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Signature's Need for Stage Directions

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Lots of buzz at Signature Theatre these days: The four-month Kander & Ebb festival ("Kiss of the Spider Woman" opened Monday to early raves) is bringing in Broadway VIPs -- John Kander, Chita Rivera, George Hearn -- and fans from New York, Chicago and L.A. One teensy problem: They can't find the theater.

Last year Signature moved from a renovated garage in Arlington to a $16 million space in Shirlington Village near WETA; the county renamed two adjoining streets after WETA founder Elizabeth Campbell and her husband, Edmund. But theater patrons who punch "4200 Campbell Avenue" into MapQuest, Google or GPS systems find . . . nada.

Arlington County Director of Communications Diana Sun explained that commercial data providers haven't updated the new street, so GPS and Web maps don't recognize the new address or direct patrons to Signature's old digs a few blocks away.

With so many out-of-towners coming in, the theater is waging an info blitz: "No GPS" warnings on the Web site, directions snail-mailed and e-mailed to donors and ticket holders -- and a decidedly old-fashioned approach to getting people to their seats. "We've worked with the county to put blue directional signs from 395," Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer told us yesterday. "We went back to low-tech, and it helped."

Jenna Bush, Volunteering Her Thoughts

While planning a wedding and promoting a book, Jenna Bush managed to slip away several weeks ago to visit "Ana," the HIV-positive teenage mom in Latin America who was the subject of her book.

"I took Ana's baby to get her HIV test," the first daughter told a convention of young Jewish activists at the Washington Hilton yesterday -- adding, to a burst of applause, "She's negative."

That was the only insight into Jenna's recent activities gleaned from her luncheon appearance at the "Make It Matter" conference hosted by United Jewish Communities. Her speech -- delivered over the inevitable clinking of silverware and tapping of BlackBerrys -- hit her usual book-tour points (her work with UNICEF; an appeal for volunteerism), but she broke from her notes to talk about her protagonist: "I ignorantly thought when I met Ana that she would be scared or have trust issues. . . . [But] all this anger had evaporated. She was living such a positive life. . . . It's a lesson to all of us that there are people carrying heavy burdens but who live with such optimism."

So, alas, no deets about her May wedding in Texas. Sorry! Later in the afternoon, though, Jenna and Laura Bush browsed through Antiques of Georgetown. (Furnishing a future home?) No purchases, but they promised to return.

UPDATE

No love for Eliot Spitzer -- or his yearbook! Last week an enterprising high school classmate put the 1977 Horace Mann School yearbook, complete with Spitzer's senior picture and quotes, on eBay for $100. Yesterday's auction ended without a single bid; and no interest for another copy offered for $75.

QUOTE

"I worked for Karl Rove. . . . He's considered 'Bush's brain.' "

-- D.C. lawyer Denise Gitsham to "The Bachelor" star Matt Grant on Monday's season premiere -- a pickup line that seems not to work so well outside the Beltway, as the former White House aide was booted in favor of a Venice Beach hot dog vendor; Lorenzo Lamas's 22-year-old daughter; and a church publicist who showed off her ability to bite an aluminum can in half.

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