NextStop Theatre announced yesterday (Tuesday) that it will join other local theatre companies in requiring proof of vaccination from all patrons who attend any live performance at its theater (269 Sunset Park Drive) through at least December 2021.
The theater says it already had a vaccination mandate in place for all of its staff, contractors, and volunteers.
Other policy changes intended to prevent the spread of the coronavirus include requiring that everyone wear masks inside at all times, except for on-stage performers. The theater’s capacity will be reduced by 50% to a maximum of 60 seats per performance.
NextStop will also postpone the opening of their upcoming production of “An Act of God” from Aug. 12 to Aug. 20 to give the company time to adjust to the new procedures and communicate the new policies to those who have already bought tickets. Those who purchased tickets for the first week of “An Act of God” will be contacted by NextStop to reschedule their tickets.
In addition, NextStop will push back its previously announced fall shows of “Sherwood: The Adventure of Robin Hood” and “Disaster (the Musical)” until 2022. Those productions are larger in scale, resulting in more challenging casting, technical, and financial requirements, according to the theater company.
A revised fall 2021 schedule will be announced in the next few weeks.
NextStop will issue refunds to those who purchased season ticket packages, as well as extending them special discounts for “An Act of God” and other shows in the 2021 season.
“We recognize and apologize for the significant disruption that these changes represent,” NextStop Producing Artistic Director Evan Hoffmann said. “We remain passionate about honoring both our mission of creating high-quality theatrical performances for the community and keeping an unwavering commitment to do everything in our power to protect the health and well-being of all those who honor us with the gift of their labor, their creativity, and their patronage.”
ArtsFairfax, a nonprofit that has been designated as the county’s arts agency, announced the winners of this year’s awards on Tuesday (July 27).
“For ten years, our annual Arts Awards has recognized the creative visionaries who inspire us, engage us, and create transformational change in our communities,” ArtsFairfax President and CEO Linda S. Sullivan said in a press release. “This year’s honorees exemplify the impact that artists, arts and cultural organizations, and those that support them are making to the future of Fairfax County.”
In addition to marking their 10th anniversary, this year’s Arts Awards herald a return for both the awards themselves after they were canceled last year and local arts groups, which are tentatively starting to reemerge from the upheaval of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Reston Town Center Association (RTCA) will receive the Arts Philanthropy Award, which “recognizes an individual, corporation, or foundation that has provided leadership funding or long-term monetary support to the arts,” according to ArtsFairfax.
A private nonprofit incorporated in 1988, RTCA says its mission is to “maintain a vibrant and viable downtown for the benefit of residents, employees, and visitors,” including by providing public arts, social, and civic events at Reston Town Center.
Since its founding, the association has maintained an Art Fund with revenue from its annual commercial property assessments to support public art and cultural programs, such as the summer Concerts on the Town and the annual Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival, according to Arts Fairfax.
While the summer concerts were canceled for a second year in a row, RTCA is planning to bring back the Tephra Fine Arts Festival in September, and it is working with Herndon’s NextStop Theatre on a new Theater in the Park initiative expected to launch next spring.
“Supporting a strong cultural proposition is central to our mission,” RTCA Executive Director Robert Goudie said. “It is part of what we think differentiates Reston Town Center as a compelling destination. So we are very proud to receive this recognition, especially from an organization, ArtsFairfax, that is so important to the region’s arts scene.”
Goudie says RTCA shares the award with its partners, including Reston Community Center, Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art, Public Art Reston, Washington West Film Festival, and Reston Town Center owner Boston Properties.
This year’s other honorees are:
- Jinx Hazel Award: National Museum of the United States Army
- Arts Impact Award: 1st Stage Theatre
- Arts Education Award: Traveling Players Ensemble
- Individual Arts Education Award: artist Kelli Schollard-Sincock, who volunteers as an art class teacher at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center
The 2021 ArtsFairfax Awards will hold a reception on Oct. 15 in The Atrium at Capital One Hall (7750 Capital One Tower Road) in Tysons. Tickets are now available for purchase.
Photo via Reston Concerts on the Town/Facebook
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.”
