Tony Walton (b. 1934). Grand Hotel grand drape design. Opened at the Martin Beck Theatre, New York City, November 12, 1989. Tony Walton Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress

From costumes that have enough stretch for a flurry of high-kicks to flights of stairs both sturdy enough to support a dozen actors and light enough to be lifted high above the stage for storage, theatrical designs improve upon items we mortals use every day. The Library of Congress offers some insight into the magic usually reserved for Broadway’s backstages in its new exhibition, “Grand Illusion: The Art of Theatrical Design.” Learn the secrets of theatrical design by consulting notes from George Gershwin and John Kander, see a scale model of the set for Grand Hotel, and scour documents for insight into how theatrical designs have changed over the past century. Read more >>> The exhibition is on view Mondays through Fridays, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., to July 25, at the Library of Congress James Madison Memorial Building, 101 Independence Ave. SW. Free. (202) 707-8000. (Caroline Jones)


A new cocktail and cabaret pop-up called Secret Monkey Social Club kicks off tonight at 9 p.m. at Dolcezza’s gelato factory near Union Market. The monthly event will include a variety of punches from Dram & Grain’s Lukas B. Smith, plus cabaret of the 1930s and ‘40s from actress, singer, and dancer Shayna Blass. Admission is free and punches are $8 a pour. Secret Monkey Social Club at Dolcezza, 550 Penn St. NE. (Jessica Sidman) 


Author Elliot Ackerman, a veteran who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, reads from his new novel, Green on Blue, which tells the story of two Afghan brothers driven from their village by increased violence, at Politics & Prose. 7 p.m. at 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free.

R&B vocalist Erykah Badu closes out her two-night stand at the Fillmore tonight. Read more in our Spring Arts Guide. 8 p.m. at 8656 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. $55.

Local songwriter Poor Boy plays a Motown-inspired set during happy hour at Den of Thieves. Find more details on Facebook. 8 p.m. at 2005 14th St. NW. Free.

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