(Updated at 10:25 a.m.) In case the apocalyptic vision of HBO’s “The Last of Us” adaptation isn’t immersive enough, you’ll soon be able to physically battle zombie hordes at The Boro.
The Tysons neighborhood will be home to a new virtual reality gaming venue from the San Francisco-based startup Sandbox VR, which says it utilizes full-body motion capture technology to achieve a level of realism and immersion inspired by the holodecks in “Star Trek.”
The deal was first reported by the Washington Business Journal.
According to a press release, Sandbox has leased a 7,500-square-feet space at 1656 Silver Hill Drive that will feature four private gaming rooms, or holodecks, which can each accommodate up to six players. The center is expected to open this summer.
Located across the street from the ShowPlace ICON Theatre, the new tenant is part of a push to provide more “experiential” amenities for residents and workers, according to The Meridian Group, the developer behind The Boro.
“At The Boro, we strive to create an interactive, socially engaged neighborhood cultivated by experiential retailers like Sandbox VR,” Meridian Vice President of Asset Management Charlie Schwieger said. “With a concept that promotes community and team building through technological innovation, Sandbox VR makes a unique, exciting addition to The Boro’s growing portfolio of eclectic restaurants, shops and attractions.”
Launched in 2019, Sandbox has over 30 locations worldwide and counts celebrities Will Smith, Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake and Kevin Durant among its investors, according to its website. The Tysons location will be the first in Virginia, though Virginia Beach and Woodbridge centers are also in the works.
The company says its in-house studio has developed six different “experiences,” including a pirate adventure, a haunted-house game and the latest addition involving zombies.
The Boro shared more on how the holodecks work in its press release:
The Boro’s Sandbox VR location will feature 4 private rooms for virtual reality gameplay called “holodecks,” in which groups of up to six players will explore virtual worlds and rely on each other to succeed in games designed to be social experiences. Together with friends, family, or co-workers, players are equipped with a VR headset, a haptic vest, a backpack and motion sensors on their wrists and ankles. This technology allows players to see and physically interact with one another while feeling like they are in the middle of an action movie, with the heightened emotions that come from not just watching a film, but from actually becoming the stars of the action.
David Friedman, Sandbox’s vice president of global real estate, said the company was drawn to Tysons due to its proximity to D.C. and status as “one of the largest areas for office and retail in the country.”
Just last month, the Boro welcomed the long-awaited restaurants Circa and Él Bebe. The burger joint Caliburger is expected to open at 8301 Greensboro Drive in the first quarter of this year.
Construction on a second phase of The Boro on the north side of Westpark Drive is on track to reach substantial completion in 2025.
Work began last April on The Trillium, a 16-story senior living facility, and Fairfax County approved plans for more residential buildings a month later. In total, the 9.37-acre expansion will add 160,000 square feet of retail and 610,000 square feet of housing.
(Updated at 2:15 p.m. on 8/12/2022) Perhaps sensing a growing weariness with the heat of summer, Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts has released a preview of its upcoming fall season.
Announcing its first scheduled performances yesterday (Tuesday), The Barns at Wolf Trap will deliver an assortment of pop, rock, country, jazz, and orchestral music as well as some comedy sets, starting with the Rebirth Brass Band from New Orleans on Oct. 6.
The 382-seat indoor theater at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts typically hosts more than 80 performances during its regular season from October through May. In the summer, it’s home to the Wolf Trap Opera, which still has three performances scheduled on Aug. 12, 14 and 20 of “Susanna.”
“This summer has been a welcome return to a full season of shows at Wolf Trap’s Filene Center,” Jo LaBrecque, vice president of communications and marketing for the Wolf Trap Foundation, said. “We’re dedicated to offering the community a diverse lineup of shows throughout the year, and we look forward to seeing audiences return to The Barns this fall.”
JUST ANNOUNCED: The Barns at Wolf Trap’s first set of performances! → https://t.co/K8lGUWC6cc
Music moves inside this fall with Booker T. Jones, Rebirth Brass Band, Eliane Elias, Hot Club of Cowtown, Storm Large, and more! Tickets on sale this Friday, August 12 at 10 AM. pic.twitter.com/l9VjyrnyUe
— Wolf Trap (@Wolf_Trap) August 9, 2022
After going on hiatus in 2020 due to the pandemic, The Barns returned with live, in-person performances — and some COVID-19 health policies — last year.
Wolf Trap is no longer requiring proof of vaccination or masks, though face masks are still welcome and individual artists may request a different approach, according to the park’s guidelines. Wolf Trap advises checking its website 48 hours in advance of a show for the most updated information.
Tickets for the first batch of 2022-2023 shows will go on sale Friday (Aug. 12) at 10 a.m. The full schedule is below. Read More
The Alden Theatre at the McLean Community Center is about to get busy, with a full slate of music, theater, inspirational speakers and other entertainment over the next year.
The upcoming 2022-2023 season will feature local groups like the Virginia Chamber Orchestra as well as more far-flung yet notable figures, such as gold medal-winning U.S. gymnast Laurie Hernandez and The Peking Acrobats.
