NextStop Theatre actor Joey Ibanez will star in “Sherwood: The Adventures of Robin Hood” (courtesy NextStop Theatre Company)

Herndon’s NextStop Theatre Company will fully reopen this fall with a trio of shows to kick off its eighth season.

Announced on Thursday (July 15), the truncated fall 2021 lineup features the comedy “An Act of God” (Aug. 12-Sept. 5), the action-adventure play “Ken Ludwig’s Sherwood: The Adventures of Robin Hood” (Sept. 10-19), and the ’70s disco musical “Disaster!” (Oct. 7-Nov. 7).

Unlike the one-person show “White Rabbit Red Rabbit,” which gave the theater its first performances in front of an indoor, live audience since the COVID-19 pandemic, the upcoming fall shows will be full-scale productions without a limit on capacity other than the number of seats available in the venue.

“I am so unbelievably excited about sharing the joy of live theatre with our community again,” NextStop Producing Artistic Director Evan Hoffmann said in a news release. “It has been an unbelievably trying time for all of us. So we thought it was only fitting to make our return with a collection of shows that are all about celebrating our ability to face uncertainty with grace, to overcome adversity with conviction, and above all else, our capacity to persevere with compassion and perhaps some humor!”

Individual tickets and packages for the fall season went on sale at 8 a.m. today (Monday), with season packages starting at $80. They can be purchased online or through the NextStop box office at 703-481-5930.

The NextStop stage has been mostly dark since COVID-19 forced theaters across the country to close their doors. The company returned to life gradually with private film screenings and outdoor concerts before experimenting with an online theatrical production this past spring.

The upcoming fall schedule has been pared down from its usual season, which generally consists of six to 10 plays and musicals over the course of a full year, according to the theater’s press release.

In addition, while two shows will be staged at NextStop Theatre at 269 Sunset Park Drive, “Sherwood” will be performed outside instead in a temporary, open-air theater that the company will set up in the Northwest Federal Credit Union headquarters parking lot (200 Spring Street). Northwest Federal Credit Union is sponsoring the production.

Hoffmann and its board of directors “felt it was necessary and appropriate” to take a cautious approach to the new season “as they consider what the organization and theatre in general looks like in the future,” NextStop said in its press release, adding that more information about the spring 2022 season will be shared later this fall.

“Despite all the challenges and hardship, it is impossible to deny that the experience of the last year and a half has taught us so much,” Hoffmann said. “…While I am so eager to see the curtain rise again this Fall, I am even more enthusiastic about the opportunity before us to rebuild in a way that makes us a much stronger institution, a more thoughtful and supportive home for artists, and an even more welcoming and inclusive destination for everyone in our community.”

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Reston Town Square Park (via Google Maps)

As the world awakens from its plague-induced slumber, Reston Town Center and a Herndon theater company have been conjuring the forms of things unknown and working to turn them into shapes.

The town center and NextStop Theatre Co. are collaborating on a new Theater in the Park initiative that will launch next spring with a production of William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the amphitheater at Reston Town Square Park.

“We are very excited about it,” Reston Town Center Association executive director Robert Goudie said in an email, noting it will complement other programming, such as Sunday Art in the Park with the Shenandoah Conservatory and Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art, Lunchtime with the Arts at Mason, and family entertainment on Saturday mornings.

Scheduled to run from April 29 to May 1, 2022, the initiative’s inaugural performances have been in the works since before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Back then, the RTCA, NextStop, and Reston Community Center envisioned staging a contemporary version of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” that families can enjoy.

“We all love the way this play can be interwoven with the audience, and the park amphitheater setting seemed the perfect forest,” Goudie wrote.

With the pandemic wiping out performance plans for fall 2020, organizers realized the outdoor setting could help provide a better environment for the show amid COVID-19 concerns. NextStop’s first indoor production with a live audience since the pandemic began premiered June 25.

“Theatres were one of the first types of businesses that had to close…and we are still only starting to crawl back,” said Evan Hoffmann, NextStop’s producing artistic director.

