Archive for the ‘Theatre’ Category

Ford’s Little Shop Of Horrors Brings On The Campy And Succeeds

Christopher Kale Jones as Seymour and Jenna Coker-Jones as Audrey in the Ford’s Theatre production of “Little Shop of Horrors,” directed by Coy Middlebrook. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

I can’t say this show has great dancing. I can’t say this show has tear-jerking acting or a story that will win awards. Ford’s Theatre’s production of Little Shot of Horrors is cheesy, campy, and all around crazy.

But that’s exactly why it works.

In the same vein as Rocky Horror Picture Show and Reefer Madness, Little Shop of Horrors is an American cult classic and the type of show you wouldn’t expect from a theatre that recently put up works like A Christmas Carol or The Rivalry. Where most musicals thrive on elaborate music, dance, and costumes; Little Shop entertains through over the top characters and an entertaining sci-fi story that could of been ripped from any five and dime comic book. The husband-wife team of Christopher Kale Jones and Jenna Coker-Jones (whom I mentioned in my previous blog of the show) play the show’s two leads: Seymour (Kale Jones), your stereotypical plant geek, and Audrey (Coker-Jones), a ditzy jersey girl. The two are employees at Mr. Mushnik’s (Christopher Bloch) flower shop on skid row. When Seymour finds an extra-terrestrial plant that feasts on human blood, life goes into a tailspin for him and everybody involved.

True to it’s pulp fiction roots, the show is fueled through energetic performances that are bigger than life yet not so over the top as to annoy. Coker-Jones is a fire cracker on stage and proves to be a great pairing with her real-life partner. Christopher Kale Jones plays up the geek in Seymour to a T. Besides a second-act accent reminiscent of Jimmy Stewart, he eliminates any doubts there may have been with a husband-wife casting. Evan Casey plays Orin, Audrey’s abusive and sadistic dentist-boyfriend, and is a one-man supporting cast playing every other minor character in the show. His multi-faceted performances are as impressive as the split-second costume changes he pulls off in the second act.

The music is heavy on the kitsch with a trio of women (Felicia Curry, Eleasha Gamble, Kara-Tameika

Christopher Kale Jones as Seymour and Evan Casey as Orin in the Ford’s Theatre production of “Little Shop of Horrors,” directed by Coy Middlebrook. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

Watkins) playing a Superemes-like ensemble- moving the show along with musical interludes. The songs have a doo-wop/motown feel that you’d swear you’ve heard on the radio or at Silver Diner. However with lyrics like, “You have a talent for causin’ things pain/Son, be a dentist/People will pay you to be inhumane,” you are instead laughing along to the toung-in-cheek style of the show. There’s nothing wrong with the band, directed by Christopher Youstra and conducted by George Fulginiti-Shakar. They are perched above the action on a deck shaped like a space-ship, a creative way to work with the small space of the theatre. Also perched above you can spy the voice of the plant Audrey II, Elliot Dash. He remains true to form voicing the puppeteered plant as it grows from a small seedling to a gigantic, man-eating, monster. Dash voices the plant with a dead-on accuracy to Levi Stubbs, the actor who portrayed Audrey II in the 1986 film starring Rick Moranis and Ellen Greene.

Performed atop a rotating stage, the blocking and choreography took advantage of the moving floor, with clever rotations of set and set-pieces as well as some walking moves on the track that a clumsy fool like me could never do- however they made it look easy. I felt that some of the lighting cues were a bit messy, but I chalk that up to opening week jitters; overall the show is a well put together performance that fully embraces the non-sensical of the story to provide an entertaining show that anybody should enjoy.

Christopher Kale Jones as Seymour with (background L to R) Felicia Curry, Kara-Tameika Watkins and Eleasha Gamble in the Ford’s Theatre production of “Little Shop of Horrors,” directed by Coy Middlebrook. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

Little Shop of Horrors
March 12 – May 22, 2010
Ford’s Theatre
511 10th Street NW
Washington, DC 20004

For patrons under 35, you can grab $10 tickets on Mondays- just order your tickets online and use code “under35”

Reston Community Players, Silver Spring Stage Take Home Top Honors At 2010 WATCH Awards

Photo courtesy of Joel Markowitz

I’ve never been to an awards ceremony before. Certainly not one like this.

