Theatre Review: ‘Another Way Home’ at Theater J

(l-r) Thony Mena and Chris Stinsonin Another Way Home at Theater J. Photo: by C. Stanley Photography.

(l-r) Thony Mena and Chris Stinsonin Another Way Home at Theater J. Photo: by C. Stanley Photography.

Somewhere towards the middle of Anna Ziegler’s Another Way Home, Philip turns to his wife Lillian after searching for hours for their son and demands, rather than asks of her, “What else can we do?” to which Lillian hilariously replies, “We could panic!” This is just one of the many hilarious, but truthful arguments that the two have throughout the play.

The play is set against the backdrop of a tranquil summer sleepaway camp; however, the action primarily occurs within the interior spaces of its small cast of characters. At its core it is a play about coping with growing older, and the people that you chose to bring your life: friends, husbands, wives and the people you are forced to be with: your family.

 …a show that is such a celebration of family, warts and all.

Shirley Serotsky, whose work has garnered her several Helen Hayes nominations, directs a cast of DC all-stars. Naomi Jacobsen is delightful as Lillian Nadelman, the neurotic, but loving mother of Joey and Nora. The action is punctuated by hers and Philip’s self-aware explanations to the audience, but it is the letters where she truly brings empathy to the character. The scene where she finds out what her son has been doing with all of her letters is another incredible scene. Recently seen in Shakespeare Theatre Company’s The Critic/ The Real Inspector Hound, two shows that required two completely different very physical depictions of the character, Jacobsen unsurprisingly excels in the subtle physicality of Lillian.

Rich Foucheux plays Philip, her “over the hill” husband, struggling with his fading youth, and his children growing up. He realizes how fragile his little family unit is and although he pays the bills, he hasn’t always provided for his family emotionally. His most compelling and exemplary moment is when he describes tucking in a young Joey.

Chris Stinson plays Joey, Philip and Lillian’s awkward and angsty son, and the focal point of the show, or rather, his absence is. Stinson perfectly embodies the teenaged boy in his physicality, and the strained quality of his voice.

Thony Mena, whose credits include the Irish National Tour of A Few Good Men, makes his Theater J debut as Mike, Joey’s counselor. His most truthful moment is when he describes his family life to Joey, and why he wants to go to school for drama.

Shayna Blass adds some extra comic relief in the character of Nora, Lillian and Philip’s daughter who has a particular affinity for a certain blonde popular music star who may or may not be in a legal spat with Youtube right now. Nora observes poignantly “Isn’t it amazing how these strangers enter our lives?”  The moment when she describes Joey’s interaction with a popular boy at school is where she puts the soul of her character.

Paige Hathaway, whose work was seen in the Folger Theatre’s productions A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, brings to life a design that is malleable and transformative in the way that only a set for a piece of theatre can be.  The portraits of the forests juxtaposed to the faded paintings of cityscapes in Nora’s corner of the stage was a truly unique visual.

The lights of designer Harold F. Burgess II are gorgeous, from the setting and rising of the sun, to the subtle detail of the water under the bridge. His transitions are especially appropriate during the scenes where the Nadelmans directly address the audience.

Debra Sivigny brings a very realistic design to the characters’ costumes, complete with camp t-shirts for the two campers, a t-shirt for the more casual Joey and a polo for the more put together Mike. The parents start off in nondescript earth tones and become more colorful as the play progresses.

Theatre is nothing if not a communal art, so it fitting that the Jewish Community Center house one of the finest theatres in DC. It is also fitting that they put on a show that is such a celebration of family, warts and all.

Advisory: Mild Language.

Running Time: Approximately 90 minutes with no intermission.

Another Way Home runs from June 23rd- July 17th at Theatre J, 529 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20036. For tickets, click here.

