Sophia Manicone has come a long way from her “Vienna Idol” days.
The 18-year-old Vienna resident recently realized the dream of every theater kid with her Broadway debut in the revival of “Parade,” which officially opened yesterday (Thursday) at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre in New York City.
Starring Tony winner Ben Platt and “The Cher Show” breakout Micaela Diamond, the musical explores racism and antisemitism as a dramatization of the real-life 1913 trial of Jewish American factory manager Leo Frank, a case that stoked the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan and led to the creation of the Anti-Defamation League.
Manicone — a senior at the Fairfax Academy for Communications and the Arts with Vienna’s James Madison High School as her base school — plays Iola Stover, a factory worker who testifies against Frank.
She joined the revival’s Off-Broadway premiere at New York City Center (NYCC) in November and learned a month later that she would be part of the transfer to Broadway. She was one of 18 cast members making their debut when the show began previews on Feb. 21.
“It’s so unbelievable. It still doesn’t feel real,” Manicone told FFXnow by email. “Being a part of this incredible cast is so thrilling. I’m performing alongside people I listened to (and sang along with) on cast recordings since I was a little kid. The people in the cast and the creative team have been welcoming and supportive. I feel so lucky!”
Manicone traces her love of theater back to the musical films and cartoons she watched as a young kid. A trip to see “Mary Poppins” on Broadway when she was 3 cemented that infatuation, leading her to pursue her first audition in New York when she was in second grade.
“My parents got us tickets in the last row of the theater in case I wasn’t able to sit through the show,” she recalled. “But apparently I didn’t move an inch and was mesmerized — especially when Mary Poppins flew across the theater!”
Manicone’s journey to the Great White Way began in earnest on the Vienna Town Green, where she made her first big public performances competing in the annual “Vienna Idol” fundraiser, she told DC Theater Arts in 2016.
She was 9 when she won the title in 2014 with “her booming Broadway voice,” The Connection reported at the time. From there came roles in local theater productions, including her first professional lead role in Creative Cauldron’s “Ruthless! The Musical.”
Because of her community theater work, Manicone says her ability to participate in school plays was limited, but in sixth grade, she appeared in “Seussical” at Louise Archer Elementary School. She also sang choir in her elementary and middle school years.
“I had amazing teachers and as a middle schooler, it was wonderful having such a supportive environment where I felt I belonged,” she said. Read More
A popular theater artist is slated to bring to life the stories of five Restonians to Reston Community Center’s CenterStage this month.
Ping Chong, a recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Obie Award and National Medal of Arts, will create a residency format that his New York-based company — Ping Chong and Company — has adapted in communities around the country.
Starting next Monday (March 13), his artists will create performances featuring the stories of five Restonians as they navigate the world: Robin Feldman, Carmah Owen, Rosa Simon, Semret Worku and Natsu Zavala.
Chong, who plans to retire in the near future, has created more than 100 works for the stage. His company focuses on the connections between cultures and the multifaceted nature of identity.
He said in a statement that he’s “delighted” to spend part of his final working days in Reston:
Fifty years have passed since I began my life as a theatre practitioner. I am now in the process of retiring. I will be 77 years old this year and it is time for reflecting on a fortunate, rich life. Time passes. I am delighted to share this moment of transition here in Reston. If theatre can do one thing, it is to bring community together. Thank you for this opportunity to remind us all that we are all connected by our humanity, that we are all human beings regardless of where we come from. All islands connect under water.
RCC Board Chair Bev Cosham said the center’s partnership with Chong’s company offers an opportunity for a “once-in-a-lifetime encounter with a theatrical trailblazer.”
“The work his company and our local team have created will reach deep into our emotional wells and surface the compelling stories of how we navigated these last traumatic years. It promises to be both a revealing and a healing experience,” Cosham said.
RCC’s staff will support the project and the work will by recorded by Storycatcher Productions, Inc.
A breakdown of the planned events is below: Read More
Though they won’t appear among the best director nominees at the Oscars this Sunday (March 12), female and gender non-conforming filmmakers will be celebrated tonight (Wednesday) at the Mosaic District.
The Merrifield neighborhood’s Angelika Film Center (2911 District Avenue) is hosting Lunafest — a traveling film festival that showcases movies by and about women — to mark International Women’s Day.
