Insider’s Guide: Eric Schaeffer shares his favorite hidden gems

A Pennsylvania import who now calls Arlington home, the Signature Theatre co-founder thrives on productivity.

Eric Schaeffer
Photo by Christin Boggs Peyper

“You can sleep when you’re dead,” says Eric Schaeffer, lauded co-founder and artistic director of Signature Theatre in Shirlington. A Pennsylvania import who now calls Arlington home, Schaeffer thrives on productivity. 

Starting Signature
There was no professional theater in Arlington. And Donna Migliaccio, who I co-founded it with, we both were on boards. We always talked about, “Oh, we wish we did more cutting-edge stuff.” The first play we did was Mill Fire by Sally Nemeth, and it had full male nudity in it. And I was like, “Well you know what? If we’re going to do this, we might as well do it right. Here we go.”

I enjoy bike riding on the trails in the Arlington parks and eating and drinking on the sidewalk cafes in Shirlington Village.

Photo by Christin Boggs Peyper
Photo by Christin Boggs Peyper

Favorite Plays
Sunday in the Park with George, Follies, Passion, Hello Dolly, Grand Hotel, Cabaret, musicals by Stephen Sondheim, Jerry Herman, Kander and Ebb, Maury Yeston

We have a house in West Virginia, so I go there. It’s near Lost River, so it’s 90 minutes away, quiet, no one around, top of a mountain, chill out, or carry on.

Personal Style
Casual. It’s like jeans, sneakers and throw on a shirt. I hate wearing ties. I wear a lot of Calvin Klein clothes because they’re comfortable. I like purple because it’s my favorite color.

Photo by Christin Boggs Peyper
Photo by Christin Boggs Peyper

Amazon. [Laughs.] I don’t like to go shopping. Uncommon Goods (Brooklyn)—I really like that. And around here, I literally just go to the French store: Le Marché (Shirlington). They have really good, quick stuff.

Scent: Acca Kappa, it’s the best cologne ever. I use that every day because you don’t even know you’re wearing cologne—I hate the smell of cologne.
Face: I’m usually well-shaven because I can’t really grow a beard—I wish I could. I grew a goatee one time, and I was like, “Ooh, that doesn’t look good on me.” I don’t do any aftershave, and I just use Neutrogena [shaving cream].
Hair: American Crew Fiber

Photo by Christin Boggs Peyper
Photo by Christin Boggs Peyper

Central (D.C.). Pupatella (Wilson Boulevard); it’s this Italian pizza place that is the best pizza ever. Oh my God, it is so good. I always hang out at Beckett’s (Shirlington) next door, good bar food. And one of my favorite chain restaurants is P.F. Chang’s (Ballston). I love their lettuce wraps.

Local Theaters
Arena Stage, Ford’s Theatre, Round House Theatre, Studio Theatre and Constellation Theatre

(March 2017)

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