By Kendra Hendren
Special to the Rappahannock News
One should never, ever yell “fire!” in a theater; however, in some cases it may be okay to yell, “Fire in the Glen!” But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The Theatre at Washington is beginning its 2015 fall season, and there is a lot to be excited about.
It all starts the weekend of Saturday, Sept. 19, with two performances of William Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” by the Cambridge American Stage Tour (CAST). Saturday’s show is at 8 p.m., and there will be a matinee on Sunday, at 3 p.m.
CAST, established under the patronage of Dame Judi Dench and now in its 16th year, has been performing to packed houses and critical acclaim. Cambridge’s most talented actors, directors, designers and technicians travel across the Atlantic to bring a Shakespeare play to colleges, high schools and professional theaters.
The following week, on Saturday, Sept. 26, at 8 p.m., the Theatre welcomes back the popular Scottish folk band North Sea Gas (NSG), on tour promoting the September release of their new album, “Fire in the Glen.” (That’s your cue . . . go ahead . . . yell: “Fire in the Glen!”)
NSG members Dave Gilfillan, Ronnie MacDonald and Grant Simpson will play traditional folk music on guitar, banjo, mandola, bodhran, bouzouki and fiddle. Celtic Radio, here in the United States, describes the band as “unpretentious and spontaneous, with a fondness for storytelling and beautiful harmonies.” It will be good to hear their genuine, good-humored Scottish banter in the Theatre once again.
Which leads us to Mark Russell, legendary orator of political humor since the ’60s. His performances at the Theatre are so well-liked that, by performance night, there’s a waiting list for seats. Many will recall Mark’s popular television shows on PBS and “his talent for transforming the day’s headlines into stand-up comedy while accompanying himself on the piano,” according to his website. “He finds the humor hidden in the pomposity of public life and takes the audience along for the ride, laughing all the way.”
The Theatre will be featuring two new acts this season. The first is Swinging Jazz, with Stephanie Nakasian and the Hod O’Brien Trio, on Saturday, Oct. 17, at 8 p.m. Stephanie’s most recent album, “Billie Remembered,” was featured on NPR’s “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross. She’ll perform in duo with her partner, internationally acclaimed jazz pianist Hod O’Brien, whom Don Heckman, of the Los Angeles Times, calls a “masterful bop-based improviser . . . his lines unfolding with an impressive blend of precision and propulsive swing.”
The second new offering this season is Nashville singers and songwriters Will Hopkins, Danika Portz and Scott Mulvahill on Saturday, Nov. 21, at 8 p.m. Will, a well-known songwriter and Rappahannock resident, has numerous awards to his credit, including being recognized by “American Idol” for his song, “When You Come From Nothing,” which placed him among the 20 finalists in the show’s songwriting competition.
The Theatre also welcomes back the Smithsonian at Little Washington Concert Series on Sunday, Nov. 1, at 3 p.m. Kenneth Slowik, director of the Smithsonian Chamber Music Society, will be joined that day by three members of the National Symphony Orchestra — Ricardo Cyncynates (violin), Steven Honigberg (cello) and Paul Cigan (clarinet) — in a program consisting of Johannes Brahms’ autumnal “Clarinet Trio in A Minor, Op. 114,” and Dmitri Shostakovish’s “Piano Trio #2 in E Minor, Op. 67.”
The Theatre will wrap up the season in December with two returning ensembles that are bona fide crowd pleasers. The Frank Vignola Trio, with jazz guitarists Frank Vignola and Vinny Raniolo, will be performing on Saturday, Dec. 5, at 8 p.m. and will be joined by notable stand-up bass player Gary Mazzaroppi. Frank has played with many of the world’s top musicians, including Ringo Starr, Madonna, Wynton Marsalis and Tommy Emmanuel.
On Saturday, Dec. 19, at 8 p.m., the Dark Hollow Bluegrass Band will lead a holiday celebration. Always lively and fun, this much-loved local group, led by banjo player and vocalist Paul Fincham, will put a warm, wonderful, down-home finish to the Theatre’s 2015 fall season. For tickets or more information, call 540-675-1253 or go online to theatre-washington-va.com.
Now, once more for good measure, “Fire in the Glen!”