was as a Kansas congressman before President Donald Trump tapped him for State.

Pompeo came directly from the United Nations in New York to give his CSIS talk, where every last seat was filled.

Asked in a Q&A about the political chaos in Venezuela, he replied: “We’ve been working at this for quite some time…to create a situation where we get real democracy.”  But he said, “rebuilding will take years.”

Among the long CSIS list of invited notables were diplomats, leading business figures, current and ex members of the Senate and the House, as well as famous officials of present and bygone administrations.

Colleen Nunn (left) & Ann Hand (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Colleen Nunn (left) & Ann Hand

Erskine Bowles, Jean Case (CEO, Case Foundation), Elaine Chao, Lloyd and Ann Hand, Jane Harman, Kay Bailey Hutchison, J. Willard Marriott Jr., William McSweeny, former Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn (co-chair of The Nuclear Threat Initiative & chairman emeritus and trustee of CSIS),

Michael Mondavi (founder of the Michael Mondavi Family Estate (providers of the luncheon wine) and family, Michelle Nunn (president & CEO of CARE USA), San Francisco philanthropists Bill and Laurie Grayson, Peter G. Peterson Foundation CEO Michael Peterson, former Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson, former California Rep. David Dreier, former Michigan Gov. John Engler,

Former Sen. Charles Robb and Lynda Robb, former Sen. Alan Simpson; Gov. Mark Gordon of Wyoming, Walter and Didi Cutler,

Patrick Steel (CEO, Politico), Italian Ambassador Armando Varricchio, Ambassador William Hagerty (U.S. embassy in Japan), Ambassador Jose Manuel de Gallego Romualdez (Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines),  and Tenley Albright (director, MIT Collaborative Initiatives).

Kay Bailey Hutchison, U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO, (left) & Jane Harman, Wilson Center, president and CEO (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Kay Bailey Hutchison, U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO, (left) & Jane Harman, Wilson Center, president and CEO
Former Sen.E. Benjamin Nelson (left) and David Dreier, chairman of Annenberg-Dreier Commission (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Former Sen.E. Benjamin Nelson (left) and David Dreier, chairman of Annenberg-Dreier Commission
Author Jean Case, CEO of Case Foundation, (left), Beth Solomon of CARE USA, & Sara Blakely founder of Spanx (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Author Jean Case, CEO of Case Foundation, (left), Beth Solomon of CARE USA, & Sara Blakely founder of Spanx
Sue Desmond-Hellmann, CEO, The Bill and Melinda Foundation (right) & Stephen Morrison, Sr. Vice President & Director, Global Health Policy Center, CSIS (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Sue Desmond-Hellmann, CEO, The Bill and Melinda Foundation (right) & Stephen Morrison, Sr. Vice President & Director, Global Health Policy Center, CSIS


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Bloomberg Lambasts President; Stops Short of Announcing for Presidency

January 27, 2019

“To Donald, the art of the deal is cheating people.  And now he’s doing it to the American people," said possible Democrat candidate for president Michael R. Bloomberg, speaking to a business group in Tysons, Va., on Friday.

That was only one of the barrage of sharp arrows Bloomberg, 76, shot at President Trump, an old New York City adversary, during the sold-out breakfast for the Democratic Business Council of Northern Virginia.

Michael Bloomberg chats with Beth Solomon, managing director for external affairs & development for CARE USA. (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Michael Bloomberg chats with Beth Solomon, managing director for external affairs & development for CARE USA.

Many more scathing arrows were in the quiver:

  •  a “reckless President…who doesn’t know the first thing about management.”
  • Alluding to Trump’s brain power, Bloomberg said on occasion when they took the New York subway together; Trump didn’t know which end to put his subway card in.
  • On the presidency, Donald Trump “is way over his head… complete failure of presidential leadership…the president is flunking every single test…the training wheels that his staff put on don’t work….he should not be president…”
  • This is a government version of a “horror movie” such as the likes of Freddy Krueger.
  • Trump, he said, despite his bragging of knowing scientific things, is really ignorant. Does he send his family to “witch doctors?”
  • Bloomberg called the government shutdown “a simple political stunt…just so he (Trump) can build a wall that doesn’t work…" And, he said the Republicans are “too cowardly to stand up”…comparing the lot to the cowardly lion in The Wizard of Oz. “What’s happening now with Republicans…and Trump…they make the “lion look like a profile in courage.”
  • He said that there is “certainly culpability on both sides…but no other government stops their government over a political fight.” He said for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, “herding cats is not easy.”
  • On immigration, Bloomberg said he doesn’t support open borders.  “We need to be able to bring in many people from around the world…who obey laws...”if not throw them out.”  Today’s immigration system “is just a joke.”

He did not directly address by name the growing lineup of Democrats who have announced their presidential candidacy, with more to come.  Nonetheless, he said it’s important that in 2020, the candidates know how to manage, know how to work across the political aisle, know “how to run a railroad,” and have a real concern for people. The federal government is the big league… “It’s the NFL here. We need to have people who can do the job … not just hold a political rally….”

Bloomberg during Q&A (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Bloomberg during Q&A

He pointedly spoke of his own resume, which includes three terms as New York City mayor. He was a backer of many successful economic policies that supported entrepreneurs, small and larger businesses, tech and bioscience, and technology startups, among other achievements.

In his hour-long talk followed by a Q&A, Bloomberg laughed:

“Now I’m going to take some questions.  The perfect first question would be why I get confused with Brad Pitt.  Well, we’re the same age.”

Although most in the audience of 100+  thought he sounded like a candidate, Bloomberg, said he is playing a wait ‘n’ see game. “I’ll take a look and see” about the future.  The billionaire, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies, said he has time to decide whether to toss his hat into the ring. In the meantime, he said he is pleasantly occupied with the philanthropic endeavors.  But then, he alluded, one morning, he may get up and say: it's time.

Some think Bloomberg is too middle of the road to attract voters in the current democrat spin to the left.  Others feel Bloomberg's views will appeal to moderate Republicans nationwide. 

Attending the breakfast were Virginia political leaders, past and present. Honorees included Gov. Ralph Northam, Congressman Don Beyer, and former Congressman Jim Moran

The former New York City mayor was in the D.C. area for the week, speaking at a Martin Luther King commemoration on Monday and several other events.

 

 

 

 

 


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