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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Shopper at 2020 Sidewalk Sale, via Visit Alexandria/Facebook

The city’s annual sidewalk sale is scheduled for August 14 and 15, and according to Visit Alexandria, the program is on track to be the largest one so far.

According to Visit Alexandria, over 70 local boutiques have signed up for the seasonal sale. The sale is located along several city sidewalks in Old Town and Del Ray, with a focus this year on the pedestrian-only blocks at 700-1100 King Street. The stores will be featured in outdoor exhibits with deeply discounted merchandise.

Activities are also planned along King Street and throughout Del Ray, including jazz music on the 1000 block of King Street on Saturday, from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 1:30-2:30 p.m. On Sunday, local singer-songwriter Dan Barry will perform from noon to 3 p.m.

“Explore local items ranging from fashion and jewelry to home decor, culinary goods and environmentally friendly products for your everyday needs,” Visit Alexandria said in the press release. “Check out new Sidewalk Sale participants, including Goldfinch, Harambee Books & Artworks, Kate & Lo (pop-up boutique), Lilly Pulitzer, Mason & Greens, Mint Collective and RocketFizz Alexandria.”

During the event, parking will be free at four of the city’s garages on Saturday and Sunday.

  • Courthouse Square Parking Garage – 111 S Pitt Street
  • Market Square Parking Garage- 108 N Fairfax Street
  • USP Parking Garage – 220 N Union Street
  • Thompson’s Alley Parking Garage – 10 Thompsons Alley

The event is a partnership between Visit Alexandria, the city, the Old Town Boutique District, the Old Town Business Association, Old Town North and the Del Ray Business Association.

Via Visit Alexandria/Facebook

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Morning Notes

NOVA Parks pledges $800K to maintain River Farm, if sale goes through — “Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority has taken steps to sweeten the offer it made on the historic River Farm property. Nova Parks Executive Director Paul Gilbert announced that the regional park authority has pledged $800,000 toward maintenance and improvement of the property should the American Horticultural Society, the current owner of River Farm, approve the sale.” [Alex Times]

Alexandria hosting Around the World Cultural Food Festival July 31 — “The biggest outdoor food festival in the D.C metro area will happen on Saturday, July 31. And this year’s edition will be held in Alexandria. Enjoy food, music, and an experience highlighting cultural diversity at Oronoco Bay Park from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.” [Zebra]

Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery dedication ceremony this Saturday — “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]

Today’s weather — “Except for a few afternoon clouds, mainly sunny. A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. High near 90F. Winds WNW at 10 to 15 mph… Mostly clear skies (in the evening). Low 67F. Winds N at 10 to 15 mph.” [Weather.com]

New job: Part-time chess coach — “As a chess coach for us, you are the core of what we do! You provide a welcoming environment for elementary school children and instruct them on the game. Typically, you teach a group of 10 – 20 children (ages 5-11). You bring all the equipment (provided by us) and teach according to our curriculum, ensuring that you personalize and adjust your teaching to each kid and each group of kids as needed.” [Indeed]

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Speakeasy event, via Lee-Fendall House Museum & Garden

Look, don’t go around telling people we told you this, but there’s going to be a little booze and a little dancing at the Lee-Fendall House Museum & Garden in September.

The museum is hosting a “secret” speakeasy fundraiser that both pays homage to Old Town’s bootlegging legacy and will help raise money to support the rebuild of a collapsed historic wall on the property.

“The 20s are back in a big way!” the museum said on the event page. “Please join the friends, board, and staff of the Lee-Fendall House Museum in our historic garden on Saturday, September 25th for Sips & Secrets: A Speakeasy Night.”

The home was once owned by a liquor wholesaler, though the museum admitted the connection to Prohibition-era bootlegging is more tenuous.

“Sips & Secrets honors Lee-Fendall House’s Prohibition-era history, when we were home to one of Alexandria’s liquor wholesalers (and possible bootleggers!),” the museum said. “It features lots of fun speakeasy surprises, including dancing to live jazz and ragtime, and costume contest for the best flapper or mobster style, 1920s-style cocktails, and more. This year, the event will raise funds for the repair of our 220-year-old brick garden wall, of which a 70-foot section collapsed in early summer, while also supporting the museum’s ongoing work in historic preservation, education, and community engagement.”

General admission is $85, or $65 for anyone 30 and under. A private reception before the event is VIP only, with tickets priced at $115.