See original article at: http://mdtheatreguide.com/2016/06/theatre-review-another-way-home-at-theater-j/
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Theatre Review: ‘Another Way Home’ at Theater J

Theatre Review: ‘The Three Musketeers’ at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company (CSC-in-the-Ruins)

The King’s Musketeers battle the Cardinal’s men. From left to right: Aramis (Gerrad Alex Taylor), Rochefort (Willem Krumich) and Athos (Kevin Alan Brown.) Photo by Teresa Castracane.

The King’s Musketeers battle the Cardinal’s men. From left to right: Aramis (Gerrad Alex Taylor), Rochefort (Willem Krumich) and Athos (Kevin Alan Brown.) Photo by Teresa Castracane.

All for one and one for all! The classic, historical romance, The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, opens CSC’s summer season at the Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park in Ellicott City. This beloved story has been adapted for stage and film countless times, notably in the magnificent 1973 film version, directed by Richard Lester (who also helmed The Beatles’ brilliant film debut, A Hard Days Night.)

The play tells the tale of a naive but brave young man, D’Artagnan (an earnest Brendan Edward Kennedy), trained by his father (Frank B. Moorman) to be a skilled swordsman. The impoverished young nobleman journeys from the countryside of France to Paris during the rule of King Louis XIII (a great turn by Javier del Pilar) and seeks to join the King’s legendary Musketeers with an introduction to its captain, De Treville (Stephen Lopez). The story is narrated by Planchet, gamely portrayed by Keegan Cassady, who performs all the roles of each of the four Musketeer’s servants, sometimes simultaneously, with a change in his voice and utilizing costume devices such as a hat or wing to distinguish between the characters.

The Three Musketeers is a fine summer evening experience for the whole family, especially the kids.

D’Artagnan is accosted and teased by Rochefort (William Krumich) and his men upon his arrival (his “horse” is an interesting twist). The young man then manages to offend the titular characters – a haunted, heart-broken Athos (Kevin Alan Brown), the hard-drinking, hard-fighting Porthos (Daniel Flint, who steals the show) and the pious Aramis (Gerrad Alex Taylor) who often threatens to leave and take up the Church, despite his eye for the ladies. They all challenge D’Artagnan to a duel. The comic scene is interrupted when Cardinal Richelieu’s men confront them and the four join forces. A fast friendship is formed when the Musketeers are impressed with the young man’s courage and skill.

The Cardinal is an ambitious man who seeks to undermine the power of the King to broaden his own. With the aid of his evil cohorts – his right hand man, Rochefort and the treacherous Milday de Winter (Molly Moores), a supposed noble woman with a secret past – the Cardinal (Frank B. Moorman) has uncovered a romance between Queen Anne of France (Lida Maria Benson) and England’s Duke of Buckingham (Michael Reid). He seeks to expose her by having Milady steal two diamond tags from a brooch that Louis had given Anne who, in turn, gives to Buckingham as a token of her affection.

D’Artagnan has fallen immediately and hopelessly in love with Constance (Courtney Feiman), the Queen’s confidant and wife of his flamboyant landlord, Bonacieux (an over the top Eric Poch, also effective in multiple roles). When Constance entreats D’Artagnan to help the Queen, he and the three musketeers embark on an adventure to England to retrieve the brooch before the masked ball where Anne is expected to wear the piece.

The play is full of adventure, romance, swash and buckle – all of which the cast attacks with energy and enthusiasm under the direction of Ian Gallanar, Patrick Kilpatrick and fight choreographer James Jager. Unfortunately the pacing and timing was off overall, possibly due to recent weather challenges, and there were projection issues with a few of the actors.

The biggest problem lies with the simplistic script by John Chambers. It lacked in the emotional depth and sophistication that could (and has, in other iterations) embrace the sensibilities of both children and adults, while still retaining the comic, slapstick elements. The characters were two-dimensional and the antagonists (The Cardinal, Rochefort and Milday) were just shy of that delicious, intimidating villainy found in so many adaptations.

