THE EXPLOSION OF CULTURE in 1930s Russia so inspired Eva Zeisel, then a young industrial designer, that she abandoned Berlin for St. Petersburg and Moscow. Next weekend, Hillwood Museum and Gardens honors the designer and the era with a Russian-inspired festival called "A Salute to Summer Nights."

The mansion, with its Russian and French treasures, will be open for tours. So will the design exhibition "Eva Zeisel: The Playful Search for Beauty." Special events include storytelling from Soviet-era children's books and musical performances of Stravinsky, Rimsky-Korsakov and Rachmaninoff by Opera Vivente of Baltimore. On Sunday, the National Symphony Orchestra Chamber Ensemble will play Shostakovich and Stravinsky. On both days, a life-size puppet show of Prokofiev's musical tale "Peter and the Wolf" will be performed by Das Puppenspiel Puppet Theater. The composition was created in 1936 to teach children the instruments of the orchestra. (The wolf is played by three French horns, the boy by lively strings, a friendly bird by flute and a swimming duck by an oboe.) In contemporary Washington, "Peter" can also be enjoyed as a parable of power in which ferocity is overcome by steady nerves and innovative thinking, but not without help from small, feisty allies.

-- Linda Hales

At Hillwood Museum and Gardens, 4155 Linnean Ave. NW. Saturday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; June 19, noon-7 p.m. Admission: $25 (students $15, children $5). Reservations required. Call 202-686-5807 or visit


SILVERDOCS, SILVER SPRING'S eagerly anticipated festival of nonfiction films, gets underway at 7 p.m. Tuesday with a screening of "Midnight Movies," an affectionate tribute to six remarkable films that became cult hits during the 1960s and 1970s. Packed with interviews with filmmakers, critics and theater owners and loaded with clips from "El Topo," "Night of the Living Dead," "Pink Flamingos," "The Harder They Come," "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" and "Eraserhead," "Midnight Movies" examines not only what made these transgressive, often funny films underground phenomena, but also how their sensibilities have been co-opted by Hollywood. Stuart Samuels, who directed "Midnight Movies," will be on hand for a post-screening discussion, along with "Good Morning America's" Joel Siegel and legendary film programmer Ben Barenholtz. The reggae band Culture will perform at the gala after-party at the Discovery Channel headquarters. ("Midnight Movies" will be shown again on June 16 at 12:45 p.m.) SilverDocs, which is sponsored by the American Film Institute and the Discovery Channel, runs through June 19. Highlights include Wednesday's keynote address by Penelope Spheeris ("The Decline of Western Civilization") and a later screening of some of her early, rarely seen music videos; "James Dean: Forever Young," about the late screen idol; and "Grizzly Man," Werner Herzog's new documentary about the young adventurer Timothy Treadwell, whose obsession with grizzly bears resulted in his death.

-- Ann Hornaday

At the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, 8633 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring. Admission is $9 ($45 for opening and closing night screenings and galas). For ticket and schedule information, call 301-495-6738 or visit


ANY MUSICAL CAREER spilling over the allotted 15 minutes is bound to have its ups and downs. In the late '60s, reggae singer Marcia Griffiths made magic under the tutelage of Clement "Coxsone" Dodd, the legendary Jamaican producer who first recorded the likes of Toots & the Maytals, Lee "Scratch" Perry and Bob Marley & the Wailers. Griffiths's work at Dodd's fabled Studio One may be her best, but her popularity peaked 20 years later with "Electric Boogie" -- a tune known to anyone who's ever attended a wedding reception and/or bar mitzvah as the insufferable "Electric Slide." Trinidadian singer Mighty Sparrow never penned such a "Macarena"-size hit, but is purportedly revisiting his fiery calypso roots after a decades-long (and less inspiring) allegiance to soca music. Regardless of style, both singers' sterling and experienced voices speak volumes about their respective lives and the history of Caribbean music itself.

-- Chris Richards

Marcia Griffiths, Mighty Sparrow and others at Crossroads Entertainment Complex, 4103 Baltimore Ave., Bladensburg. Today at 2 p.m. $35. Call 202-397-SEAT or visit


STEPHEN SONDHEIM'S "SWEENEY TODD" is a darling of two worlds. Born on Broadway, the piece has been embraced by opera companies as well as theater. The latest demonstration of its crossover appeal comes this week, when the Wolf Trap Opera Company will present the musical the way many desire to hear it: unamplified, with full orchestrations, in the Barns at Wolf Trap. The production, directed by Joe Banno, has sold out, but the complex is still advising Sondheim lovers to check for last-minute availability.

-- Peter Marks

At the Barns at Wolf Trap, 1635 Trap Rd., Vienna. Friday at 8 p.m., June 19 and 26 at 2 p.m., June 22 and 24 at 8 p.m. Call 800-955-5566 or visit