Around F.C., Arts & Entertainment

Creative Cauldron Girds for Pivotal Year of Transition

It’s everyone’s hope that this coming season will be the last for Falls Church’s iconic local live acting theater, the Creative Cauldron, at its current location on S. Maple Ave. in the Little City.

That’s because the gangbusters construction going on right now a few blocks away at N. Washington and E. Broad Streets, at the City’s main intersection where a flagship Whole Foods store is set to go with some 300 residential units above, includes 5,000 square feet dedicated to the Cauldron’s new and permanent home that should be ready for occupancy just about a year from now.

Founding Artistic Director Laura Hull’s vision first articulated some two dozen years ago for a highly consequential local performing arts venue will take another giant step forward as a permanent and warmly welcomed fixture here. The promised black box theater venue will be right at the City’s central intersection and as a result, it and its production promotions will be highly visible to the over one million cars that travel through that intersection daily. 

The new space is being provided by the Insight construction team, developers of the overall project, as part of its voluntary concessions to win special exception approval from City Hall for the project, The concessions bind the developer to contribute $500,000 toward build out of the space and a “simple fee” lease will remain flat for 10 years at $20 per square foot, and then limited to modest increases from years 10 through 20.

This season will culminate with an original production of “Audrey,” a tribute to the life and work of actress Audrey Hepburn, then entering into a summer cabaret series.

The new season will kick off in October with an East Coast premiere of “Monarch: The Mexican American Musical,” due to run from Oct. 5 to 29. With books and lyrics by local writer Mayu Molina Lehmann and music and lyrics by acclaimed Mexican composer Alfonso Molina, the musical follows the journey of dreamers and undocumented immigrants who live and work in the U.S. but must remain in the shadows.

This coming season “is filled with the stories of dreamers and doers,” Hull said. “It has bold new works and regional premieres, but also some revivals from the musical theater canon, shows with appeal for every generation, and of course, there will be music.”

After “Monarch” will come “The Adventures of Pinocchio” in November, a learning theater production with music and lyrics by the Cauldron’s amazing in residence team of Matt Conner and Stephen Gregory Smith. The tale begins with Pinocchio as a real boy in the throes of a nightmare where he is being chased by a giant shark. He is afraid he is still a puppet, but puppets around him assure him he’s a real boy and help him remember all the adventures that he went through to become one.

Early December will feature a revival of the popular “Madeline’s Christmas,” a musical adaption based on the book by Ludwig Bemelmans, and mid-December will feature a series of holiday cabarets, the lineup being curated by Matt Smith.

From early January through early February, the Cauldron will host what has become one of its most diverse and eagerly-anticipated events of the season, its Passport to the World of Music Festival, featuring musical styles and genres from folk, Latin, jazz and blues, along with a variety of global musical traditions.

“The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin” is the story of woman’s humorous but pointed coming of age account spanning the 60s through the 90s worlds of racism, sexism and Broadway showbiz until she’s forced to face the devastating effect that self-denial has had on her life, that will run through February 2024.

“The Princess and the Pea,” a charming learning theater production of Hans Christian Anderson’s story with music by Connor and lyrics by Smith, runs through March.

It is followed by “Chicks in Heaven,” based on the book with lyrics by Carol Campbell and music by Campbell and David Graziano, comes next April. It is centered on a 30th year reunion of four hippy friends.   

“Working” concludes the season running May into June 2024, from the book by Studs Terkel, with songs by Craig Carnelia, Micki Grant, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mary Rodgers and Susan Birkenhead, Stephen Schwartz and James Taylor. Nominated for six Tony Awards, it is updated for a modern age.