A Few Good Women

There have been so many strong women in the spotlight lately. There’s Sheryl Sandberg, the spectacular COO of Facebook whose buzzy book “Lean In” has me thinking hard about how I can excel even more in my own career–and has me rethinking the idea that women can’t do it all, because she certainly seems to with great success. Then, there’s Claire Underwood, the tough-as-nails but impeccably dressed half of the “House of Cards” power couple. Alright, she’s fictional, but I think she’s a good role model for intelligence and grace (and magnificent style) under pressure, at least as far as I’ve seen in the addictive Netflix series.

Sheryl Sandberg (courtesy of “Vogue”) and Claire Underwood

I’ve gone so far as to say “What Would Claire Underwood Do?” whenever I have to make a decision, whether at work or shopping,  but that’s for another post.

It’s only fitting, then, that my latest Washington Times column featured another gutsy woman: Elizabeth Keckley, the former slave who survived abuse and became the seamstress for First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln and founder of a charity that provided assistance to freed slaves and wounded Civil War soldiers. It’s worth mentioning that Ms. Keckley did all this while reportedly suffering from severe headaches, too, which so many women, myself included, know is no easy feat. This past weekend, Washington’s Arena Stage debuted a new play, “Mary T. and Lizzy K.,” about the relationship between the seamstress and her famous client, which is just one of the many area productions I’m eager to see this spring.

Mary T. and Lizzy K.

Mary T. and Lizzy K., courtesy of Arena Stage

The column is not posted online, but you may still be able to find a print copy or read it below.

The Washington Times

GET OUT: The Week’s Pocket Picks by Samantha Sault

March 15, 2013

Pick of the Pack

Theater: Mary T. & Lizzy K.

Between the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and Daniel Day-Lewis winning the Academy Award for his portrayal of the top-hatted president, this year has been Abraham Lincoln’s year. Yet, behind every good man is a great woman—and it’s time for Mary Todd Lincoln to get her share of the spotlight, too. On Friday, Arena Stage will debut a production about Mrs. Lincoln and her relationship with Elizabeth Keckley, a freed slave who would go on to work as the First Lady’s personal seamstress, creating the fashion-forward dresses in her famous wardrobe. The play tells the story of the deep friendship between the two women, which culminates when Ms. Keckley dresses her client for what should have been an ordinary evening at the theater. “Mary T. & Lizzy K.” is written and directed by Tazewell Thompson, whose 2000 New York City Opera production of “Porgy and Bess”—broadcast on PBS—received Emmy nominations for best director and best classical production. Through April 28 at the Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth St. SW. 202/488-3300. Web: arenastage.org. 

Concert: Dublin: Celtic & Art Music

Sunday is St. Patrick’s Day, the feast day honoring Ireland’s patron saint said to have expelled snakes from the country—and the holiday that has become an excuse to indulge in green beer all day, all over the world. If you’re looking for something different than the usual shamrocks and shenanigans that overtake Washington’s bars this weekend, head to the Folger Theatre for a celebration of Irish and Celtic music and culture. Sponsored by Culture Ireland, which celebrates Ireland’s European Union presidency by showcasing Irish arts and culture worldwide, the concert will feature bagpipes, harps and fiddles playing music from Ireland, Scotland and the English courts. Performers include soprano Molly Quinn and harpist Ann Heymann, who is credited with spearheading the revival of the Gaelic harp. Friday’s performance will be preceded by a free pre-concert discussion. Friday through Sunday at the Folger Elizabethan Theatre, 201 East Capitol Street SE. 202/544-7077. Web: folger.edu. 

Lecture: Expert Witnesses: Senator Fred Thompson

Fred Thompson, the former U.S. Senator from Tennessee and “Law and Order” star, has largely stayed out of the spotlight since his failed bid for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. On Monday evening, however, the both real-life and small-screen lawyer will serve as an “expert witness” in the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s new lecture series featuring discussions with people who have “bridged the worlds of law and theater and the arts.” The discussion is sure to cover the many facets of Mr. Thompson’s life and career, from serving as minority counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee in 1973, to his extensive film and television career, to his eight years serving in the U.S. Senate and, of course, the 2008 GOP primary campaign. The lecture will be followed by a reception at Sidney Harman Hall. Monday at Sidney Harman Hall, 610 F Street NW.  202/547-1122. Web: shakespearetheatre.org.

 Circus: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Present “Dragons”

Washington often feels like a circus—after all, the clowns in Congress seem more concerned with putting on a good show than passing meaningful legislation. This week, however, a more exciting circus comes to town when Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey will raise the tents for their latest show “Dragons,” which celebrates the lunar calendar’s Year of the Dragon by combining dragon legends and Kung Fu martial arts with traditional circus acrobatics. You can catch the action starting Wednesday at the Verizon Center, followed by the 1st Mariner Arena in Baltimore later this month and the Patriot Center in Fairfax County in April. Be sure to arrive one hour early to all performances to meet the performers, try on circus costumes and get a feel for life under the big top. Through March 24 at the Verizon Center, 601 F Street NW; March 27 through April 7 at the 1st Mariner Arena, 201 W. Baltimore St., Baltimore; April 10 through April 21 at the George Mason University Patriot Center, 4400 University Drive, Fairfax. 800/745-3000. Web: ticketmaster.com. 

Festival: Pink Tie Party

For more than 100 years now, Washington, D.C., has been blessed with a pink and white landscape every spring, thanks to Tokyo Mayor Yukio Ozaki’s gift of 3,000 cherry trees to our city in 1912. The National Cherry Blossom Festival, and spring, officially starts Wednesday, and though the peak blooms aren’t expected for another week or so, you can kick off the celebrations with pink cocktails and pink cocktail attire. Wednesday evening’s seventh annual Pink Tie Party will feature cocktails and canapés inspired by the beautiful blossoms from over 30 local restaurants, led by tapas chef Lorena Garcia, who has been a judge on “America’s Next Great Restaurant” and “Top Chef All-Stars.” Proceeds from the party, which includes a silent auction, benefit the National Cherry Blossom Festival and its year-round programs that celebrate nature, culture, and our nation’s continuing relationship with Japan. And, yes, gentlemen, pink ties are encouraged. Wednesday at the Renaissance Washington DC Downtown, 999 9th Street NW. 877/44-BLOOM. Web: nationalcherryblossomfestival.org

© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC and Samantha Sault