Review: Heathers the Musical at How Do You Like Me Now Productions

By Jason Crawford Samios-Uy

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Running Time: Approx. 2 hours and 30 minutes with a 15-minute intermission

***NOTE: Heathers the Musical at How Do You Like Me Now Productions ended its run on Sunday, October 29***

To ask the age old question of the wisest men… What’s your damage?! Well, How Do You Like Me Now (HDYLMN) Productions, in association with Erase the Hate Through Art, is trying to answer that question with their most recent production of Heathers the Musical with Book, Music, & Lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Kevin Murphy, Directed by Ed Higgins, Music Direction by Andrew Zile, and Choreography by Kristen Rigsby. Based on a quirky film from 1989 of the same name (minus the Musical) Heathers the Musical takes us through a journey of popularity, the repercussions of that popularity, teen angst, and all those crazy things and ups and downs that happen during our teenage years.

In a nutshell, Heathers the Musical is about Veronica Sawyer, a teen outcast turned popular kid who hooks up with the most popular kids in school, the Heathers, and learns that being at the top isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Enter Jason Dean (JD) an angsty, trench coat wearing, dark and brooding new kid who shows Veronica there’s more than one way to stop the bullies from bullying.

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(l-r) Ellie Parks, Bryce Gudelsky, and Emily Wesselhoff. Photo: Shealyn Jae Photography

The Studio Theatre at Chesapeake Center for the Arts is a great space to see a show, it’s not too big and not too small, especially for a show like Heathers the Musical. Set/Technical Design by Josh Anderson is completely minimal with no real set to speak of, but his use of projections is clever and the set pieces are well thought-out and chosen wisely. Some of the scene transitions are a bit lengthy and clunky, but the crew gets the job done and are ready when the lights come up.

Costume Design by Grant Myers is on point for this production. It’s always fun to see the style of a bygone era and the 80s were a doozy! You never knew what you were going to see in the halls of a high school and everything was always so unique, even within cliques. One hiccup might be the repeated mention of JD’s trench coat but… no trench coat. Regardless, it’s a great design and Myers’ attention to detail is admirable and authentic, adding great value to this piece.

It’s worth saying that Choreography by Kristen Rigsby is certainly a highlight of this production. Every group number has variety, is well rehearsed, and tight making for some delightful moments. Rigsby seems to know her cast and the choreography emphasizes their strengths making every number look splendid. Her instincts to match her dances to the music are remarkable and the cast seems to be having a great time performing her choreography. Kudos to Rigsby for a job well done!

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Luis Mentes and Olivia Winter. Photo: Shealyn Jae Photography

Music Director Andrew Zile should be commended for his work on this piece as he had his cast in harmony and singing strong. At no fault of Zile’s I wish I could have heard more of his work but, since the cast isn’t amplified with microphones and there is practically a full orchestra, I strained to hear the singers through much of the production. Speaking of the orchestra, there are many consisting of Andrew Zile as Conductor/Synthesizer, W. William Zellhoffer on Piano, Eric Allard on Violin, Ian Lyons on Reeds, Steven Bailey on Trumpet, David Kistler on Guitar, Kevin Jones on Bass, and Winfield Clasing on Drums, but they sound phenomenal! They are tight and spot on in every number. There are a few hiccups with pitch and timing but, overall, Zile has a great grasp of the score and guides this cast nicely.

Ed Higgins takes the reigns of this production and he does seem to have a good comprehension of the text and story and, though his space has its limitations, there are some curious choices for scene settings, such as the corner of the theatre where, depending on where you are sitting, you can’t see or hear much of what’s going on. He has assembled a good cast and they have a fantastic chemistry that is clear throughout the production. The quirkiness required of this piece wasn’t as apparent as it should have been, but it is a well put-together production that gives an enjoyable evening of theatre.

Concerning the performance of this piece, this ensemble is strong and committed. All in the ensemble give a praiseworthy performance and should be applauded.

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(l-r) Michael Leard and Zach Husak. Photo: Shealyn Jae Photography

Ram Sweeney and Kurt Kelley are played by Zach Husak and Michael Leard, respectively and give a hilarious portrayal of stereotypical jocks of the school. Their comedic timing is near perfect and they play well off each other. Vocally, they don’t give the strongest showing, especially with the higher register in the songs and lean more on the comedy of the absurd but, overall, give humorous, strong performances.

In this particular performance, Veronica Sawyer (who is usually portrayed by Olivia Winter) is portrayed by Linda Roby and she gives an admirable performance. As mentioned, no one is amplified with microphones and Roby didn’t project as well as she could have making her hard to hear, at times. Also, some of the songs may have been above her comfortable register as she seems to strain on the high notes, but she seems to understand the character very well and portrays the teenaged angst extremely well.

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Luis Mentes and Olivia Winter. Photo: Shealyn Jae Photography

JD (Jason Dean), the brooding, dark new kid is played by Luis Montes and he gives a strong, confident performances but he seems to have a bit too much urgency than is called for this character who is usually laid back and cool. However, he makes the role his own and makes for a respectable presentation. Vocally, he does well, overall, with a few strains here and there, but nothing that spoils his performance as a whole.