The productions is visually appealing with the multilevel set and lighting design by Daniel O’Brien that blended so well with the historic structure of the site and the gorgeous, detailed costumes by Kristina Lambdin and Heather C. Jackson. High praise goes to the hardworking stagehands but clothing them in simple costumes would help with the necessary intrusion of prop and set changes on the outdoor stage.

There is plenty of audience interaction as well as entertainment before the show and during intermission. The Three Musketeers is a fine summer evening experience for the whole family, especially the kids. Hopefully that last-minute Brexit joke will remain and the pacing will get up to speed throughout the run.

Running time: Approximately two hours with a 15-minute intermission.

The Three Musketeers runs through July 24, 2016 at Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park, 3691 Sarah’s Lane, Ellicott City, MD 21043. To purchase tickets, call the box office, 410-244-8570, Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. or go online.

See original article at: http://mdtheatreguide.com/2016/06/theatre-review-the-three-musketeers-at-chesapeake-shakespeare-company-csc-in-the-ruins/
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Theatre Review: ‘The Three Musketeers’ at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company (CSC-in-the-Ruins)

Baltimore Remembers Lor Scoota

Over the weekend rapper Lor Scoota was reportedly driving when an unknown suspect stepped into the street and opened fire Saturday evening. Police say it appears that the shooting was “targeted.” Police described the suspect as a black male wearing a white bandanna. The rising star died from his injuries causing many around the city to mourn and call for peace.  Many influencers, celebrities and others showed Scoota love via social media:

 

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from http://thefabempire.com/2016/06/29/baltimore-remembers-lor-scoota/

Baltimore Remembers Lor Scoota

Recap: Millennial Impact Conference Takes Over D.C.

Last week MCON 2016 kicked off at National Geographic headquarters with event hosts The Case Foundation & Achieve, bringing together leaders, activists and social entrepreneurs interested in turning interest into action around the millennial generation. The three day convening brought together over 600 in-person attendees and thousands more online through the livestream.

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Day One Highlights
The first day of MCON began with a morning Questival competition hosted by Cotopaxi followed by a Political Town Hall, presented by The Washington Post Live, the release of Wave 1 of the 2016 Millennial Impact Report, a keynote by Michael Smith from My Brother’s Keeper, and a discussion about politics and humor with Funny or Die’s Brad Jenkins and David Litt.

MCON’s opening night party at Renwick Gallery, hosted by Case Foundation and Washington Life Magazine, featured an Instagram installation with curated election photos. Food was catered by Jose Andres’s Cuba Libre. In attendance: Chef José Andrés, Gary Knell (President and CEO of National Geographic), David Litt and Brad Jenkins (Funny or Die), Kiki Burger (Rock The Vote) and John Tass Parker (Instagram).

Day Two Highlights
Day two started with an exploration panel with famed National Geographic explorer Sylvia Earle and millennial explorer Erin Spencer. The morning wrapped with Jean Case, chairman of National Geographic & Case Foundation CEO, daring the audience to “Be Fearless.” After the lunchtime screening of Chris Temple’s “Salam Neighbor,” Miki Agrawal encouraged the crowd to “let their freak flag fly,” and “Do Cool Sh*t.” MCON attendees also experienced DELL’s new virtual reality simulator, “Cry Out, The Lonely Whale Experience.”

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DeRay Mckesson closed out the daytime programing with a keynote on the current state of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, saying “people aren’t born woke, something wakes them up.” Day two ended with a Club MCON party at Soundcheck, hosted by NYLON, Rock The Vote and Tumblr, in partnership with BYT, with a performance by The Dolls. The event was catered by STK and featured giveaways from Nylon Shops.