Even though I spent the entire last month obsessing over the Academy Awards, I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived at The Birchmere for the 2010 Washington Area Theatre Community Honors (WATCH) awards. A year into my introductory DC theatre tour of duty I heard a lot about the annual event that recognizes the best in community theatre for the past year. I saw many familiar faces and friends in the packed room of 450, many of them nominated for one of the 38 awards to be presented that night. A couple of the shows I worked in the past year were nominated but for me it was generally a night to take in a longtime DC theatre tradition. The WATCH Awards celebrated it’s 10th year and has grown to include over 30 member companies across DC, Maryland, and Virginia.

The event was hosted by local actor Fred Nelson and kept things moving pretty quick, many warned me that it would be a long night. Reston Community Players‘ production of Curtains cleaned up last night, the show that I originally reported had the most nominations walked away with 12 WATCH awards including Outstanding Musical. Silver Spring Stage walked away with 8 total WATCH awards including Outstanding Play for their production of The Goat or, Who is Sylvia?

Congratulations to all the winners, the complete list of award recipients can be found below.

Outstanding Lighting Design – Musical: Ken and Patti Crowley, Curtains, Reston Community Players

Outstanding Lighting Design – Play: Chris Curtis, Columbinus, Silver Spring Stage

Outstanding Sound Design – Musical: Rich Bird, Curtains, Reston Community Players

Outstanding Sound Design – Play: Kevin Garrett, Columbinus, Silver Spring Stage

Outstanding Costume Design – Musical: Grant Kevin Lane, Follies, The Arlington Players

Outstanding Costume Design – Play: Melody Sciarratta, A Man for All Seasons, Port Tobacco Players

Outstanding Set Design – Musical: Skip Larson, Rick Schneider, and Andrew JM Regiec, Curtains, Reston Community Players

Outstanding Set Design – Play: John Reckeweg, Angel Street, Port Tobacco Players

Outstanding Set Construction – Musical: Sarah Birkhead, Curtains, Reston Community Players

Outstanding Set Construction – Play: Andew Greenleaf and Eric Henry, The Mousetrap, Silver Spring Stage

Outstanding Set Painting – Musical: Cathy Reider, Curtains, Reston Community Players

Outstanding Set Painting – Play: MYKE, Gross Indecency, Little Theatre of Alexandria

Outstanding Set Decoration and Set Dressing – Musical (Tie): Jenna Ballard, One Red Flower, Kensington Arts Theatre; Evan Hoffman and Malca Giblin, The Great American Trailer Park Musical, Kensington Arts Theatre

Outstanding Set Decoration and Set Dressing – Play: C. Evan Kirk, The Art of Murder, Little Theatre of Alexandria

Outstanding Properties – Musical: Jenna Ballard & Brian Dettling, One Red Flower, Kensington Arts Theatre

Outstanding Properties – Play: Sonya Okin, The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? Silver Spring Stage

Outstanding Makeup Design – Musical: Avery Burns, Follies, The Arlington Players

Outstanding Makeup Design – Play: Paul Morton, Gross Indecency, Little Theatre of Alexandria

Outstanding Hair Design – Musical: Bette Williams, Follies, The Arlington Players

Outstanding Hair Design – Play: E. Lynda Bruce-Lewis, Amadeus, Greenbelt Arts Center

Outstanding Special Effects: Andrew Greeenleaf, The Mousetrap, Silver Spring Stage

Outstanding cameo – Musical (Tie): Roy Barbacow as “Waiter/Caroler” She Loves Me, Colonial Players;  Josh Doyle as “Charles Lindbergh” Flight of the Lawnchair Man, CCT with 2nd Flight Theatre Company

Outstanding Cameo – Play (Tie): Joe Helein as “The Hustler” Six Degrees of Separation, CCT with 2nd Flight Theatre Company; Gayle Nichols-Grimes as “Ann Marwood Bartle” Jeffrey, Dominion Stage

Outstanding Featured Actress – Musical: Katie McManus as “Georgia Hendricks” Curtains, Reston Community Players

Outstanding Featured Actor – Musical: Mike Hoskinson as “Dave Bukatinsky” The Full Monty, Reston Community Players

