Each Tuesday afternoon, Janet Kopenhaver airs a new “Embracing Arlington Arts Talks” podcast. Each show features an Arts organization representative, visual artist, arts expert, dancer, musician, actor and everyone in between to talk about their profession, productions, events, economic and health benefits of the arts, and many other topics. We also have, and will continue to feature several dignitaries on the show, including northern Virginia’s “First Lady” Megan Beyer, former NEA Chair Jane Chu, and Arlington County Board Members Katie Cristol, Christian Dorsey, and Matt de Ferranti.
AND check out our Theater/Arts Education Series.
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Jorge Acevedo, Signature Theatre
Continuing our goal of interviewing "behind the scenes" theatrical professionals, we welcomed back to the show Jorge Acevedo who is the Casting Director at Signature Theatre. Find out exactly ehat a casting director does and how they go about finding the right actors for each role. Also learn the audition process followed at Signature, how Jorge strives to bring diversity and "outside the box" thinking to casting actors, how far in advance actors in DC are called up for auditions and how does he keep track of everyone's talents and gifts? Also get all the details about the current hit at Signature "Ragtime" and the upcoming world premiere of "Private Jones." And at the end hear Jorge's words of wisdom to all administrative theater professionals starting out in their careersw
Maria Rizzo, Actor
The very talented actor Maria Rizzo appeared as a guest on the "Embracing Arlington Arts Talks" podcast to talk about her career, how she got into the theater industry, some of her previous "vampy" roles and her character in the current production of "Ragtime" being presented by Signature Theatre. Also learn what roles are on her bucket list, how she felt going onstage for the first time after the shutdown and her unique next "role." And for those romantics out there, listen in to the story about how her husband proposed.
Matthew Powell, Ballet Nova
The Artistic Director of Ballet Nova Dance Company Matthew Powell returned to the show to give us all the details about how they are celebrating their 20th anniversary of presenting "The Nutcracker" including a return to tradition and incorporating what it has meant to the company's families. Also find out about their spring ballet production (and how it will be announced) and an exciting "Roaring 20's" themed gala complete with a "speakeasy" in their black box theater. And learn one interesting fact about how boy and girl ballet dancers are treated differently with respect to their "toes."
Rachel Hynes, Playwright/Actor
Actor and Playwright Rachel Hynes joined us back on the show to talk about her adventure and experiences transitioning from the DC theater scene to a small town in the Carolinas. From vast changes in commute times, community engagement with theaters and a sense of welcome about the arts in a smaller town vis-a-vis a big city were some of her observances. She also recounted for our listeners how as a playwright she devised a show about her many "scars" and a traumatic experience she had and how writing helped her heal. And get all the details about the shows she is writing now including a twist on the Ichabod Crane story.i
Delna Dastur, Visual Artist
Visual Artist Delna Dastur appeared on the "Embracing Arlington Arts Talks" podcast to talk about her upcoming exhibition at the Fred Schnider Gallery of Art. Also find out her favorite medium to work with, her genre of artwork, and some unique materials she uses including some from her native India. Also learn about her creative process and how she started teaching at the Art League (Torpedo Factory) and the Smithsonian and how climate change impact every piece of art she creates.
Sara Duke, Encore Stage and Studio
Our 300th episode!!!! The Executive Director of Encore Stage and Studio Sara Duke returned to the show to give us all the details about their exciting upcoming season whose theme is "belonging" based on what her students were telling her about coming back to the theater. The season includes a new "Flip the Script" project - a big hit in the past. Also learn about what she and Encore staff learned during COVID and how the theater industry changed. And why does she prefer youth theater over youth sports?
Stevie Zimmerman, Director
Director Stevie Zimmerman appeared on the "Embracing Arlington Arts Talks" podcast to talk about her craft as a director, how she ended up in the theater industry, and her thoughts on what needs to be considered when theaters choose their seasons. Also hear about her creative process for both a play that has been presented before and for premieres, as well as her collaborative approach to directing. Very insightful chat!
Groovy Nate, Child Entertainer
Child Entertainer "Groovy Nate" is a gift to children! Listen to his journey to becoming "Groovy Nate" to why he focused his music on entertaining and educating children to the types of events he presents to one of his tricks to keeping even the youngest children engaged and alert. Also find out about his Grammy nomination (and how it almost didn't happen) to how he believes music positively impacts not only the children who sees his performances but also him as an educator. And what's next for Groovy Nate - a new book, a new album, many more events and a lot more!