Day Three Highlights
Day three began with breakfast from Shake Shack followed by Katherine Kallinis Berman & Sophie Kallinis LaMontagne sharing how they took their business-savvy skills and passion for baking to start Georgetown Cupcakes. DC Mayor Muriel Bowser took the stage to discuss innovation in Washington DC and introduce world renowned chef José Andrés. Lunch was provided by Cava Grill and Taylor Gourmet. Other highlights include keynotes from Jay Newton-Small and Clif Bar CEO Kevin Cleary, an AFI filmmakers panel and ending with Ryan Leslie, recording artist & CEO of Disruptive Multimedia. Daytime programing wrapped with Matt Bellassai roasting the millennial audience on millennials. MCON’s closing night celebration was a block party at the Nat Geo campus hosted by Comcast and the Independent Journal Review with UFO Harpoon beer, local food trucks and DJ Mathias.

The event was made possible by our three-day food and beverage partners including Clif Bar, Boxed Water, Owl’s Brew, Heritage Distilling, Denizens, Flying Dog, Port City and Layer Cake wine.

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from http://thefabempire.com/2016/06/29/recap-millennial-impact-conference-takes-over-d-c/

Recap: Millennial Impact Conference Takes Over D.C.

A Short Guide to Designing for a School Theatre Production

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‘Cherry Tree Lane’ Backdrop.

A Short Guide to Designing for a School Theatre Production

You have finally secured funding for your school play, you have the script ready, and you have found cast members to play the show’s characters. You’re also about to begin the rehearsals, but there’s still one important element that you need to take care of before the production can really hit the ground running.

We’re talking about the production design, of course. At a professional level, different heads are likely to handle the various aspects of production design, including the stage design, the props, the costumes, and lights and sounds. In a school stage play or musical, however, it is usually the director (a drama teacher or a drama guild adviser) who will mostly have the final say on aesthetic decisions, with the students and teaching assistants providing help as necessary.

Before commencing work, it is important to lay down the things you need to consider when designing for a school theatre production.

Identify your vision for the show

Defining your vision will help make it clear to the design production team how you want the show to be articulated on stage. The vision is basically the focal point upon which all of the design components will pivot.

For example, consider how the designers of The Lion King musical beautifully translated the story of Simba from film to stage. Whereas the film version showed anthropomorphized animals, this can’t be done on stage, so what the designers did was to incorporate elaborate elements of Bunraku puppetry and traditional African regalia into the characters’ costumes without any attempt to conceal the actors behind them. The result is a remarkable visual feast that is truly singular, with the costumes blending seamlessly with the performance of the actors, whose facial expressions and movements are not obscured by the outfits they wear.

The vision was to have both the human and the animal facets of the show to be celebrated at the same time, and the costumes were successfully created according to this vision. If you have been fortunate to catch The Lion King in Los Angeles (2000-2003) or in productions elsewhere, you’ll really be able to appreciate this fact.

Define the scope of work and set a timeline

Preparing the stage, creating the props, and acquiring the costumes can take a lot of time. Some of these things can be so complicated that you might have to start working on them right from the very beginning.

You don’t want to be pulled into a false sense of security that you have all the time in the world, so it’s best to immediately organize committees that will be responsible for their own sets of tasks. Ideally, everything that has anything to do with production design has to be finalized even before the rehearsals begin. Some of details that you need to work on are the following:

  • Make an estimate of all the design-related expenses so you can prepare the finances beforehand.
  • Know how the stage design elements, props, and costumes will be sourced. Is someone going to make them for you? Are they going to be rented?
  • Set a timeline for the acquisition or creation of these materials. Make it the responsibility of committee heads to keep you up to speed about the progress of the projects. Also hold team meetings regularly to ensure that everyone is on the same page with regards to the timeline.

Ask for help from the community

To make things easier for your team, you might want to consider renting premade stage design elements from professional suppliers. Renting theatrical backdrops from a stage backdrop supplier, for instance, can take a load off your stage designers since the backdrop is essentially the most important and most visible element of the stage design. If you are strapped for cash, you can also ask for help from parents or from community volunteers, who can then lend a hand in making costumes and props for the kids.