Hoffmann said the Reston Town Center project’s location and timing make the expected performance big, fun, and serendipitously exciting. Casting has not yet started, but the extended planning time is helping organizers get a head start.

The new initiative will kick off springtime cultural programming at Reston Town Center that typically includes the Tephra Fine Arts Festival in the third week of May, though it was rescheduled this year for Sept. 10-12. Last month, the town center held its first movie in the park.

“All of this reflects RTCA’s mission of, in part, supporting the arts (all consistent with Bob Simon‘s original vision for a completely community), something that we think helps differentiate Reston Town Center as a compelling destination,” Goudie wrote.

Photo via Google Maps

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NextStop Theatre Company actor Curtis McNeil, seen here in “The Mountaintop,” will kick off the company’s run of “White Rabbit Red Rabbit” on June 25 (courtesy Lock & Co. Photography)

Live theater is slowly but surely making its way back to the D.C. area.

While the demands of a theatrical production schedule mean that full-scale, Broadway-style shows like those promised by the Kennedy Center can’t be expected until the fall, some theaters have managed to return to physical stages by turning to more stripped-down works that take advantage of the limitations placed on audience capacities.

Among the organizations taking that plunge is Herndon’s NextStop Theatre Company, which will perform a play on stage in front of a live audience later this week for the first time since the venue closed on March 12, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Premiering at 8 p.m. on Friday (June 25), “White Rabbit Red Rabbit” is artistically bold but carries minimal risk from a public health standpoint. Each show features a single actor and will have no more than 30 people seated in the audience.

“Obviously, the decision to return to in person performances was not taken lightly,” NextStop Producing Artistic Director Evan Hoffmann said. “We felt that limiting our audience size from over 100 to just 30 was a good first step that allowed us to proceed, while also being extra careful. We are hopeful that this will be a launching pad for much bigger things in the near future.”

Here is NextStop’s description of “White Rabbit Red Rabbit,” which has been performed around the world in more than 25 languages:

No set. No director. A different actor each night.

Described by The New York Times as a “playful, enigmatic and haunting show,” White Rabbit Red Rabbit is the international hit by Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour. Unable to leave Iran, Soleimanpour tours the world through his words with this unique theatrical experience. Receiving the script in a sealed envelope for the first time onstage, the actor and audience embark on a surprising journey where anything can happen. Veteran NextStop actors will tackle this daring and unexpected comedy that will be unlike anything you’ve experienced before.

Hoffman confirmed that this will be NextStop’s first production inside its theater at 269 Sunset Park Drive, but the company found a variety of ways to stay busy and continue utilizing that space over the past 16 months.

In addition to offering small educational classes last summer, the theater opened for private movie screenings in September, and the company started putting on concerts in the parking lot outside later that month.

NextStop returned to the world of theater on April 30 with the online musical “First Date,” which was filmed on stage and at various locations around Herndon.

The company has scheduled eight performances of “White Rabbit Red Rabbit,” each led by a different actor, concluding with Elena Velasco on July 17. The premiere will star Curtis McNeil, who was previously featured in “The Mountaintop.”

Tickets are now available through NextStop’s website for $25.

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(Updated at 12:55 p.m.)

Monday, May 10

  • Learn Sumi-e (6-7 p.m.) — Sumi-e is a Japanese art form that uses ink and water to create a calligraphy type of painting. Take a virtual class on this art through the Thomas Jefferson Library in Falls Church. All materials are picked up and returned to the library.

Tuesday, May 11

  • Super Snakes (10 a.m.) — Don’t worry, there’s no Marvel movie about super snakes (yet). Join a naturalist from the Fairfax County Park Authority to learn about the snakes that slither through our region. Then, head out to Burke Lake Park to go find some.

Wednesday, May 12

  • Village Centers of Reston (7-8:30 p.m.) — Join the Reston Historic Trust and Museum for a virtual presentation on the history of village centers. It will feature archival materials from the museum’s collections, as they continue to embrace the future to explain the past.