Outstanding Featured Actress – Play: Mollie Wise as “Betty Meeks” The Foreigner, Little Theatre of Alexandria

Outstanding Featured Actor – Play: Randy Tusing as “Thomas Cromwell” A Man for All Seasons, Port Tobacco Players

Outstanding Lead Actress – Musical: Susanna Todd as “Gracie” Flight of the Lawnchair Man, CCT with 2nd Flight Theatre Company

Outstanding Lead Actor – Musical: Blakeman Brophy as “Lt. Frank Cioffi” Curtains, Reston Community Players

Outstanding Lead Actress – Play: Laura Russell as “Stevie” The Goat or, Who is Sylvia?, Silver Spring Stage

Outstanding Lead Actor – Play: James Raby as “Antonio Salieri” Amadeus, St. Mark’s Players

Outstanding Stage Combat Choreography: Brian Farrell & Karen Schlumpf , Curtains, Reston Community Players

Outstanding Choreography: Andrea Heininge , Curtains, Reston Community Players

Outstanding Music Direction: Mark Deal, Curtains, Reston Community Players

Outstanding Direction of a Musical: Andrew JM Regiec , Curtains, Reston Community Players

Outstanding Direction of a Play: Bridget Muehlberger & Andrea Spitz , columbinus, Silver Spring Stage

Outstanding Musical: Curtains, Reston Community Players

Outstanding Play: The Goat or, Who is Sylvia?, Silver Spring Stage

Little Shop Of Horrors Opens Tonight At Ford’s Theatre

Jenna Coker-Jones and Christopher Kale Jones star in Ford Theatre's Little Shop of Horrors

Earlier this week this blogger/video producer/stage manager got a real treat- a behind the scenes look at Ford’s Theatre.

Perhaps most famous as the site where President Lincoln was shot, Ford’s Theatre continues to operate as a performance venue and looks better than ever after re-opening from renovations two years ago. I was excited to walk on the theatre’s plush red carpeting and see this iconic space for myself.

I walked past the house lobby into the theatre where I walked by a sign that read no firearms (oh if they only had that back in the day…) as well as a sign that said no food or drink. I tucked my water bottle into my blazer and hoped the Ranger on duty didn’t notice (I paid $.89 for that bottle and it was still full! Dont’ worry guys I wasn’t going to open it and ruin a National landmark.)

The theatre was smaller than I thought it would be- but then again performance spaces of the 19th century probably weren’t very large. As I sat down in the balcony I looked to my right and saw the Presidential booth, draped in flags with a portrait of Lincoln George Washington hanging outside the front of the box. To my left I saw another box and to my immediate left I saw the lighting designers programming cues. The light board rested above wooden planks place across the front row- a juxtaposition of old history and modern age technology.

It was a technical rehearsal not unlike the ones I’ve been through as a stage manager. The actors of the show stood around in place as the stage manager, director, and music director moved through the script and worked out specific technical cues. The only difference between this production and the productions I’ve managed is that everybody was calm, efficient, and professional at this rehearsal. Let’s just say I’ve been through worse technical rehearsals.

Little Shop of Horrors Set Design Sketch (Scenic design by Court Watson)

I got a great view of the set, very similar to the original design sketches shown here. Audrey II, the giant plant that the show is most well known for, was on stage and looked terrific as I saw it “eat” lead actress Jenna Coker-Jones over and over again. The overall look of the show appears to stay true to the show’s reputation as an Americana cult classic. Coker-Jones plays the role of Audrey and Christopher Kale Jones (Jenna’s husband) plays Seymour. The husband/wife duo is supported by a cast of other local DC actors, many of which you can see on Jenna & Christopher’s behind-the-scenes videos. For more behind the scenes look check out Katie Brobst’s blog where she chronicles her experience learning about the show from an outsider’s view.

From the sneak peak of the show last night I am definitely interested in seeing the show- and with the theatre’s under-35 special I am definitely going to make it out! Patrons under 35 can get tickets for only $10 on Mondays starting March 22nd.  Just use the code UNDER35 at checkout.