Working on a theatrical production is really a great way to bring the school or neighborhood together because it is an entertaining and emotionally rewarding endeavor. Furthermore, it also helps the kids develop a sense of pride and accomplishment, since mounting a school play or musical is something that takes a lot of work and perseverance.

See original article at: http://mdtheatreguide.com/2016/06/a-short-guide-to-designing-for-a-school-theatre-production/
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A Short Guide to Designing for a School Theatre Production

Top 5 Shows of the Week

MDtheaterguidetop5-WEB1. Jumanji at Adventure Theatre MTC.

“This production is completely absorbing. It entices the audience into all of the adventures…” – April Forrer.

READ review.

Synopsis: On a dull day, Judy and Peter find a mysterious old board game. One live lion, an erupting volcano, and some destructive monkeys later, the children are plunged into an experience they’ll never forget. Will they ever finish this mysterious magic game and claim Jumanji?!

Billie Krishawn as Judy, Ryan Carlo as Peter, and Elan Zafir as The Guide in Jumanji at Adventure Theatre/MTC . Photo by Michael Horan.

Billie Krishawn as Judy, Ryan Carlo as Peter, and Elan Zafir as The Guide in Jumanji at Adventure Theatre/MTC . Photo by Michael Horan.

2. Evita at Olney Theatre Center.

“The direction is taut and well-paced; the choreography is extremely precise…” – Steve Charing.

READ review.

Synopsis: Heralded for its rich score and explosive love triangle, the legendary Tony® Award-winning musical Evita tells the story of Argentina’s passionate political figure Eva Perón, whose love for her country’s descamisados (‘the shirtless ones’) was surpassed only by her naked ambition. Known for its anthem, “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina,” Evita will stun and delight in this intimate version of the musical that ensures you hear every note and feel every heartbeat.

Robert Ariza as Che and Rachel Zampelli as Eva Photo: Stan Barouh

Robert Ariza as Che and Rachel Zampelli as Eva Photo: Stan Barouh

3. The Good Devil (In Spite of Himself) by WSC Avant Bard at Gunston Arts Center Theatre Two.

“…bringing the audience along for a wild, silly, and slapstick ride through the world of Commedia dell’Arte… (and a little bit of the Underworld). – Katelyn Wattendorf.

READ review.

Synopsis: Avant Bard theatre presents a rollicking new comedy inspired by real events! When an improv troupe in 17th-century France is bedeviled by a royal decree forbidding them from speaking onstage, the rambunctious actors stage an ingenious revolt. Taking a flying leap off historical fact, The Good Devil is a hilarious spoof on art and censorship.

From left: Doug Wilder, Matthew Aldwin McGee, and Natalie Cutcher. (C. Stanley Photography)

From left: Doug Wilder, Matthew Aldwin McGee, and Natalie Cutcher. (C. Stanley Photography)

4. Next to Normal at Keegan Theatre.

“Keegan Theatre takes the human mind, unravels it and sews it into a quilt of song and spectacle. – Stephanie House.

READ review.

Synopsis: Dad’s an architect; Mom rushes to pack lunches and pour cereal; their daughter and son are bright, wise-cracking teens, appearing to be a typical American family. And yet their lives are anything but normal, because the mother has been battling manic depression for 16 years. Next To Normal takes audiences into the minds and hearts of each character, presenting their family’s story with love, sympathy and heart. NEXT TO NORMAL is a tremendously moving and intimate story about deeply complicated and flawed human beings – a natural fit for the kind of storytelling we love at Keegan.

Caroline Dubberly and Christian Montgomery. Photo by C. Stanley Photography.

Caroline Dubberly and Christian Montgomery. Photo by C. Stanley Photography.

5. Disney’s The Little Mermaid by Charm City Players.

“…showcases voices and dancing that will make you glad you voyaged under the sea.” – Pamela Steinik.

READ review.