Thursday, May 13

  • X-Wing Lands At Smithsonian (10:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.) — The X-Wing flown by Poe Dameron in 2019’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has landed at the National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly. It’s in the restoration hanger and can be seen by the public while it undergoes inspection, conservation, and cleaning before heading off to a galaxy far, far, away — that is, D.C. where it will hang in the museum downtown starting late next year.

Friday, May 14

  • First Date (8 p.m.) — In NextStop Theatre’s first return to the stage since the pandemic, follow Casey and Aaron on their first date through the Town of Herndon.
  • Drive-In Movie Night (7:15 p.m.) — Catch a free drive-in movie at Reston Hospital to honor Nurses and Hospital week. The movie will be “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” and there’s space for 150 cars.

Saturday, May 15

  • RA Pools Opening (1 p.m) — It’s finally pool season, even if the weather remains a bit cool. The first two of Reston Association’s 12 pools opens this weekend for the season. And, don’t worry, the pools are heated.
  • Tour de Hunter Mill (8:30 a.m.-1 p.m.) — Join this community bike ride around the district to reacquaint oneself with the hidden treasures, cultural, and environmental resources in the area. It’s the inaugural ride and also a chance to peddle around with Supervisor Walter Alcorn.

Sunday, May 16

  • Virginia Psychic Fair (9 a.m.) — Some of the area’s most well-known psychics, mediums, healers, and readers of all types will be on hand at the Virginia Psychic Fair held at the Arlington-Fairfax Elks Lodge in Fairfax. The fair is for the serious-minded and those just curious alike. Masks are required.
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NextStop Theatre Company is coming back to the stage with its first full-scale production since the COVID-19 pandemic forced it to halt public performances last spring.

The Herndon-based professional, nonprofit theater company announced this morning (Tuesday) that it will debut a filmed, online production of the musical romantic comedy “First Date” on April 30.

It will be the theater’s first show since the final weekend of “Ordinary Days” was canceled on March 12, 2020, according to a press release.

“I don’t know that I have ever been so excited to open a show,” NextStop Producing Artistic Director Evan Hoffmann said. “Putting this show together has been a true labor of love! We have been so eager to get back to creating high quality performances for our community and the cast and crew of “First Date” have brought together a mixture of talent, creativity, and passion, like I have rarely seen before.”

While the NextStop Theatre stage has been empty for more than a year now, the company has kept busy with some alternative offerings, including a small, in-person summer education program for theater students and an outdoor concert series.

Staged across September and October, “The Parking Lot Concerts” performances were entirely sold out, according to NextStop.

The company has also made the theater at 269 Sunset Park Drive available to the public to rent for private movie screenings. The NextStop Cinema program is still ongoing, as is the theater’s NextStop Now fundraising initiative.

“First Date” marks the company’s return to theater, but it will not be entirely traditional.

First staged on Broadway with Zachary Levi and Krysta Rodriguez in the lead roles, “First Date” follows two young, single people whose friends and family set them up on a blind date despite their wildly different personalities. Hijinks and romantic sparks ensue.

With Hoffman directing and actors Alex De Bard and Taylor Witt stepping into the lead roles, NextStop has turned “First Date” into a blend of theater and cinema, filming scenes both on stage and on location around downtown Herndon.

“This is truly a film-theatre hybrid,” Hoffman said. “Our team worked diligently to find innovative ways to make this a uniquely theatrical experience. We were able to utilize some of the best tricks that film has to offer, while making sure our audiences feel like they are practically back in theater with the performers.”

The show will stream at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday evenings and at 7 p.m. on Sundays through May 16. Tickets cost $25 and provide one stream per household.

More information about the production, including a full list of the cast and creative team and a link to purchase tickets, can be found on the NextStop Theatre website.

Photo courtesy NextStop Theatre Company

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NextStop Theatre Company is adapting to restrictions posed by the COVID-19 pandemic by kicking off a new fall concert series.

The company plans to kick off an outdoor concert series called “The Parking Lot Concerts” on Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m. Shows will run from Sept. 26 through Oct. 31.

Each performance will include performers from previous NexStop productions, including Robert Mintz, Wood Van Meter, and Sarah Anne Sillers.

