Suzanne Grandis photo courtesy Richmond Ballet
Here's what you do. Set down the Wii or leave the Wi-Fi zone for an experience that you don't have to boot up or download. Just sit down, wait for the lights to dim and please, remember to silence your cell phone.
The following is a list of 20 events and presentations that you should check out, but this is a mere sampling of the region's year in arts and entertainment. Check our monthly calendar, as well as RichmondMagazine.com, for more events throughout the year.
Morrissey in Concert
On March 13, the Pope of Mope himself, the former lead singer of the Smiths, is coming to The National in support of his latest album, Refusal. Morrissey is controversial, outspoken and, one must think, right for Richmond on what one hopes is a moody and mist-shrouded March evening. The National, 708 E. Broad St., 612-1900, thenationalva.com.
Mighty, Mighty Mahler
Conductor Mark Russell Smith, outgoing music director of the Richmond Symphony, will rock some churches around town with Gustav Mahler's Ninth Symphony, on May 15, 16 and 18. Don't expect a light evening's entertainment; the sarcastic and sad composer expresses depression about his declining health, family deaths, and a sense that much was wrong with his surroundings, early 20th-century Europe. May 15, Second Baptist Church, 9614 River Road; May 16, First Baptist Church, 2709 Monument Ave.; May 18, St. Michael's Catholic Church, 4491 Springfield Road. 788-1212, richmondsymphony.com.
Worlds at Our Doorstep
In 2008, 185,000 people enjoyed weather seemingly ordered up for the inaugural Richmond Folk Festival, which grew out of the itinerant National Folk Festival that resided on the riverfront for three years prior. Featured acts included Mayan sundancers, soul and blues man Howard Tate, and amazing Japanese ritual drumming. This year, Oct. 9-11, should be just as varied and exciting. We'll hope for more good weather. 788-6466, richmondfolkfestival.org.
All Singing, All Dancing
The historic and glamorous Empire Theatre will be home for Thoroughly Modern Millie, June 13-Aug. 23. This jazz-age tale of a girl from a small town arriving in the Big Apple will be a sight to behold in Richmond's oldest operating full-stage playhouse. You'll see some of the region's best musical-theater talent, all singing, all dancing. The 2002 Broadway production, based on the 1967 film, became a Tony and Drama Desk winner. 200 W. Broad St., 282-2620 or barksdalerichmond.org.
Here's a twist on a twist: Take Sir Tom Stoppard's 1967 Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, which elevates two minor but important characters from Hamlet into major roles, then, make them female. This is what the Henley Street Theatre Company is up to March 12-28. The play turns the backstage around and inverts the action, making something old new again. If you've seen Shakespeare in Love, which Stoppard also wrote, you'll welcome this work. Pine Camp Arts and Community Center, 4901 Old Brook Road, firstname.lastname@example.org, henleystreetheatre.org.
Djangology on Pointe
During March 24-29 in Studio 3 of the Richmond Ballet's downtown space, you'll experience one of the company's most popular original works, choreographer Val Caniparoli's steps set to the jazz stylings of guitarist Django Reinhardt. Studio Theatre performances on the third floor of the ballet's downtown space are for an audience of 225. 407 E. Canal St., 344-0906, richmondballet.com.
The Barber of Seville
Come on, you know the words: "Figaro, FEEGaro, FEEE-GA-RO!" Channel your inner Bugs Bunny at this bouncy, zesty, oh-so-Italian Rossini crowd pleaser, The Barber of Seville, coming to Richmond with the traveling and versatile Virginia Opera, March 27 and 29 at the Landmark Theater. Returning to Richmond in the role of Rosina is the stunning French soprano Manon Strauss Evrard, who wowed 'em in 2008 in Lucia di Lammermor. 644-8168, vaopera.org.
French Film Festival
The French Film Festival sponsored by VCU for 17 years will again feature appearances by directors and actors and North American premieres of French films on March 27-29. The festival is the largest French-speaking cinema event in this hemisphere, and you'll see many films here before they are screened anywhere else. For three days, the Byrd Theatre becomes our portal to Paris. 357-3456, frenchfilm.vcu.edu.
Reeling in Richmond
The James River Film Festival is in its 16th year, celebrating the arty, the obscure and new takes on the classics, at venues all over town. This year's guests at the April 13-19 festival will include Richmonder Ellen Spiro, who co-directed the 2007 documentary Body of War with Phil Donahue. rmicweb.org.
Save the Planet
1708 Gallery, Richmond's oldest nonprofit space for new art, commemorates its 30th anniversary during Feb. 20-28, with its annual art auction, a gala and a silent auction of 30 plastic globes transformed by artists. The invitational includes works by Peter Culley (whose light sculpture of a Jackson Ward house was the hit of this past fall's InLight event held by the gallery), Gregg Carbo, Kathryn Henry-Choisser, Matt Lively, Joe Seipel and Amie Oliver. 319 E. Broad St., 643-1708, 1708gallery.org.
