- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 30, 2003

You’ll never view hats as mere head coverings again after seeing the exuberant, soulful Crowns, a gospel-driven musical play written and directed by Regina Taylor that’s currently blowing the roof off Arena Stage’s Kreeger Theatre. The show is based on “Crowns,” the book by Michael Cunningham and Craig Marberry, which combines elegant black-and-white photographs with interviews about black women and their church hats. A fired-up cast of six — uniformly exceptional — depicts the book’s many church women and the men in their lives. The chapeaux, designed by Emilio Sosa, are towering creations in taxicab yellow and bright turquoise, blazing red and quivering with feathers, dove-gray and trembling with sequins. There are polka dots, stripes, bows, and elaborate stitchery. At the end, the cast lines up on a staircase wearing a rainbow of hats so full of personality and drop-dead glamour they deserve their own round of applause. The show is a winner from every point of view. 1101 Sixth St. SW through Feb. 15. Tickets are $42 to $60. 202/488-3300.

An associated exhibit at the Anacostia Museum and Center for African American History and Culture shows off the Cunningham-Marberry book itself and 30 of its photographs. Like the play, Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats celebrates “hattitude,” the boundless passion for keeping the Sabbath both holy and glamorous. It runs through Feb. 29 at 1901 Fort Place SE. 202/287-3306.

— Jayne Blanchard

With the Nazis occupying Vienna, photographer Edmund Engelman secretly photographed famed psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud’s Viennese apartment in 1938, just days before Dr. Freud fled to London and safety. Mr. Engelman’s unique photos were later published in 1976 as the book “Bergasse 19”, named after Dr. Freud’s address in Vienna. When New York artist Robert Longo saw the book in 1998, he was inspired to create his “Freud Cycle” — and the David Adamson Gallery selected works from it for the current exhibit, “Robert Longo: The Freud Cycle, Prints and Drawings.” In the show, Washingtonians can see how the artist dramatized the original Engelman photos in Iris prints created by Mr. Adamson and subtly layered charcoal and inks on vellum for the five drawings on view. At David Adamson, 406 Seventh St. NW. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, through Jan. 31. Free. 202/628-0257.

— Joanna Shaw-Eagle

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