PRESS RELEASE: Fells Point Corner Theatre proudly presents on our Godfrey Stage I Hate Hamlet By Paul Rudnick Directed by Mark C. Franceschini

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

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Fells Point Corner Theatre proudly presents on our Godfrey Stage
I Hate Hamlet
By Paul Rudnick
Directed by Mark C. Franceschini

An up-and-coming young television star is offered every actor’s dream role: playing Hamlet onstage. There’s just one complication… he HATES Hamlet. With the return of John Barrymore’s ghost, intoxicated and in full costume to reclaim his infamous role, the two embark on a wildly funny duel over women, art, success, duty, television, and yes, even the apartment where Barrymore once lived!

“Fast-mouthed​ ​and​ ​funny…It​ ​has​ ​the​ ​old-fashioned​ ​Broadway​ ​virtues​ ​of
brightness​ ​without​ ​pretensions​ ​and​ ​sentimentality​ ​without​ ​morals.” -​ ​Village Voice

“…unapologetically​ ​silly​ ​and​ ​at​ ​times​ ​hilarious…af ectionately​ ​amusing
about​ ​the​ ​theatre…” -​ ​NY Times

Directed by Mark C. Franceschini and featuring the talents of Gabe Fremuth, Steven Shriner, Abigail Wright, J Purrnell Hargrove, Zarah Rautell and Kimberley Lynne, I Hate Hamlet is a story about the pressures of fame and sheer insanity of this thing we call theatre.

Admission:​ ​$15​ ​for​ ​Sundays,​ ​$20​ ​for​ ​Fridays/Saturdays.

Dates: Opens Friday September 8, 2017 and runs through Sunday, October 1st, 2017
Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Two Saturday matinees
at 2pm on September 16th and September 23rd.

*There will also be a Pay What You Can Thursday performance on September 7th, which will be
an open dress rehearsal.*

Fells Point Corner Theatre is located at 251​ ​South​ ​Ann​ ​Street, Baltimore​ ,​MD​ ​21231

PRESS RELEASE: Single Carrot Theatre kicks off Season 11 with Lear

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Single Carrot Theatre kicks off Season 11 with Lear

Baltimore, MD – Single Carrot Theatre’s 11th season begins with an outrageously original
take on a familiar story: Lear by Young Jean Lee. This adaptation of Shakespeare’s text
shuffles the titular king into the wings, allowing a younger generation to step into the
spotlight. With modern language, classical characters, music, dance, and fantastic violence, Lee crafts a masterful portrait of parents, children, and the exchange of power.
Young Jean Lee is an acclaimed writer and director whose work has been performed
worldwide – including at Single Carrot Theatre, where Lee’s Church was produced as part of the company’s 5th season. Lee will make her Broadway debut in 2018 with Straight White Men; she will be the first Asian-American woman in history to see her work produced on Broadway.

Lear will be directed by Andrew Peters, and feature Ensemble Member Paul Diem
alongside four other local actors. Final casting decisions will be announced in the coming
week.

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@singlecarrot.com
Twitter: @singlecarrot
Instagram: @singlecarrot

Review: Lysistrata Jones at Red Branch Theatre Company

By Jason Crawford Samios-Uy

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Running Time: Approx. 1 hour and 45 minutes with one 15-minute intermission

411 BCE. That’s when Aristophones’ comedy Lysistrata was first performed in Athens, Greece. That’s a hell of a long time ago but classics are timeless and that’s why they’re performed still today. Though they don’t need to be updated and modernized, it’s always fun to see what happens when they are and sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t, but it’s interesting to see what each era does with them. Red Branch Theatre Company has taken a chance on a modernized classic with their latest production of Lysistrata Jones with Music & Lyrics by Lewis Flinn and Book by Douglas Carter Beane, Directed by Stephanie Lynn Williams with Music Direction by Dustin Merrell and Choreography by Brandon Glass, and it’s worked out nicely for them.