With doors opening at 6 p.m., the festival will screen seven short films from 7-9 p.m. The screenings will be preceded by a “social hour” with light hors d’oeuvres, drinks and a raffle, according to the event page.
All proceeds will go to Girls on the Run Northern Virginia (GOTR NOVA), a nonprofit based in Fairfax that offers running programs designed to teach girls life skills like teamwork and self-confidence.
“We love hosting Lunafest each year because it allows us to bring our community together to celebrate new perspectives and be inspired by the ideas of what our program participants could become and achieve,” GOTR NOVA Development Manager Catherine Reeves Keller said. “All of the proceeds from the event go back to GOTR NOVA to fund our programming and empower our participants.”
Lunafest was created in 2001 by Luna, a brand of Clif Bar & Company that makes a nutrition bar targeted toward women. Since then, the festival says it has raised over $7 million for nonprofits, featured 175 filmmakers, and hosted over 2,900 screenings in the U.S. and Canada.
The festival lineup includes a mix of live-action and animated films:
Reclaim Your Water: Natasha Smith — As a member of the Ebony Beach Club, Natasha Smith surfs, skates, and makes her own waves.
Miss Chelove: From Java to the Streets of D.C. — As she paints a mural, artist Cita Sadeli (aka Miss Chelove) opens up about her life, her cultural heritage, and how she fell in love with grafti in the 1980s.
Pete — The true story of Pete Barma explores gender identity, Little League Baseball, the people who inspire change by being themselves, and the superheroes who champion that change.
This Is Beth — As celebrated rock climber Beth Rodden grapples with her body image, she rediscovers the love of her sport… and herself.
More Than I Want to Remember — After her southeastern Congo village is bombed, 14-year-old Mugeni sets out on a remarkable solo journey across the globe, determined to reunite with her lost loved ones and lift up the Banyamulenge people.
Syed Family Xmas Eve Game Night — All cards are on the table when Noor, a queer Pakistani Muslim woman, brings her Puerto Rican girlfriend, Luz, home for the rst time on the family’s annual game night.
Swimming Through — Amid a brutal Chicago winter and the global pandemic, Deirdre, Helen, and Jennefer’s friendship grows as they commit to a daily sunrise plunge together in Lake Michigan.
Tickets to the festival cost $30 and can be purchased online.
The spirit of Black History Month will extend into March at The Alden in McLean.
For tomorrow (Saturday) only, the McLean Community Center’s theater will host a one-act play by the Ohio-based company Mad River Theater Works “that brings the history of the Underground Railroad to life,” according a news release.
The sole performance of “Freedom Flight” will be held from 4-5:30 p.m. Featuring original music, the play is based on the true story of Addison White, who escaped slavery in Kentucky and later served in the Union Army during the Civil War.
“Freedom Flight” is a one-act play with music by Mad River that revolves around Ohio’s most famous incident in the history of the Underground Railroad: the story of Addison White, an escaped slave, and his rescue by the citizens of the town of Mechanicsburg, Ohio. When Evelyn, a descendant of Addison White, confronts her own difficulties with racism, an array of characters tell and relive their family history.
Founded in 1978, Mad River Theater Works produces original plays that “challenge racism, sexism and intolerance” by finding inspiring stories in American history, according to its website.
Tickets for tomorrow’s play cost $15 for all residents of MCC’s tax district and $25 for non-residents, though seniors and students pay just $20. The Alden is a 383-seat theater in the community center at 1234 Ingleside Avenue.
In February, MCC marked Black History Month with a performance by the all-female, a capella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock. The center also hosted “The 1619 Project” creator Nikole Hannah-Jones, who was invited to speak by Fairfax County Public Library.
Tysons moviegoers can now escape to Pandora while munching on blackened salmon.
CMX CinéBistro (2001 International Drive, Suite 1700U) has officially opened at Tysons Galleria after a couple of delays last fall. The dine-in movie theater, which features a full bar and lounge, is located on the third floor of the mall’s redeveloped Macy’s wing.
CMX Cinemas announced on Instagram that its newest theater opened its doors for the first time last Friday (Jan. 27).
The 43,268-square-foot theater has over 800 reclining seats in eight screening rooms. Available in theaters and at the Stone Sports Bar in the lobby, the menu focuses on “rustic New American cuisine” prepared by formally trained chefs, CMX said in a press release.