Little Shop of Horrors
March 12 – May 22, 2010
Ford’s Theatre
511 10th Street NW
Washington, DC 20004

Local Awards Season Kicks-Off With WATCH Nominations

WatchlogoToday the headlines may be about this morning Oscar nominations but a couple weeks ago the DC theatre scene was already buzzing with the recent announcement of the Washington Area Theatre Community Honors awards. The organization nominates and rewards the best in community theatre in the Washington DC area.

Back on January 17th, the nominees were announced 38 categories. The big nominees were Reston Community Players (32 nominations), Little Theatre of Alexandria (27 nominations), and Silver Spring Stage (23 nominations). Reston was not only the most nominated theatre but also had the top two nominated shows, with their recent production of Curtains earning 19 nominations including outstanding musical. Reston’s production of The Full Monty came in second with 13 nominations. The Arlington Player’s production of Follies came in third with 12 nominations.

Here are the nominees for outstanding musical and play (the complete list can be found here):

Outstanding Musical

  • Curtains – Reston Community Players
  • Falsettos – Elden Street Players
  • Follies – Arlington Players
  • The Full Monty – Reston Community Players
  • The Musical of Musicals – Elden Street Players

Outstanding Play

  • columbinus – Silver Spring Stage
  • The Goat or, Who is Sylvia? – Silver Spring Stage
  • Gross Indecency – Little Theatre of Alexandria
  • It Runs in the Family – Little Theatre of Alexandria
  • Six Degrees of Separation – CCT with 2nd Flight Theatre Company

The awards will be announced and presented at a ceremony on March 14th at The Birchmere. The WATCH awards are the first of the local theatre awards in the DC area, with the Ruby Griffith awards and Helen Hayes awards presented later in the year.

Cadillacs, Rent, and Reefer Madness: Shows To Watch This Month

It’s not even 15 days into 2010 and I already have a couple of shows under my belt for the New Year. I followed a bit of my own advice and went out to see a couple of the shows I previously mentioned back in November.

The Solid Gold Cadillac
Studio Theatre
Extended to January 17th


Nancy Robinette as Mrs. Laura Partridge in Solid Gold Cadillac

On New Years day I traveled down to the Studio Theatre where I was able to snag a complementary ticket- however this is a show I would gladly put down some money on. I originally highlighted this show for the laughs and it delivered as promised. Nancy Robinette is a delight to watch as Mrs. Laura Partridge, a minority stockholder turned company executive.

As a former actress, Partridge doesn’t approach business in a traditional way and sets up many comical confrontations with the executives of General Products (played by David Sabin, James Slaughter, Paul Nolan, and Leo Erickson.) The brass in charge are stereotypical executives (old white guys) who’s greed and avarice remind you of the big CEO’s that have made recent headlines. Michael Goodwin plays Edward L. McKeever, an unlikely “Prince Charming” from Capital Hill, who’s attempts to right the wrongs end up creating a scandal that would of plastered the today’s tabloids. I particularly enjoyed the cameos by a few of WJLA’s finest and the local crowd snickered at a few lines that take some light hits on DC’s political scene.

Solid Gold Cadillac is a 1950’s comedy that’s never been more true today and a must-see if you are looking for an intellectual laugh.

Keegan Theatre
Extended to January 30th


Keegan Theatre's Rent

Keegan must be thrilled for the sold out crowds that have flocked to see Rent, which has recently been extended to January 30th. John Loughney, who plays Mark, was surprised about the show’s success, “I don’t think we knew what kind of press it would get (luckily it’s been good!) and how quickly it would sell out. This cast cannot get enough of one another and the show- I think another 8 nights hanging out together and singing/ dancing/ acting our hearts out was very welcome.” I was lucky to catch a performance last week, grabbing a ticket after a last-minute cancellation.

I’m ashamed to admit that as a stage manager I walked into show with little knowledge of the show. If Team America was correct in their take of the show, I knew that this would be a show where AIDS would be an overarching theme. However I learned that Rent is more than just a musical where, “everybody has AIDS.”

The show is a wonderful cavalcade of music. The entire cast from Angel (Parker Drown) to the Ensemble delivered energizing performances. The challenge of fitting a big Broadway musical into the small Church Street Theatre was addressed with an innovative set-design that shows the bare brick walls of the theatre to help establish the urban feel of the Bohemian Alphabet City. If you are a fan of the show or a newcomer (like me) you should run- not walk to Keegan’s box office and grab tickets. As of this writing, all but two shows in the extended run have been sold out.

