In its first regular show since shutting down last year, the Little Theatre of Alexandria is back to suspending disbelief with its latest farce, Neil Simon’s Rumors.

“Laugh hard,” director Matthew Randall said. “Laugh loud. Laugh together. It feels amazing, and I hope you enjoy every single moment.”

The plot revolves around the friends of Charlie Brock, the deputy mayor of New York City, who arrive for a party at his house in 1989 to find that he shot himself in the ear. While Charlie is doped up on Valium and kept out of sight upstairs, his friends slowly try to unravel what happened.

Randall cast real-life couple Chris and Ken Gorman as Charlie’s friends Stephanie and Mike Rudden, who are the first to arrive at the scene. Their first instinct is to hush up the incident, as Charlie’s political career and their reputations hang in the balance. While nervously tending to their patient, the Gormans realize that Charlie’s wife Myra is missing, and so are the housekeeper and cook. They also see that the house isn’t at all ready for a party, and that’s when more guests ring the doorbell.

Mike Donahue and Jayne L. Victor bring a refreshing portrayal to Lenny and Claire Ganz, Charlie’s friends who walk into the house immediately after getting into a car wreck. Donahue, while periodically screaming by turning his injured neck, drives the comedic energy of the production. As Charlie’s lawyer and best friend, Lenny is ready to call the police until the arrival of psychologist Ernie Cusack (Peter Halverson) and his wife, Cookie (Janice Rivera).

Then, as Ken runs upstairs to check on Charlie, he trips on his slippers and the gun goes off, making him temporarily deaf. Naturally, more guests arrive (Roxanne Waite as Cassie Cooper and Kirk Lambert as Glenn Cooper) in the ensuing chaos. In the climax, Lenny is forced to wear a smoking jacket and pretend to be Charlie after the arrival of the cops (Joe Dzikewicz and Eileen Copas).

The show runs until August 14. Capacity is currently limited to 145 patrons in the 215-seat venue.

Audience members still have to wear masks, and LTA says if anyone is caught unmasked that they will be asked politely to comply. If they refuse, the show will be stopped. If the issue persists, the show will be canceled entirely.

via LTA/Facebook

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Morning Notes

Galactic Panther Art Gallery to open on King Street in Old Town — “Galactic Panther, a new art gallery at 1303 King St. in Alexandria, will open in early August. The art gallery is a partnership between internationally-exhibiting artist Eli Pollard and Erik Meundel, who is the current owner of ESP Tea & Coffee.” [Alexandria Living]

Alexandria Fire Department graduates three recruit schools — “The Alexandria Fire Department officially graduated Recruit School 49 on Thursday, July 22, and Recruit Schools 50 and 51 on Friday, July 23 at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial after postponing the ceremonies due to the COVID-19 pandemic. AFD welcomed and celebrated 45 new firefighter/EMTs.” [Patch]

Longtime Alexandrian librarian dies at age 100 — “Gladys Howard Davis, who was born on June 7, 1921 and raised in Alexandria, Virginia, where she was one of ten children born to Ezekial and Elizabeth “Winnie” Pollard Howard, was a witness to history and significant changes in her hometown where she helped educate generations of Alexandrians during her 60-plus years of service to the Alexandria Library system. She passed away July 10, 2021.” [Zebra]

Hot? Alexandria reopens cooling centers — “Looking to cool off? The City offers several locations as options to residents who may not have cooling in their homes, including recreation centers and libraries, as well as assistance for adults 60+ and some low-income households.” [Twitter]

Today’s weather — “Mainly sunny. High 94F. Winds N at 5 to 10 mph… A mostly clear sky. Low 72F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New job: Temporary pool operator — “In pursuit of service excellence, the Temporary Pool Operator provides facility monitoring for an aquatic environment for patrons of all ages and background. This position will ensure the safety of all patrons, ensure proper pool chemistry, repair and inspect pool pumps, filters, and plumbing, provide exceptional customer service, and other duties assigned. Pool operators also perform as lifeguards and must have lifeguard credentials. Pool Operators are the aquatics shift leader and provide direction to lifeguards on their shift.” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