The Heathers, the pinnacle of the Westerberg High School pyramid, are played flawlessly by Bryce Gudelsky as Heather Chandler, Ellie Parks as Heather McNamara, and Emily Wesselhoff as Heather Duke. All three of these ladies have a great chemistry and exude the bitchiness that is The Heathers. Gudelsky embodies Heather Chandler and all her power and wails on her featured number “Candy Store.” All the while Parks, as Heather McNamara, plays the follower near perfectly, portraying an insecurity and need to be accepted through her mannerisms and delivery and can almost bring the audience to tears in her poignant number, “Life Boat.” Last but not least, Wesselhoff as the bottom Heather on the totem pole, Heather Duke, portrays this Heater beautifully.  Her gradual change in position throughout the production is seamless and makes for a strong, poised performance that is to be commended. Vocally, Wesselhoff is a powerhouse and belts out her part in featured numbers such as “Candy Store,” “Big Fun,” and “Shine a Light (Reprise).”

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Jim Gross as Ram’s Dad. Photo: Shealyn Jae Photography

A few highlights include Kristen Demers as Martha Dunstock (Dumptruck), Jim Gross as Ram’s Dad, and Jennifer Alexander as Ms. Flemming. All three of these supporting actors give strong and focused performances that are definitely worth mentioning. Jim Gross (who also plays the lurking Coach), gives a side-tickling performance as Ram’s Dad, confidently belting out his featured, gospel-inspired number, “My Dead Gay Son,” while Jennifer Alexander does the same, impeccably belting out her inspiring featured number, “Shine a Light.”

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Kristen Demers as Martha Dunstock. Photo: Shealyn Jae Photography

Kristen Demers tackles the role of Martha Dunstock, or Dumptruck, as the other kids call her, who is kind of the embodiment of all the outcasts and bullied kids at school. Her portrayal is funny, moving, and spot on, making the audience feel for her from the start. Demers is not afraid of the role and makes it her own, making for a strong, meaningful performance. Vocally, she starts out strong in her featured number, “Kindergarten Boyfriend,” but loses a bit of steam toward the end of the song. She does act out the song like a champ, but at the sacrifice of the music. Regardless, her performance is spot on and leaves a lasting impression.

Final thought…Heathers the Musical is a great piece of theatre when it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Director Ed Higgins states it was chosen as it goes along with the mission of HDYLMN Productions to start a dialogue about bullying and suicide, which this piece presents humorously, but with a serious message. I can tell HDYLMN Productions are apt and able to put on some great shows but, though this production yields some very good qualities, overall, it falls a little flat whether it be because of sound issues, pacing, or directorial choices. The performances, for the most part, are commendable, the choreography is an absolute joy to watch, and the cast seems to be having a great time, giving 100% effort and dedication. That’s not to say this isn’t a good show, because it certainly is, but I’m looking forward to seeing what HDYLMN Productions can really do!

This is what I thought of How Do You Like Me Now’s production of Heathers the Musical… What did you think? Please feel free to leave a comment!

Heathers the Musical has ENDED its run but played through October 29 at How Do You Like Me Now Productions in the Black Box Theatre space of The Chesapeake Arts Center, 194 Hammonds Lane in Brooklyn Park, MD.

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Review: Intimate Apparel at Everyman Theatre

By Jason Crawford Samios-Uy

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Running Time: Approx. 2 hours and 30 minutes with a 10-minute intermission

We easily take for granted so many items we use or see on a daily basis but, do we ever stop to think about the people behind those items? How do these items come into existence? Sure, today we can be 99.9% certain all of our everyday items come from a factory somewhere in the world, built by machines and synthetics, but, at the turn of the century, mostly everything was created by hand… by people. One of the most common, everyday items we deal with everyday (most people anyway) is underwear and, though not a taboo topic these days, back in 1905, it was truly unmentionable. Everyman Theatre‘s latest production, Intimate Apparel by Lynn Nottage, Directed by Tazewell Thompson, gives us a glimpse into the lives of one of those folks who created, by hand, ladies underwear, reminding us that even everyday items sometimes have a story all their own.

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(l-r) Dawn Ursula as Esther and Beth Hylton as Mrs. Van Buren. Photo: ClintonBPhotography

Though the title can be a little misleading, Intimate Apparel is not really about underwear, but, in a nutshell, about a woman, Esther, who makes her living sewing these articles of clothing for ladies throughout New York City.  She is an entrepreneur, making her own way in the world, which was quit uncharacteristic for women of color at that time, but she certainly has grand aspirations but is unmarried, illiterate, and in her mid-thirties. She begins a courtship with a man half-way across the world through letters and hopes this relationship will bring her a better future.

Everyman Theatre has never disappoints when it comes to sets and, though this set isn’t as impressive as previous productions, Set Design by Donald Eastman is simple, but absolutely appropriate for this piece. Earthy colors exude the feeling of the New York City tenements of the early 1900s and the authentic, well-chosen set pieces help set the time and move the story along nicely.

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(l-r) Jade Wheeler as Mayme and Beth Hylton as Mrs. Van Buren. Photo: ClintonBPhotography

Costume Design by David Burdick is sensational as well as authentic with an eye for detail. All of the ladies were dressed in the turn of the century style with contrasts in the class of these characters quite apparent. The gentlemen, who have less complex costumes, are still dressed in styles that fit the individual character such as a 1900s Jewish shop owner and an African-American laborer. All the tailored costumes of the very different characters are carefully though-out and add great value to the production.

Tazewell Thompson takes the reigns of this production and has a good comprehension of the story and text and gives us a well put-together production. Pacing is consistent and there’s no dragging in the action, even if the story itself drags along at times. The transitions between scenes are seamless and each character is nicely fleshed out. The script is so-so, but Thompson has managed to tell this story in as much an interesting way as possible. His casting is to be commended and his vision is clear making for a poignant, focused production of a script that kind of falls flat.