Victor Salinas, Playwright/Actor
Playwright and Actor Victor Salinas joined us on the "Embracing Arlington Arts Talks" podcast to talk about his new original play about 2 immigrant sisters - one documented and the other not - and their different perceptions of the United States that is being presented by the Mexican Cultural Institute. Also learn about his role in the upcoming Gala Hispanic Theatre's production of "Bathing in Moonlight," as well as how he got his start in the theater industry at the age of 6 in Mexico City. And his words of wisdom to those starting out about making things happen for yourself!
Kurt Boehm, Adventure Theatre
The newly named Artistic Director of Adventure Theatre Kurt Boehm returned to the show to give us all the details about their busy and fun upcoming season which offers many shows for young audiences. Also hear about the theater's mission, the associated Musical Theater Center (Academy), his goals for the organization, and where he wants to see the theater in 3-5 years and how he ended up in the theater industry.
Stephanie Lane and Joseph Cortina, Visual Artists
Visual Artists Stephanie Lane and Joe Cortina joined us on the podcast to talk about their upcoming duo exhibition at the Fred Schnider Gallery of Art which will include unique paintings and even some immersive projections (think floating figures and ghostlike apparitions). Also find out the preferred genres and paint mediums they both prefer, Stephanie's unique painting process, Joe's company "Cortina Productions" which creates immersive experiences in museums and how COVID impacted their work.
Leo Sushansky, National Chamber Ensemble
The Artistic Director of the National Chamber Ensemble Leo Sushansky gave us all the details about the upcoming season which focuses on diversity and presenting the works of lesser-known composers of color. Find out who and what will be featured for all five concerts, information about their annual Young Artists Competition, and some of other concerts he has planned for the coming months.
Lolita Marie, Actor
Actor Lolita Marie appeared on the "Embracing Arlington Arts Talks" podcast to chat with us about how she got into the theater business, a very unique 2nd role she had when starting out and her tricks in preparing for a new role. Also get all the details about the upcoming production of "Sweat," her character some of her fellow actors and one special actor in particular. And what's her next gig?
Pakan Penn, Visual Artist
Visual Artist Pakan Penn enlightened us with a discussion about his unique painting style - using a palette knife instead of a brush - which results in a textured "3D" effect because of the many paint layers. Also hear about his upbringing in Cambodia and how these memories influence his work, the great honor he had of having a painting hung in the White House during the 8 years of the Obama Administration and his response to the age-old question "how do you know when a painting is done."
Matthew Randall and Craig Houk, Dominion Stage
Director Matthew Randall and Playwright Craig Houk came on the podcast to give us all the details about the upcoming Dominion Stage production of the world premiere of "Brute Farce" - a British farce and play within a play that includes a kidnapping, a potential murder, an unlikable theater critic, along with many twists and turns along the way. Also find out why Dominion chose to present this play, its route through the organization's original play-writing contest and how playwrights can submit original works in the future. And what unique reaction does Craig want from audience members after seeing the show and his idea for a unique sponsor!
Reginald Douglas, Mosaic Theater Company
The Artistic Director of Mosaic Theater Company Reg Douglas returned to the podcast to give us all the details about their exciting upcoming season. From four main stage productions, three world premieres (two which received support from the theater's new play development incubator program) and Lincoln, Nancy Reagan, Pocahontas, a hip-hop musical and a time-shifting play, there is something for everyone. Also learn about their innovative "H Street Oral History Project Festival" and a unique project being spearheaded by Paige Hernandez. The season reflects Mosaic's values of diversity and belief in new works.
Academy Award Nominee Playwright Jose Rivera
The Academy-award nominated Playwright Jose Rivera appeared on the "Embracing Arlington Arts Talks" podcast to talk about the premiere of his new play "Your Name Means Dream" at the Contemporary American Theater Festival (CATF). Hear details about the show (that focuses on growing older and AI), the phenomenal two actors appearing in the production, and what he really thinks of AI. Also Jose regales us with interesting stories about his Oscar nomination and attending the awards ceremony, including the very famous singer his son was flirting with (and she flirting back) on the red carpet. And get the scoop on some upcoming work and which playwrights influenced him the most.
Kurt Boehm, Director, "Seussical"
The Director of the Keegan Theatre's production of "Seussical" Kurt Boehm joined us to chat about the show. Find out how he became involved with Keegan, what the show is about, some teasers about what folks will see on stage, some of the Seuss characters we will see, and who is in the cast. Also hear his thoughts about tickets sales and subscription trends and the many shows he and his wife Maria Rizzo have been in together.