The museum also previously launched a GoFundMe to help pay for repairs to the wall. The repairs are made more expensive for the need to hire technical and historic expertise to utilize the original bricks. The GoFundMe has raised $6,700.

https://twitter.com/leefendallhouse/status/1417483468179746817

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Friendship Firehouse Festival (via Friendship Fire Company/Facebook)

The Friendship Firehouse Festival is back on this year after having been cancelled last year due to — you know.

The festival is an annual celebration of the Friendship Firehouse (107 S Alfred Street) in Old Town that opened in 1855, and has since been run as a museum focusing on fire-fighting history and fire safety. The museum hosts community events throughout the year, and holds preserved historic artifacts.

The festival is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 7.

“The Friendship Firehouse Festival is back after last year’s hiatus,” the city said in a press release. “Join us to celebrate Friendship’s 247th birthday. Visit the historic Friendship Firehouse Museum, learn about fire safety past and present and see City firefighting equipment up close. There will be displays by community organizations, craft vendors, and food and beverages available. Children receive free Friendship fire hats.”

Museum entry will be staggered to accommodate some social distancing.

Via Friendship Fire Company/Facebook

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After taking a year off, the Around The World Cultural Food Festival will be celebrated later this month at Oronoco Bay Park on the Alexandria waterfront.

It’s the first year that the annual event will be hosted in Alexandria, and it will feature more than a dozen food, dessert and smoothie vendors making dishes from around the world.

“This pandemic changed our lives and the way we look at tomorrow in a drastic way,” wrote event organizers on Facebook. “We should never take anything for granted, so while we have this opportunity to host the event in a safe way for everyone- a large, spacious park, we hope to see you on July 31st at Oronoco Bay Park.”

Food trucks and vendors include:

The festival will also be held at Freedom Plaza in D.C. on August 28. Admission is free.

via Facebook

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The Alexandria Drive-In showed ‘Casper’ and ‘The Mummy’ on Halloween. (Image via ALX Community)

The short-lived resurgence of drive-in movie screenings in Alexandria during the pandemic seems to be winding down as the organizers of the Alexandria Drive-In announced the event will be discontinuing after this Saturday’s screening of Shrek.

The closing marks the end of short-lived fad when movie theaters were unsafe due to COVID-19. The Alexandria Drive-In launched last August with Jurassic Park and within four days all six initially scheduled movies were sold-out.

Alexandria wasn’t alone. Tysons, Arlington, and D.C. all featured drive-in movie screenings over the last year, but many ongoing drive-in series have been discontinued as locals return to movie theaters.

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Were you wondering where the city’s fireworks were this weekend?

Fret not: the city reserves its fireworks and pageantry for Saturday, July 10, the celebration of the City of Alexandria’s birthday — a tradition that outdates 4th of July.

The city is celebrating its 272nd birthday with a fireworks display along the Potomac River, viewable in-person or online, starting at 8:45 p.m. The ceremony will include an opening by the Town Crier, a message from Mayor Justin Wilson, poetry by Poet Laureate KaNikki Jakarta, and a performance by the Alexandria National Symphony Orchestra.

The scene will be a little different this year compared to years past. The fireworks are being repositioned to be visible from multiple spots along the Potomac River waterfront, stretching from Canal Center Plaza to Jones Point Park. The event will also not include food trucks or food vendors this year, and no cannon support during the fireworks display.

Attendees are asked to leave pets at home and refrain from smoking during the event.

The city listed recommended viewing spots as:

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Hot dog, via David Todd McCarty/Unsplash

The promise of learning more about what types of city services are available through various departments might sound painfully dull, but fortunately someone in city bureaucracy understood that the promise of free food helps add spice to that offer.

The City of Alexandria, along with a handful of partners like Alexandria Redevelopment Housing Authority and the Campagna Center, is hosting a series of cookouts this week and next to provide more information on local youth and family programs, including Safe Space and anti-bullying programs.

Cookouts are scheduled for 6-8 p.m. on the following days:

  • Today, Tuesday: Ruby Tucker, 322 Tancil Court
  • Tomorrow, Wednesday: Southern Towers, 4901 Seminary Road
  • Tuesday, July 13: Brent Place, 375 S Reynolds Street
  • Wednesday, July 14: William Ramsey, 5650 Sanger Avenue

Photo via David Todd McCarty/Unsplash

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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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