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Jade Wheeler as Mayme. Photo: ClintonBPhotography

Moving onto the performance aspect of this production, it’s worth mentioning that, even though I’m not 100% on board with the script (did I make that clear enough, yet?), I am on board with the ability and interpretation of this able and dedicated cast.

Bueka Uwemedimo takes on the role of George, the pen pal turned love interest of Esther, our main character, and a laborer who is digging for the Panama Canal. Uwemedimo has a good grasp on this character and gives a commendable performance but he does seem to yell through his entire performance while speaking… so… slowly. There’s projecting from the stage and there’s yelling and it seems Uwemedimo is doing the latter. Regardless, I can understand ever word he’s saying and he’s dedicated to his role confidently portraying his character as the “villain” with ease and authenticity.

Mayme, the kind, sweet girl who dreamed of being a concert pianist but had to resort to prostitution while renting a room on top of a saloon, is portrayed by Jade Wheeler. While wheeler seems to understand her character well, it feels as though she’s calling her performance in. The character is laid back but Wheeler’s interpretation seems a little too laid back, especially in her speaking. Mayme is a transplant from Memphis, Tennessee but has not a lick of a southern drawl that one would expect. Maybe she’s been up north too long? Aside from a good, albeit uninspiring performance, it’s definitely worth noting that Wheeler is a top-notch vocalist. She plays the piano and belts out a jazzy tune that just about brings down the house while exhibiting her proficient musicality.

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(l-r) Jenn Walker as Mrs. Dickson and Dawn Ursula as Esther. Photo: ClintonBPhotography

Mrs. Dickson, the boarding house landlady and friend to Esther, is played brilliantly by Jenn Walker and she completely embodies this character playing her with a great balance of being a realist and a compassionate friend. The character is relatable, as is, since most of us can claim we have someone like this in our family or circle of friends; one who wants what’s best for us and cares deeply for us but doesn’t mind giving his or her opinion on everything, whether we like what they say or not. Walker is to be applauded for a strong performance.

Beth Hylton, an Everyman Theatre Company member tackles the complex role of Mrs. Van Buren, the rich socialite who is not only a client of but a friend to Esther, helping her in her quest to find love by writing the letters she’s sending to George. Hylton gives an impressive, confident performance and provides the contrast to the other characters all the while showing many similarities to Esther. Both are around the same age and both are yearning for love and companionship. Hylton has a great comprehension of her character and provides both attitude and mannerisms to make for a delightful performance.

As the jovial, devoutly Jewish shop owner, Mr. Marks, Drew Kopas is a highlight of this production an absolutely believable, making this character likable from the start. From the Romanian accent to the costume, Kopas had this character down pat, without question. His dedication and focus are definitely clear in this performance and his chemistry with Dawn Ursula is spot on.

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Dawn Ursula as Esther. Photo: ClintonBPhotography

Speaking of Dawn Ursula, she rounds out the cast and is a joy to watch as Esther, our unfortunate heroine with an entrepreneur’s spirt, trying to make her way through early 1900s New York City. Ursula takes this role, chews it up, and makes it her own. You can actually see the uncertainty and, at times, anguish this character is feeling in Ursula’s performance. Her commitment and enthusiasm for this role is apparent and it’s easy to see she’s giving 100% to this character. She portrays the changes her character goes through effortlessly and gives an overall splendid performance that makes for a moving and entertaining evening of theatre.

Final thought…Intimate Apparel is a poignant piece and gives insight to the people we don’t think about regularly, namely, laymen and women who create the beautiful or simple everyday items to which we don’t give a second thought. The story itself is a slow burn and is not my favorite and is not extremely impressive. Act I does not have much going for it in the way of an interesting story line and the minor subplots are more interesting than the main story line, but most of the performances are spot on and praiseworthy. The pacing is on point and the story moves along with a good tempo. Overall, it’s a focused, well put-together production and the story is an important one of searching for love, finding love, and losing love.

This is what I thought of Everyman Theatre’s production of Intimate Apparel… What did you think? Please feel free to leave a comment!

Intimate Apparel will play through November 19 at Everyman Theatre, 315 W. Fayette Street, Baltimore, MD. For tickets, call 410-752-2208 or purchase them online.

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Press Release: Highwood Theatre Opens 2017-2018 Student Season with Sondheim’s Follies

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For immediate release:

Highwood Theatre Opens 2017-2018 Student Season with Sondheim’s Follies

“An ambitious and challenging piece rarely – if ever – performed by students”

The Highwood Theatre opens its 2017-2018 season with a concert version of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies, based on a group of Weismann Follies showgirls who reunite one last time before the theater they once performed at is torn down. The showgirls and their partners are forced to confront their regrets and challenges with current lives and relationships. The show includes an exceptionally talented 15-person student cast ranging from 7th to 11th grades.

Artistic Director Matthew Nicola explains: “We are tremendously excited about this production of Follies. In particular, the staging as an intimate concert production will not only the strip the piece down to its emotional core, but also bring the characters’ emotional plights within feet of the audience. This is an ambitious and challenging piece rarely – if ever – performed by students because of its complex score and story, yet the young cast tackles it effortlessly.”

The Highwood Theatre‘s 2017-2018 season, Off Your Rocker: Redefining and Defying the Status Quo, is the theatre’s most ambitious season to date. The season, with seven musicals and six plays, spotlights shows built around defying norms and comes at a time when it is especially important for audiences to consider different ways of thinking.