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Hailey Ibberson, Patrick J. Campbell, Victoria Meyers, Tiara Whaley, and Angeleaza Anderson. Credit: Bruce F. Press Photography

Lysistrata Jones has taken the story of Lysistrata and taken it out of Ancient Greece to modern day Athens University where the basketball team isn’t really trying that hard when the title character enters the scene and simply wants them to try harder; to want something, and until they do, the girls decide, with the coaxing of Lystrata… no funny business in the bedroom! This leads to an age-old battle of the sexes that involves no funny business in the bedroom and seeking advice from the Madame of the local brothel with some self-realizations along the way.

Scenic Design by Bill Brown is simple, unit gymnasium set which is wise considering the ample but intimate space at Red Branch. His use of bright colors and movable stairs to help create individual settings is both clever and practical making for smooth, easy transitions between scenes, keeping the flow of the piece moving nicely.

Stefany Thomas’ Costume Design is authentic and gives each character his or her own style and helps bring out each character’s personality and charm.

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The ladies of Lysistrata Jones led by Lysistrata Jones herself (Hailey Ibberson). Credit: Bruce F. Press Photography

Brandon Glass’ Choreography is top-notch in this high energy, up-tempo piece. The cast looks like their having a great time and Glass’ choreography is fun to watch. The ensemble numbers are tight and well-rehearsed and he seems to know his actors and matches his choreography to enhance the abilities of this cast. Glass is to be commended for his current and varied choreography in this production.

Music Direction by Dustin Merrell is superb and he brings this exciting and energetic score off the page and onto the stage. With songs that stick to the brain like “No More Givin’ It Up,” “You Go Your Way,” and “The Writing on the Wall,” Merrell is working with a contemporary style with (at times) a heavy hip-hop influence but he and his cast pull it off nicely. The band, though a bit muted because of the space, is tight and well-rehearsed and gives a praiseworthy performance.

Director Stephanie Lynn Williams takes the helm of this production and has given us a delightful evening of theatre. She has a good comprehension of the material and though it’s been twisted and re-imagined, the story still holds tight. It’s a show full of fluff, but Williams seems to have taken it seriously enough not to just throw it away. She’s taken the time to bring the gender-based issues and message of self-realization out of the fluff. She keeps the action moving and the transitions smooth which help keep the pacing consistent. Casting is excellent and, overall, Williams has a splendid final product.

Patrick J. Campbell, center, leads the team in Lysistrata Jones at Red Branch Theatre Company. Photo by Bruce F. Press Photography.

Patrick J. Campbell, center, leads the team in Lysistrata Jones at Red Branch Theatre Company. Credit: Bruce F. Press Photography

The entire ensemble of this piece is spot on. They are dedicated and are working hard to give 100% but are all having a blast up on the stage. The “boys” Cinesias (Andrew Overton), Tyllis (Jason Quackebush), ‘Uardo (Diego Esmolo), and Harold (Elad Ness) all have great chemistry and embody their very different characters. A standout is Overton as the “play-a” Cinesias who has his character down pat and is hilarious as the young man who can’t seem to figure out who or what he is.

Taylor Witt takes on the role of Xander, the social-conscious semi-activist who isn’t a member of the team but crosses paths with our heroine and teaches her not to give up and to keep moving forward. He gives an authentic performance and his featured number “Hold On” is a catchy number that he performs well.

Every team needs a leader and this one is led by Mick, played by Patrick J Campbell, who gives a good but somewhat subdued and mechanical performance. Vocally, Campbell is a standout with a gentle but strong styling as in his featured number “When She Smiles.”

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Taylor Witt, Hailey Ibberson, and Angeleaza Anderson. Credit: Bruce F. Press Photography

The “girls,” as it were, is made of an entertaining and able group consisting of Cleonice (Tiara Whaley), Myrrhine (Victoria Meyers), and Lamptio (Angeleaza Anderson) are everything you want in a cheerleading clique but maybe a little nicer. Each of these characters are different from the next and these ladies have taken these roles and make them their own. Meyers is a believable “good girl” but lets it all out in “Don’t Judge a Book,” her featured duet with Andrew Overton. Whaley takes a commendable turn as the Latina and, though it’s obvious that Spanish is not her native language (at least that’s what it sounded like), she is dedicated to her character and has great chemistry with her fellow actors. Angeleaza Anderson is funny and authentic as the “ditzy” one of the crew. Her vocalization for the character is on point and she gives a confident performance with a good stage presence.