Synopsis: Join Ariel, Prince Eric, Sebastian, King Triton, Flounder, Scuttle and all their underwater friends as they journey Under the Sea in a magical musical about a mermaid who dreams of the world above the sea and gives up her voice to find love.

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King Triton (Joe Mannherz) and Ariel (Coreen Ayr Hamilton). Photo provided by Charm City Players.

See original article at: http://mdtheatreguide.com/2016/06/top-5-shows-of-the-week-130/
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Top 5 Shows of the Week

Theatre Review: ‘The Little Mermaid’ at Imagination Stage in collaboration with The Washington Ballet

The Little Mermaid, accompanied by two water people, swims through the ocean. [T-B:Giselle MacDonald, LeonardoVictorino,and A. Logan Hillman). Photo by Margot Schulman.

The Little Mermaid, accompanied by two water people, swims through the ocean. [T-B:Giselle MacDonald, LeonardoVictorino,and A. Logan Hillman). Photo by Margot Schulman.

Imagination Stage in collaboration with The Washington Ballet transports the audience to a magical underwater world in a world premiere production of The Little Mermaid. Adapted from the original tale by Hans Christian Andersen by Imagination Stage’s Artistic Director Janet Stanford and directed by Kathryn Chase Bryer, Imagination Stage’s Associate Artistic Director. The Washington Ballet provides the graceful choreography by Septime Webre and David Palmer.

…a unique theatre experience and one that I’m sure adults and children will enjoy.

The Little Mermaid story in this production is different from the Disney tale.  It stays closer to Andersen’s version of a mermaid who longs to be human and falls in love with a human prince. Because of this love, she makes great sacrifices and takes great risks. The story is moving and interwoven with a bit of sadness, and the Imagination stage reflects the mood.  No brightly colored and singing sea life here.  Instead, there are beautiful puppet fish swimming in schools and brought to life with twirling dancers carrying each school on poles high above their heads.

The clever choreography and directing come together to interchange the actors with the dancers in a seamless exchange of emotion. During the introductory talk with the director and the choreographers, they commented that they saw the dancers showing what is the “heart” of the characters. Each actor has its dancer counterpart and when an actor plays a particularly happy, sad or loving scene, the dance counterpart takes to the stage to dance the emotion.

Deep under the sea is where the ballet shines. There is one scene when Giselle MacDonald, dancing as the Little Mermaid herself (who is named Pearl, not Ariel), deep under water, and two male dancers, dressed in blue costumes that look like the ocean, hold MacDonald level with their heads by her underarms as she rolls her body like a mermaid swimming. Beautiful.

Justine Icy Moral plays Pearl, the actress, and has a wonderful singing voice. She is very expressive and sweet. Todd Scofield is the Mer-father and commands the stage. Pearl’s sisters Coral (Emily Zickler) and Amber (Afua Busia) add to the story with Zickler’s strong will and Busia’s quiet strength.  Jennie Lutz does double duty as the flighty and very funny Froken Wulff, and then in an entirely opposite role as the evil Enchantress, who makes a striking impression with her voice and her stage presence.

Scenic Designer Milagros Ponce de Leon, Lighting Designer Jason Arnold, and Sound Designer Christopher Baine, all work together to immerse the audience under the sea. The entire theatre is incorporated into the production, from three wave-like structures hanging from the ceiling to the sounds and lights projected throughout the theatre that evoke the deep ocean and the land above the water.

All of these elements come together strikingly to produce a unique theatre experience and one that I’m sure adults and children will enjoy.

The Little Mermaid runs through August 14, 2016 at Imagination Stage, 4908 Auburn Avenue Bethesda, Maryland 20814. For tickets call the Box Office at 301-280-1660 or click here.

See original article at: http://mdtheatreguide.com/2016/06/theatre-review-the-little-mermaid-at-imagination-stage-in-collaboration-with-the-washington-ballet/
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Theatre Review: ‘The Little Mermaid’ at Imagination Stage in collaboration with The Washington Ballet