It’s the end of an era for Alexandria City High School’s drama program. After 20 years directing and producing dozens of theatrical performances, the partnership between co-teachers Hope Bachman and Leslie Jones will come to a close at the end of this school year.
Known informally as “Bach and Jones” to students, parents and staff, the pair were honored in a gala at ACHS last week. Bachman says that deciding to partner with Jones was one of the best decisions she ever made.
“Partnering up with Leslie was the second smartest decision of my life, with the first smartest being my marriage,” Bachman said.
Bachman is a 1998 graduate of Alexandria City High School (back when it was named T.C. Williams High School), and was hired in 2003 after she graduated from the University of Mary Washington. When hired to replace a retiring drama teacher, she was also put in charge of the drama program’s extracurricular activities.
“I was a brand new green baby teacher,” Bachman said. “I was drowning my first year. First year teaching is hard for everybody, but I had all the responsibilities of a first year teacher plus this entire program of afterschool things, which is incredibly time consuming to run.”
Jones, at that point, had been working at the school for eight years as an English teacher and cheerleading coach, and felt that she’d been passed over. It ended up taking a full year for the pair to come together, with Bachman swallowing her pride by asking Jones for help.
Jones said that once they started working together on the fall and spring productions that their relationship was no longer competitive.
“The nature of theater is collaborative,” Jones said. “At the end of the day, it’s about the production and about the product… because all along we want to teach our kids how to be good theater people, period.”
The pair say a secret to their success has been presenting a unified front.
“It’s a sisterhood,” Jones said. “Believe me, we have been through it all. We don’t always agree. Who does? But we work it out. We always have a mantra between the two of us — ‘Hey, we’ll duke it out behind closed doors and then when we walk out the door we’re a united front.”
ACHS Executive Principal Alexander Duncan III thanked the duo for their work.
“How many teachers can say they regularly bring an auditorium full of people to their feet, either in tears or cheers, as well as having affected the lives and aspirations of countless students?” Duncan said. “We are so appreciative of the unwavering commitment that Leslie Jones and Hope Bachman have shown in their two decades of service to Alexandria City High School students and our school community.”
After a 33-year career teaching, Jones said she’s looking forward to retiring. She and Bachman are now prepping, their final work together, the 2024 spring musical Bring It On.
“This is our swan song,” Jones said. “Once the final curtain (falls) and we’re at the cast party, we’ll be sobbing.”
Bachman said someone will have to step in to help fill Jones’ shoes.
“Just just like Leslie and I had to at the beginning, I will have to learn her successor’s strengths and weaknesses,” Bachman said. “And that person will have to learn mine, and we’ll figure we’ll figure it out as we go.”
Alexandria is famous for celebrating the holiday season, and there are still a couple of in-person and virtual performances to help get into the spirit of things.
Tickets are still available for the Little Theatre of Alexandria‘s in-person rendition of A Christmas Carol, which runs until Dec. 19. The theatre has limited capacity to 46 guests, and seating is spaced out so that only up to groups of three people from the same group can watch the show together.
A Christmas Carol is being performed by just five actors, as opposed to the annual sold-out production with dozens of actors. It has been adapted for the times and directed by Emmy-winning journalist and actor Michael J Baker, Jr., who also stars as Ebenezer Scrooge.
Tickets cost $20 apiece and the remaining performances will be held at 8 p.m. on Dec. 16, 17, 18 and 19.
On Dec. 26 and 27, more than 90 students from the Metropolitan School of the Arts will perform six separate virtual renditions of The Nutcracker ballet at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial. Each show will be performed by three casts at the school.
“We knew performing the Nutcracker this year was going to be a challenge, but we also wanted the show to go on,” said Jacqueline Doherty, the show’s artistic director. “We’re so proud of the students’ commitment and passion to make this ballet come to life, despite the COVID restrictions. They were dedicated to making this show happen.”
The shows will broadcast on the Metropolitan School of the Arts’ YouTube channel, and tickets range from $40-$80.
