A line of Cole Porter’s intoxicating lyrics from his production, “De-Lovely,” have been appropriated by Falls Church’s Creative Cauldron for the title of the first show of its new season which opens this Friday night, “Cole Porter: You’re the Top!”
“You’re the top!” says the song: ‘You’re the top, you’re the Coliseum; You’re the top, you’re the Louvre Museum!”
Well, the ArtSpace Falls Church, where the Cauldron holds forth, is no Coliseum, capable of holding no more than 86 people in its theater space at a time. It is also no Louvre Museum, although very nice local art hangs in its lobby curated by the Falls Church Arts organization.
But it’s the top, nonetheless, Falls Church’s great entertainment and arts opportunity for the whole community, and the wider region, in its 12th year under the tireless leadership of Laura Hull, and in its fourth season at the new ArtSpace on S. Maple Ave.
The season kicks off Friday with the opening of the Cole Porter review, a mix of insightful narrative on Porter’s colorful life and a rich helping of some of his most enchanting songs, ones like “I Love Paris,” “Take Me Back to Manhattan,” “Love for Sale,” “Night and Day” and “I Get a Kick Out of You.”
Three foremost talents of the region – all with Helen Hayes Award credentials – have combined for the show, including vocalists Carolyn Cole, who won the Hayes award last year as best lead actress in a musical for “Hairspray,” and Sean Thompson, star of the Hayes-recommended “Nevermore,” produced by the Cauldron. Hayes winner Steven Gregory Smith is involved as co-director with Hull.
The Cole Porter show runs through Oct. 28, with 8 p.m. shows on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. shows on Sundays. A season-opening gala accompanies highlights this opening weekend on Saturday night.
Like an evening in a 1930s nightclub, many may decide to become “regulars,” and show up more than once. The Falls Church Chamber of Commerce was treated to a sampling of that when it held a social mixer at the ArtSpace last week.
The Creative Cauldron season follows the Cole Porter review with an original adaptation on Nov. 2-18 of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, gaining an inspiration from the graphic novels of the 21st century and featuring original songs by “Nevermore” composer Matt Conner. It comes as part of the Cauldron’s Learning Theater program that provides opportunities for student actors to perform with professionals.
From Dec. 7-23, once again Cauldron does the holiday classic, “Christmas Cabin of Carnaween.” The delightful Irish folktale has become the Cauldron’s signature production for the holidays, set in the days of the Irish potato famine. The production is again co-sponsored by Falls Church’s Ireland’s Four Provinces restaurant, where there is never a shortage of potato leek soup.
Next January and February, the Cauldron extends its annual “Passport to the World” series, featuring performances by professional music, dance and theater troupes representing countries, cultures and traditions from around the globe, and featuring free workshops, demonstrations, food and wine tastings and family-friendly Story Theater presentations.
In March, the stage is cleared for another Learning Theater production, this time of “Peter Pan and Wendy,” an adaptation of the J. M. Barrier novel using original life-sized puppets designed by Margie Jervis, a veteran of 20 years of scenic design with the Seattle Opera now living in the Lake Barcroft area.
Finally, the Cauldron’s banner season concludes with “Thunder Knocking at the Door,” a blues musical by Keith Glover with music and lyrics by three-time Grammy Award winner Keb ‘Mo’ and Anderson Edwards. Since premiering at Washington, D.C.’s Arena Stage in 1999, “Thunder” has played to sold out houses all over the U.S.
Throughout the season, the Cauldron will be running a live music and cabaret series, classes and workshops, followed by Arts Adventure Camps in the spring and summer.
Altogether, there will be over 200 performances in the coming year, in keeping with the pace that was set when the ArtSpace first became available. Over 10,000 people a year darken the doors of the space for a wide variety of events that include the visual as well as performing arts. The Falls Church Arts are resident artistic partners at the space, even as Cauldron is the lease holder and operates, manages and programs the space.
It is also rented out for special events, such as wedding receptions and holiday parties.
The City of Falls Church contributed $100,000 for the original build out of the ArtSpace and grants from its Economic Development Authority have ranged from $6,000 to $3,500 in recent years. There have been come modest matching granrs from the Virginia Commission for the Arts, but most of the contributions have come from individuals and corporations.
Still, more than 70 percent of Cauldron income has been from ticket sales and class program enrollment fees.