(Disclosure: Keegan Theatre has recently offered me a contract to work with them this season and if Rent is any example, I’m excited to be involved in future productions!)

Reefer Madness
Dominion Stage
January 15th – 30th

I’m not going to lie: Reefer Madness had me sold solely on the title. Of course when I heard Dominion Stage was putting on Reefer as part of their 60th Anniversary Season, I did a little bit more homework on the show. Reefer Madness originally started as a 1936 exploitation film- a cautionary tale about Marijuana that instead became a cult classic comedy in the 1970’s. The musical revolves around the tale of wholesome teenagers Jimmy Harper (Joel Piper) and Mary Lane (Jaclyn Young) and their discovery of the recreational drug. Their world spins wildly out of control and ends in calamity- and zombies. Now that I know the show has zombies as well I’m doubly sold to catch it. The show opens this Friday at the Gunston Arts Center in Arlington.


Ten DC Theatre Shows To Catch This Holiday Season

Edward Gero will play Ebenezer Scrooge in the Ford’s Theatre production of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, directed by Michael Baron. Photo by Scott Suchman

Edward Gero will play Ebenezer Scrooge in the Ford’s Theatre production of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, directed by Michael Baron. Photo by Scott Suchman

Now that I’m fresh off a show, I got theatre on the mind- so I thought I’d take a moment to see what’s going on in the DC Theatre scene this Holiday Season.

A Christmas Carol
Ford’s Theatre
November 23, 2009 – January 3, 2010

What doesn’t sum up the Holiday season more than the tale of Tiny Tim and Scrooge? Sure we know that Jim Carrey is starring the in Disney reboot of it in theatres but if you prefer live action rather than fancy CGI, The Ford’s Theatre is putting on a run of the classic show and is partnering with Bread for the City to not only provide an entertaining holiday show, but help out those less fortunate as well. Need another reason to consider checking out the show? Try cute kid actors on YouTube.

Toby’s Dinner Theatre
November 12, 2009 – January 24, 2010

Working on Rocky Horror this past fall I heard a lot about this dinner theatre in Columbia, MD. It maybe a trek for those in the Metro area but from what I’ve heard it’s a great destination when you wanna get out of the city; also it’s not only a show but dinner as well! For those that want to enjoy fine dining and fine entertainment can catch another classic as the story of a spunky Red-haired orphan and her dog comes to life and I’m very excited to see they casted a live dog to play Sandy (played by Belle the dog.) Toby’s also has a Baltimore location that is putting on Irving Berlin’s White Christmas.

Disney’s Mulan
Imagination Stage

November 25, 2009 – January 10, 2010

This ain’t Disney on Ice. The 1998 film is now available in musical theatre format over at the Imagination Stage in Bethesda, MD. The show is only playing weekends during it’s run but that also includes an after Christmas show on December 26th.

George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker
Kennedy Center
November 24, 2009 –  November 29, 2009


The Pennsylvania Ballet performs George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker.

The Pennsylvania Ballet puts on a new production of the Tchaikovsky classic. It’ll only be in the area for the week of Thanksgiving. If you happen to miss it’s short stay at the Kennedy Center, the upcoming production of Young Frankenstein looks promising as well.

It’s a Wonderful Life
Elden Street Players
December 11, 2009 – December 20, 2009

If you get sick of seeing James Stewart in black & white on TV, then head on out to Elden Street and catch their rendition of the Frank Carpa classic. Performances will be held Friday-Sunday with two shows on Saturdays and a Thursday show on December 17th.

Jersey Boys
National Theatre
Ends December 12, 2009

The Washington Post says that it’s a, “a smashing serenade of the muscular harmonies.” The Washingtonian calls it a, “sleek, seamless production.” The National Theatre is currently hosting the National Tour of Jersey Boys, the musical that depicts the story of  Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. The show will be in DC until December 12th where it moves on to Detroit.

