Pick of the Pack
Love in Afghanistan
The media tells stories of violence and despair in Afghanistan, but a new play premiering at Arena Stage on Friday tells a story about love and family in the war-torn country. "Love in Afghanistan" follows Duke, an American hip-hop artist, and Roya, an Afghan interpreter, who fall in love in Afghanistan against all odds — including religious differences, parental disapproval and of course, the lingering war. Written by Charles Randolph-Wright, Arena Stage's resident playwright and director of "Motown: The Musical" on Broadway, the play recently won an Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Award for promising scripts. Through the run, the Arena Stage also will host post-show discussions, including a panel titled "What It's Like to Be a Woman in Afghanistan" after the Saturday, Oct. 26, matinee featuring Anita McBride, former chief of staff to first lady Laura Bush and a member of the U.S.-Afghan Women's Council. Through Nov. 17 at Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth St. SW. 202/554-9066. Web: arenastage.org.
In 1964, "Hello, Dolly!" won 10 Tony Awards including best musical, and the show has since been revived countless times for stage and film. Yet, this quintessential American musical had a long road to success. In 1835, John Oxenford wrote a one-act farcical play titled "A Day Well Spent," which was extended into a full-length play by German playwright Johann Nestroy a few years later. In 1938, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Thornton Wilder adapted it for American audiences as "The Merchant of Yonkers," a slapstick comedy about a widowed matchmaker at the turn of the 20th century named Dolly Gallagher Levi, who falls for her client, local merchant Horace Vandergelder. The play failed miserably on Broadway, but in 1955, Mr. Wilder rewrote it as "The Matchmaker," which premiered in Scotland and became an international hit, and of course, inspired the beloved musical. Through Oct. 19 at the University of Maryland's Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center on the College Park campus. 301/405-ARTS. Web: claricesmithcenter.umd.edu.
Au Revoir Simone
In 2003, Brooklynites Erika Forster and Annie Hart met through mutual friends and discovered they both had a dream to form an all-keyboard pop band. Along with fellow keyboardist Heather D'Angelo, they formed Au Revoir Simone, an electronic "dream pop" band named for a line in "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure." With the bandmates sharing keyboard and vocal duties, Au Revoir Simone developed a following in New York City and began touring with indie rock bands including We Are Scientists and Peter, Bjorn, & John. Now touring the United States behind their fourth album, "Move In Spectrums," Au Revoir Simone stops on Tuesday at the U Street Music Hall, where you can expect to hear the trio's ethereal, rhythmic tunes like "Somebody Who," "Crazy" and "Sad Song." Selebrities, another band from Brooklyn, will open the show. Tuesday at the U Street Music Hall, 1115 U St. NW. 202/588-1880. Web: ustreetmusichall.com.
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago
Chicago is home to one of the elite dance companies in the country: Hubbard Street Dance, one of the few professional dance companies to perform year-round. Since 1977, the company has been known for its innovative contemporary dance, which it has performed in 44 states and 19 countries. Following a sold-out run in 2010, Hubbard Street Dance returns to the Kennedy Center on Thursday with a new, mixed-repertory program. The highlights include "Casi-Casa," a piece by Swedish choreographer Mats Ek featuring music by Swedish electric string and percussion band Fleshquartet and 11 dancers who move from classic to contemporary styles with ease, as well as "Pacopepepluto" featuring three male dancers and Dean Martin songs. The opening-night performance will be followed by a free discussion with members of the company. Through Oct. 19 at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F St. NW. 800/444-1324. Web: kennedy-center.org.
What do you get when you mix Cirque du Soleil-style acrobatics with more than 50 trained horses? You get Cavalia's "Odysseo," a circus-style performance that combines breathtaking equestrianism and acrobatics with high-tech special effects. Founded by Normand Latourelle, one of the co-founders of the Cirque du Soleil franchise, Cavalia is dedicated to telling the story of the relationship between humans and horses since the beginning of time. Cavalia's second production "Odysseo" boasts a talented cast of 63 horses and 47 acrobats that engage in trick riding, vaulting and impressive dressage under a 125-foot tent. For a limited time, Cavalia is offering a "shutdown rebate" with 50 percent off tickets — as well as a splurge-worthy VIP package that includes a pre-show dinner and open bar as well as a tour of the stable following the performance. Through Oct. 27 at the Plateau at the National Harbor, 201 Harborview Ave., Fort Washington. 866/999-8111. Web: cavalia.net.