Photos via LTA and Metropolitan School of the Arts
Alexandria Featured in Profiles on Region’s Oldest Homes — “One of the interesting aspects of the Ball-Sellers House is that some of the original roof is protected under a later roof. That’s also the case with the oldest surviving house in Alexandria: 517 Prince St., or what’s known as the Murray-Dick-Fawcett House. The oldest part of the house dates to 1772. There is access to the space between the old roof and the roof that was later built above it at a less-severe pitch.” [Washington Post]
West End Contractor Wins Big Missile System Contract — “The U.S. Navy awarded Alexandria-based Systems Planning and Analysis Inc. (SPA) an $85 million contract to provide technical support for the Trident II submarine-launched ballistic missile system, the company announced this week.” [Virginia Business]
ACPS Food Distribution Closed for Thanksgiving Break — “ACPS food distribution sites will be closed this Wednesday, Nov. 25 and Friday, Nov. 27 for Thanksgiving Break.” [Twitter]
Alexandria Regal Hiring Staff Again — “Floor Staff team members are classified based on individual theatre needs, and/or employee availability, as either variable hour, part-time fixed, part-time regular or full-time hourly employees whose primary responsibility is ensuring our guests receive exceptional service.” [Glassdoor]
George Washington’s River Farm Listed for Sale — “River Farm, the 27-acre property once owned by George Washington that now serves as the headquarters for the American Horticultural Society, was officially listed on the open real estate market at $32.9 million on Nov. 13.” [Alexandria Times]
Staff photo by James Cullum
Elderly resident rescues dog walker pinned under 500-pound headstone — “When Suzanne Dalton went out to walk her dog in Bethel Cemetery… one fall afternoon, the last thing she expected was to have a literal brush with death. After a headstone fell on her arm and pinned her to the ground, Charles Nelson, an 89-year-old Alexandria resident, came to her assistance and lifted the 500-pound stone up just enough for her to escape.” [Alex Times]
Beyer Says Trump is Being ‘Theatrical’ — “Refusing to initiate a peaceful transition of power in the middle of a deadly pandemic because he’s being theatrical.” [Twitter]
Alexandria Sheriff’s Office Reports New Phone Scam — “If you receive a call from someone saying they are from the Alexandria Sheriff’s Office (or any other Sheriff’s Office) and that you have to pay them money, hang up. Scammers will try a variety of approaches to intimidate and coerce people into giving them money. But actual sheriffs’ offices in Virginia will never call you and demand money.” [Zebra]
The Story Behind the ‘Official Sock of Alexandria’ — “Alexandria’s new official sock is being made in the USA by Living Royal and will be a high quality, soft unisex crew sock. A hundred pairs will be made initially, with the potential for more if the initial batch sells out.” [Alexandria Living]
Made In ALX Makers Market Opens — “While millions of people shop on national retail websites, it’s harder to stumble across local artists and craftspeople working right here in Alexandria. MadeinALX.com is a website and platform designed to support local artists, creators and makers and connect them to consumers.” [Alexandria Living]
Today’s Weather — “Cloudy skies early, followed by partial clearing. Slight chance of a rain shower. High 63F. Winds NW at 10 to 15 mph. Clear skies (in the evening). Low around 40F. Winds NW at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]
New Job: Fingerprint Operator — “This is an entry-level, part-time position and prior experience in the field or a related field is not required. You will receive training in taking and verifying personnel fingerprints, making comparisons of rolled inked and computer image fingerprints, use of fingerprint scanning equipment, completing fingerprinting forms and submitting reports at the end of the fingerprinting session.” [Indeed]
It’s not unusual for the Little Theatre of Alexandria to be bursting at the seams with a sold-out audience, as ushers, actors, assistant directors and set designers rush around to present their latest offering. Not this year.
For the first time since World War II, LTA was forced to shut down until calmer days prevail and cancelled its formal 2020-2021 season, which was supposed to open with “Sister Act” and continue through Christmas with its annual sold-out rendition of “A Christmas Carol” and into next summer.