Mayor and family attend Nats game canceled after shooting outside stadium Saturday — “We’re okay and on the Metro home, but baseball games should not be called because of a shooting. This is effed up and we all know it. We just don’t want to do anything about it.” [Twitter]

Intertribal Creatives Collective provides home for native artists — “Step into the new Intertribal Creatives Collective in Old Town Alexandria, and you’ll find yourself in a Western-style trading post with a touch of modern-day cool.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Internet cost assistance available for Alexandria residents — “Need help paying for internet access? The Emergency Broadband Benefit gives discounts up to $50/month for those eligible and discounts on computer/ tablet purchases.” [Twitter]

Today’s weather — “Cloudy skies early, followed by partial clearing. High 89F. Winds WSW at 5 to 10 mph… A few clouds (in the evening). Low 69F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New job: Nose model — “I am looking to hire someone to model her nose while rubbing it, picking it, and making silly faces. Must be 18.” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

Alexandria man charged with storming U.S. Capitol on January 6 — “After storming the Capitol on Jan. 6, a Northern Virginia man began forming his own militia-like group in the D.C. suburbs and building up a supply of explosives under the guise of a Bible study group, according to federal prosecutors. Fi Duong, 27, appeared in court Friday and was released to home confinement pending trial, over the objections of prosecutors who sought stricter terms. According to the court record, at the time of his arrest he had several guns, including an AK-47, and the material to make 50 molotov cocktails.” [Washington Post]

Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial dedication on July 24 — “Join Historic Alexandria in honoring Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial’s inclusion in the African American Civil Rights Network (AACRN). The free dedication will include a wreath laying by the 31st Masonic District, a reading by representatives of the United States Colored Troops (USCT), and remarks by Reverend Taft Quincey Heatley. The ceremony will take place rain or shine.” [City of Alexandria]

New mural in Old Town — “Check out the new mural being painted at ESP Tea and Coffee’s back patio area!” [Twitter]

Today’s weather — “Cloudy skies with periods of rain later in the day. High near 85F. Winds SSW at 10 to 20 mph… Rain early (in the evening)… then remaining cloudy with showers late. Low around 70F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 80%. Rainfall near an inch.” [Weather.com]

New job: Bartender and server at Rock It Grill — “Busy karoake bar, the more experience you have, the more money you’ll make.” [Indeed]

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Alexandria will spend millions on emergency financial support programs, stormwater repair, childcare and dozens of other projects as part of its first portion of American Rescue Plan Act funding.

“Now the really hard work begins,” Mayor Justin Wilson said after Council’s unanimous passage of a plan Tuesday night. “I think this is an opportunity to make some transformational investments.”

The City received its first $29.8 million on May 17, and has to spend the total $59.6 million in funding by Dec. 31, 2024. Alexandria is getting substantial funding by being counted as both a city and county — along with 41 other cities across the country — and will get its second allotment in May 2022.

Federal funds will not directly go to individual businesses, but some are allocated toward the funding of business districts for trial street closures, ABC-licensed special events and public access parklets.

“Our thought was that direct assistance for businesses was best provided, and continues to be provided, through the federal government at scale,” Alexandria Economic Development Partnership CEO Stephanie Landrum told Council. “We are much better equipped as a community, and certainly as an economic development group to reach a wider swath of businesses than we ever have been. And so part of our challenge and responsibility is to make sure all of those businesses know about other programs not being provided by the city.”