Kicking off with a free concert by saxophonist Lil’ Maceo at McLean Central Park on Sept. 11, the lineup is guided by a core theme of “healing, both personally and societally,” MCC said in its announcement on Monday (Aug. 1).
Tickets are currently on sale and can be purchased through the theater’s website. Three of the musical performances are free, while the other shows have varying prices with discounts for seniors and students.
A full rundown of the schedule is below. All events are in the community center at 1234 Ingleside Avenue unless otherwise indicated.
- Sunday, Sept. 11, 3 p.m. — McLean Central Park (1468 Dolley Madison Blvd)
- Free admission
For all ages. Old-school funky, foot-stomping R&B saxophone. Lil’ Maceo’s musical roots in funk, pop, dance and contemporary jazz will get you off your butt and partying.
Sons of Mystro
- Saturday, Sept. 17, 5 p.m. — McLean Central Park
- Free admission
The Sons of Mystro are brothers who use their violins to interpret reggae classics and American pop songs by such artists as Al Green, LMFAO, Bob Marley and Dua Lipa. They are winners of the Emerging Artist Under 21 Years Old Award from the International Reggae and World Music Awards.
The Boy Band Project
- Friday, Oct. 14, 7 p.m.
- $30/$20 MCC district residents/$25 seniors and students
The Boy Band Project transports you back to a time when the boy band phenom dominated pop culture and TRL was appointment television. Delivered with their own special mix of handsomeness, tongue-in-cheek humor and talent from Broadway’s “Wicked,” “Hairspray” and “Mamma Mia” (and more), these boys recreate the sounds and choreography of your favorite boy bands, from NKOTB to One Direction. Read More
Cirque du Soleil is almost ready to shine its lights on Tysons once again.
After a three-year absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canada-based circus and entertainment company raised its big top tent at Lerner Town Square (8025 Galleria Drive) on July 21 in anticipation of premiering its “Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities” show tomorrow (Friday).
It took about 115 people and six days to erect the tent, which seats 2,600 people per show, according to Kurios publicist Becky Williams. The production travels in about 65 trucks carrying thousands of props, costumes and other equipment as well as 110 people from 27 different countries, including 46 cast members.
“Everything that you see on-site, we travel with ourselves,” Williams said. “When we arrive, there is nothing here, so we build everything from the ground up.”
Scheduled to stay in Tysons through Sept. 25, Kurios is one of 20 shows that Cirque du Soleil currently has in active rotation. It previously passed through Tysons in 2016, but Williams says it’s “really special for us to be back” since this is the show’s first U.S. stop since restarting in January.
When COVID-19 prompted a suspension of all Cirque du Soleil shows in March 2020, acrobat Mathieu Hubener was with Kurios in Australia. Throughout the show’s two-year hiatus, he continued training, but he also pursued some personal activities and goals and performed for a TV show with some friends.
A 12-year veteran of Cirque du Soleil who has been part of Kurios since it launched in 2014, Hubener had to readjust to the show’s rhythm after such a long break, but he’s glad to be back with the touring group, which he describes as “a big family.”
“It’s nice to be back in the States,” he said. “The audience is always great in the United States…I just hope they’re going to like it, like they liked it last time, because it was a pretty great audience last time we came here.”
Following a Victorian-era inventor who travels into a hidden world that brings his curios to life, the 120-minute Kurios features contortionists, balancing acts, live music and plenty of acrobatics, including the signature “acro-net” that Hubener helped create — essentially a giant trampoline that sends performers up to 40 feet in the air.
“We need the help of everyone to make it work, and if you see the show, you would see it’s…like seven grown-up adults having fun like kids on the net,” Hubener said.
Because of its fantastical story, Kurios blurs the line between costumes and props. Its nine-person wardrobe team includes shoe, costume, and hair and makeup specialists as well as two people hired locally in each city to assist with laundry, ironing, and other preparations each morning.
Mar Gonzalez was fresh out of college when Cirque du Soleil hired her seven years ago as one of those local “morning people.” She says she “fell in love with the lifestyle” and being able to work closely with the artists.
Now, she serves as head of wardrobe for Kurios and oversees alterations, repairs and maintenance of every wig and piece of clothing worn by the performers, all of them custom made at the circus’ main office in Montreal.
After working on a different show for Cirque du Soleil last year, Gonzalez says she “was very excited” to join Kurios when it kicked off its current tour in Toronto in April.
“Everybody was so excited to have a job back, to be back on tour, back on the road, to see everybody again, so it’s been really, really positive energy and a learning curve as well,” Gonzalez said. “This is the first time our team works together, so it’s a constant learning curve, but it’s a lot of fun.”
After nearly shutting down during the pandemic, Escape Room Herndon’s team-based puzzle game experience has won a national award.
The business, run by longtime Herndon resident Omer Are, was recognized by TripAdvisor as this year’s Travelers’ Choice Award winner for fun and games.
Kanika Soni, Tripadvisor’s chief commercial officer, noted that the award recognizes the best in tourism and hospitality based on selections made by customers. Awards are based on a full year of reviews on Tripadvisor.
