‘Matilda’ Coming to NextStop Theatre in Herndon

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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Reston Community Center Unveils New YouTube Series

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.

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‘A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder’ Coming Soon to Reston

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

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NextStop Theatre Presents ‘Pride and Prejudice’ in October

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’ Musical Comes to NextStop Theatre Next Month

“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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SLHS Theatre Director to Retire After 30 Years

A force behind more than 150 performances at South Lakes High School’s Theatre Arts program is leaving the program. Maria Harris, the program’s theatre arts director, plans to retire after 30 years of coaching students, putting on productions, and watching the program grow over the last three decades.

Harris is now turning toward what she calls her final act: her own acting career and production company, Rising Star Productions, and spending more time with her family and aging parents.

“It’s been a good career, but it’s not over yet,” Harris said. She commutes two hours daily from her home in Loudoun County to SLHS.

After teaching for a few years in Michigan — where she was born — and two other Fairfax County schools, Harris landed a full time job at SLHS. She’s worked as the performing arts chair and taught speech, english, theatre and film — watching the program grow from two shows required per year to an around-the-year program. The job has given her the opportunity to travel with her students — including the prestigious American High School Theatre Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland where the school was selected to represent Virginia. Her students have also won two state championships in the Virginia High School League’s film competition.

Over the years, she said she has most enjoyed watching her students grow. “I’ve really enjoyed my time here at SLHS. I love, love, love my kids and I’m going to miss them the most.” Before shows, she assembles her students into a big circle and leads them through breathing exercises, passing a squeeze of good wishes down the chain of linked hands until they reach her.

Ryleigh Line, one of her students, told Reston Now that Harris has helped many students realize their full potential.

“The most important thing that she does for us is support us and she pushes us to be the best we can be by having high expectations and constructive feedback for us after every assignment and production,” Line said. “The South Lakes community will miss Mrs. Harris very much and are forever thankful for her.”

For Harris, who calls herself a “Motown girl,” the arts were ingrained in her lifestyle since she was five. She received her bachelor’s degree in education from Wayne State University.

While she was working in the school’s program, she launched Rising Star Productions in Reston in order to fill the lack of “cultural theatre” in the community. For years, she worked with her team to bring African American Theatre to Reston Community Center. She has appeared in films including Broadcast News and Accidental Tourist.  Her stages roles include Addapearle in The Wiz, Bloody Mary in South Pacific, Asaka in Once on This Island, and Myrna Thorn in Ruthless! The Musical.

“I wish my students the very best, whether they take their careers into theater or whatever they endeavor to do.”

Photo via Maria Harris

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Reston Community Players Ending Theatre Season With “Annie”

The classic story of a young orphan girl in search of her parents in New York City who gets selected to stay at wealthy Daddy Warbucks’ residence is coming to Reston in two weeks.

The Reston Community Player’s production of the Broadway musical “Annie” will conclude the nonprofit theatre group’s 52nd season.

“How can you not love a spunky little girl who, against all odds, keeps hope alive and looks forward to a better tomorrow?” Director Sue Pinkman said in a press release. “Each year, another generation of little girls gets to know this classic character.”

The role of “Annie” will be shared by two actresses. The full cast is the following:

  • Kylee Hope Geraci, Eva Jaber as Annie
  • Doug Marcks as Daddy Warbucks
  • Jennifer Redford as Miss Hannigan
  • Claire Jeffrey as Grace Farrell
  • Joshua Redford as Rooster Hannigan
  • Emily Jennings as Lily St. Regis
  • Richard Durkin as Franklin Delano Roosevelt
  • Nathan Ramee as Bert Healy
  • Jane Keifer as Molly (orphan)
  • Della McCahill as Tessie (orphan)
  • Elizabeth Cha as Kate (orphan)
  • Madelyn Regan as July (orphan)
  • Elenora Fiel as Duffy (orphan)
  • Eliana Redford as Pepper (orphan)
  • Whimsy as Sandy
  • Ensemble: Marissa Dolcich, Richard Durkin, Andy Gable, Aidan Goggin, Earle S. Greene, Kate Keifer, Kirk Kaneer, Nathan Ramee, Katie Pond, Jennifer Stevens, Sara Watson

Performances will be held at the Reston Community Center’s CenterStage (2310 Colts Neck Road) at 8 p.m. on April 26-27, May 3-4, May 10-11 and May 17-18. Matinees will be held at 2 p.m on May 5, May 11-12 and May 18.