“The thing that really sets our menu and concept apart from other theaters in the region is that we serve it in-theater while guests are sitting in a plush recliner, and we pair it with the latest projection and audio technology,” CMX CEO Patrick Ryan said. “We want to be able to check every box in terms of food, technology, comfort and amenities, because it’s when you put it all together that it adds up to an unbeatable experience.”
Dishes include blackened salmon with roasted garlic mash and butter sauce, artichoke cakes with Old Bay remoulade and Brazilian tomato slaw, a signature CMX Burger, and a crispy chicken bowl with jasmine rice.
Standard movie theater concessions are also available, along with alcoholic and non-alcoholic milkshakes.
Patrons planning to use the in-theater dining service need to arrive at least 30 minutes before their showtime, and except for films designated as “family-friendly,” showings after 8:30 p.m. are limited to people 21 and older.
Movies currently playing include recent Oscar nominees like “Avatar: The Way of Water” and “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” along with this weekend’s new releases “80 for Brady” and M. Night Shamalyan’s “Knock at the Cabin.” There was also a repertory screening of “Rocky” on Wednesday (Feb. 1).
Ticket prices vary based on the movie and time of day, from $8 for a weekday matinee of “80 for Brady” to $14.49 for a “prime time” showing of “Top Gun: Maverick” on Friday night. On Tuesdays, all tickets for adults and kids are just $5, according to a promotional sign outside the theater.
This is CMX’s first location in Fairfax County, though the Florida-based company has theaters in Richmond and Leesburg.
“We are proud of our tenant offerings, and CMX CineBistro is one of the final elements that will complete the new wing at Tysons Galleria,” said Chris Pine, executive vice president of anchors, big box leasing and development at Brookfield Properties for retail. “CMX offers a sophisticated and comfortable experience that compliments the Tysons Galleria experience.”
The final additions to the new wing include the Southeast Asian restaurant Jiwa Singapura, which is located directly across from CinéBistro and expected to open early this year, and Yard House.
The sports bar was scheduled to have a grand opening on Jan. 15, but permit issues with Fairfax County delayed the opening, which will now be on Feb. 26, according to Dylan Wieder, executive chef for Yard House’s Tysons location.
It may be a some time before Reston Town Center patrons get a first look at the replacement for BowTie Cinemas.
Initially expected to come in late 2022, LOOK Dine-in Cinemas now anticipates an opening sometime in the first half of this year.
A company representative told FFXnow that the movie theater will likely open sometime in the second quarter of the year, which runs from April to June.
Once an officially date is known, the company plans to announce details on its website.
This is the first location in the D.C. area for the company, which plans to renovate the Reston theater. Other features of the “luxury” brand include a food, beverage and cocktail menu, according to the company’s website.
Bow Tie Cinemas, which acquired the theater from Rave Cinema in 2011, closed in April.
Rep. Gerry Connolly will put his experience dealing with Scrooges on Capitol Hill to the test tomorrow when he takes the stage for a youth production of “Commedia Christmas Carol.”
The congressman and Providence District Supervisior Dalia Palchik will join student actors with the Traveling Players Ensemble for their take on the Charles Dickens holiday classic at 8 p.m., the Tysons-based theatrical company announced earlier this week.
Held at the Traveling Players Studio (DL01, 1961 Chain Bridge Road) in Tysons Corner Center, it will be the penultimate performance of the production, which launched on Dec. 2 and concludes at 3 p.m. on Sunday (Dec. 11).
Aimed at audiences 8 and older, the show puts a comedic twist on “A Christmas Carol.” It runs 75 minutes with no intermission and features a cast of kids from across the D.C. area.
“I love that it’s a ghost story, swirling out of control, careening through Scrooge’s painful past, and foreseeing his isolated future,” Traveling Players Producing Artistic Director Jeanne Harrison said in a press release. “And then he does the thing that is so brave: he changes. He lets people laugh at his newfound zest for life. And he is so much happier. He is renewed.”
Harrison founded the nonprofit theater company as a summer camp with 18 students in 2002. She is also the director for “Christmas Carol.”
Now in its 20th year with students in grades 2-12, the Traveling Players says Connolly and Palchik will make cameos in tomorrow’s show to acknowledge the key roles they played in the group’s journey.