Plaid Tidings
Little Theatre of Alexandria
December 3, 2009  – December 20, 2009

If the above show doesn’t satisfy your classic rock hunger perhaps this show will. According to LTA’s site, “the charming plaid-clad quartet from Forever Plaid – are transported back from the cosmos to stage a nostalgic holiday party for world-weary Earth mortals.” Sounds like crooners are in this holiday season.


Watch out, Rent is going to invade DC Theatres for 2010.

Keegan Theatre
December 17, 2009 – January 17, 2009

The Broadway classic may not be a holiday show, but since the performance rights has opened up to local productions you are quickly going to see a lot of theatres taking on the show in 2010. Keegan is lucky enough to be one of the first theatres to put on the Tony award winning rock musical.

The Solid Gold Cadillac
Studio Theatre
December 2, 2009 – January 10, 2010

Amongst Holiday tales and Musical Theatre, I wanted to make sure that a good ol’ Farce was included and Studio Theatre’s production of Solid Gold Cadillac fulfills that requirement. The tales revolves around Mrs. Laura Partridge, a minor stockholder in a major corporation who takes on the board in a fairy tale wrapped-up as a comedy. Come to the show on December 5th and tickets are “pay what you can.”

Striking 12
Arena Stage
December 2, 2009 – December 13, 2009

The Arena stage maybe counting down the days til their new SW Waterfront facility is online but at it’s temporary space in Crystal City the show still goes on.  Striking 12 is combination of musical theatre and live concert, with the group GrooveLily performing a “concert-with-a-story” where the band plays the actors. Watching the YouTube clips of the performance, the show is definitely something different that the regular theatre fare.

Catch Rocky Horror Show This Halloween Weekend


Photo courtesy Alex Buckley

A disclosure so the FTC doesn’t go after me: this post is going to be 60% shameless plug.

I’ve spent the last few months stage managing for Kensington Arts Theatre’s production of The Rocky Horror Show. We opened last weekend to some wonderful audiences and this weekend we are pulling all the stops out for Halloween. Tonight we’ll have a performance at 8:00 PM but tomorrow night we’ll be having a special midnight performance for Halloween! What better way to celebrate the holiday than watching the show that’s been a horror cult classic for years.

The Rocky Horror Show tells the tale of Brad and Janet, a newly engaged couple that are left stranded when their car breaks down in a rain storm, and seek the sheltered at the nearby castle of Frank-N-Furter, a mad scientist who has a devilish plan in store for his new visitors.

For those that are Frankie fans, audience participation will be allowed and encouraged. If you are Rocky Horror virgin, you can find out what all the fuss is about here. Audience members will be free to shout out their favorite callbacks during the show, however keep your rice and pieces of toast at home. Props brought from home won’t be allowed due to safety reasons, however you can purchase all the props you need to shower the theatre with cards for sorrow and cards for pain.

To get complete details on the show check out KAT’s website– and if can’t catch it this weekend it’ll be running til November 14th.

If my shameless plug didn’t convince you to check out Rocky Horror then here’s a couple of other things you can do:

Spring Awakening Rocks The Roof Off Kennedy Center

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Spring Returning

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Spring Returning

I’m not really into musicals.

Even though I try and stay active in the DC theatre scene, I just prefer straight plays. My mind was soon changed when I saw Spring Awakening with PQ for my first show at the Kennedy Center.

I walked into the lavish performing center with minimal knowledge on the show’s background. What I found was a show that challenged everything I’d usually expect from a traditional musical. No large casts, no fancy backdrops, no grand orchestra to fill the pit. Instead what I saw was a small but dynamic ensemble; a stage bare except for an interpretive brick backdrop and bleachers on both sides (more on that later); and instead of a large orchestra, a house band of musicians.

The story revolves around a group of teenagers in 19th century Germany and explores their sexual coming of age as they make the change from youth to adulthood. Jake Epstein (fresh from DeGrassi and in his first musical tour) stars as Melchior, a student who’s more enlightened than his peers about the birds and the bees. Christy Altomare palys Wendla, a girl who starts the show asking her mother where do babies come from. The two meet and well, you can guess where it goes.

In other words it’s like American Pie but classier and with music and dance. I mean with song titles like “Touch Me”, “My Junk”, and “The Word of Your Body”; you know there’s going to be a lot of awkward teenage moments. What’s really amazing is that the story is based on Frank Wedekind’s 1891 play. Wedekind was really beyond his time.

