Theatre News
Feb. 28th,2009

The Baltimore Theatre Alliance will present their next Post-show Showcase Cabaret this Sunday (March 1st) at the Spotlighters Theatre at 6:00pm. Your $15 donation to BTA will offer you food before the Cabaret which will feature performances from- ‘SWEENEY TODD’ (Spotlighters), HEAVY, WET SECTIONAL improv group, ‘CINDERELLA ‘(Loch Raven HS), and several vocalists. All for a $15.00 donation!!!!

Tickets: 410-752-1225 or http://www.ticketturtle.com/index.php?show=6134

Don’t miss this fun evening…………….
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Center Stage Promotional Discount:
If you donate gently used woman business attire the theatre is offering $10 off a ticket to
“Fabulations”. Use the code 09suitup when ordering tickets online or by phone. You will receive a donation receipt that you will need to pick up your tickets at the boxoffice. For more information- http://www.centerstage.org.
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Loch Raven High School to stage Rodgers & Hammerstein’s ‘CINDERELLA’, March 5-7. The cast of student range in age from 14 to 18 years old. Showtime is 7pm.
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The beautiful Fulton Theatre in Lancaster has announced their new season:
Hello, Dolly!
Driving Miss Daisy
Dial M for Murder
Noises Off
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Information- http://www.thefulton.org
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Big news from Arena Stage:

Not only was their smash hit production of, ‘NEXT TO NORMAL’, recorded for CD release (with the original Arena Stage cast) it is opening on Broadway & the Booth Theatre on March 27th with an official opening night on April 15th.

Also, ’33 Variations’, which had its world premiere last season at Arena will open with Jane Fonda starring at the Eugene O’Neil theatre on Broadway March 9th.

A full review of Arena’s current show- Edward Albee’s ‘A Delicate Balance’, and Olney’s- ‘Is He Dead?’ are now posted – Click on Reviews.
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The Greenbelt Arts Center will open the popular drama, ‘Amadeus’, with a run from March 13th until April 4. Their phone number is 301-441-8770 and the locations is 123 Centerway in Greenbelt.
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Olney Theatre Center is presenting the area premiere of an original play by
Mark Twain, ‘Is He Dead? now until March 8th. =============================================

Arena Stage in DC is presenting a star-studded production of Edward Albee’s- ‘A Delicate Balance’ until March 15th. The pivotal roles are played by two original cast members from the Broadway production of ‘Angels in America,’ Kathleen Chalfant and Ellen McLaughlin. To obtain tickets for this 1967 Pulitzer Prize winning play are available at:www.arenastage.org or 1-202-488-3300
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Signature Theatre in Arlington has extended their production of, ‘The Little Dog Laughed’ until March 15th. Tickets: http://www.signature-theatre.org. See the review on this website. Also Signature’s disappointing and expensive production of ‘Les Miz’ closes this Sunday.

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The Vags opens a new production of Harold Pinter’s- ‘Old Times’ shortly which runs from 2/27 – 3/29
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Charyl Churchill’s- ‘Cloud Nine’ is now playing at Audrey Herman’s Spotlighters Theatre until March 8th. It is a parody and spoof of the Victorian age and its rigid attitudes especially towards sex. The show is suggested for mature audiences only. Now until March 8th. Ticket Reservations at: 410-752-1225.
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Toby’s Dinner Theatres:Baltimore-
‘Sophisticated Ladies’ until March 15th (‘Disney’s Beauty & Beast’ next)
Columbia- ‘High School Musical’ & ‘My Way’ in repertory.
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The Hippodrome has a busy couple of months ahead with the following shows-Menopause: The Musical – 3/5-8
Riverdance – 3/10-15
Celetic Woman- 3/17 & 18CATS- 3/24-29
A Bronx Tale- 4/14-26 (starring ChazPalminteri)
========================================

Warner Theatre in DC-
A Bronx Tale- 2/28-3/8
Jesus Christ Superstar- 3/17-22 (Starring Teddy Neely)
RENT- 5/26-31 (Starring Adam Pascal & Anthony Rapp)
========================================

National Theatre in DC-
A Chorus Line- 3/10-4-12
Chicago- 3/31-4/12
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Bethesda Theatre-
Pluck, The Titanic Show- beginning 2/12
Forbidden Broadway- beginning 3/12
Menopause: TheMusical- beginning 4/14
To submit theatre news email: stagesbaltimore@aol.com
(list web news as the subject.

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Click on News for the latest

Olney Presents a World Premiere of
A ‘New’ Mark Twain Comedy,
RENT on DVD
And Edward Albee at Arena Stage

By Ben Ryland

After 12 years on Broadway and a long laundry list of actors, RENT closed on Broadway.
The ephemeral nature of live entertainment usually only leaves us the cast recording, playbill, program and sometimes the script to remember the experience of a musical on Broadway.

But thanks to SONY the final week of performances was captured and edited into the ultimate recording- the show its self. Granted the talented final cast were no slackers but upon comparison with the original (Idina Menzel, Taye Diggs, Jesse Martin, Adam Pascal, Daphne Rubin Vega, etc.) there is a slight bit of an energy spark missing on the video. But why quibble, many of the first cast show up on stage for the extended finale that can also be jumped to directly in the Bonus features. Baltimore’s Tracie Thoms played Johann in the movie version and in this final cast.