“Whether it’s using new technology, implementing safety measures, or hiring outstanding staff, I’m impressed by the steps you’ve taken to meet travelers’ new demands. You’ve adapted brilliantly in the face of diversity,” Soni said in a news release.
The pandemic was a show-stopping force for an entertainment business that depends on people closely collaborating with others in an indoor, contained setting. In March of 2020, Escape Room Herndon closed and refunded future bookings. It remained closed for five months and instead designed free online games for guests to play while they were stuck at home.
“It was a tough time and we had to make some adjustments to the new normal we are in today,” Aru said. “We added a mask policy, sanitizing in between games, and changed to an all-private model. Slowly we’ve climbed back to a place where I think we will be able to continue hosting guests in Herndon for years to come.”
Aru launched the business in June 2016 after his brother-in-law told him about a similar concept on a beach trip — Escape Room in Richmond — that he had started several years ago. Aru, a Herndon resident who previously hoped to get into selling 3D filaments online, was intrigued by the idea.
That year, he drove down for his first escape room experience with a group of strangers.
“After an hour of laughing, jump scares and mysteries, we escaped cheering and high-fiving each other. I was instantly hooked,” Aru told FFXnow.
The next month, he started filing paperwork to open a business in the county.
He set his sights on Herndon because he says it’s a family-oriented community with great schools and other small businesses.
“The Mayor’s Office was also very supportive from the beginning helping us get established,” Aru said. “Our shopping center also helped us in the beginning months of Covid to take some of the burdens off while sales were nonexistent. At the end of the day, we love it in Herndon and are proud to call it home, so much so that we put it in our name.”
School is out for the summer, but young kids won’t have much opportunity to get bored — at least as far as Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts is concerned.
The park will launch a complete slate of family-friendly entertainment next week for the first full Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods season of the pandemic. The 2020 season was canceled, along with the rest of Wolf Trap’s summer programming that year, and last year’s lineup was limited to just six performances.
The seven-week season will open at 10:30 a.m. next Tuesday (June 21) with folk singer Josh Lovelace, who plays keyboard for the rock band NEEDTOBREATHE.
“After last year’s shortened season, we’re thrilled to welcome our new and returning families back to Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods for seven exciting weeks of performances,” Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts Director of Community Programs and Internships Cate Bechtold said in a statement. “This summer we’re proud to feature many diverse acts, from Xuejuan Dance Ensemble and Native Pride Dancers to D.C. favorites Uncle Devin and 123 Andres. Whether you are a fan of dance, theater, music or puppetry, there is something for everyone to enjoy!”
All performances will take place in the outdoor theater at 1551 Trap Road on Tuesday through Saturday mornings at 10:30 a.m. through Aug. 6.
Tickets are on sale now through Wolf Trap’s website and at the Filene Center box office, which is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays. A “Pick Three” promotion gives a $2 per ticket discount to anyone who buys tickets to three or more shows.
In addition to singers, the lineup features dance ensembles like the Maryland Youth Ballet, puppetry, theater, and to close the season, a bit of magic from the Amazing Max. The full schedule can be found on the Wolf Trap website.
The park’s main summer season at the Filene Center has been underway since May 28. Up next will be the indie-pop band Belle and Sebastian, who will make their Wolf Trap debut with the band Japanese Breakfast at 7 p.m. tomorrow (Wednesday).
The circus is coming back to Tysons.
Cirque du Soleil announced yesterday (Monday) that it will erect its Big Top tents in Lerner Town Square (8025 Galleria Drive) near Tysons Galleria on July 29, marking its first appearance in the D.C. area in three years.
This year’s show will be “Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities,” which the Canada-based circus calls “its most critically acclaimed touring show.” It will be in town until Sept. 25.
“We are thrilled that Cirque du Soleil is returning to Washington D.C. for the first time since 2019,” Mike Newquist, the touring show division president at Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group, said. “Now more than ever, being reunited with our incredible audiences means the world and our cast and crew are excited to bring the magic of KURIOS to Tysons in what will be a truly triumphant return.”
Cirque du Soleil has routinely performed in Tysons, most recently bringing a sports-themed show in the summer of 2019.
However, its planned visit in 2020 was canceled as part of a general suspension of tours due to the COVID-19 pandemic. An anticipated replacement show in 2021 was also nixed, though the circus resumed performing in April 2021.
According to a press release, “Kurios” premiered in Montreal in 2014 and has attracted over 4.5 million viewers in 30 cities worldwide with over 2,000 performances.
Cirque du Soleil describes the show as a mix of acrobatics, poetry, artistry, and humor set in a steampunk-inspired universe:
In an alternate yet familiar past, KURIOS steps inside the mechanical lab of an inventor convinced that there exists a hidden, invisible world–a place where the craziest ideas and the grandest dreams await. Once the inventor succeeds to unlock the door to this world of wonders, time comes to a complete stop and an uplifted cast of otherworldly characters invades his curio cabinet, bringing his makeshift creations to life one by one. As the visible becomes invisible and perspectives transform, KURIOS bursts into a celebration of the power of the imagination.
Tickets to “Kurios” went on sale for the organization’s Club Cirque members yesterday. They will become available for purchase by the general public on Monday (March 7).