The 30 projects include:

  • $4 million for an Alexandria Community Access and Emergency Support program to determine which city services are eligible for residents, including emergency financial aid, rent assistance and child care
  • $3.7 million in stormwater repairs at the Hoofs Run Culvert
  • $3 million for a Guaranteed Basic Income Pilot, which will give $500 in gift cards to 150 poor families for 24 months
  • $2.8 million for a Unified Early Childhood Workforce Stabilization Initiative to “support hundreds of childcare providers and early childhood educators, provide a safe and healthy learning environment for thousands of children, and help parents, especially women, get back to work.”
  • $2.5 million for food security to ensure two years of continual free food distributions at hubs throughout the city
  • $2 million for Alexandria Housing Development Corporation flex space to expand city services for the Arlandria neighborhood
  • $1.9 million in flash flooding spot improvements throughout the city
  • $1.1 million to scale up a workforce development pilot
  • $800,000 to make permanent the closure of the 100 block of King Street
  • $620,000 to fund the Out of School Time Program to help with learning loss associated with the pandemic
  • $560,000 to the Alexandria Economic Development Authority fund commercial business districts for trial street closures, ABC-licensed special events and public access parklets
  • $500,000 for Visit Alexandria marketing efforts
  • $295,000 to fund two new Office of Historic Alexandria tourism experiences on the city’s history with civil rights and and the Duke Street Corridor
  • $253,000 to increase services for LGBTQ and BIPOC communities
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Alexandria’s Reggae band FeelFree is back on the road, and their latest single “Big Shot Man” is a political statement that took years to write.

What system are they rebelling against? The presidency of Donald Trump, which inspired musical creations that garner millions of listens.

Andrew Pfeiffer, the band’s lead singer and trombonist, said that the song’s not so much about complaining as it is an expression of what he and his bandmates felt for a while.

“It was just a response from living the last four years,” Pfeiffer said. “I mean, the chorus just says it all — ‘We love what you hate, we build what you break.'”

It’s FeelFree’s second single of 2021, and the band plans to release three or four more songs before the end of the year. The COVID shutdown meant shifting from playing 90 or so live performances a year (mostly local, with some tours) to no gigs whatsoever for the band that won the 2019 Whammy Award for Reggae Album of the Year.

“We were playing almost 90 dates a year, and we’re trying to get back to that now that the great awakening is upon us,” guitarist Evan Hulehan said. “I think it was a good reset for me. I got to take a step back and build up parts of my studio and get a little more creative and experimental.”

FeelFree will play on Friday, July 2, at Hammerheads Dockside in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware; On July 3 at Riptide Pool Bar in Ocean City, Maryland; and a ticketed show at Union Stage in D.C. on Saturday, July 17.

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The Little Theatre of Alexandria is expanding capacity and easing restrictions, but you still have to wear face masks when the 2021-22 season begins next month with Neil Simon’s Rumors.

LTA is expanding capacity to 145 patrons in LTA’s 215-seat capacity venue at 600 Wolfe Street in Old Town. Face masks will still be required for members of the audience, and the plan is to return to full capacity in January.

“The seating capacity for Rumors, Fences, Wait Until Dark and A Christmas Carol will increase to 145 patrons per performance,” LTA’s spokesperson Rachel Alberts told ALXnow. “Up to 2 patrons will sit together with one empty seat between each pair. Masks will still be required for the new season. Starting with our January musical Bright Star and continuing with Blue Stockings and Prelude to a Kiss, our plan is to go back to full capacity seating with no social distancing.”

The Little Theatre reopened last September with socially distant performances. Their first show back after the shutdown — Love Letters — featured two married actors onstage, and only allowed 40 audience members. There were also no bathroom breaks, intermission or concessions.

“We anticipate that the situation will continue to evolve (presumably for the better), allowing us to further ease restrictions soon,” LTA said in a press release. “All audience members are required to wear face masks. If a patron removes his or her face mask, we will ask them to put it back on. If it happens a second time, we will stop the show and ask them to leave.”

LTA is requiring all staff to be vaccinated, including actors and crew, by August 17.

“Put plainly, if you want to work at LTA after August 17, you must be vaccinated and be prepared to prove it,” LTA said in the release. “The most important benefit, of course, is that everyone in the LTA community–employees, contractors, teachers, students, actors, designers and crew, and volunteers–can all be confident that working at LTA is safe!”