Even though I was bounced (downsized before the bankruptcy in 2001) from SONY Theatres
-and still holding a grudge after working for them for more than a dozen years- I will recommend all RENTheads and theatre lovers to check out this DVD for the following reasons- Filmed in HD with 17 cameras and incredible sound; hopefully it will sell well creating a market for ‘Live on Broadway’ recordings in the future.
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Mark Twain’s- Is He Dead?

Yes, this is a new play by Mark Twain. The recently discovered manuscript (Twain’s only play) has been adapted by David Ives and a fun evening is had by all. Olney has created two beautiful sets; I missed the changeover at intermission so if you don’t have to go stay and watch the transformation.

The French themed farce is based on a real starving artist, Jean-Francois Millet, but not based on
anything which really happened in his life. Millet and friends decide to have him fake becoming ill and die so his paintings will rapidly appreciate in value creating a buying frenzy which he will perpetuate by being alive to paint new ones. He was a talented artist but France was full of them, so to keep the ruse going he disguises himself as his widowed twin sister- “we have been twins for many years,” she explains.

The lone shark/art collector, Andre, has everyone in his pocket and takes a liking to the widow, after Millet’s girlfriend refuses his advances. Jokes and one-liners that would do Neil Simon proud hit home over and over. Twain even throws in a few boob and fart jokes too.

In the second act flushed with success the widow is wooed by several men both paupers and rich alike. But girlfriend Marie disguised as a policeman comes to investigate the death and gives the best performance of the show. A female Inspector Clouseau that would have Peter Sellers rolling in his grave from laughing. Elizabeth Jernigan as the cop keeps the audience rolling too in the final act.

Jeffries Thaiss as Millet (and his twin) is wonderfully sexual as a male and female even outshining his comedic role in Steve Martin’s The Underpants earlier this season at Olney.

To use the old theatre expression about acting- “Dying is easy, comedy is hard,” director Halo Wines and her merry cast of players have proven she and her cast don’t need just the script to make a stuffy era of history into a laugh a minute production. I loved it.

Mark Twain’s Is He Dead? – Olney Theatre Center – Route 108 and Sandy Spring Road.
Now until March 8th only
Tickets: http://www.olneytheatre.org
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Edward Albee’s- A Delicate Balance

This 1967 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama is now being presented at Arena Stage in DC/Virginia with some star powered actors from Broadway. Kathleen Chalfant and Ellen McLaughlin were both in the Tony winning, Angels in America Parts 1 & 2. A Delicate Balance is a huge play, and just as emotionally draining as ‘Angels’ in its own way.

The family depicted is typical. Loads of trauma, skeletons and eccentrics but with quick witted dialog. Staged in the elegant sitting room of the retired couple Agnes and Tobias the alcoholic sister of Agnes has ensconced herself upon their good nature and hospitality. As often in these types of plays the drunk is the most profound, observant and ultimately the voice of truth. McLaughlin gives a magnificent performance as Claire. Hints of Tobias sleeping with her years before are quickly ignored by Agnes as are the 4, or is it five times, daughter Julia has be married and dumped only to return home yet again. Throw in the couples best friends showing up and moving in because they are suddenly afraid in their own house and you have the ground work for a drama that only Albee could come up with.

As the alcohol flows to everyone but Agnes the sorted details arise wrapped in the playwrights usual off-kilter focus. After 3 hours and two intermissions everything goes back to normal but the audience has an understanding that this tight-knit group will continue along their same
route. There is no pivotal role in this play because every member of the group play pivotal
roles. Each with their own quirks, talking of suicide, uncomfortably details about their dead (maybe gay) son and/or drinking themselves into a stupor provide rich acting characterizations.

Director Pam MacKinnon creates a world of confusions out of chaos and pulls it off. The ensemble are a seamless cast of mostly veterans (several from Olney) who knowingly inhabit their creations. When Mama Agnes is speaking to her daughter she, “apologizes because I am articulate,” but that is a ruse also. Her idea of functional is to bring a delicate balance to her family and friends and as it often is, only to ignore the faults and histories of each.

Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance – Arena Stage in Crystal City, VA (temporary home)
Now through March 15th
Tickets: http://www.arenastage.org

THEATRE NEWS – 2/20/09

Next to Normal

Next to Normal

SHOWTUNE VIDEO MADNESS,
is a hit on Tuesday nights at the Club Hippo. The event is now 4 hours-
from 8:30pm until 12:30am every week.

The Baltimore City Paper has made SHOWTUNES a critic pick for a fun night on Tuesdays in Charm City. Everyone is Welcome to the hottest night out in town. Free Admission!!!

Bring your friends and join us. Free snacks and theme nights (with prizes twice a month). And the best Broadway, Hollywood and comedy on the big projection screens in full stereo.
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Big news from Arena Stage:

Not only was their smash hit production of, NEXT TO NORMAL, recorded for CD release this week (with the original Arena Stage cast) it is opening on Broadway @ the Longacre Theatre on March 27th with an official opening night on April 15th.