LTA has a plan — a fall programming season with four one-act and two-act shows. The theatre will only be able to accommodate 45 audience members and the shows will be completely free of charge and not play consecutively so that staff can meet CDC and health department guidelines.
“We are going to be producing four shows with very small casts – mostly one to two people,” Rachel Alberts, the LTA governor of public relations, told ALXnow. “We are approaching this as a gift to our patrons. We know people are worried about getting in the theatre. We also know how much they miss it. That’s why we’re offering this for free.”
The first show, “Love Letters” by A.R. Gurney, will premier on September 11 and run for just over two weeks. The second show, “Mixed Doubled” by LTA member Rick Lore, will run from October 2-18; followed by “Belle of Amherst” by William Luce will run from November 6-22; and ending with a COVID-friendly version of “A Christmas Carol” from November 28-December 19.
The theatergoing experience is going to be much different, Alberts said. For one thing, there will likely be no singing in the theatre until the pandemic calms down.
“With the cast and crew there’s usually over 100 people, from designers to sound people to actors,” she said. “It’s a huge endeavor. Hopefully we’re going to be completely opening back up in January with ‘Mamma Mia!,’ but depending on what’s going on in the world we will absolutely honor all CDC and public health recommendations.”
LTA, which was founded in 1934, is now also conducting auditions via Zoom for the January show, and Alberts said that the theatre will survive the pandemic, even though it took a significant financial hit.
“LTA isn’t going anywhere,” she said. “We’re one of the oldest theatre is still in operation in the country, and we only closed once after World War II for a small period of time. We own our building and we’re financially safe.”
May 26, 2020Dear LTA Family—I hope this message finds you happy and healthy.In April 1943, The Little Theatre of…
Staff photo by James Cullum
Regal Potomac Yard Movie Theater Closed for Good — “Regal Cinemas has scrubbed the 16-theater multiplex at 3575 Potomac Ave. from its list of Virginia locations on its website. Couple that with the fact Virginia Tech and JBG Smith Properties (NYSE: JBGS) plan to redevelop the North Potomac Yard site on an accelerated timeline, it’s likely the theater showed its last film months ago — when Disney’s “Onward” was No. 1 at the box office.” [Washington Business Journal]
Governor Releases ‘Forward Virginia’ Phase Two Guidelines — “Most of the state will enter phase two on Friday, June 5. Northern Virginia, including the City of Alexandria and Fairfax County, might enter about a week later — but only if local coronavirus and health metrics indicate it is safe to do so. The governor has not given Northern Virginia a projected date for entering the second phase.” [Alexandria Living]
Group Raises Thousands for Alexandria Families — “We are helping more than 30 families every week with food, toiletries, cleaning supplies, and baby supplies during the COVID 19 pandemic. Many of these families are unemployed and not eligible for benefits.” [GoFundMe]
Virtual Job Fair Today — “The city of Alexandria Workforce Development Center is hosting a free “Meet the Employer” event tomorrow! Learn more about immediate employment opportunities in Virginia.” [Facebook]
Food Drive Replaces First Thursday in Del Ray — “On Thursday, June 4 (by 4 p.m.), plastic tubs or boxes will be placed on Mount Vernon Avenue at the intersection of all streets from Hume to Braddock; in front of the Mount Vernon Recreation Center; and at the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and the following streets: Braddock, Monroe, Alexandria Ave., Windsor, Del Ray, and Ashby. Items will be picked up by 7:30 p.m.” [Facebook]
Teens Plan Peace Walk for Saturday — “The public is invited to the Alexandria Peace Walk and encouraged to wear blue, the color for peace. Walkers are asked to bring posters, wear masks and stay six feet apart for the walk, cha-cha slide, and prayer.” [Zebra]
Hyatt Centric Old Town Welcomes Back Customers With Video — “We at the Hyatt Centric Old Town Alexandria are ready to welcome you back with the highest safety and cleaning procedures for your peace of mind when you travel.” [Youtube]