Congressman Connolly is a lifelong supporter of arts and education. It was through his support that Traveling Players found their first long-time home in Fairfax County at The Madeira School, back in 2007 when he was still the Chairman of the Fairfax County Supervisors. A thespian in his own right, this will not be the Congressman’s first time taking the stage in a local production, but it will be his first cameo appearance with Traveling Players.
In 2020, Supervisor Palchick celebrated with Traveling Players by cutting the ribbon when they moved into their new home, their Studio in Tysons Corner Center, inside her district. Also an ardent supporter of the arts and education, Supervisor Palchick’s priorities overlap with those of Traveling Players: to expand artistic opportunities to every child in her district and the wider Fairfax County community.
There will also be an introduction by Jesse Benites, the general manager of Macerich, which owns and operates Tysons Corner Center. The mall has housed the Traveling Players Studio since February 2020 and hosted outdoor performances on its Plaza this summer.
Tickets to “Commedia Christmas Carol” cost $15 and can be purchased online.
CMX CinéBistro has now taken its Tysons Galleria premiere off the release calendar.
Initially set to launch in September, the dine-in movie theater later announced that its grand opening would be delayed to Oct. 14.
However, CMX Cinemas now says that timing won’t work either, and no new date has been established.
“They are facing supply chain issues that are delaying some of the finishing touches,” a public relations representative for the company said. “We are confident that the theatre will be ready to open in the coming weeks.”
Started in 2017 in Florida, CMX has 33 locations with 358 screens across the U.S., including traditional theaters and ones provide “grab-and-go” service, according to the company’s website.
The Tysons Galleria theater is 43,268 square feet in size with over 800 seats across eight screening rooms. It will double as a restaurant, providing full food and drink service to moviegoers with films that start after 8 p.m. limited to patrons 21 and older.
CMX CinéBistro was originally scheduled to open later this month, but the upscale theater chain has pushed its showtime back to October.
According to a release, the opening date is now Friday, Oct. 14. The theater/restaurant is opening at 2001 International Drive on the third level.
CinéBistro is a hybrid restaurant-theater, with meals presented alongside blockbuster films. The release said the Tysons Galleria CinéBistro menu features entrees like steak au poivre with duck fat fried truffled pommes frites along with a selection of wines.
“Another signature dish is the Artichoke Cakes with Old Bay Remoulade and Brazilian Tomato Slaw,” the release said, “an adventurous, vegetarian-friendly preparation that evokes all the rich flavors of Chesapeake Bay and pairs perfectly with a flute of bubbly or glass of chardonnay.”
“Classic movie theater snacks” will also be available, the release said, along with both alcoholic and nonalcoholic milkshakes.
Guests who want to dine-in at the theater are encouraged to arrive 30 minutes prior to showtime.
The grand opening will launch alongside Olivia Wilde’s, director of Booksmart, new movie Don’t Worry Darling, starring Harry Styles and Florence Pugh. The release makes no mention of the extensive internal drama and feuding that’s dominated the headlines around the film’s release.
“It’s great to be able to open alongside the premiere of such a sophisticated film,” Guy Austin, vice president of film and operations, said in the release, “So we’re really looking forward to elevating the dinner and movie experience for our region.”
The McLean Community Players is taking another shot at a dramatic return from its pandemic-induced slumber.
The nonprofit theater group will stage “The Show Must Go On! A Musical Revue” at the McLean Community Center’s Alden Theatre (1234 Ingleside Avenue) on Sept. 23 and 24, delivering its first public, in-person performances since August 2019.
Blending past musical work with previews of future shows, the production had been scheduled to take the stage in July, but a spate of COVID-19 cases forced a last-minute cancellation.
“We are revisiting favorite MCP productions from the past and then moving on to exciting new productions currently available,” co-directors Jess Rawls and Michael Replogle said in a press release. “Hopefully audiences will be reminded of old favorites and get a taste of what MCP’s future might hold with their help.”
The two-act program features songs from both classic and more recent musical theater hits, from “Company” and “Oliver!” to “In the Heights” and “Dear Evan Hansen,” which coincidentally just started its run at the Kennedy Center.
The revue will be performed at 8 p.m. on both days with a 4 p.m. matinee on Saturday, Sept. 24.
Tickets cost $20 for adults with a $5 discount for MCC tax district residents, seniors, and older students. For kids 9 and under, the price drops to $10, and groups of 10 or more people pay $15 each.
Tickets are now on sale on MCP’s website, by phone at 866-811-4111, and at the Alden box office.