- - Thursday, January 24, 2013

Pick of the Pack

Theater

Our Town

It’s easy to let the minutiae of everyday life get the best of us. As Thornton Wilder’s play “Our Town” reminded us, however, it’s important to stop and see the beauty in the minutiae before it’s too late. In this era in which we dine with our iPhones on the dinner table — or, at least, in front of the television, tuned to the ever more depressing newscasts that drown out our real conversations — Wilder’s drama is an important reminder to savor life. Opening Friday at Ford’s Theatre, the 75th anniversary production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play is a modern version of the timeless tale of life in America. Following George and Emily, two ordinary Americans who meet as teenagers, fall in love, get married, and deal with life’s joys and traumas, the play is sure to resonate as deeply as it did when it was first performed in 1938. Wilder fans also won’t want to miss the free 75th anniversary celebration Feb. 4, featuring a film about the play’s impact, readings of the playwright’s works and letters, and the presentation of the Thornton Wilder Society’s annual Thornton Wilder Prize to writers and playwrights in the spirit of the prize’s namesake.

Through Feb. 24 at Ford’s Theatre, 511 Tenth St. NW. 202/347-4833. Web: fords.org.

Concert

Ladysmith Black Mambazo

For five decades, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the male a cappella choral group from South Africa, has been serenading the world with a unique sound combining traditional Zulu vocals and miner songs with soulful gospel influences. Founded in 1960 by Joseph Shabalala, a young farmer-turned-factory-worker in Durban with a gift for music, the group recorded its first album in 1972 and gained international fame after collaborating with Paul Simon on his 1986 album “Graceland.” In 50 years, Ladysmith Black Mambazo has recorded as many as 50 albums and won three Grammy Awards, along with countless other awards and nominations worldwide. On Friday, the group will perform selections from its vast discography, including its most recent album, “Songs From a Zulu Farm,” which mixes folk songs from their childhoods in South Africa with modern lyrics.

Friday at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, Bethesda. 301/581-5100. Web: strathmore.org.

Dining

Saturday Night Sips

Washington has no doubt become a foodie town, with gourmet bites and craft cocktails to be found in nearly every neighborhood. This weekend, the foodie community will dine out to help Washington’s most needy. Chef Jose Andres will join Washington-based cookbook author Joan Nathan and the organic- and local-food pioneer Alice Waters to host the fifth-annual Sips & Suppers, benefiting DC Central Kitchen and Martha’s Table, which serve thousands of meals daily to those who need them. On Saturday evening, head to the Newseum for Sips, which will surely raise the bar for future food community cocktail receptions. While enjoying live jazz, sample sips from the mixologists of Hank’s Oyster Bar, Room 11, The Federalist and others, as well as bites from dozens of leading local chefs and artisans. On Sunday evening, you can make a reservation to get personal with the hosts and renowned chefs from Washington, New York and San Francisco during intimate dinners at 29 area homes.

Saturday at the Newseum, 555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Web: sipsandsuppers.org.

Theater

Cabaret

You may not have seen the classic musical “Cabaret,” but you’ve surely heard Liza Minnelli’s version of the title song. The show, whose 1993 Broadway revival starring Natasha Richardson won four Tony Awards, including best revival of a musical, takes place in the seedy nightlife scene of 1931 Berlin, when Adolf Hitler was beginning his rise to power. The story centers on Sally Bowles, a 19-year-old cabaret performer at the Kit Kat Klub, and life in rapidly changing Germany. On Saturday, come to the cabaret and see the Keegan Theatre perform this exciting show featuring the title song as well as other familiar tunes like “Don’t Tell Mama” and “Maybe This Time.” The company, which has been performing at Dupont Circle’s Church Street Theater since 1996, has received two Helen Hayes Awards and brings classic American theater on tour to Ireland every year.

Through Feb. 23 at the Keegan Theatre, 1742 Church St. NW. 703/892-0202. Web: keegantheatre.com.

Dance

Shen Yun 2013: Reviving 5,000 Years of Civilization

In 2006, a group of Chinese performers founded Shen Yun, a company devoted to reviving through music and dance an ancient Chinese culture they believe the Chinese Communist Party had destroyed. These performers had a little problem, however. They practiced Falun Gong, an ancient Chinese spiritual tradition based on Buddhist and Taoist teachings emphasizing morality, meditation and exercise. The Falun Gong movement rose to prominence in the 1990s, with tens of millions of followers by 1999, according to some estimates. Of course, the Chinese government began to worry that the movement could threaten its rule, and thus began persecuting its followers. Today, Shen Yun, which means “the beauty of diving begins dancing,” is headquartered in New York and boasts more than 200 performers in three companies that tour the world. On Tuesday, Shen Yun will come to the Kennedy Center to perform a new show for 2013, which tells the stories of ancient Chinese legends and, of course, Falun Gong in a performance that is by all accounts breathtaking.

Through Feb. 3 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F St. NW. 800/444-1324. Web: kennedy-center.org.

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