16

FRIDAY

The most surprising thing about the film Rasputin and the Empress is not that it’s the only film to star all three celebrated members of the “First Family of the Theater,” Lionel, Ethel, and John Barrymore. Nor that musical director William Axt rounded up every Greek and Russian church choir in Los Angeles to sing for the movie (or even that there were that many Greek and Russian choirs in L.A. in 1932, when the film was made). Nor is it the lauded and lavish production values, re-creating the last days of the Czarist court. No, what’s stunning is that a real princess sued MGM for invasion of privacy, angry that the character based on her was portrayed as the mistress of nutty Russian mystic Rasputin. She won, big, and as a result films now carry an “Any similarity to actual persons living or dead is purely coincidental”-type disclaimer. Believe it or not at 7 p.m. at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, 545 7th St. SE. $5. (202) 547-6839. (Dave Nuttycombe)