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
Fairfax County Mass Vaccine Site Adds Evening Hours — The community vaccination center at Tysons Corner will extend its operating hours to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays starting tomorrow (June 8). The site is scheduled to close on June 26 as Virginia focuses its COVID-19 vaccine campaign on smaller, more mobile clinics instead of large-scale, standing sites. [Tysons Reporter]
Police Pursuit Town Hall Set for Thursday — The Fairfax County Police Department will hold a virtual town hall on Thursday (June 10) to get community input on proposed changes to its policy on vehicle pursuits. The new policy will place more limits on the kinds of situations when officers can engage in a pursuit in response to safety concerns. [Jeff McKay/Twitter]
Sterling Regal Movie Theater Sold to Homebuilder — “A team led by Willard Retail has sold the site of the shuttered Regal Countryside multiplex in Sterling for $22 million to Beazer Homes, more than a year after winning approval from the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors to redevelop the property as a 166-unit stacked townhome development.” [Washington Business Journal]
Democrats Make Final Primary Push — “Armies of door-knockers are fanning out across Virginia neighborhoods this weekend as Democrats make their final campaign push before selecting nominees for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general in primary elections on Tuesday…Democratic voters will select their statewide candidates to go up against a Republican slate that was chosen by convention a month ago, setting the stage for what could be the most expensive Virginia gubernatorial election ever.” [The Washington Post]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
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
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a lonely time for much of the theater world, as stage productions remain shuttered or confined to audience-free, virtual performances, but for one group of South Lakes High School alumni, the past year unexpectedly rekindled their bond.
A virtual theater company dedicated to giving new and up-and-coming playwrights a platform to have their work read and critiqued, the Walking Shadow Readers Theatre emerged in June 2020 out of what was originally just a casual online reunion of former South Lakes drama students who had scattered across the country in the decade-plus since they graduated.
Now, the company is organizing its first one-act play festival to celebrate its first season and raise enough money to have a second one.
“Our main goal with the fundraiser is to earn enough to start compensating artists, as we are currently an all volunteer [organization],” Walking Shadow board president and casting director Amy Benson said. “We have been providing actors and writers with the gift of a creative space during the pandemic, but want to be able to compensate them for their work.”
Scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. on May 28, the One Acts Festival will feature eight short plays by the playwrights who participated in Walking Shadow’s inaugural season, along with interviews with the writers and excerpts from past readings.
The program will be about two-and-a-half hours in length and will be available to stream on YouTube until June 11. General admission tickets are now on sale for $10, but the company encourages people to consider one of the higher-priced options, since all of the proceeds will go toward paying artists and staff and keeping the theater operational.
According to a press release, the company plans to soon become an official nonprofit.
Benson says that Walking Shadow’s origins help distinguish it from other theater organizations since its members include both theater professionals and people who ultimately pursued other career paths.
Benson, for example, teaches at Imagination Stage in Bethesda, but her fellow company members include a media director who works as a security consultant by day, a virtual marketing assistant and stay-at-home mother, and a licensed mental health therapist.
“We have realized this is one of our strengths as a group because we bring diverse experience and knowledge into our playwright feedback sessions,” Benson said.
Because its members live around the country, Walking Shadow will continue to focus on virtual readings and performances even after the pandemic fades into memory, but some in-person performances could be possible in the future, according to the company’s website.
Benson says it has been rewarding to watch Walking Shadow evolve over the past year into a venture that is “creatively fulfilling for us and the other artists who are involved.”
“Theatre is one of the great ways of connecting with other people,” she said. “This has given us and the artists we work with the opportunity to not only reconnect with one another and connect to performers and playwrights across the country, but as a way of staying vital and creative in a time when life has been stagnant.”
Hail Spotted During Evening Showers — Hail pelted Reston and Herndon last night when a rainstorm passed through the area around 7:45 p.m. The storm moved through fairly quickly but still made an impression. [Capital Weather Gang/Twitter]
Reston Association Annual Meeting Tonight — Reston Association will hold its annual members’ meeting virtually at 7 p.m. today. Member comments will be followed by an announcement of the results of the 2021 Board of Directors election and an introduction of the new directors. [RA]
Developers Undeterred by Silver Line Delays — The second phase of Metro’s Silver Line will not open until next year, but developers and local economic leaders still have a “positive long-term outlook” for the Reston and Herndon area. In the short term, though, the delays have “added challenges to those under construction and looking to break ground.” [Bisnow]
Fairfax County Joins Solarize Program Again — For the fifth year in a row, Fairfax County is participating in the Solarize Virginia program, which helps reduce costs for homeowners and businesses seeking to adopt solar power technology. This year’s program runs from April 12 through June 30, and for the first time, participants have the option to also install battery storage systems. [Fairfax County Government]
Outdoor “Twelfth Night” Production Coming to Herndon — The Herndon Community Arts Lab, Arts Herndon, and Dark Horse Theatre are putting on performances of Willian Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night or What You Will” on the Arts Herndon Lawn Stage in Old Town this spring. There will be a “pay what you will” preview on April 23, followed by regular performances on April 24 and 25, and May 1 and 2. [Patch]
Local College Student Bombarded by Camel Calls — A college student was baffled by a rash of callers asking to buy a camel he didn’t have until he learned about a Craigslist post advertising a camel for sale in Fairfax County with his phone number. The legality of private camel ownership in the county is unclear. [DCist]
Photo via vantagehill/Flickr
Herndon’s AMC Worldgate 9 will be reopening on Aug. 27 following AMC Theaters’ announcement to reopen more than 100 of its theaters last Thursday.