The production has already won 8 Tony Awards, 3 Drama Desk Awards, a Grammy and other countless accolades. I can assure you that the show is worth every one too.

The story has been well adapted and contains plenty moments that will make you and the audience roar with laughter. The music by Duncan Sheik breaks the mold of traditional musical fare and makes the show resemble a rock opera more than a musical. The dance isn’t overly flowery but instead a form of restrained emotion and energy. Lots of stomping and jumping could play into a metaphor of the student’s newly found emotions and feelings, not to mention raging horomones.

With a strong entertaining story and bombastic musical performances, Spring Awakening is one of the most energizing pieces to come to DC this summer.

Spring Awakening will be performing at the Kennedy Center until August 2nd. Besides tickets in the house, you can also get tickets ON STAGE. A limited number of onstage seats are available at $35 from the Box Office or through Instant-Charge. They are not available online.  Onstage seating offers a side/rear-view of the performance, with the action of the show taking place all around you. When I saw the audience members on stage watching the show from feet away, I was thinking how cool it would be to get those tickets. For complete details on that, check out the Kennedy Center website.


Spring Awakening
Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theatre
July 7, 2009 – August 2, 2009
Tickets: 202-467-4600

Get Your Redneck On At Kensington Arts’ Trailer Park Musical

Courtesy of Kensington Arts Theatre

Jaclyn Young, Katie McManus, Kat Brais, and John P. Loughney

It’s only fitting I sit here with my wife-beater on as I write this.

Coincidentally it was the same outfit I had on when I trekked up to Kensington to check out Kensington Arts Theatre‘s production of The Great American Trailer Park Musical. I thought it would be fun to dress up and enjoy a show that sounded like it was going to be… quite trashy. I mean with a title like that, you aren’t expecting suspenseful drama.

I was happy to see I wasn’t the only one in costume as I walked in.

KAT truly transformed their space to fit the atmosphere of the show, from the beer cans and beach chairs scattered about to the hour dourves (Pringles and spray can cheese) that was served by the Choreographer (Catherine Oh) who was in bathrobe and curlers.

It was trailer park class I could belive in.

I noticed other audience members were in costume as the show got underway, creating a fun environment to enjoy the show. A show which I was already enjoying well into their first number, “This Side of the Tracks.”

Director Evan Hoffmann brought out all the cliches, stereotypes, and redneck jokes that makes Trailer Park such an entertaining show. The whole performance is a well executed, fast paced romp that is sure to keep you laughing all night. Be sure to keep your ears open, the show is full of clever lines and entendres that makes Trailer Park such a well written piece.

Courtesy of Kensington Arts Theatre

Malinda Ellerman as Jeannie Garstecki

Malinda Ellerman as Jeannie Garstecki is absolutely adorable and performs with energy and passion as the agoraphobic wife of Norbert Garstecki (Patrick McMahan.) In usual white trash fashion, Norbert is caught between his panic stricken wife and his new neighbor, Pippi (Jennifer Lambert), a sultry stripper who is on the run from her crazy ex-boyfriend Duke (John P. Loughney.) The show goes through so many twists and turns you’ll feel like you are on an episode of Jerry Springer… which the show quickly points out in the number “The Great American TV Show.”

The entire tale is told through a trio of storytellers (Kat Brais, Katie McManus,  and Jaclyn Young) who also get their moment to shine through impressions, side jokes, and solos. The three almost steal the show with their antics and reminded me of a redneck version of The Supremes.

Rounding out the ensemble are Darnell Morris and Mark Hidalgo who play rather silent, but by no means unforgettable roles. Pay special attention to them towards the end of the show.

Besides serving the hour dourves,  Catherine Oh has also done a fine job with the Choreography- making creative usage of toilet brushes in the Flushed Down the Pipes number. (A choreography side note, I was personally delighted to see a brief homage to Beyonce during one of the numbers. You’ll have to go watch to see what I’m talking about.)

If you need something to do this weekend I highly endorse escaping the city life of DC and checking out The Great American Trailer Park Musical, it will be a performance you are going to walk out loving.