Also, 33 Variations, which had it’s world premiere last seas at Arena will open with Jane Fonda starring at the Eugene O’Neil theatre on Broadway March 9th.

A full review of Arena’s current show- Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance, will be posted on this website over the weekend.
=============================================

The First United Church in Fell Point will be hosting a production of, Godspell, next weekend February 27th – March 1st. Godspell was written by composer Stephen Schwartz who also has a little show on Broadway you may have heard about called, WICKED. Tickets are available at the door (cash only) and the location is 1728 Eastern Ave.
============================================

The Greenbelt Arts Center will open the popular drama, Amadeus, with a run from March 13th until April 4. Their phone number is 301-441-8770 and the locations is 123 Centerway in Greenbelt.
=============================================

Olney Theatre Center is presenting the area premiere of an original play by Mark Twain, ‘Is He Dead? now until March 8th. REVIEW WILL APPEAR ONLINE THIS WEEKEND.
=============================================

Scapino! (a long way from Moliere) is being performed at the McManus Theatre at Loyola College weekends Feb. 13th – 22nd. 410-617-5024.
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Sam Shepard’s A Lie of the Mind is playing at RepStage at HCC in Columbia until March 1st. At once wildly comic and deeply affecting, this turbulent love story entwines the destines of two families, from California and Montana, into a searing snapshot of America today.
=====================================

Arena Stage is presenting a star-studded production of Edward Albee’s- ‘A Delicate Balance’ until March 15th. The pivotal roles are played by two original cast members from the Broadway production of ‘Angels in America,’ Kathleen Chalfant and Ellen McLaughlin. To obtain tickets for this 1967 Pulitzer Prize winning play are available at:www.arenastage.org or 1-202-488-3300
=======================================

Signature Theatre in Arlington has extended their production of, ‘The Little Dog Laughed’ until March 15th. Tickets: http://www.signature-theatre.org. See the review on this website. Also Signature’s disappointing and expensive production of ‘Les Miz’ closes this Sunday.

========================================

The Vags opens a new production of Harold Pinter’s- ‘Old Times’ shortly which runs from 2/27 – 3/29
========================================

Charyl Churchill’s- ‘Cloud Nine’ is now playing at Audrey Herman’s Spotlighters Theatre until March 8th. It is a parody and spoof of the Victorian age and its rigid attitudes especially towards sex. The show is suggested for mature audiences only. Now until March 8th. Ticket Reservations at: 410-752-1225.
========================================

Toby’s Dinner Theatres:Baltimore-
‘Sophisticated Ladies’ until March 15th (‘Disney’s Beauty & Beast’ next)
Columbia- ‘High School Musical’ & ‘My Way’ in repertory.
========================================

The Hippodrome has a busy couple of months ahead with the following shows-
Menopause: The Musical – 3/5-8
Riverdance – 3/10-15
Celetic Woman- 3/17 & 18
CATS- 3/24-29
A Bronx Tale- 4/14-26 (starring ChazPalminteri)

========================================

Warner Theatre in DC-
A Bronx Tale- 2/28-3/8
Jesus Christ Superstar- 3/17-22 (Starring Teddy Neely)
RENT- 5/26-31 (Starring Adam Pascal & Anthony Rapp)
========================================

National Theatre in DC-
A Chorus Line- 3/10-4-12
Chicago- 3/31-4/12
========================================

Bethesda Theatre-
Pluck, The Titanic Show- beginning 2/12
Forbidden Broadway- beginning 3/12
Menopause: TheMusical- beginning 4/14
————————
To submit theatre news email: stagesbaltimore@aol.com
(list- web news as the subject.

grease_tour_054

February 5th, 2009

GREASE at the Hippodrome Theatre
By Lou Cedrone

It’s a national institution. It’s “Grease.” It first appeared on Broadway in 1972, thanks to Baltimoreans Kenneth Waissman and Maxine Fox (married at the time) who brought it in from Chicago where it had been authored and staged (on a lesser scale) by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey.

Waissman and Fox retained the Chicago ambiance but Baltimorized the show by framing the proscenium with graduation pictures from a Forest Park yearbook.

It caught on. Big. It ran for seven years and when it closed, was the longest-running show “in the history of Broadway.”

It has since lost that distinction, but since it closed there in 1979, it has enjoyed long-running revivals and has probably played every dinner theater in the country.

Then there’s the movie. That was out in 1977. Another smash.

And now we have the latest production at the Hippodrome. A road version of the recent Broadway revival, it will run there through February 15, and judging by the opening night reaction, it’s another smash.

Most of the cast is new to the show. Taylor Hicks is not. He’s the “Teen Angel.” He’ll stay with the show through February 8. He’s the American Idol winner, a crowd pleaser but then all the players in the show know how to please the audience.

At heart, “Grease” has always been cartoonish, a collection of skits connected by a lively score. Knowing this, this cast moves with speed and style. You’ll see other “Grease” companies down the road but none more lively than this. It may be over the top at times, but that may be the best way to do it.