Daily Archives: June 30, 2006

Academy of Theatrical Arts

Dawn and I leave work early, around 4:30 p.m. We meet as usual at Federal Triangle. Dawn has crackers and cheese that she’s bought for dinner. The cheese is very stinky. I mean that in a good way.

We eat quickly when we get home, then we hop in the car. We’re off to Rockville for Celebration 50, the fiftieth anniversary recital of the Academy of Theatrical Arts, where Dawn used to take ballet class. Yahoo/MapQuest directions suggest going up the GW Parkway, to the American Legion Bridge, to get to I-270 North. We do a quick check on traffic at WashingtonPost.com and see that traffic is backed up on the Inner Loop from I-66 all the way around to Connecticut Avenue, so we decide to go up 295 to the Beltway, the Outer Loop way, instead. We have a few minutes of congestion on 295 around Greenbelt, but then it’s smooth sailing once we’re on the Beltway. We see the horrible mess on the other side and are very glad we’ve taken this route.

We end up getting to the venue, the Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center at Montgomery College, about fifty minutes before showtime. We wander around the campus for a while. It’s a remarkably ugly campus, squat charmless brick utilitarian buildings. We walk by a pond, and we notice quite a lot of raccoon shit on the grass and sidewalk. What’s the deal? Oh, wait, that’s not raccoon shit, that’s goose shit. And sure enough we turn the corner and find a flock of geese walking around. I honk at them and want to generally observe and annoy them, but Dawn pulls me away and asks me to at least try to act like an adult.

And there’s another show going on, turns out, some sort of dinner theater in the Theatre Arts Building. Damn Yankees, we find out later. We see the actor playing the Devil wandering around. But best of all is that there’s a bar set up outside the building, with a not too shabby selection of beers. I get a Sam Adams Summer Ale and Dawn gets an Amstel Light. We sit on a bench and have a lovely few minutes.

Finally close to time for the show to begin, we meander back over to the Parilla Center. In the lobby we chat with Rosemary, who used to take ballet with Dawn. We make our way to our seats, and I read Horatio while Dawn peruses the program. There will be two acts separated by a fifteen-minute intermission, with about a dozen performances in each act.

The show itself begins with an American flag projected on the large back scrim, accompanied by a recording of God Bless America. Which song I pretty much loathe, by the way, although I wish I were a bigger fan of its alter-ego, This Land is Your Land.

The rest of the show breezes by, with inspired amateur adults interspersed with perfectly adorable children. Of special note are the wonderfully-named elderly sisters, Helen and Joan Bonk, the no longer tiny now just little Gena Basha (her sister Maya now the tiny one), and the amazingly poised teenager Julissa Hernandez.

Afterwards there’s much giving of flowers to Ms. Jackson and Mr. G. amidst much hugs and tears. It’s amazing that they’ve been doing this for fifty years. How many students they’ve had! How much passion and hard work they’ve passed on to so many people. They are treasures.

Also, I do a little Googling and find Mr. Garney quoted in the Washington Post in one of its original stories about Rep. Wilbur Mills and Fanne Foxe. How utterly funny & wonderful.