Archive for October, 2009

Bye Bye Birdie Finishes A Colorful Run This Weekend

birdie_rosie2I took a break from my own hectic theatre schedule to visit my friends at The Arlington Players, who are currently finishing a run of their fall production, Bye Bye Birdie.

I walked into the Thomas Jefferson Theatre last weekend and I felt like I walked into a Silver Diner with songs of the 50’s setting the tone for what was to come. The show makes a timely run in the DC area with a Broadway revival starring John Stamos slated to open in two weeks. The show revolves around songwriter and manager Albert Peterson (Chris Gillespie) and his client, Conrad Birdie (Michael Bigley.) When the pre-Jonas teen heart-throb is drafted in the Army, Peterson hatches up a publicity stunt to have Birdie go out with a bang.

Anne Marie Pinto plays Rosie Alvarez, Peterson’s secretary/love interest who is at odds with Albert’s mother, Mae (Kat Brais.) Kim MacAfee (Jordan Hougham) is the cute and adorable Conrad Birdie fan-club member that is to be kissed by Birdie on his last National television appearance.

The show’s strong points lie in the music. David Rohde leads what I have to admit is the best sounding Orchestra I’ve ever heard in a musical. Anne Marie Pinto and Jordan Hougham have absolutely beautiful voices and were real highlights to me in the show.

Besides great musical performances from the principals, the supporting cast gave entertaining efforts that almost stole every scene. I thought both Melissa Stamps and Kat Brais were very funny in playing the two mothers in the show: Kim’s effervescent mother Doris, or Albert’s thrifty and passive-aggressive mama Mae. My personal gold star goes to Cassandra Hodziewich, who’s ten minute cameo as Gloria Rasputin is absolutely unforgettable.

Amanda Acker designs another impressive set and also puts on the Producer hat for this production. Paired with the costume design of Lory Levitt and Irene Molnar, the resulting palette of colors in the show was pleasing from the first ensemble scene to the final outlines in the shadows.

Musical numbers like “The Telephone Hour” and “Put On A Happy Face” were cute and will be sure to take you back to a familiar time (funny I say that as a kid born in the 80’s.) In today’s world of Hannah Montana and The Jonas Brothers, Bye Bye Birdie tells a story of teenage teeny-boppers of an earlier time but should still resonate with all the trouble show biz brings to young stars today.

Bye Bye Birdie
Closing this weekend: October 2 —4
Thomas Jefferson Community Center
http://www.thearlingtonplayers.org/

Nationals: Are they LOVEABLE Losers Now?

Hee-Haw.

Hee-Haw. A seething commentary on the state of the Nats, or are these guys just a couple of Asses having some fun?

Even on the tail end of a 100+ loss season, it is nice to end with a sweep of a division rival complete with walk off grand-slam to send the fans home for the year.  It seems like years (not months) ago that the DC Metblogs crew stopped out to the stadium for opening day-and yet that is just what bad baseball is, a long season.

Over this past year though I’ve come to realize something about at least myself with regards to bad baseball-I’m okay with it.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m really looking forward to good baseball (or at least the .500 baseball we had our first season) finally coming to town-but baseball has really started to take a foothold in this town.  How can I possibly say that when the ratings are awful and the park is nearly (or more than) half empty every home game?  I think the above photo is part of that evidence.

The fact is that, good or bad, the Nationals are part of the landscape in DC now.  The new stadium isn’t ALL that new, the players aren’t all just faceless fill-ins, guys like Zimmerman and Strassburg are intent on committing to play in DC, NATS FAIL took off this year, and two fans decided to dress up like Dunn-key’s for the game.  It’s not great when your team is the joke, but at least people are laughing and not just walking out.  Apathy still reigns with regard to the Nationals and the larger DC community, but I think its fair to say that the hardcore fans are there now.  The people who want to watch baseball, rain or shine, good or bad and are otherwise committed to team are established.  That base is here now, and everyone else is at least aware that there is a team to go see if they want to.  Attendance next year probably still won’t be what everyone wants it to be, but I expect that at times it will spike (When the Opening Day, Strass pitching, etc.) and with a team that will finally, probably start playing better baseball (at least .400 I would guess) my hope is that this team is finally turning around.

And if they don’t-well they are at least a good laugh every now and then.  Something for the casual fan to kvetch about at the water cooler without really knowing what they are talking about (It’s easy to pick up on the fact that the “Nats Stink”), and a great place for the newly committed fan to go and watch a ball game and commiserate with some others that know what the score is.

I imagine later this year we’ll do a full recap of the season and a look forward to the next, but for now I just have a vaguely optimistic feeling about this club based on the appearance of a couple of jack-asses.  Go Nats.

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