Off Your Rocker: Redefining and Defying the Status Quo stems from Highwood’s mission of building community through theatre and giving everyone a voice in the theatre they produce. It also offers unparalleled opportunities to Highwood’s students and professionals, from staging Highwood’s first professional musical in three years to bringing acclaimed Broadway performer Nick Blaemire and 34-time world dance champion Cate Caplin to Silver Spring.

Follies will take place on Friday, November 10 at 8 PM; Saturday, November 11 at 8 PM; and Sunday, November 12 at 2 and 7 PM. Tickets are $20. All shows will take place at the Highwood Theatre, 914 Silver Spring Ave, Silver Spring MD 20910. Tickets may be purchased online at www.thehighwoodtheatre.org/tickets or through the box office, which can be reached at reservations@thehighwoodtheare.org, at 301-587-0697 or by visiting the box office during regular business hours.

About The Highwood Theatre

The Highwood Theatre is a non­profit organization dedicated to bringing the community together through theatre. Now in its 15th Season, Highwood’s guiding principle is “anyone can do theatre.” Highwood was founded in 2004 and began executing its mission through seasons of professional­ quality theatre featuring all­-student casts, design teams, and production staff. In 2013, in conjunction with its relocation to the heart of downtown Silver Spring, The Highwood Theatre expanded to carry out its mission more fully and develop innovative, engaging programming for artists of all ages through professional and student productions, classes, and programs in schools and for home schooled students.

Contact Information

Tickets: http://www.thehighwoodtheatre.org/tickets.html

The Highwood Theatre Office: 301-587-0697

General Information: info@thehighwoodtheatre.org

Website: www.thehighwoodtheatre.org

PRESS RELEASE: Single Carrot Theatre Hosts Continues Conversations Surrounding Lear

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Single Carrot Theatre Hosts Continues Conversations Surrounding Lear

Baltimore, MD – Single Carrot’s 11th Season is now open with its thought-provoking and
fast-paced regional premiere of Lear by Young Jean Lee. Like Shakespeare’s tragedy, Lee’s
text includes universal themes of family conflict, guilt, and madness; at the same time, it
takes a nuanced look race, wrestling with mortality, and the complex dynamics between
aging parents and their adult children. In the hope of continuing the conversations sparked by this vibrant production, Single Carrot will be hosting talkbacks with panelists from Morgan State University, Center Stage, the ACME Corporation, and Chesapeake
Shakespeare Company.

Race, Shakespeare, and Young Jean Lee
Sunday, October 15, following the 3pm performance

Join Gerrad Taylor of Chesapeake Shakespeare Company and Shirley Basfield-Dunlap of
Morgan State University for a discussion on the complex relationship between modern audiences and classical material. Share your thoughts on Young Jean Lee’s frenetic adaptation of Shakespeare’s famous tragedy, and engage with our panelists on issues of race, identity and performance.

Pride Night at Single Carrot Theatre!
Thursday, October 19, preceding the 8pm performance

Join us for cocktails, live pre-show music from Christen B, and a fabulous evening of theatre celebrating the 9th Annual LGBT Center Awareness Day! More about the artist: Christen B seamlessly blends electronic and acoustic instruments with transcendent vocals leaving listeners in a state of euphoria! This Baltimore native is changing the way people experience music. She allows the audience to watch as she masterfully layers unique sounds while looping them on the spot and leaving the crowd wanting more!

Adapting the Classics
Friday, October 20, following the 8pm performance

Join Gavin Witt of Center Stage and Lola Pierson and Stephen Nunns of The ACME Corporation as they discuss the complicated task of adapting famous classical texts for a modern audience. Nunns and Pierson collaborated last year on an original adaptation of A Streetcar Named Desire, Stranger Kindness, which was recently named “Best Play” in City Paper’s Best of Baltimore Reader’s poll. Witt, along with Center Stage’s Kwame Kwei-Armah, is part of a national project to reimagine and update Shakespeare’s plays for a modern audience. Join them in a conversation on the nuanced process of bringing a well-known, perhaps beloved, text into the present.

About the Play:
Lear
By Young Jean Lee
Directed by Andrew Peters
Shakespearean drama meets millennial self-indulgence in this outlandish and driving take on King Lear. Boring, stuffy parents have been left for dead – consigning audiences to the not-so-tender mercies of a younger generation, a mix of heroes and villains indulging their own selfish whims. Despite sharp wits and sharper teeth, these Kardashian-esque kids are comically shallow, callous, and vain: more concerned with dancing and drama than their own doomed parents. But superficial pleasures can only reign for so long before their conscience catches up with them, unearthing ugly secrets, doubts, and fears. Regional premiere.

WHEN:
Previews: Wednesday, October 4 and Thursday, October 5 at 8pm
Running: October 6 – 29
Thursday- Saturday at 8pm
Sundays at 3pm

WHERE:
Single Carrot Theatre
2600 N. Howard Street
Baltimore, MD 21218
Entrance on 26th Street.
Free parking available in adjacent lot and on the street.

TICKETS AND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Tickets: $10-$29
Web: singlecarrot.com
Phone: 443-844-9253
Email: boxoffice(at)singlecarrot.com
Twitter: @singlecarrot
Instagram: @singlecarrot

PRESS RELEASE: Baltimore Center Stage Announces Shakespeare in Love Cast and Artistic Team

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Center Stage Continues its “Season of Community” with a Boisterous, Joyful
Production of the Blockbuster Movie

Baltimore — Baltimore Center Stage is pleased to announce the cast and artistic team for Shakespeare In Love.