NextStop Theatre Company has been closed for public performance since the final weekend of “Ordinary Days” was canceled on March 12.

“With indoor performances cancelled since March, we have missed bringing entertainment and joy to our community!” said Evan Hoffmann, Producing Artistic Director of NextStop Theatre. “But now the wait is over!”

Here’s more from the theatre company on the series:

NextStop will transform the parking lot just outside of their building into an intimate outdoor venue and wine garden, with socially-distant, cafe-style seating for just over 40 patrons. It promises to be a delightful evening under the stars, featuring music, laughter, and a chance to be transported.

Guests are invited to pack a meal, bring take out, and are particularly encouraged to order from one of the many fine local restaurants, such as Jimmy’s Old Town Tavern and A Taste of the World,  some of which will even deliver to the event! NextStop will also offer beer, wine, and other soft drinks at their outdoor bar, arranged specially for these performances. 

With the health and safety of the community being NextStop’s top priority, all staff and guests will be required to wear a mask at all times, except when eating or drinking at their table. There will be 12+ feet of distance between other patrons and the performers.

Tickets are $60 for a table for two. A limited number of standing room single stools are available for $40. More information about the series and how to purchase tickets is available online.

Photo courtesy of NextStop Theater Company

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Theater fans and movie-goers alike now have a private, socially-distanced movie-watching venue as an entertainment option this fall. 

NextStop Theater Company is opening the “NextStop Cinema” in Herndon, where customers can rent out the entire theater for themselves for a private viewing. 

Patrons will provide their own movie on DVD, Blu-ray or via a streaming service, and in return, the cinema will provide the full movie theater experience while still adhering to COVID-19 precautions.

“Nothing makes me sadder than seeing a theater empty,” said Evan Hoffman, the Producing Artistic Director at NextStop. “Since we do not feel the time is right yet for live performances, we thought we would try something completely different with our empty theater and let our beloved patrons make use of it for their own personal use and entertainment.”

NextStop Theater has been closed to public performances since March 12 when they canceled their final weekend showing “Ordinary Days.” However, they held a small educational program for 185 students in socially-distanced theater classes over the summer. 

The theater is also holding a major fundraising initiative called the NextStop Now Fund. The campaign’s funds will go towards keeping the theater running during the shutdown, in addition to the revenue from the Cinema. 

NextStop Cinema rentals are available for $50 per hour with a minimum of three hours, plus a $50 deposit. Those interested in making a reservation or finding more information can visit the NextStop website.

Photo courtesy of NextStop Theater Company

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Next month in Herndon, fans can check out a production of “Noises Off” at the NextStop Theatre Com pany.

The production is a play within a play and allows viewers to “witness all the behind-the-scenes antics as an eccentric group of actors try to survive rehearsals, performances and each other,” a press release said.

Tickets range in price from $35 to $50 and showtimes will run from April 2- 26 at 269 Sunset Park Drive.

This comedy was written by Michael Frayn and will be directed by Evan Hoffmann, according to the event page.

Tickets can be purchased at the door but event organizers suggest patrons buy them ahead of time.

Photo courtesy NextStop

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Ordinary Days” will open at NextStop Theatre next month.

From Feb. 20 through March 15 at NextStop Theatre (269 Sunset Park Drive), people can enjoy a production that walks viewers through the lives of four young New Yorkers discovering how their paths intersect.

The event page described “Ordinary Days” as “A simple yet heartfelt story about how we search for and make connections in an increasingly chaotic world.”

This specific production was directed by Jay Brock and will star Bobby Libby, Sarah Anne Sillers, Carl Williams and Anna Phillips-Brown.

Ticket prices range from $44-55 and can be reserved online.

Image via NextStop Theatre

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NextStop Theatre Company will present a new historical drama that takes audiences to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s hotel room the night before his assassination.

The historical drama, “The Mountaintop,” runs from Jan. 9 through Feb. 9 at 269 Sunset Park Drive.

Here’s more from the theatre company on the upcoming show:

In his hotel room on the night before his assassination, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. meets a young maid who forces him to consider exactly who and what he is fighting for.

