Concert Review: The 2016 Summerfest Concert Series on the Plaza: Magic! and Other Popular Artists

Photo of Nasri
Nasri, lead vocalist for Magic! Credit: Pat Cuadros

The Plaza is still a relatively new addition to Tysons Corner Center, one of the premier shopping venues in Northern Virginia. However, the public square has quickly become a top spot in offering alternatives that are comparable, if not better, than the events within Washington, D.C. I’d like to spotlight the 2016 Summerfest Concert Series, which closed on July 31.

Summerfest is held annually in the summer at the Plaza, which partners with radio station 94.7 Fresh FM. It’s notable for bringing in top artists that are popular locally and across the U.S. This year’s series featured artists such as Shawn Hook, Rachel Platten, the Legwarmers, and even former American Idol contestants. The 2016 Summerfest closed with Billboard artist Ingrid Michaelson.

I arrived 15 minutes early on July 22 and I was able to stand close to the front of the throng by the stage. The winning act slated for that evening was Magic!, the Canadian reggae fusion band well known for the hit song “Rude.” They have a new single out called “Red Dress,” which is also getting airtime on the D.C. area radio stations. Continue reading “Concert Review: The 2016 Summerfest Concert Series on the Plaza: Magic! and Other Popular Artists”

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TV Review: Madness Reigns on ‘Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell’ in “The Black Tower”

Jonathan Strange finally meets the Gentleman.

Marc Warren and Bertie Carvel
The Gentleman (Marc Warren) watches Jonathan Strange (Bertie Carvel) at work. Photo: JSMN Ltd, Matt Squire / BBC America.

Following “The Black Tower,” there’s only one more episode of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, a BBC series that depicts a Napoleonic Europe beset by magic. The penultimate installment is a jarring descent into madness. Norrell (Eddie Marsan), the older magician, is frustrated that he can’t locate Strange (Bertie Carvel), his former apprentice. He reluctantly pulls Drawlight (Vincent Franklin) out of jail to handle the search.

Strange is hiding in Venice, trying to “catch” madness, a mental state that enables one to see fairies. He meets the lovely Flora (Lucinda Dryzek), from whom he learns about an old lady that lives with cats and eats dead rodents. Yes, she’s mad. I would have preferred a less stomach-turning method for demonstrating his obsession with getting Arabella (Charlotte Riley) back. Strange succeeds and meets the Gentleman, a fairy king (Marc Warren) with a penchant for deals. His happiness fades upon realizing that Belle is alive, turning quickly to rage when he discovers the Gentleman’s involvement with Lady Pole’s (Alice Englert) resurrection. Continue reading “TV Review: Madness Reigns on ‘Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell’ in “The Black Tower””

TV Review: Alliance Between ‘Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell’ Fades in ‘All the Mirrors of the World’

Is there room for only one magician in England after all?

“Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell” always seemed to have a tenuous friendship at best in the television adaptation on BBC. It can only be as such when Gilbert Norrell (Eddie Marsan) insists on his way in terms of making magic “respectable.” In “All the Mirrors of the World,” the two gentlemen sever their ties, a move precipitated by the publication of Norrell’s book on magic.

Bertie Carvel as Jonathan Strange
Jonathan Strange (Bertie Carvel) Travels Through Mirrors. Photo: JSMN Ltd, Matt Squire / BBC America

The episode opens with the aftermath of Lady Pole’s (Alice Englert) attempt to assassinate Norrell, which resulted in Childermass (Enzo Cilenti) taking a bullet for his employer. Norrell is quite testy when the younger fellow awakens, asking why he performed magic on the street. He’s also a bit paranoid at this point, asking how Childermass even knew how to cast such a spell; he’s awfully incredulous when he learns that he showed that trick to Childermass. Continue reading “TV Review: Alliance Between ‘Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell’ Fades in ‘All the Mirrors of the World’”

Review: ‘Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell’ Are Not Equals After All

Things are far from over between the Gentleman and Mr. Norrell. And there’s growing tension over … books!

Photo of Eddie Marsan and Marc Warren
Things aren’t over between Mr. Norrell (Eddie Marsan) and the Gentleman (Marc Warren). Photo: Matt Squire/BBC America

Lady Pole (Alice Englert) is quite alive after Mr. Norrell (Eddie Marsan) resurrected her last week, but she’s not enjoying her new life. After some initial excitement about dancing, she’s shut inside her own house because Sir Walter (Samuel West) and everyone else believe her to be mad. In actuality, she spends her nights dancing in the fairy world with the Gentleman. Stephen Black (Ariyon Bakare), a servant, is also under the same enchantment. It’s not clear yet how the Gentleman intends to make Stephen a king. Neither one is able to tell anyone the truth, but hopefully Norrell or Strange can figure out Lady Pole’s nonsense (which may eventually shift into solvable riddles). Continue reading “Review: ‘Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell’ Are Not Equals After All”

Magic Meets the Napoleonic Wars in ‘Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell’

We often look back at history and ask how things might have been if we had that additional piece of technology earlier. What if you throw in some magic?

“Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell,” Susanna Clarke’s historical fantasy, premieres tonight on BBC America. However, you may have noticed that the first episode, “The Friends of English Magic,” has been up on the BBC America site since earlier in the week. The series takes a look at the Napoleonic Wars, but not in the traditional vein of a historical drama. We often look back at history and ask how things might have been if we had that additional piece of technology earlier. But what about magic? Don’t mistake “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell” for a Napoleonic Harry Potter. Instead, it already foreshadows the dark side of magic and to quote from a popular drama, “All magic comes with a price.” (Extra points if you know the reference.)

Eddie Marsan and Marc Warren in the television adaptation of "Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell." Photo: Matt Squire/BBC America
Eddie Marsan and Marc Warren in the television adaptation of “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.” Photo: Matt Squire/BBC America

The first episode opens with a frustrated Mr. Segundus (Edward Hogg), a young man who attempts simple spells and wants to know why magic is no longer done in England. His curiosity is shared only by one member of a magician’s society in York, a Mr. Honeyfoot (Brian Pettfer from the upcoming “The Legend of Barney Thomson”). Segundus is annoyed that the books he places on hold at the local bookshop are being purchased by a Mr. Norrell. The setup is reminiscent of 18th and 19th century fiction, whereby a secondary character’s curiosity is the device used to hook readers in (or viewers in this case). Continue reading “Magic Meets the Napoleonic Wars in ‘Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell’”

TV Review: ‘Once Upon a Time’ Brings Flying Monkeys and a New Villain

Caution: This review contains spoilers.

The wait was finally over with the return of “Once Upon a Time” last night. Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin), Prince Charming (Josh Dallas), and the others arrive back in Fairy Tale Land as Phillip (Julian Morris) and Aurora (Sarah Bolger) are about to have lunch. Continue reading “TV Review: ‘Once Upon a Time’ Brings Flying Monkeys and a New Villain”