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CUE THE LIGHTS. After many, many months of eagerly awaiting the return of the performing arts, they are officially back in the District — welcoming locals with open arms, a jam-packed schedule of star-studded performances, and the most reassuring set of Covid protocols (proof of vaccination before walking through the doors) we could hope for as we face the latest wave of pandemic concerns. From highly anticipated Britney Spears musical “Once Upon a One More Time” at Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Sidney Harman Hall this winter to the crowd-pleasing “Dear Evan Hansen” and “Hamilton” at the Kennedy Center next summer to innovative takes on classics like “Teenage Dick” (“Richard III” reinvented) at Woolly Mammoth this fall, the options run the gamut for theatergoers chomping at the bit to take their seats on opening night. And what better place for us to celebrate this collective sigh of relief for arts & culture enthusiasts in the DMV than the most prestigious arts institution on the East Coast? We spent a stunning afternoon in early August with the Kennedy Center’s senior vice president of artistic planning, Robert van Leer, and our cover subject Justin “Yaddiya” Johnson, the founder of Long Live GoGo. Yaddiya is a definitive voice for D.C.’s go-go community and a member of the Kennedy Center’s Culture Caucus, and our managing editor Andrew J. Williams III spent time with him both in his new arts space in Capitol Hill and at the Kennedy Center picking his brain about remaining true to his D.C. roots and embracing the go-go scene as it continues to evolve. 

Writers Kristen Schott and Trent Johnson dove into the Kennedy Center’s 50th anniversary season and social justice programming, respectively, and Amanda Weisbrod picked the brain of the center’s archivist to put together a stunning infographic chronicling some of the center’s most memorable moments. Kristen Page-Kirby spoke with Signature Theatre’s new leadership, Weisbrod reported on Shakespeare Theatre Company’s exciting season, Jamie McCrary chatted with artistic directors about their theaters’ pivots during the pandemic, Chad Kinsman handpicked his top 20 must-see shows of the upcoming theatre season, our editorial assistant Nicole Schaller geeked out with local theaters’ costume design departments and got real with local actor, comedian and model Joe Marshall, and Ingrid Harbo talked sport ball with Arena Stage. Plus: new food hall Western Market, cocktail bar Silver Lyan’s reopening, Broccoli City Festival’s latest iteration, new Capitol Hill events venue Capital Turnaround, “Disco to the Go-Go” at Union Market, Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival’s latest lineup, weekend getaways worth the drive, yoga for all levels and much more. Thank you as always to our readers for picking up a copy and to our beloved city for giving us hope in the face of an ongoing time of uncertainty. Happy theatre season, everyone. 

Monica Alford