On April 3, 1968, room 306 of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis is not yet the scene of one of our nation’s greatest tragedies. It is just another motel for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In this bold reimagining of history, Dr. King is visited by an enigmatic maid who can unveil the humanity and vulnerability of America’s larger-than-life icon. Full of vivid theatricality, poetic language, and surprising twists, this drama takes us to the summit of a man’s historic life and offers a stunning new view of his dream for our nation.

More information about the show is online. Tickets are available for purchase on the company’s website.

Photo via NextStop Theatre

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A production of “Matilda” is coming to NextStop Theatre in November.

“Matilda” will debut on Thursday (Nov. 14) beginning around 7 p.m. at 269 Sunset Park Drive. Performances will run through Dec. 22.

“Based on the beloved Roald Dahl novel, ‘Matilda’ is the story of an extraordinary little girl who decides to fight back against tyrannical adults,” a press release said.

Tickets typically range from $40 to $55 dollars. Event organizers suggest that people get their tickets in advance because they are expected to sell out.

Image via NextStop

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NextStop Theatre Company takes on “Pride and Prejudice,” Jane Austen’s literary classic that explores the themes of love, marriage and social status.

The theatre company, which is located in Herndon, promises to present a “spirited new adaptation.” The show runs from October 3 through 27.

The company wrote the following about the show, which is sponsored by Griffin Owens Insurance Group:

The headstrong Elizabeth Bennet faces mounting pressure from her status-conscious mother to secure a suitable marriage. But is marriage suitable for a woman of Elizabeth’s intelligence and independence? Especially when the irritating, aloof, self-involved… tall, vaguely handsome, mildly amusing, and impossibly aristocratic Mr. Darcy keeps popping up at every turn?! Literature’s greatest tale of latent love has never felt so theatrical, or so full of life than it does in this effervescent new adaptation.

Ticket prices range from $35 to $50 and can be purchased online.

Photo via NextStop Theatre Company

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“Beehive: The 60’s Musical” comes to NextStop Theatre Company next month.The production, which is directed by Monique Midgette, takes audiences on a trip down memory lane by celebrating six songstresses that defined a generation.

Shows will take place between August 22 and September 22. The musical stars Rebecca Balinger, Allison Bradbury, Bethel Elias, Kayla Gross, Shayla Lowe and Hilary Morrow.

Tickets are available online. Prices range between $40 and $55, depending on the time and day of the performance. 

Beehive is presented through a special arrangement with Theatrical Rights Worldwide.

NextStop is located at 269 Sunset Park Drive in Herndon. 

Photo via NextStop Theatre Company

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Director Evan Hoffman brings “Singin’ in the Rain” to life at NextStop Theatr Company (269 Sunset Park Drive) next month.

The show reimagines the golden age musical from Thursday to Sunday from May 23 to June 23.  Tickets are between $40 and $55. The screenplay is by Betty Comden and Adolph Green. Songs are by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed.

The production is made possible with support from Music Theatre International. The complete cast with their roles is below:

  • Wood Van Meter / Don Lockwood
  • Morgan Kelleher / Kathy Seldon
  • Robert Mintz / Cosmo Brown
  • Carolyn Burke / Lena Lamont
  • Duane Monahan / R.F. Simpson
  • Ethan Van Slyke / Rod/Hollywood Tenor
  • Melrose Pyne Anderson / Zelda Zanders
  • Elizabeth Spikes / Dora Bailey
  • Suzy Alden / Swing
  • Joseph McAlonan / Swing

Photo via NextStop Theatre

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“Fallen Angels” starts — NextStop Theatre Company’s production of the Noel Coward comedy hits the stage tonight. [NextStop Theatre Company]

Checkmate — McNair Elementary School finished second in the K-5 category of the Virginia Scholastic Chess Championships. The McNair also placed third in the K-8 category. [FCPS]

Lake Audubon dredging update — The dredging project is still on track for completion in April. [Reston Association/YouTube]

Girl Power! Book Club tonight — Middle-grade readers can head to Scrawl Books at 7 p.m. to talk about “Front Desk.” [Scrawl Books]

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