The Great American Trailer Park Musical
Kensington Arts Theatre
3710 Mitchell Street
Kensington, MD 20895
May 21, 22, 23 (8 PM show)
Adult $20/Students & Seniors $17/Children & Residents $13

Follies: A High School Reunion With Broadway Style


The Ladies of Weismann's Follies (photo courtesy of The Arlington Players)

My friends at The Arlington Players invited me to check out Follies, their Spring production which opened last weekend. I was able to make it out for their opening weekend matinee and talk back.

I’ve never seen the musical by Stephen Sondheim and 1971 Tony award winner for Best Music & Lyrics; so I didn’t know what to expect.  As the Orchestra (conducted by Leah Kocsis) started up with the overture, ghostly figures began to march in as if they were haunting memories of the half demolished theatre where the show takes place in. Was I about to watch a ghost story about a haunted theatre? That’d be a cool musical to do, something like Scooby Doo the Musical: Case of the Haunted Theatre- oh wait that’s already been done.

I quickly realized that the show is actually about a reunion of the, “Weismann’s Follies” a group of girls that performed musical revues back in the day (think Ziegfeld Follies.) The theatre they used to perform in is now abandoned and will soon become a parking lot. The girls and boys come back to say one last goodbye to the stage.

Much like your high school reunion, everybody is eager to come back and reminisce and relive the pleasant (and not so pleasant) memories of yonder. The show focuses on two couples: Sally (Jean Cantrell) and Buddy (Jack B. Stein); and Phyllis (Lynn Audrey Neal) and Ben (Jimmy Payne.)


Jack B. Stein as Buddy Plummer (photo courtesy of The Arlington Players)

The two couples are anything but happy, with Sally still harboring feelings towards Ben, who is still a player in his married life but is still seeking something more. Buddy, a traveling salesman, struggles to rekindle the love that was once there and Phyllis has grown to be a tough shell of a woman, seemingly devoid of any sense of human compassion.

It’s the kind of drama I’d love to see at my own high school reunion.

Follies explores how a group reunites and recollects, but it also take a glimpse at how human relationships mature, change, and evolve in such a setting.

The actors that really caught my eye was Jack B. Stein as Buddy Plummer and Jean Cantrell as Sally Durant Plummer. I particularly enjoyed seeing the Buddy’s vaudevillian number in the second act. Nothing says Vaudeville like wearing a cardboard car for a costume!

Often the supporting cast of actors don’t get enough credit, in Follies each of them had an opportunity to shine and shine they did. I particularly loved Solange La Fitte (Judy Lewis) in her “Ah, Paris!” number. I’m a sucker for accents.


The Number That Makes This Show (photo courtesy of The Arlington Players)

Director & Choreographer Christopher Dykton put together some really lovely dance numbers, “Who’s That Woman?” is worth the price of admission alone. The coordination of one set of dancers is hard enough- but to coordinate a mirror image of their younger counterparts dancing exactly in step is cause for recognition. That number alone is worth the price of admission.

Dykton also played around with the idea of younger counterparts or ghosts in the show- as the main characters would remember or perform, those clone companion were often there reliving their tales, or in some cases haunting their past.  It created lovely images that really added to production. While some would criticize the hit and miss pairings in casting, I applaud Dykton’s decision to create a diverse cadre of actors and concentrated more on the talent of the person.

The second act of the show is where the strongest elements of the production come together. The set magically transforms from a run-down stage to what it was in it’s heyday. The “Loveland” number is the classic folly number with dancers revealed behind a 400lb fan setpiece (kudos to Jared Davis & Bill Wisniewski for designing and building that contraption). What follows after that number is a series of folly numbers that explores each of the main characters’ inner emotions and struggles. Phyllis really shined in her folly, “The Story of Lucy And Jessie”, a number that had a very Chicago like feel to it.

The Arlington Players put together a solid show that features great dancing and singing- their elaborate sets, and large numbers are sure to entertain and take you back to a much simpler time, well at least what we remember was a simpler time.


The Loveland Folly in the 2nd Act Is Sure to Impress (photo courtesy of The Arlington Players)

Weekends April 17 — May 2, 2009
Thomas Jefferson Community Center

Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.