Continuing a “Season of Community” at Baltimore Center Stage, where every program
and production explores the role of artists and institutions in building community,
Shakespeare in Love embraces the theme of “joy”. The language, love story and
luxurious scenery aim directly at the joy in the connectedness of the human spirit. It is a
moving examination of the relationship between art and love.

“This joyful romp celebrates every aspect of theater, from the words on the page to the
actors on stage. It is a charming tale of love, the English language, and theater itself,”
said Baltimore Center Stage Artistic Director Kwame Kwei-Armah. “It is simply the joy
that this theater can provide in turbulent times.”

Shakespeare in Love is the most produced play in the 2017/18 theater season. Baltimore Center Stage is its only production in the Baltimore and Washington D.C. area. Based on the Oscar-winning film of the same name, Shakespeare in Love was adapted for the stage by Lee Hall from Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard’s screenplay. It is directed by Blake Robison, Artistic Director of the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park.

The cast includes Nicholas Carriere* (William Shakespeare), Avery Glypmh* (Marlowe/Priest/Ensemble), John Plumpis* (Fennyman/Catling?ensemble), David Whalen* (Ned Alleyn/Lambert/Ensemble), Michael Fajardo* (Frees/Wabash/Heavy
1/Ensemble), Barzin Akhavan* (Henslowe/Ensemble), Brent Harris* (Burbage/Barman/Ensemble), Liz Daingerfield (Mistress Quickly/Waitress/Kate/Abraham/Ensemble), Marquis D. Gibson (Adam/Heavy
2/Ensemble), Wynn Harmon* (Tifney/Sir Robert de Lesseps/Ensemble), Naomi Jacobsen* (Queen Elizabeth/Molly/Ensemble), Bari Robinson* (Nol/Valentine/Ensemble), Taha Mandviwala (Peter/Proteus/Guard 2/Ensemble), Emily Trask* (Viola de Lesseps/Ensemble), Laura Gordon* (Nurse/Ensemble), Jefferson A. Russell* (Ralph/Ensemble), Jamal James* (Robin/Guard 1/Boatman/Ensemble) Clark Furlong (Webster), Michael Brusasco* (Wessex/Ensemble), and Richard Buchanan (Sam/Ensemble). There’s also a featured appearance by Meatball, a Chihuahua (Spot).

The artistic team includes director Robison, Tim Mackabee (Scenic Designer),
Kathleen Geldard (Costume Designer), Michelle Habeck (Lighting Designer), Matt
Nielson (Sound Designer), Diane Lala (Choreographer), Rick Sordelet and Christian
Kelly-Sordelet (fight directors).

*Member of Actors’ Equity Association.

Shakespeare in Love opens Thursday, October 26, with previews October 19–25, and
closes Sunday, November 26. Press night is Opening Night, October 26. For more
information, visit http://www.centerstage.org or call the box office at 410.332.0033.

Shakespeare in Love is made possible by T. Rowe Price. This performance is supported
in part by a grant from the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC). Center Stage’s Season
Sponsor is M&T Bank and the season is also made possible by The Shubert Foundation
and the Baltimore County Commission on Arts and Sciences

About Baltimore Center Stage

Baltimore Center Stage is a professional, nonprofit institution committed to entertaining,
engaging and enriching audiences through bold, innovative and thought-provoking classical and contemporary theater. Named the State Theater of Maryland in 1978,
Baltimore Center Stage has steadily grown as a leader in the national regional theater
scene. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Kwame Kwei-Armah OBE and Managing
Director Michael Ross, Baltimore Center Stage is committed to creating and presenting a
diverse array of world premieres and exhilarating interpretations of established works.
Baltimore Center Stage believes in access for all—creating a welcoming environment for
everyone who enters its theater doors and, at the same time, striving to meet audiences
where they are. In addition to its Mainstage and Off Center productions in the historic
Mount Vernon neighborhood, Baltimore Center Stage ignites conversations among a
global audience through digital initiatives, which explore how technology and the arts
intersect. The theater also nurtures the next generation of artists and theater-goers
through the Young Playwrights Festival, Student Matinee Series and many other
educational programs for students, families and educators.

PRESS RELEASE: Everyman Theatre’s Intimate Apparel Reveals Patterns of Synergy and Commitment to Playwright’s Work

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Everyman Theatre’s Intimate Apparel Reveals Patterns of Synergy and Commitment to Playwright’s Work
Production Weaves Thematic Threads with Meaningful Community Connections

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Baltimore, MD – As though tailor-made for the locally-commissioned play’s Baltimore audience,Intimate Apparel stirs with substance, style and sincerity at Everyman Theatre—October 18 through November 19, 2017—in a quietly commanding production that radiates with powerful performances on-stage and profound local partnerships off-stage, bringing the play’s delicate themes affectingly to life.

Wearing her heart on her sleeve while sewing intimates for her clientele, Esther is the talented African American seamstress in turn-of-the-century New York who has built a savings for herself making beautiful undergarments—while earnestly daydreaming of new beginnings, romantic possibilities, and the lingering affection she shares with a Jewish fabric merchant. But when an egregious deception cuts short heartfelt desires, can class, culture and circumstance outmatch the strength of human spirit? Inspired by a true story, Intimate Apparel is a heart-rending contemporary work in the style of an enduring classic—from Lynn Nottage, the first female playwright to win two Pulitzers.