Courtesy LTA

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Morning Notes

McAuliffe, Ayala, Herring win statewide Democratic primary — “Former Virginia governor and longtime fixture as a national Democratic Party leader Terry McAuliffe won the state’s Democratic nomination for a second term as governor in Tuesday’s primary election, the Associated Press reported at 7:44 p.m. In the two other statewide races, the lieutenant governor’s contest was called by AP for Del. Hala Ayala. In the attorney general race, Del. Jay Jones conceded to incumbent Mark Herring.” [Patch]

Council candidates pose after Democratic primary — “Congratulations to our 2021 Democratic nominees for Alexandria Mayor (Justin Wilson) and City Council (John Chapman, Alyia Gaskins, Amy Jackson, Canek Aguirre, Sarah Bagley, and Kirk McPike), and the 45th House District (Elizabeth Bennett Parker)! Onward to November!” [Facebook]

Alexandria Health Department expands clinic partnerships and locations — “In recent weeks, the Alexandria Health Department (AHD) has expanded vaccine clinic partnerships and locations. In Alexandria and the region, mass vaccination events have slowed significantly over the past month. In response, AHD has focused on targeting outreach in communities where vaccination rates are lower and partnering with organizations to reach priority populations.” [City of Alexandria]

Made in ALX hosting first art show and sale — “Saturday, June 26, join a group of Alexandria artists on the patio behind ALX Community (near the gazebo between the Torpedo Factory and The Blackwall Hitch) to see new pieces and pick up something unique for your home!” [Alexandria Living]

Today’s weather — “Cloudy. A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. High 88F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph… Overcast. Low 71F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New job: Front desk assistant — “Dogtopia, the industry leader in dog daycare, boarding, and spa services has an immediate opening for an energetic, organized, sales and solution-minded individual to join our team as our Sales Receptionist.” [Indeed]

Photo via Alexandria Democratic Committee/Facebook

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A new exhibition coming to the Torpedo Factory will spotlight a visual, sound, and interactive expression of the struggles Black women face.

The new exhibit is called We, Too, Sing America by Ọmọlará Williams McCallister.

According to the press release:

Target Gallery, the contemporary exhibition space for Torpedo Factory Art Center, presents its annual competitive solo exhibition, Ọmọlará Williams McCallister: We, Too, Sing AmericaMCCallister (pronouns: O/love/beloved) created a site-specific multisensory exhibition that is a place of community contemplation and healing.

The exhibition opened in late May and is scheduled to run through Sunday, July 18. And virtual reception is scheduled for this Friday, June 11, at 7 p.m.

The exhibit is part of McCallister’s series Domestic Work. According to a press release from the Torpedo Factory, the exhibit “confronts the extraction of emotional labor, caretaking and other domestic work from Black women that is expected, depended upon, normalized and erased in public and private spaces.”

The artwork consists of 1,440 muslin squares hand-embroidered with a description of an everyday act of emotional labor, with squares dyed to read “for you,” “for me,” or “for us.”

According to McCallister:

We, Too, Sing America is a memorial to the small everyday acts we have undertaken to support ourselves and each other as we have collectively moved towards building a better future and weathered the storms of COVID, of white-supremacist anti-Black terror, of the intersecting forms of oppression we face/d these past many months. In this work, I use accumulation and repetition of ritual acts, art objects, images, and sound to explore the relationship of the individual act, individual person, individual moment to the collective, and to collective world building.

Photo via Reese Bland/Torpedo Factory

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For the second year in a row, the Alexandria Old Town Art Festival packed the Carlyle neighborhood on Saturday and Sunday.

Dozens of artists and exhibitors from all over the country displayed their work throughout the weekend to large numbers of gatherers and art admirers.

Another live event, the 43rd annual Alexandria Jazz Festival, will be held in Old Town on May 29.

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