Correction: An earlier version of this article misidentified one of the foundations that pledged money to Ari Roth’s Mosaic Theater Company in the District. It is the Eugene M. Lang Foundation, not the Meyer Foundation. This version has been corrected.


Don Michael Mendoza, left, and Regie Cabico, the co-founders of La-Ti-Do. (La-Ti-Do)

Washington’s only Filipino American-run cabaret series has found a new home at an Irish bar in Dupont Circle.

La-Ti-Do, as the series is known, moves Monday from the soon-to-shutter Black Fox Lounge to James Hoban’s Irish Restaurant and Bar. The change comes three years after actor Don Michael Mendoza and spoken-word impresario Regie Cabico founded La-Ti-Do and steadily built an ardent following that appreciates both show tunes and slam poetry. While both are proud Asian American artists — and joke about La-Ti-Do being a Filipino venture — there really isn’t comparable cabaret in town.

“It’s become a community. That’s the best way to describe it,” Mendoza said. “La-Ti-Do has made Monday less of an oh-my-God-it’s-Monday kind of day.” Which does not mean anyone can show up, get drunk and sing. The schedule is well organized, and Cabico and Mendoza plan their set lists up to a month in advance. Auditions are open to anyone and consist of sending a clip to Mendoza and Cabico.

“We do make sure that people who perform are experienced and have a good handle on what they are going to present to the room. It’s not an open mike.” Mendoza said. Mendoza and Cabico are seeking official partners in 2015. They’ll start by hosting Keegan Theatre, the Dupont Circle troupe that closed its Church Street NW space for a major renovation this season. Each Monday in January, La-Ti-Do will feature Keegan veterans singing around the piano or spinning Irish yarns, and a portion of the $15 cover charges will be donated to the theater’s capital campaign. While the eclectic company maintains ties to dramatists of Ireland, it is also stages a musical every summer and tends to hire the best young non-Equity singers around. Monday’s crowd will be serenaded by a trio calling themselves the Andrew Keegan Sisters, and members of the “Hair” cast will reunite Jan. 29.

Performers from D.C.’s larger theaters have also swung by the La-Ti-Do piano. Signature Theatre’s siren-in-residence, Nova Y. Payton, comes “because she wants to sing,” Mendoza said. Joshua Morgan, who is starring as Motel the tailor in Arena Stage’s production of “Fiddler on the Roof,” is also a frequent collaborator and has been known to accompany castmates at the piano. Then there are the occasional theme nights, which have included “Duets with Joshua,” singing through entire musicals and an evening of songs from the television show “Smash.”

While the sports memorabilia in the restaurant doesn’t exactly scream, “Let’s sing show tunes” — and the first night conflicts with the College Football Playoff championship game — the space still has “an intimate feel of hanging out,” Mendoza said. And most important, “there will be a piano.”

Roth is moving forward

If Ari Roth, former artistic director of Theater J, were to pick a number to perform at an upcoming cabaret, “And the Money Kept Rolling In (and Out)” from “Evita” would be an appropriate choice.

The Web site for Mosaic Theater Company, Roth’s venture following his December firing from the theater based at the D.C. Jewish Community Center, went live Dec. 31. The launch was a bit complicated because the Internal Revenue Service’s Web site was down over Christmas, Roth said, and Mosaic needed to be registered to receive donations. But since then, “there is lots of good news.”

The company has raised $120,000. That includes large pledges from the Eugene M. Lang Foundation and the Share Fund. The money will help Mosaic pay rent to the Atlas Performing Arts Center, where Roth is beginning to set up shop and interview potential board members. “We are moving on with the business of making theater,” he said.

A coalition of Roth supporters still plans to run a protest ad in the Jan. 15 edition of Washington Jewish Week chastising JCC leaders for caving to a “vocal conservative pressure group” that opposed some of Roth’s artistic choices. While previous public outcries have included a freelance director resigning from Theater J and an open letter from nationally known theater figures, the $1,400 ad will be signed by local arts patrons. “As supporters of Theater J and artistic freedom, we join the many voices in the U.S. and Israel who have condemned the dismissal of Ari Roth,” the ad reads.

Ford’s Theatre donation

While area arts groups old and new are always looking for donations, Ford’s Theatre stands as one that launches an annual charity drive of its own. On Tuesday, the historic theater announced that it raised more than $84,000 during its curtain call collection taken by Tiny Tim and other characters as patrons left performances of “A Christmas Carol.” The money will be donated to Thrive DC, a soup kitchen and job training center in Northwest Washington. Patrons were a tad less Scrooge-ish than in 2013, when Ford’s collected $77,000 for Covenant House.

Ritzel is a freelance writer.