The production of the family-friendly musical is appropriate for all ages.

Photo courtesy Reston Community Players

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NextStop Theatre’s ‘Fallen Angels’ Premieres in Mid-March

A play about two women’s rivalry for the affections of a mutual lover is coming to Herndon’s NextStop Theatre (269 Sunset Park Drive) next month.

Fallen Angels” dramatizes sexual desire and frustration as two housewives prepare to meet with an “exotic” former lover. The show originally opened in London in 1925 and was considered amusing but scandalous for its depiction of sex and adultery — both subjects that were seen as obscene and disruptive.

Ticketing in advance is recommended, as ticket prices may increase as seating fills. Tickets range from $35 to $50. The show will run Thursday-Sunday from March 14 through April 7. Student and group tickets are available at a discount.

Photo via NextStop Theatre

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Reston Community Players Take the Stage Friday for ‘Time Stands Still’

The Reston Community Players are set to begin performances for “Times Stands Still” on Friday (March 1).

Donald Margulies’ play first hit the stage in 2009. Ten years later, Adam Konowe, the director of RCP’s production, says that the drama is still relevant. “This is truly a play that could have been ripped from today’s headlines, covering the full range of emotions from love to betrayal, pride to envy and commitment to dissolution.”

What’s the show about? Reston Community Players gave this plot description:

“Time Stands Still” examines the lives of one couple making a living out of documenting the horrors of war. When Sarah, a photojournalist returns from covering the Iraq War after being injured by a roadside bomb, her reporter boyfriend James is swamped by guilt after having left Sarah alone in Iraq. Physically bruised and emotionally beaten, Sarah and James explore whether it is possible for two people who are used to living in dangerous conditions to carve out a normal life.

“It demonstrates that what fulfills us in one sense can be destructive elsewhere,” Konowe said in a press release. “Most importantly, it reinforces that truth — portrayed here through journalism — is worth fighting for and serves society well, even when the news it conveys is difficult to comprehend or appreciate.”

The drama replaced RCP’s previously announced production of “Spring Awakening,” which was canceled “due to unforeseen circumstances,” according to RCP.

The full cast is the following:

  • Jane Steffen as Sarah Goodwin
  • Greg Lang as James Dodd
  • Todd Huse as Richard Ehrlich
  • Alex Sands as Mandy Bloom

Performances will be held at the Reston Community Center’s CenterStage (2310 Colts Neck Road) at 8 p.m. on March 1-2, March 8-9 and March 15-16. A matinee will be held at 2 p.m. on March 10.

A champagne reception will follow the show on its opening night.

After the March 9 performance, two war correspondents — Susan Katz Keating, a national security correspondent for the American Media Institute, and former Fox News Channel Iraq Correspondent Malini Wilkes — will share their experiences covering overseas conflicts as part of an audience talkback panel.

Photos courtesy of Reston Community Players

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Reston Students Win National Award at Junior Theater Festival

Students from a private performing arts school in Reston recently took home prizes at the 2019 Junior Theater Festival.

The festival, which ran from Jan. 18-20 in Atlanta, celebrated student-driven musical theater programs. In addition to watching students’ performances, the more than 6,600 students and educators were able to partake in interactive workshops led by Broadway and West End professionals.

The Lopez Studios Inc. Performing Arts Preparatory School (11425 S. Isaac Newton Square) won a Freddie G Award for Excellence in Ensemble Work.

Three students from Lopez Studios — Jillian Felder, Victoria Felder and Marisa Lopez — received call-backs for future Broadway Junior shoots that will be taped this summer in New York City. The shoots will be “how-to” choreography videos for soon-to-be-released Broadway Junior musicals.

Marisa Lopez and Marcus Pennisi were some of the students named to the Junior Theater Festival All-Stars. They performed in the All-Stars song during the festival’s closing ceremony.

Students from the school also performed “Seusical Jr.” — the musical version for kids based on the books by Dr. Seuss.

This isn’t the first time Lopez Studios has won awards at Junior Theater Festivals. Students from the school have won awards or made it to the final call-back every year of the festival going back to 2014.

Photo by James Barker Photography

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Alice in Funkyland Opening This Weekend at Herndon High School

It’s probably not what Lewis Carroll had in mind when he penned the original story 150 years ago, but the Herndon High School Theatre (700 Bennett Street) is hosting an original adaptation of “Alice in Wonderland” that moves the setting to the 1970s.