Lynn Rosen, Playwright
New York Playwright Lynn Rosen joined us on the "Embracing Arlington Arts Talks" podcast to talk about her new play "The Overview Effect" premiering at the Contemporary American Theater Festival (CATF) that focuses on the space race. Find out how she came up with the idea for the story, hear teasers about some twists in the show and what she would like patrons to feel and say after seeing the show. Also learn about her process for writing plays and what is next on her writing agenda.
Peggy McKowen, Contemporary American Theater Festival (CATF)
The Contemporary American Theater Festival (CATF) Artitic Director Peggy McKowen appeared on the Embracing Arlington Arts Talks podcast to talk about the five shows being presented this summer. From a race to space to Artificial Intelligence to a self journey to find the meaning of life to a murderer meeting the sister of his victim to a gun, this year will please everyone's taste. Also learn about other events happening in addition to the theatrical productions to the many wonderful restaurants and attractions in and around Shepherdstown. Get your tickets today.
Zavier Taylor, Media Projections Manager
Media Projections Manager Zavier Taylor joined our roster of guests talking about unique behind the scenes job and careers in the theater industry. Find out what a media projections designer does for productions, how he approaches each job from premieres to plays that have been seen numerous times, how the projections industry has evolved over the last 10 years and the huge impact COVID had on this component of theatrical productions. Also get information on the design services his company ZALT provides, his exciting project at the Apollo Theater and how exactly one makes a ghost appear on stage.
VERONNEAU "Talk" Busy Concert Schedule
VERONNEAU principals Lynn Veronneau and Ken Avis came back on the show to catch us up on the many, many gigs they have coming up. From being one of the first Artist in Residence at Blues Alley to the free outdoor Lubber Run concert on June 17th to the release of their new CD "Live from Blues Alley" to a June 30 tribute to Burt Bacharach, they are gong non-stop. Also hear about their concert "Blue Tapestry" performing songs from Joni Mitchell's "Blue" and Carole King's "Tapestry" albums and why these were so important to the music industry at that time. Ken also has a new "Walking Tours of the DC Music History" initiative and he tells us the real story behind the song "Afternoon Delight."
Michelle Kozlak "Talks" Theater for Very Young Audiences
Michelle Kozlak, the Founder and Producing Artistic Director of Arts on the Horizon talked about the unique production of theater for very young audiences. Learn the impetus behind her founding of the theater, how do the actors keep 0-6 year-old children enthralled, and the upcoming show "Arco Iris" written by Elena Velasco. Also get the details about their Emerging Artist Program for theater personnel to get experience in theater for young audiences, as well as their summer camps and a sneak peek into next year's season.
Performing Arts, Arts Dignitaries
Justin Weaks, Actor
Right on the heels of receiving his “Outstanding Lead Performer” Helen Hayes Award for “There’s Always the Hudson” performed at Woolly Mammoth Theatre, the extraordinary actor Justin Weaks appeared on the “Embracing Arlington Arts Talks” podcast. We talked about how he ended up in the theater industry, what types of roles he gravitates towards, and what is on his bucket list. Also get all the details about his upcoming role(s) in Mosaic Theater’s production of “One in Two” and how the audience has a direct role in the evening! Congrats to Justin on a wonderful career so far and Helen Hayes win!
Casey Kaleba, Fight Director
Fight Director Casey Kaleba came on the “Embracing Arlington Arts Talks” podcast to talk about his unique craft within the theater industry. From his very interesting story about he ended up as a fight director to what show he has worked on over 50 times to his process of developing the fight choreogrpaphy for a show, listeners will develop a new understanding of this important behind-the-scenes role. Also learn about some of his more interesting projects as well as his most challenging first direction scene. And what exactly happened to his staging of the “best sword fight ever” that torpedoed it?
Manny Arciniega, Music Director
Music Director and Percussionist Manny Arciniega appeared as a guest on the “Embracing Arlington Arts Talks” podcast to talk about his work as a percussionist in the DMV theater and music world. Learn about his circuitous route to the percussion genre, how his mother seriously impacted his life, some of his more memorable music experiences in the theater and learn about several very unique “instruments” he uses. Also hear how his Helen Hayes nomination for Music Director impacted him, as well as get details about his important movement workshops for those suffering from dementia.
Elena Velasco, NextStop Theatre
Elena Velasco is directing the upcoming production of “In the Heights” being presented by NextStop Theatre. Find out her views on how the show embraces cultural pride and what home means. Also get a teaser about how the audience will be on the “street,” and how she directs a show that has been presented a lot. Wearing her choreographer hat, Elena tells us about how movement and choreography have changed due to the pandemic and the role of yoga in her practice. Finally, we learn what’s next for Elena?