New Job: Shopkeeper Apprentice at Ice Cream Shop — “Shopkeeper Apprentices are full-time employees sharing the same responsibilities as the Shopkeeper including accounting, scheduling, inventory/ordering, and all HR functions (hiring, training, development, and performance management of all team members).” [Indeed]
Goodwin House Conducting Virtual Job Fair for Servers at 1 p.m. — “When you join our team, you’ll also be working at one of the Top Workplaces in the Washington, D.C. area according to The Washington Post. Our pay is highly competitive, we offer outstanding benefits and we provide opportunities for growth and excellent perks such as access to our swimming pools and fitness facilities.” [Indeed]
Old Town Sign to Stay on Theater — “Patagonia will “fix up” the sign so it looks a little bit better and to prevent further water damage to the marquee. Patagonia will put up its own sign underneath the marquee.” [Alexandria Living]
Mayor’s Social Media Habit Positively Recognized During Pandemic — “Every time the mayor gets takeout for his family — most Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays these days — he tries to documents his meals for more than 4,500 followers on Twitter. For Wilson, it’s a small way to raise visibility for Alexandria restaurants struggling to stay in business while Virginia enforces a dine-in ban to battle the spread of the novel coronavirus.” [Eater DC]
Mount Purrnon Cat Cafe & Wine Bar Opening This Summer — “Originally, we were hoping to open in early May. Obviously that isn’t happening, nor can it while there is a stay at home order enacted. Our current target is now mid-summer. We greatly hope that life will be starting to normalize somewhat by then.” [Facebook]
Casa Chirilagua Video Shows Expressions of Thanks for Support — “We are just grateful. As you may know, we are without work because of the virus. I’ve been out of work for three weeks, and my brother the same. And we are just, you know, trying to wait this thing out. Thank you so much for the collaboration to help. It was so welcome at this time.Thank you from the bottom of my heart.” [Facebook]
Fairlington United Methodist Church Hosting Daily Online Worship at Noon — “Do you have questions about your faith and our world? Let us know what those questions are in the comments below and we will explore some of them during noontime gatherings this week. Everyone is invited to come to a short devotional, check-in, and prayer at noon every weekday!” [Facebook]
Tech On Tap Urban Gardening Webinar at 4 p.m. — “Get your hands dirty with Urban Gardening! Gardening can be a great stress reducer. Don’t think you have the space for a garden? Wondering which plants you can or should grow? Gardening is the perfect social distancing activity – feeding a revival of interest in food production and gardening as a recreation, outdoor exercise form and community-building tool. Alexandria Economic Development Partnership can help you get started!” [Facebook]
Cidery Owner Participating in Lost Boy Cider Zoom Chat at 4 p.m. — “Chuck Shelton is joining Tristan on Zoom for Wednesday’s happy hour. Chuck is the co-founder and cider maker at Albemarle Ciderworks in Virginia. Widely recognized as one of Virginia’s premier cideries with a tremendous history in heirloom cultivation.” [Facebook]
At Home happy Hour at 5 p.m. With Pork Barrel BBQ Bartender— “Don’t forget to get your tickets for @Home HH with Kristina tomorrow night from 5-6PM! Kristina will be teaching you how to make two craft cocktail classics.” [Facebook]
Volunteer Alexandria Needs Help Transporting Food — “Volunteers needed to transport a generous donation of food from Great Harvest Bread Company to local organizations. Morning and afternoon shifts available Tues, Wed, Thurs, and Fri.” [Facebook]
Old Town Theater Sign May Be Removed — “The Board of Architectural Review is set to consider allowing the removal and relocation of the Old Town Theater sign and other exterior changes as the space is set to become a Patagonia retail store. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Council Chamber at Alexandria City Hall.” [Patch]
APD Investigates Gunshots in Landmark — “The Alexandria Police Department is investigating a ‘shots fired’ call for service in the 200 block of South Whiting Street. Expect police activity in the area.” [Twitter]