Intimate Apparel marks the third Lynn Nottage play produced at Everyman Theatre, following 2015’sRuined and 2014’s By The Way, Meet Vera Stark. Intimate Apparel director Tazewell Thompson (who previously directed Great Expectations and Ruined at Everyman, as well as a production of Intimate Apparel at Dartmouth College) brings what Everyman Theatre Founding Artistic Director Vincent M. Lancisi describes as “a dramatist’s eye and a librettist’s ear” to the helm.

“Plays like Intimate Apparel are about bringing the real changing world into the theater,” said Thompson. “They are about making the theater contemporaneous with life; making the theater a leader of perception, not a follower. Intimate Apparel awakens us to the selves within ourselves; allows us to see, hear and understand the lives of, indeed, every man.”

In this spirit, Everyman’s production of Intimate Apparel is augmented by an extensive slate of ancillary programming that fastens topics from the play (including empowerment, entrepreneurship, and evolving trends) to close-knit community collaborations involving local artists, makers and independent entrepreneurs as well as institutions such as MICA, Baltimore School for the Arts, the Baltimore Design School and the Maryland Film Festival’s SNF Parkway Theatre.

“The story on stage can be just the beginning of the journey,” explained Everyman Theatre Managing Director Jonathan K. Waller. “We invite audiences to join us in deepening the experience by exploring how the play’s themes connect to our lives and history here in the Baltimore area. For Intimate Apparel, we have more opportunities to do this than ever before thanks to a growing circle of committed and connected partners.”

Partner projects for Intimate Apparel include an on-site costume exhibit, a tasting involving local restaurants, a film screening and discussion, a community conversation with local/regional fashion designers, a panel discussion about labor and sex work, and a walking tour of Baltimore’s historic garment district—among others. (See below for comprehensive listing.)

The cast of Intimate Apparel reunites several cast members from Ruined, including Resident Company Member Dawn Ursula* (Esther), Jade Wheeler* (Mayme) and Bueka Uwemedimo* (George). Rounding out the cast is Jenn Walker* (Mrs. Dickson), Resident Company Member Beth Hylton* (Mrs. Van Buren), and Drew Kopas* (Mr. Marks) and Steve Polites (Understudy-Mr. Marks).

The Intimate Apparel design team includes director Tazewell Thompson, Donald Eastman (Set Design), Stephen Quandt (Lighting Design), David Burdick (Costume Design), Fabian Obispo (Sound Design & Composition), Gary Logan (Dialects) and Denise O’Brien (Wig Design).

Intimate Apparel runs October 18 through November 19, 2017. Tickets ($10-65) are now on sale online (everymantheatre.org), by phone (410.752.2208), or at the Everyman Theatre Box Office (315 W. Fayette Street, Baltimore, MD).

*Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States

On View in the Lobby/Mezzanine

Fashion Exhibit: Boudoir Vignettes
Ongoing (October 20 – November 19, 2017)
Independent designers and matriculating students from MICA, Baltimore School for the Arts and Baltimore Design School have crafted this visual response to the story and setting of Intimate Apparel, which combines their local viewpoint with elements of clothing, including lingerie and boudoir attire. Curated by Caprece Jackson-Garrett.

Event Listings

TNT: Theatre Night for Teens
Tuesday, October 17, 2017 at 6:00 PM
Students in grades 9-12 enjoy a dynamic night out at the theatre featuring pre-show dinner sponsored by Noodles & Company, an Intimate Apparel artist meet-and-greet, and a 7:30 PM preview performance followed by post-show discussion and dessert. Tickets: $10 each (space is limited).

Pay-What-You-Can Preview Performance
Tuesday, October 17, 2017 at 7:30 PM
Pay-What-You-Can to see the first preview performance of Intimate Apparel. Tickets: By donation (cash only), available on a first-come, first-serve basis at the Box Office beginning at 5:30pm. Seating is general admission.

Everyman at the Parkway: Middle of Nowhere
Tuesday, October 24, 2017 at 7:00 PM (at the SNF Parkway Theatre)
One-night-only film screening presented in partnership with the Maryland Film Festival: Written and directed by Ava DuVernay, who won the 2012 Sundance Film Festival Best Director Award for her work,Middle of Nowhere chronicles a woman’s separation from her incarcerated husband and the journey to maintain her marriage and her identity amidst crisis and chaos. Resident Company member Dawn Ursula (Intimate Apparel) will introduce the screening and host an informal discussion following the film. Tickets: $8-10 each (available at mdfilmfest.com).

Taste of Everyman: Classified Cravings
Thursday, October 26, 2017 at 6:00 PM
Taste of Everyman is an artful pre-show experience that combines smarts and samples from some of the hottest talent in Baltimore’s dine and drink scene, including expert knowledge and sample-sized pairings designed (cheekily) to complement the show. Hush-hush hankerings? Top-secret tastes? For even the “foodiest” foodies among us, keeping our favorites quiet is par for the course. In the secret-keeping spirit of Intimate Apparel, join one of Baltimore’s most knowledgeable and passionate food and drink insiders, Amy Langrehr (aka Charm City Cook) for an “off the record” dish on some of Baltimore’s most-loved nosh — including some well known and others still a little bit under the radar. Featured restaurants include Dylan’s Oyster Cellar, Ekiben and Lobo, paired with local beers from Brewer’s Art, Monument City Brewing and Union Craft Brewing. Tickets: $60 each (includes event and 7:30pm performance) or $30 each (event only).