The movie theater chain announced the plans today, adding that AMC will celebrate its 100th anniversary by selling 15 cent tickets, mimicking prices from the 1920s. This discount will take place on Aug. 20 to locations expected to open by then.
AMC Theaters will open another 300 movie theaters in anticipation of the release of Disney’s “The New Mutants” and Warner Bros. “Tenet” on Sept. 3, according to a statement from AMC.
Guests will be required to wear facemasks in the theaters at all times except for when eating and drinking. Auditorium capacities will also be reduced to accommodate social distancing, menus will be simplified to reduce lines and there will be fewer touchpoints.
“We are thrilled to once again open our doors to American moviegoers who are looking for an opportunity to get out of their houses and apartments and escape into the magic of the movies,” said Adam Aron, CEO and president of AMC Theatres, according to the statement.
Bowtie Cinemas has reopened their Richmond, VA location. However, their Reston Town Center location appears to remain closed.
Photo by Leonard Cooker/Google Maps
The Reduced Shakespeare Company is returning to Reston — at a distance. On July 12 at 3 p.m., the company will be holding a remote live-streamed event called “An Afternoon with the Remote Shakespeare Company.”
The show will consist of the directors, Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor, who plan to tell stories about Reduced Shakespeare Company, take audience questions, and give behind the scenes footage from the company. The experience will be interactive and is geared towards anyone interested in the company or theater.
They will also include a scene from Hamlet’s Big Adventure (a prequel), which was supposed to perform on July 12, and has been rescheduled for March 23 and 24, 2021, according to a statement by the company
“The RSC has performed at the CenterStage every single year since 1987,” said the Reston Community Center Arts and Events Director Paul Douglas Michnewicz. Tichenor also stated that the community center and RSC have a long relationship, one of the “best relationships in showbiz history.”
One of their performances, The Complete Works of the Reduced Shakespeare Company (abridged), included seven of their nine shows and lasted for two whole weeks.
“The show must go on… line,” quipped Tichenor in a Youtube video promoting the event.
The two directors said that “a good, socially distanced time will be had by all.”
Photo via Reduced Shakespeare Company
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
The Reston Community Center is expanding its online presence as part of its 40th-anniversary celebration.
The RCC created a series of six YouTube videos that cover local history and growth since the community center’s founding in 1979, according to a press release.
The first episode was posted last Thursday, Oct. 17, and featured the Reston Community Players, a community theatre group.
“The short videos were produced and directed by Peabody Award-winning filmmaker and Reston resident Rebekah Wingert, principal of Storycatcher Productions,” the press release said.
As an introduction to the mini-series, the center highlighted last spring’s production, Annie. The video takes viewers behind the curtain and shows them how to production was created.
Future episodes will highlight other aspects of outreach programs and various programs sponsored by the center.
New episodes are expected to make their debut every other week.
“By using our YouTube platform, we will share how RCC connects to our partners and patrons in these compelling videos,” RCC Executive Director Leila Gordon said.
A musical promising the audience a synthesis of comedy and murder is coming to Reston next month.
A local production of the Tony award-winning “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” will open at the Reston Community Center’s CenterStage (2310 Colts Neck Road) on Oct. 18 and run through Nov 3.
Here’s more about the plot from RCC:
Set in London in 1907, Gentleman’s Guide focuses on the low-born Monty Navarro, who suddenly learns that he’s ninth in line for an earldom in the lofty D’Ysquith family and sets out to speed up the line of succession by using a great deal of charm… and a dash of murder. Can he knock off his unsuspecting relatives without being caught and become the ninth Earl of Highhurst? And what of love? Because murder isn’t the only thing on Monty’s mind.
“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder retains a classic aesthetic but with humor that is modern and relevant,” Rich Farella, the director of the production, said in a press release.
The production will be put on by the Reston Community Players, a local non-profit theatre group.
Tickets are available online and start at $24 for students and seniors. Showtimes will take place on the weekends and include matinee and evening performances.
Photos courtesy Reston Community Players
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
“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