Alex Levy, 1st Stage
The Artistic Director of 1st Stage Alex Levy returned to the “Embracing Arlington Arts Talks” podcast to give us all the details about the upcoming regional premiere production of “Mojada” – a modern day adaptation of Medea centered on an immigrant family trying to assimilate. Also hear about the final show of the season – “The Last Match” – which gets into the heads of two tennis players, as well as the exciting Logan Festival of solo shows being presented in July. And why does Alex love sports so much and what are his patrons saying about being back in the theater?
Shanara Gabrielle and Christopher Michael Richardson, Theatre Washington
Shanara Gabrielle, new member of the Theatre Washington Board, and Christopher Michael Richardson, Actor and Theatre Washington Creative Team member talked to us about the upcoming Helen Hayes Awards ceremony being held on May 22, 2023 after a three-year hiatus of an in-person gathering. Hear about the new evening format for the show that really honors the nominees and allow the theater community members to get together and spend more quality time with each other. Also learn about the hosts for the evening, some of the performers and sponsorship opportunities. And what is Theater Week?
Dani Guy and Cam Shegogue, Dominion Stage
Dominion Stage’s Director Dani Guy and Actor Cam Shegogue appeared on the “Embracing Arlington Arts Talks” podcast to give us the details about the upcoming production of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.” Hear how Cam got started in the theater industry at a very early age to why this show is so important to him. Dani teases us with some hints about the set and what shows are on her bucket list to direct. Also get the scoop on Dominion’s upcoming season.
Matthew Powell, Ballet Nova
The Artistic Director of Ballet Nova Matthew Powell returned to the show to talk about their upcoming production of the hilarious farce and first comedic ballet ever created “Coppelia” whose main character just happens to be a mechanical doll. Being performed at the beautiful Capital One theater this will be a treat for all ages. In conjunction with the main stage production, condensed “petite performances” will be offered for younger audiences who will participate by helping bring Coppelia to life. Also hear about Matthew’s exciting announcement about his own professional achievement recently.
John Good, Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts (WALA)
The Executive Director of Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts (WALA) John Good appeared on the “Embracing Arlington Arts Talks” podcast to talk about the wonderful pro bono services they provide for professionals and organizations in the “creatives” industry. From Education/Workshops on such topics as Intellectual Property, Business Licenses and Contract Provisions to Walk-In Clinics to Referral Services to specific lawyers who can help with the case to advocacy, WALA is providing a multitude of critical expertise and advice to those in the arts industry. We also learned about the founders of the organization and the impetus behind it formation.
Ron Newmyer, Musician/Producer/Concert Organizer
Musician, Producer and Concert organizer Ron Newmyer is a big proponent of promoting local musicians. Under the auspices of Bandhouse Gigs, which celebrates its 20th Anniversary in 2024, Ron and others organize two tribute concerts a year that promote area musicians by putting on multi-artist events honoring an artist we all love. From Nils Lofgren to Bob Dylan to Woodstock, to this year’s concerts focused on Fountains of Wayne and Tom Petty. Ron also founded Newmyer Flyer which on a smaller scale hosts local performers doing different types of tributes which will include the Beatles, LA artists/musicians and the songs of Burt Bacharach. And how interesting to hear about his start playing with Nils Lofgren and touring all over the world with him.
Raymond Caldwell, Theater Alliance
The Producing Artistic Director of Theater Alliance Raymond Caldwell returned to the “Embracing Arlington Arts Talks” podcast to talk about Theater Alliance’s production of “This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing,” as well as the rest of the reason and a very cool theatrical project they did in India. Raymond also gave us details about his directing of “Passing Strange” at Signature Theatre – an edgy, punk rock musical. Finally, he will be directing “One in Two” at Mosaic Theater Company. Also learn what two unexpected productions are on his director bucket list.
Stefan Sittig, Fight Director, Choreographer, Teacher and More
Choreographer, Fight Director, Teacher, Director, Former Actor and more – are all hats worn by Stefan Sittig. Hear his career journey in our podcast interview and about his international upbringing that influences his work today and the professor that was integral to steering Stefan’s career. Also get details about two upcoming productions he is working on – “Urinetown” at the Lorton Workhouse and “In the Heights at NextStop Theatre. Then learn about choreography and fight direction and his four “S’s” as basics, as well as the two shows he really wants to direct and choreograph.
Francie Hester, Visual Artist
Visual Artist Francie Hester appeared on the “Embracing Arlington Arts Talks” podcast to tell our listeners about her unique art genre and work with aluminum honeycomb panels, steel, fiberglass and plexiglass. Also hear about her phenomenal project entitled “Art in Healing” that helps families cope when confronted with a cancer diagnosis. Then get all the details about her upcoming exhibition – “Confluence” – at the Fred Schnider Gallery of Art.