Confessions of a Designer
Friday, October 27, 2017 at 6:00 PM (Reception at 5:30 PM)
Join host, bespoke menswear designer Stephen Wise of SWB Atelier (City Paper 2016 Tailor of the Year), and esteemed local/regional designers, for a community conversation exploring the “inner lining” of the independent fashion design world and its artistic, professional and personal impacts. Participating designers include: Earle Bannister, Adira Bunch, John Cash, Brian Collins, Sally DiMarco, Crystal Joines, Dino Hartfield, Sehar Peerzada, Seleh Rahman, Stacey Stube, Richard Swartz, and Brandon Warren. Tickets: Free to attend, reserve in advance at Box Office.

World of the Play: Unraveling the Threads of Labor and Love, Then and Now
Saturday, November 4, 2017 at 4:30 PM
The characters of Intimate Apparel and their professions provide us with the thematic threads of labor and intimacy to spark discussion with an expert panel, including a local labor historian, a contemporary African-American tailor and menswear designer, and a member of SWOP (Sex Workers Outreach Project). Hosted by Marc Steiner (The Center for Emerging Media). Tickets: Free to attend, reserve in advance at Box Office.

Cast Conversations
Thursday, November 9, 2017, Post-show
Chat with participating cast members following the 7:30 PM performance of Intimate Apparel, or follow along (and submit questions) via Twitter courtesy of @BWW_Baltimore. Tickets: N/A (free to attend, with ticket to accompanying performance).

Threading History and Place: Bromo District Walking Tour
Sunday, November 12, 2017, 11:00 AM-12:30 PM
Explore invisible public spaces and storied buildings that reflect the history of Baltimore’s fashion industry, department stores and garment district and learn about past and present efforts that shape the neighborhoods contained within the Bromo Arts and Entertainment District. Tour begins and ends at Everyman Theatre (315 W. Fayette St. entrance), where attendees may stay for the 2pm performance at an exclusive discounted rate. Produced in partnership with New Public Sites, Bromo Arts and Entertainment District, and Market Center Merchants’ Association. Tickets: $15 each (tour only), advance purchase required (space is limited).

Boudoir Couture Showcase
Sunday, November 19, 2017, 5:00-6:30 PM
A live activation of the fashion exhibit (Boudoir Vignettes) on view during Intimate Apparel.
Tickets: Free to attend, reserve in advance at Box Office.

About Everyman Theatre

Everyman Theatre is a professional Equity theatre company celebrating the actor, with a Resident Company of artists from the Baltimore/DC area. Founded in 1990 by Vincent M. Lancisi, the theatre is dedicated to engaging the audience through a shared experience between actor and audience seeking connection and emotional truth in performance. Everyman is committed to presenting high quality plays that are affordable and accessible to everyone. The theatre strives to engage, inspire and transform artists, audiences and community through theatre of the highest artistic standards and is committed to embodying the promise of its name, Everyman Theatre.

Intimate Apparel is sponsored in part by Vic & Nancy Romita and the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, with media support from The AFRO News, The Baltimore Sun Media Group and WYPR. Everyman Theatre’s Pay-What-You-Can nights are supported by Dr. E. Lee & Bea Robbins. The 2017/18 Season is generously sponsored by LifeBridge Health. Everyman Theatre is supported in part by grants from the Maryland State Arts Council and the Baltimore County Commission on Arts and Sciences.

Everyman Theatre is a proud member of the Bromo Tower Arts and Entertainment District, the Market Center Merchants Association and the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance.

Vincent M. Lancisi is the Founding Artistic Director of Everyman Theatre; Jonathan K. Waller is the Managing Director. For information about Everyman Theatre, visit everymantheatre.org, call 410.752.2208, or connect via Facebook (@everymantheatremd), Twitter (@everymantheatre), YouTube (@everymantheatre) and Instagram (@everymantheatre).

 

#bmoreeveryman

Review: Julius Caesar at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company

By Jason Crawford Samios-Uy

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Running Time: Approx. 2 hours and 45 minutes with two 10-minute intermissions

It seems that today, politics rule the airwaves and television screens. Something is always happening and no matter what, there are people who are unhappy or vehemently disagree with whatever’s going on. Well, it’s good to see some things never change (of course, I’m being sarcastic) and people have been following and fighting over politics since we were first able to form our own thoughts. Of course, people have been writing about politics and current events for as long as we could write, as well, and Chesapeake Shakespeare Company‘s season opener, William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Directed by Michael Tolaydo, with Set Design by Audrey Bodek, Lighting Design by Michael Lonegro, Sound Design by David Crandall and Costume Design by Kristina Martin, gives us a glimpse into The Great Bard’s view of ancient Roman politics and how they handled things. Certainly one of Shakespeare’s classics, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company has managed to pull this piece into the 21st century and presents it in a way that is easy to follow and enthralling making it one of the best productions of this piece that I’ve seen yet.

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Ron Heneghan, Caitlin Carbone, Briana Manente, Michael P. Sullivan, Lesley Malin, Mehul Gulati, Vince Eisenson and Mary Coy. Photo by Robert Neal Marshall.

Audrey Bodek’s Set Design is minimal but absolutely breath-taking. She uses her space wisely and keeps the to traditional Shakespearean design with the balcony and all that, but her choice of gold coloring to cover this set works well and fits nicely with the piece. Her artistic ability is apparent with the random but beautiful cross-section pattern that make up the railings and coverings that are subtle but make up the perfect background.

Costume Design by Kristina Martin is quite appropriate, and, though fashionable, breezy, and fun, you won’t be seeing any togas on this stage. All attire is modern business attire or modern casual and all of the actors seem rather comfortable in their wardrobe. Though using a traditional design for a Shakespeare work is all well and fine and, of course, works, it’s nice to see that Martin uses an updated design that is just as effective, if not more effective in bringing a modern day audience to a better understanding of the piece.

