The Rapp for Jan. 1

Movie: ‘100 Foot Journey’

Charlotte Le Bon and Manish Dayal  in “The Hundred-Foot Journey,” Jan. 2 at The Theatre at Washington.
Charlotte Le Bon and Manish Dayal in “The Hundred-Foot Journey,” Jan. 2 at The Theatre at Washington.

The Rappahannock Association for the Arts and the Community (RAAC) screens “The 100 Foot Journey” at 8 p.m. tomorrow (Friday, Jan. 2) at the Theatre at Washington. The comedy-drama stars Helen Mirren, Om Puri, Manish Dayal and Charlotte Le Bon and tells the story of a feud between neighboring restaurants. Admission is $6; there’s popcorn, candy and water for sale. For more, visit raac.org or call 800-695-6075.

Firing up the new year

A crowd of 75 attended the Town of Washington’s 2014 bonfire at Avon Hall.Ruthie Windsor-Mann
A crowd of 75 attended the Town of Washington’s 2014 bonfire at Avon Hall.

The third annual Washington Christmas tree bonfire starts at 6 next Friday (Jan. 9) on the Avon Hall grounds behind the courthouse complex, where the fire will be managed by the Washington Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department, assisted by Hunt Harris, and there will be music, hot dogs and hot chocolate for all. Drop off your trees at Avon Hall starting today (Jan. 1), or if you need a tree picked up, contact town clerk Laura Dodd at 540-675-3128 or washingtonva@earthlink.net.

Washingtonian downgrades the Inn

The Inn at Little Washington is decked out with Christmas lights.Courtesy photo
The Inn at Little Washington is decked out with Christmas lights.

The Inn at Little Washington took it on the chin this month from Washingtonian magazine, whose top-100 “Very Best Restaurants” issue has listed the 32-year-old Middle Street mainstay in the No. 1 spot for the past two years. This year’s list advanced 21 other dining establishments ahead of chef Patrick O’Connell’s place, which came in at No. 22.

The magazine’s blurb blamed The Inn’s shift to the smaller portions of a tasting-only menu, “which strips away a lot of what made the restaurant so memorable: its too-much-ness.”

Jan. 7: Washingtonianian’s Todd Kliman responds.

“All of us at The Inn at Little Washington have much to be grateful for as we enter the new year,” Inn chef and proprietor Patrick O’Connell said in a statement released Tuesday. “The Inn remains the longest-tenured Forbes Five Star and AAA Five Diamond restaurant in America. We possess the highest Zagat rating (29, 29, 29) in the world. Once again, The Inn has received The Washington Post’s highest 4-star rating from restaurant reviewer Tom Sietsema.

“Most of us understand that, in today’s world, as print media struggles for survival, creating controversy sells magazines whether it’s ethical or not.”  

A group of food-focused friends who’ve met on Christmas Eve for the past eight years for dinner at the Inn, which includes Washington Mayor John Fox Sullivan and Beverly Sullivan, New York Times food writer Marian Burros and restaurant consultant Clark Wolf, apparently signed a letter to Washingtonian’s editors and chief dining critic Todd Kliman to complain about the “unfair” review, Burros said by phone on Monday.

“There are people who don’t like the new menu, it’s true,” said Burros, a former restaurant critic with long ties to the D.C. region. “But that doesn’t make them No. 22 on the list. Is there some other reason they’re doing this? What is Washingtonian trying to say and why?” she asked, offering her own answer. “It’s ‘Look at me.’ ”

A wonderful ‘Wizard of Oz’

RAAC Theatre’s holiday production of “The Wizard of Oz” drew standing-room-only crowds to RAAC’s converted-church performance space on Gay Street for five shows — and two dress rehearsals — in the weeks before Christmas.

The cast and director of RAAC's "Wizard of Oz" production take their bows.Raymond Boc | Rappahannock News
The cast and director of RAAC’s “Wizard of Oz” production take their bows.

I’m guessing anyone who saw it left with a sizeable smile on their face. And I certainly hope anyone who helped put on this show left feeling proud and happy — and with 40 onstage, including 20 Munchkins ages 4 to 10 and another 40 people behind the scenes, that seemed like half of Rappahannock. It was another in a series of RAAC’s family-friendly, holiday-season charmers.

As always, the production swung happily from school-play delightful to off-Broadway dazzling, with enough genuine standouts to make future RAAC productions (including this spring’s planned “You Can’t Take It With You”) something to look forward to. These included the fantastic sets (by Linda Heimstra and a set crew of many others), the fabulous costumes (by Beth Plentovich, Donna Downie, Marcia Kirkpatrick, Deverell Pedersen, Susan Hornbostel and — again — a too-numerous-to-list crew of helpers and, especially, parents) and a crack stage crew, from director Howard Coon and stage manager Andy Platt to the light, sound and special-effects (yes) crews.

As Dorothy, Wynnie Thompson had such presence and voice that you’d be awed to discover her age (13!); Lakota Coon was a perfect Glinda (especially if you only think of actress Billie Burke, who played her in the iconic 1939 film, when you think of good witches). Brendan Martyn (Scarecrow) and Bob Hurley (Tin Man) truly immersed themselves in their complementary characters, as did Elise Wheelock, green-faced and boisterously despicable as the Wicked Witch.

Other memorable turns were made by Maeve Ciuba (as a sweet and attentive Toto, adorably mimicking dance steps on all fours), John Lesinski as a formidable Wizard, Mike Mahoney as his calm Kansas alter-ego Professor Marvel, and Deverell Pedersen’s brief, squall-like moment as a hilariously obsessive villager met along the Yellow Brick Road.

— Roger Piantadosi

Be a beekeeper

The Northern Piedmont Beekeepers Association (NPBA) will again host a seven-week class from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays, beginning Feb. 3, at Verdun Adventure Bound in Rixeyville, for those interested in becoming beekeepers. There’s a meet-and-greet for students 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 1, at Verdun. Texts, handouts and a one-year membership in NPBA are included in the course fee of $100 per person or family. Registration is open, class size is limited and fills quickly each year. Information and the registration form are available at npbee.org or by contacting Karen Hunt at kahu9@juno.com or 540-937-4792. NPBA is an all-volunteer, not-for-profit organization serving Fauquier, Culpeper, Rappahannock, Orange and Madison counties.

RAAC’s first film festival

The first Film Festival at Little Washington will be held April 10-12, RAAC announced last week. The festival will feature films that celebrate the talent and unique beauty of scenic Rappahannock County, and welcomes entries from professional, first-time and student filmmakers. Selected films will be shown at the Theatre at Washington, and there will be a pop-up movie hall where filmmakers can show works in progress or works for which the filmmakers are soliciting feedback.

The call for entries closes Jan. 31. Films for consideration can be features, documentaries, documentary shorts, animations, web series or episodes or music videos. Films submitted must either have been made by Rappahannock County residents or weekenders or have been filmed in Rappahannock County.

More information is online at raac.org (click on “Film Festival”); the submission fee is $25 per film. There is no fee for films screened in the pop-up venue, but they must be officially submitted by the deadline. Notification will be made by March 1. For questions, please email the entry coordinator at filmfestlittlewash@gmail.com.

Roger Piantadosi
About Roger Piantadosi 539 Articles

Former Rappahannock News editor Roger Piantadosi is a writer and works on web and video projects for Rappahannock Media and his own Synergist Media company. Before joining the News in 2009, he was a staff writer, editor and web developer at The Washington Post for almost 30 years.