‘Normal Weekday’ on Seminary Road — Has the Seminary Road Diet produced a rush hour traffic nightmare, as some insist? Or is it just producing modest peak period delays, as data seems to show? Video posted by a local cycling advocate, shot shortly after 8 a.m. on a recent weekday, shows free-flowing traffic and no delays, though photos posted by road diet critics show backups at intersections. [Twitter, YouTube]
Students Write, Perform Play at Kennedy Center — “Two talented eighth grade students from George Washington Middle School had the experience of a lifetime when they wrote and performed in a play at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts earlier this month. Yahney-Marie Sangare and Sydney Payne were part of a team of young playwrights and actors who produced The Day Nothing Happened, a play about the desegregation of Stratford Middle School in Arlington.” [ACPS]
City Phone Service Restored — The City of Alexandria’s non-emergency phone lines are working again after service was restored Tuesday night. A cut to a fiber optic line caused the outage, a city spokeswoman said. [Twitter/@AlexandriaVAGov]
House With George Washington Connection on Airbnb — “George Washington may have slept here, and now so could you… in the heart of Old Town Alexandria in Virginia, where a house that once belonged to the first U.S. president is available to rent. The George of Old Town is a 6000-square-foot townhouse on Cameron Street, and it is available on Airbnb.” [WTOP]
Life Savers Recognized by AFD — “Recently when a colleague collapsed, his coworkers dialed 9-1-1 and performed CPR until fire department units arrived. Yesterday, AFD recognized Stefan Jaeger, Rebecca Rosario, Tammy Lafley, and Nick Canfield for their heroic acts that helped save a life.” [Twitter]
Nutcracker Returns Next Month — “Now in its 11th year, the Alexandria Community Nutcracker is continuing its own tradition of performing the famous ballet with a modern twist by including tap, jazz, gymnastics, Irish dance, and hip hop in the choreography. More than 250 dancers and musicians, from age 3 to age 18, bring the magic and eloquence of Tchaikovsky’s 1892 classic score to life on stage at West Potomac High School.” [Gazette Packet]
Bread & Water Back Open — After a devastating fire at the Belle View Shopping Center, local bakery and cafe Bread & Water has reopened. That has also allowed the company’s locations at the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria and Pentagon Row in Arlington to reopen, as the Belle View store supplied each location with fresh bread and other offerings. [Zebra]
‘Say Yes’ Star Opening Alexandria Salon — “The star of ‘Say Yes to the Dress Atlanta,’ Monte Durham, plans to open a hair salon in Old Town Alexandria, he announced this week. Durham, a resident of Alexandria, plans to call the salon ‘Monte.’ No word yet on an opening date.” [Alexandria Living]
APD Investigates Weekend Crashes — Alexandra police investigated a number of crashes over the weekend, including on the ramp to Telegraph Road from eastbound Duke Street, the intersection of North Beauregard Street and Seminary Road, the intersection of North Patrick Street and Madison Street, and the 500 block of North Columbus Street.
New Waterfront Cafe Under Construction — “Misha’s is moving forward on renovating the space for a second coffeehouse at 6 Prince St., near the waterfront, and that location is expected to have rooftop dining. A total renovation of the property is underway with the roof, floor and some walls being torn down.” [Alexandria Living]
Local Theater Staging Spooky Story — “The Little Theatre of Alexandria (LTA) is staging ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ from Oct. 19 – Nov. 9, 2019. Director Maggie Mumford said she is an absolute nerd about all things Shirley Jackson (novelist), and the novel upon which this play is based is what started that fandom.” [Gazette Packet]
Overheard on the Alexandria Police Scanner — “Scanner: APD responding to S. Pickett Street for a report of a man walking down the road, dribbling a basketball while wearing nothing but a jock strap.” [Twitter]
Nearby: Fire at Belle View Shopping Center — “More than 20 businesses were damaged overnight Sunday into Monday by a four-alarm fire at a shopping center in Fairfax County, Virginia. The fire broke out about midnight in the Belle View Shopping Center, located south of Old Town Alexandria and the Capital Beltway.” [NBC 4, WTOP]