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Octavia (Caitlin Carbone), who is Caesar’s heir, and Mar Antonia (Briana Manente), who is Caesar’s loyal supporter, will avenge the death of Caesar. Photo by Robert Neal Marshall.

Lighting and Sound Design by Michael Lonegro and David Crandall, respectively, work in tandem and create a superb atmosphere throughout the piece. Each scene is lit just about perfectly and each sound is deliberate and spot on. It’s worth noting the storm lighting and sound is some of the best I’ve seen in any production. Both Light and Sound Design blend so well into the production, one doesn’t notice them directly, which is exactly what an audience is supposed to do, but when you notice it… it’s on point and adds an authenticity to the production.

Michael Tolaydo takes the helm of this production of Julius Caesar and he knows exactly what he wants and executes it beautifully. He has a definite comprehension of the text and the way he tells this story is easy to follow even for those who are not familiar with the work of William Shakespeare. The care he took with the modern day theme while staying true to the text is apparent and his casting is top-notch. While a piece like this can be drawn out, the pacing for this piece is spot on as Tolaydo keeps the action moving smoothly, with purpose.

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Following the assassination, as civil war erupts, Brutus (Ron Heneghan) quarrels with Cassius (Vince Eisenson) as soldiers look on (Molly Moores, Seamus Miller, Lesley Malin). Photo by Robert Neal Marshall.

Moving on to the performance of this production, the entire ensemble works well together and each actor seems understands his or her role and how they fit into the piece. With such a large cast (even with folks doubling or tripling roles), it’s a lot to keep track of, but that’s the beauty of it… you don’t have to! Whether a supporting or leading player, each gives 100% effort and dedication making for a quite an entertaining evening of theatre.

Among the many supporting players, Kathryne Daniels, who takes on various roles, including a couple of Senators and a Poet, is a joy to watch because of her versatility and apparent grasp of each contrasting character she plays. This lady knows her stuff and gives us her all.

As Portia, the dutiful but strong willed and intelligent wife of Marcus Brutus, Caitlin Carbone knocks it out of the park with strong, confident performance as does Imani Turner as Lucius, another supporting, but rather important character as personal servant to Marcus Brutus. Turner gives a dedicated performance and gives this character purpose.

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On the Ides of March, Julius Caesar (Michael P. Sullivan) arrives to meet with senators including Metellus Cimber (Lee Conderacci) and Casca (Mary Coy). Photo by Robert Neal Marshall.

Keith Snipes and Mary Coy tackle the roles of Cinna and Casca, respectively, and both actors are great assets to this production. Snipes, with his booming, clear voice and great stage presence gives a pristine performance while Coy, who has a clear understanding of the text and her character, gives a confident, distinct portrayal of a conflicted, but determined conspirator.

Mar Antonia, one of the leading characters and loyal friend to the unfortunate Julius Caesar, is portrayed by Briana Manete and she gives a stellar performance of this sly, clever character. Manete plays this character as the one you love to hate. The character is full of pure politics and plays all the angles she needs to accomplish her goals and Manete plays the role with a snarky quality that takes her performance to the hilt. She comfortable and confident, making her a definite highlight in this production.

Rounding out this remarkable cast Michael P. Sullivan as Julius Caesar, Vince Eisenson as Caius Cassius, and Ron Heneghan as Marcus Brutus. These three gentlemen carry this piece beautifully and emote all of the emotions of anger, sadness, and even love that the characters require.

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(clockwise) VInce Eisenson as Cassius, Michael P. Sullivasn as Julius Caesar, and Briana Manente as Mar Anotnio. Photo: Robert Neal Marshall.

Sullivan, as Caesar, seems to have a good grasp on this character and carries his pseudo-humbleness nicely and this character’s confidence is well portrayed. He has a strong stage presence and his delivery is near flawless making for an overall worthy performance.

Eisenson, a highlight of this production, takes the role of Caius Cassius and makes it his own. The conflict is clear in his gestures and delivery making for a very believable character. His comprehension of the text is apparent and he articulates the lines clearly and with confidence making the dialogue easy to follow. His brooding quality and good chemistry with his fellow actors, especially Heneghan, adds to this character making for an excellent performance.

Lastly, Ron Heneghan tackles the gut-wrenching role of Marcus Brutus, the best friend, but loyal Roman who must decide between his love for a person or his love for a country. Heneghan captures these emotions and tribulations perfectly in this thoughtful and well-played performance. He’s completely comfortable with the character and his confidence in his choices of subtle gestures, clear, intonated delivery of dialogue, and chemistry with his cast make his portrayal seem effortless and makes him a standout in this production.

Final thought…Julius Caesar is a classical piece presented in a very modern style that is easy to follow, well-paced, and fantastically entertaining. With original text, the performances are rich and spot on and the technical aspects of light and sound just adds to this phenomenal production. The actors are well versed in the text and have a good comprehension of both character and story. Whether your familiar with the work of William Shakespeare or experiencing it for the first time, you will easily follow this timeless story and you will not be disappointed. Run, don’t walk, to get your tickets now!

This is what I thought of Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s production of Julius Caesar… What did you think? Please feel free to leave a comment!

Julius Caesar will play through October 29 at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, 7 South Calvert Street, Baltimore, MD 21202 For tickets, call the box office at 410-244-8570 or purchase them online.

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