Ethan Heard, Signature Theatre
The new Associate Artistic Director at Signature Theatre Ethan Heard joined us to talk about his career, how he got started in theater at a very young age, his opera company, what is on his bucket list for directing, and why theater is so important. Also Ethan gives us all the details about the upcoming production of Sondheim’s “Pacific Overtures” that he is directing – an “East meets West told from the viewpoint of the Japanese and the irony of Japan’s rise in the economic world after the events depicted in this play.
Ben Cunis, Synetic Theater
Ben Cunis, the new Managing Director at Synetic Theater joined us on the “Embracing Arlington Arts Talks” podcast to talk about his goals for the theater as Managing Director, how he ended up going full circle and returning to Synetic after a six year absence, and imparted his thoughts about how theater is so unique vis-a-vis film and why being in person at shows is so important. Also, get all the details about their upcoming production of “Beauty and the Beast,” including the unique set design and a very cool staging twist to the production.
AJ Campbell and Ward Kay, NOVA Nightsky Theater
Director AJ Campbell and Playwright Ward Kay talk about NOVA Nightsky Theater’s premiere “Mr. Taken” – a farce and comedy about three couples in different stages of their relationship. Also find out about the unique staging technique that will surprise audience members throughout the production. And how did Ward get into the playwright industry and AJ offers insight into what we can expect from new works over the next 2 years in a post-COVID world.
Kelsey Rohr, Jane Franklin Dance Company
The Assistant Artistic Director at Jane Franklin Dance Company Kelsey Rohr appeared on the “Embracing Arlington Arts Talks” podcast to talk about her background, how dancing helps her students, and gave us insight into the dance technique called “gaga” which allows one to experience dance in a very unique way. Also hear about an upcoming collaborative event the company is doing as the Mason Exhibitions Arlington gallery along with an exhibit by Bennie Herron, new guest choreographers with whom they are working, and their participation at the Intersections Festival being held at Atlas Theater.
Pryalal Karmakar, Prio Bangla
The Executive Director of Prio Bangla Pryalal Karmakar enlightens us with the very interesting history and importance of the International Mother Language Day Holiday in Bangladesh and how it has evolved into a celebration of all languages in the world. Also learn about the “Replica” public art piece that celebrates this holiday and can be seen in numerous cities worldwide. Then mark your calendars for the Prio Bangla event for the holiday, including performances that will be seen, and the multicultural festival in the fall which will again feature the mural art project.
Bill Largess and Alan Wade, Washington Stage Guild
The Washington Stage Guild Artistic Director and Actor Bill Largess, and Director Alan Wade joined us to chat about their upcoming production of Samuel Beckett’s “Endgame.” Learn what the show is about, or more precisely how hard it is to tell what the play is about, the unique physical characteristics of each character and some interesting stories about the playwright. Also hear about how both of them got into the theater business and background on the Washington Stage Guild.
Maggie Wilder, District Theatre
Maggie Wilder came on the “Embracing Arlington Arts Talks” podcast to tell us all about the exciting new venture she is co-producing with her husband Doug Wilder – District Theatre – which aims to “put butts in seats” and create a following for local artists and theaters through a soon-to-be-launched monthly television and video clips and interviews highlighting theaters, actors and theater crews to be widely shared on social media. And it is all FREE for theaters! Also find out her very unique (and quite amusing) journey to end up in the theater industry.
Donald Vierimaa, Producer, “The Twenties: Remembering Bix Beiderbecke”
Donald Vierimaa, Producer of the original play written by his brother Jay Alexander entitled “The Twenties: Remembering Bix Beiderbecke” came on the Embracing Arlington Arts Talks podcast to discuss the show. Find out why they chose to highlight Bix, details about the fun facts about the 1920’s that are included, what is unique about jazz scores, details about the original music composed by Jay, and how the 1920’s clearly mirror the 2020’s. Also learn about their journey to bringing this show to the stage
Matthew Randall and Heather Plank, Dominion Stage
Director Matthew Randall and Actor Heather Plank joined us to talk about Dominion Stage’s upcoming production of “Boston Marriage” written by David Mamet and set in Victorian times. The play, about two women having a snarky conversation, includes lots of surprises, twists and cliffhangers during its two acts. Also learn how Heather uniquely prepares for all her roles, including her portrayal of Claire in this production and how Matthew is using a special directing technique throughout the production.