Radius 250, June 26-Aug. 23, is a juried exhibit of art from within a 250-mile radius of Richmond. The arc embraces Philadelphia and Pittsburgh; Wilmington, W.Va.; central Virginia; and Charlotte and Wilmington, N.C. These are thriving centers of art that aren't New York City's white-walled Chelsea gallery district. Which is part of the point. 0 E. Fourth St. (also accessed through Plant Zero Art Center), 232-6464, artspacegallery.org.
Flying With Crow
During April 3-28, artist Don Crow will show what he's up to these days. He's worked big and abstract, small and in delicate paper collage, and with photographs made large and reinterpreted. Crow, a life-long Richmonder and 1999 Theresa Pollak Prize for Excellence in the Arts honoree, teaches at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts here and in Qatar. In the Middle East, he photographed the interiors of abandoned structures prior to demolition. Whatever he's got going on now, it'll be worth seeing. 355-6151, mainartsupply.com.
Poe's 200th Birthday
The museum dedicated to Edgar Allan Poe's life and works occupies the Old Stone House, the oldest surviving structure within the city limits, and where recent modernizations enhance the visiting experience, which is long on atmosphere and clues. During the 200th anniversary of Poe's birth, the museum will host numerous events and exhibits, including "Ratiocination: Poe The Detective," June 25-Jan. 3, 2010, and "Poe's Women," July 3-Aug. 2. 1914 E. Main St., 648-5523, poemuseum.org. For other special dates, see poe200th.com.
Pop-art star Andy Warhol, who made a practice of snapping Polaroids of his famous buddies, will occupy the University of Richmond's Joel and Lila Harnett Museum of Art from March 20 to May 22. More than 100 candid shots and 51 black-and-white prints taken by Warhol from 1970 to 1987 were given to the museum, and some of the images served as the basis for Warhol's paintings. 287-8276, museums.richmond.edu.
A History of Depression
Times are tough all over, but the Valentine Richmond History Center gives us a little historical perspective with an exhibit running from March 26 through the end of the year, "Waste Not Want Not: The Politics of the Great Depression, 1929-1940." Even though Richmond's arch-conservative mayor Fulmer Bright didn't want to take any government money, the New Deal — and some determined Richmond women — helped create the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts during the rock bottom of the Depression, as well as a few pieces of monumental Art Deco architecture, including the former Library of Virginia. 1015 E. Clay St., 649-0711, richmondhistorycenter.com.
Vietnam, in Black and White
"Soul Soldiers: African Americans and the Vietnam Era," an award-winning exhibition about the Vietnam War that originated at the Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center in 2006, comes to the Virginia Historical Society from June 6 to Aug. 30. The show features more than 160 artifacts, photographs, audio recordings and an original documentary. The exhibit examines how events that extended from the civil-rights movement framed African-American political and social perspectives. The roles of Martin Luther King Jr., Colin Powell and Jimi Hendrix are shown, as well as the 9,000 African-American women who served as nurses and clerks during the war. 355-4901, vahistorical.org.
Winkler and Matlin
Richmond will play host to Henry Winkler (known to all as The Fonz) and Oscar-winning actress Marlee Matlin at the Carole and Marcus Weinstein Jewish Community Center on March 7. Winkler, who now mainly works as a producer and writer, and Matlin, an advocate for the deaf, will participate in an evening of conversation. 5403 Monument Ave.; contact Lisa Looney, 545-8608, weinsteinjcc.org.
Going Long With Bradshaw
The Richmond Forum has presented Mikhail Gorbachev, Hal Holbrook as Mark Twain, and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and on March 21 the esteemed speakers series tackles football, with former NFL stars Howie Long and Terry Bradshaw, who are now analysts on FOX NFL Sunday. They will regale the audience with their Hall of Fame-quality tales of life on the field and in front of the camera. Single tickets go on sale three weeks before the event. Landmark Theater, 6 N. Laurel St., 330-3993, richmondforum.org.
Among the Flowers
It's Tuesday evening in the summer, the days are long and languorous, and you and the family need to spend some time together. The exquisite representation of nature's gifts of beauty awaits you at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. In June, July and August, the "Families After Five" program on Tuesdays brings you and the kids together for a time in the Children's Garden, where you can touch, smell and taste the green, growing world. If it's hot, there's Water Play, where a giant frog and cattails spray the kids. So go smell some roses. 1800 Lakeside Ave., 262-9887, lewisginter.org.
The Science Museum of Virginia hosts the Geek Festival on March 7, a day of gaming competitions (in the past, kids have competed in Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero contests) and other scientific stuff. So perhaps you don't need to step away from the Wii, as we advised earlier. 2500 W. Broad St., 864-1400, smv.org.