“Alice in Funkyland” opens this Saturday (Feb. 16) with performances on Sunday (Feb. 17) and the following weekend (Feb. 23 and 24) at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

The program is produced for children, with two 30-minute acts and a 15-minute intermission.

A special “Mad Hatter’s Tea Party” event will also be held on Feb. 16 and 17 at noon.

Tickets to the show are $5 and can be bought at the door or online.

The next production for the school theater will be “The Sound of Music” in April.

Photo via Facebook

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NextStop Theatre Creates Program for D.C.-Area Playwrights

NextStop Theatre Company is rolling out a new program to strengthen the network of D.C.-area playwrights.

The Herndon-based, nonprofit theatre company unveiled The Playwrights’ Initiative on Friday (Feb. 8) to help connect artists and to provide resources often needed for new theatrical works.

“I have long aspired for NextStop to get involved in developing new work,” NextStop Theatre Company’s Artistic Director Evan Hoffman said in a statement. “But I wanted to start by consulting with playwrights. I wanted to find out how we could best serve them and their creative process.”

Hoffman says that playwrights often say they face two challenges. “They lamented that the writing process can be very lonely work and that finding the people and space to gain objective feedback is daunting,” Hoffman said. “It is my hope we can help to ease both of those struggles through this program.”

The program has two components.

First, the theatre company will host an inaugural “Playwrights’ Mixer and Pitch-fest” on March 23. NextStop Theatre Company plans to invite 30 local playwrights network with each other and local directors and producers before each playwright pitches their work to the group.

After the event, playwrights in attendance will have the opportunity to complete a survey about the pitches, which will help NextStop Theatre Company select the works for a series of free staged readings. The theatre company plans to have professional actors and directors take part in the developmental readings, which are slated to take place over six months.

The Playwrights’ Initiative is partly funded by a grant from ArtsFairfax.

Photo by NextStop Theatre Company

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NextStop Theatre Presents Adaptation of ‘East of Eden’

NextStop Theatre Company in Herndon will present its version of East of Eden, the John Steinbeck novel that reimagines the story of Adam and Eve.

Performances kick off tomorrow at 8 p.m. and are scheduled every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through Nov. 18.

The community theatre issued the following description of the show:

East of Eden is a re-imagining of the saga of Adam and Eve, and their sons Cain and Abel. Adam Trask is determined to build a new life and world for himself and his young wife, Cathy. Settling in California’s Salinas Valley, Cathy gives birth to twin boys. But a dark past, the seemingly inescapable sins of man (and woman), and the impending danger of World War I threaten their little corner of paradise. It is an American epic examining whether “good versus evil” is our great choice or our unavoidable fate. 

The theatre will also host a book talk with Evan Hoffman, the director of the show, on Nov. 8 (Thursday).

Tickets can be purchased online.

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Friday Morning Notes

Serving the Walker Nature Center — The center has several open volunteer opportunities in July. Volunteers can sign up online. [Volunteer Reston]

The little mermaid — Tickets for the performance of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” are on sale ahead of the July performance. [Herndon Drama]

Stateside: New laws begin July 1 — New state laws going into effect on Sunday would create a program for abducted adults, prohibit lunch shaming and more. [NBC4]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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NextStop Theatre Company Releases 2018/2019 Schedule Ahead of 30th Anniversary

NextStop Theatre Company is celebrating its 30th anniversary with a special community production of Amour, a French music fable about a man who walks through the walls that confine him. The 2018/2019  includes seven shows that will run between August 3 and June 23.

“These shows range from the truly epic to the deeply intimate,” said producing artistic director Evan Hoffmann. “But each one is certain to bring our beloved community a unique and personal experience, filled with the kind of joy and fulfillment that you can only find in live theatre.”

The season will kick off in September with The Wedding Singer, a musical based on the film starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. In the fall, the theater company will feature East of Eden, an adaptation of John Steinbeck’s novel, which brings the story of Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel to California in the 20th century.

The new year will begin with [title of show], a musical comedy about four friends who write a musical as the deadline for submissions is three weeks away.

In February, NextStop will present The Wolves, Pulitzer-Prize nominated play by Sarah DeLappe that explores the lives of suburban high school girls and offers a glance into the lives of young women today.

March features Fallen Angels by Noel Coward. Directed by managing director Abigail Fine, the comedy follows the rivalry between two housewives who await the arrival of a former lover. The season will close out with Singin’ in the Rain.

Subscription options and season packages are available. Prices start at $119. The complete lineup, including show timings and dates, is online

Photo by NextStop Theatre Company

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