Community Palette

The Government Inspector: A Great Evening at the Theater

October 7, 2012

In today’s world with all its stress, sturm and drang it is fun to spend a couple of hours in the theater laughing the entire time. That is what you will do when you see The Government Inspector, director Michael Kahn’s current play at the Shakespeare Theatre Company.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of a play written in 1836 by Nikolai Gogol that makes fun of the Russian government, society and the Czar. The play was adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher and it feels amazingly up to date and the jokes are totally relevant to today’s world. From the moment the action starts to the last moment of the play there is one laugh line after another and the actors have said that the difficulty in performing this play is timing the dialogue to let one laugh end before the next line is spoken.

Michael Kahn, Floyd King, Peter Rosenstein (Photo by: Tom Story) Michael Kahn, Floyd King, Peter Rosenstein

I am lucky to call Michael Kahn a friend and we are both part of a group who enjoy having morning coffee at Java House on Q Street. Each time Michael directs a new play we all go and on Thursday evening we had the pleasure of having cocktails with the cast after the performance. It was great to meet them, some I knew from before and others for the first time. And what a cast it is. Many of them are well known to theater goers in Washington and in their roles in The Government Inspector none disappoint. Michael’s direction is brilliant as always and he had help this time from Assistant Director Gus Heagerty who he has mentored. Gus is now off to direct a production in Marin County. The costumes by Murell Horton are wonderful and compliment a beautiful set by James Noone.

The play is about the foibles of a local government in a small Russian city where bribery is the rule of the day. The Mayor and other town dignitaries hear that there will be an incognito Government Inspector sent by the Czar coming to see what is going on in their city. Confusion and mix-ups rule the day leading to one funny situation and line after another.

Nancy Robinette as Anna and Derek Smith as Hlestakov (Photo by: Scott Suchman) Nancy Robinette as Anna and Derek Smith as Hlestakov

Derek Smith as Ivan, who the Mayor confuses for the actual inspector, is incredible in the role and brings a great sense of farce and even slapstick comedy to it. Tom Story, who many of you will know from his long list of successful roles is great in the smaller part of the Doctor. I intend to go back when Tom takes over the role of Ivan. Rick Foucheux is superb as the Mayor and Nancy Robinette as the Mayor’s wife is her usual brilliant self and always a pleasure to watch. Claire Brownell as the reputed nymphomaniac daughter is wonderful. Then there is Floyd King as the Postmaster and I have always enjoyed him in any role he has played and he surely doesn’t disappoint here. Sarah Marshall takes on three characters and each one is better than the last. She is truly a gifted actress. A young man who deserves honorable mention is Travis Blumer who has a couple of small roles but will take over the role of the Doctor when Story takes over as Ivan.

Again if you enjoy theatre and could enjoy laughing for two hours, take the time to get tickets today for The Government Inspector.


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17th Street Festival

September 22, 2012

    Body Painting by Christopher Taylor, Professional Makeup Artist (Photo by: Peter Rosenstein) Body Painting by Christopher Taylor, Professional Makeup Artist

The District of Columbia is a vibrant and growing city and many of us feel lucky to live here. We are the Capital of the nation and the center of power in the world. We have the White House, the Capitol, the Smithsonian and the Mall. But what so many visitors to the District don’t know is that we are a city made up of many individual neighborhoods.

As the population of the city grows and people look for a sense of community, each year the neighborhoods in D.C. hold more and more festivals and block parties. Some of them grow to become must attend events. One of these is the 17th Street Festival in Dupont which on Saturday celebrated its thrid year. From noon to 6:00 pm 17th street from Riggs Place to P Street was closed and thousands of people enjoyed the great weather and wandered up and down the middle of the street enjoying the many booths on both sides of the street and the restaurants and shops behind them.

 Business Booth Throw Pillows galore (Photo by: Peter Rosenstein) Business Booth Throw Pillows galore

The Festival is produced by the Urban Neighborhood Alliance and Historic Dupont Circle Main Streets. This year the festival included and an art show; business specials; a large entertainment stage; a kids zone at Ross Elementary School; and a pet zone sponsored by City Dogs Rescue.

As a Dupont resident I appreciate all the work that volunteers put into planning and staging this event. Dupont has always been a great place to live and the 17th street business district is a vital part of it. We have some great restaurants and bars in the 17th street corridor that add life to our neighborhood. They include Jamie Leed’s Hank’s Oyster Bar; Floriana’s; those great old standby’s  Annies, Trios and Dupont Italian Kitchen; and they are anchored on one end by JRs and the other end by Cobalt, 30 Degrees and Level One. Dupont has become a very diverse neighborhood and you could see that at the festival with young and old, gay and straight, and a lot of couples with young kids which you wouldn’t have seen in Dupont ten years ago.

Mike Everts – owner of FIT personal training gym (Photo by: Peter Rosenstein) Mike Everts – owner of FIT personal training gym

Within just the few blocks on the 17th street business district there is FIT, a great personal training gym; Java House Coffee (which friends refer to as my living room); you can get your hair cut, go to a yoga class, buy real estate, do your banking, shop for groceries at Safeway, use the pharmacy at CVS or two independent pharmacies, or just wander through an art gallery.

Dupont is a great place to live and many of us already look forward to next year’s festival as it continues to grow.


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Kahn Statue Unveiled

September 10, 2012

Michael Kahn is an icon in the theatre and this year led the Shakespeare Theatre of Washington to receive a Tony award as best regional theatre. This past Sunday was Michael’s birthday and to celebrate a life-size statue of Michael was unveiled at the Harman theatre with much fanfare and fun.

Chris and Kathleen Matthews with former Congressman Phil Sharp (Photo by: Peter Rosenstein) Chris and Kathleen Matthews with former Congressman Phil Sharp

Michael is world renowned as one of the best interpreters of Shakespeare’s work and has received accolades for his directing in the United States from Broadway to Dallas to Washington, D.C. and everywhere in between.

Last year was a milestone for Washington and for Michael. He received the prestigious Will Award at the theatre’s annual Gala celebrating his 25 years at the Shakespeare and his commitment to the District of Columbia.

Michael was Chair of the Drama department at Julliard for many years and now teaches master classes there. He has worked with, taught and directed many stars over the years including the likes of Annette Bening, Helen Mirren, Robin Williams, James Earl Jones and so many more. He is also credited with helping to revive downtown D.C. when he moved the Shakespeare Theatre Company (STC) to the Lansburgh when there was little else in the area. With his Board of Directors he then raised the funds to build the spectacular Harman Hall.

Michael Klein and Michael Kahn (Photo by: Peter Rosenstein) Michael Klein and Michael Kahn

This new statue now and forever stands in the second floor atrium of the Harman as an incredible lasting tribute to the man who put the STC on the map. I must admit Michael is the first person I know to have a statue sculpted in his honor while he is still alive and working. And lest anyone forget his next directorial effort, The Government Inspector, will be opening next week.

The statue unveiling was a fun birthday party with many of Michael’s close friends and supporters of the theatre in attendance. Michael Klein, the Chairman of the STC Board, acted as Master of Ceremonies and the talented Nancy Anderson entertained.

Next time you are at the Harman for an evening of theater make sure you look for the statue of Michael. He kidded that since it is opposite the bar he should be getting free drinks from now on since all the bartenders will be able to recognize him. I kidded him that years from now people may think the statue is actually of William Shakespeare.


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