Hailey Ibberson as the title character Lysistrata Jones, the new girl who swoops in to change everything, is absolutely charming. She has a strong presence and gives a committed, confident, and energetic performance and seems to have a good grasp of this character and her tribulations. Ibberson gives a wonderful vocal performance and shines in her featured numbers such as “Change the World” and the poignant “Where Am I Now.”

Patrick J. Campbell, Hailey Ibberson and Taylor Washington. Photo by Bruce F. Press Photography.

Patrick J. Campbell, Hailey Ibberson and Taylor Washington. Credit: Bruce F. Press Photography

Taylor Washington as Hetaira and Alex Levenson as Robin are definite highlights of this production. Washington takes on double duty with the character of Hetaira playing both a narrator of sorts as well as the Madame of a brothel. She not only embodies these characters wholly, her vocal stylings on her featured numbers such as “I Don’t Think So” and “Writing on the Wall” are stellar. She takes these songs and makes them her own with her booming voice and she is simply a joy to hear and watch. At the same time, Alex Levenson portrays her character, the level-headed, astute student, with great authenticity and seemingly effortlessly. There are many points in the show I completely forgot she is reading from a script because of her natural and smooth performance. Kudos to both of these actors for a job well done.

Final thought… Though light and airy, I must say I thoroughly enjoyed Lysistrata Jones. It is an upbeat and current piece with a great score, catchy songs, a good script, and high-energy choreography that fits nicely in this summer time slot. The ensemble is dedicated and able and the chemistry is within the entire cast is clear. The classic tale of Lysistrata is broken down but not necessarily dumbed down and this production at Red Branch Theatre Company keeps the audience entertained and engaged.

This is what I thought of Red Branch Theatre Company’s production of Lysistrata Jones… What did you think? Please feel free to leave a comment!

Lysistrata Jones will play through August 26 at Red Branch Theatre Company, 9130-I Red Branch Road, Columbia, MD. For tickets, purchase them online.

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Review: Charlotte’s Web at Artistic Synergy of Baltimore

By Jason Crawford Samios-Uy

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Running Time: Approx. 1 hour and 45 minutes with one intermission

A pig and a spider. Who’d have thought a friendship between these two animals would change the lives of millions of kids throughout the world? It certainly changed mine when I first saw the animated film, Charlotte’s Web, based on the story by E.B. White, and heard Debbie Reynolds utter the words “Greetings and salutations!” With a star studded cast of voices, this film taught me about death, moving on, and hope, making it a classic in children’s cinema. Artistic Synergy of Baltimore‘s latest venture, Charlotte’s Web the Musical, a staged version of the beloved story, with Music and Lyrics by Charles Strouse and Book by Joseph Robinette, with Direction by Melissa Broy Forston, Music Direciton by Michelle Harmon-Bruno, and Choreography by Jennifer Otero, may not be a carbon copy of the cartoon I watched repeatedly, but the story is still familiar and the lessons taught still remain.

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Simon Gusso, Cordelia “Cordy” Gusso, Bryonna Davis, and Gregory Aerford. Credit: Artistic Synergy of Baltimore

Melissa Broy Forston takes the reigns of this first attempt of children’s theatre by Artistic Synergy of Baltimore and is more or less successful in the attempt. She has gathered a beautifully diverse cast of characters of dedicated blooming actors who give their all. Forston keeps the story moving and the use of a minimal Set Design (also by Forston), allows for quick scene changes and smooth transitions. The actors make their entrances and exits on time and, though they may have a lot to learn, Forston seems to have put them on the right path.

Choreography by Jennifer Otero is fitting of the production and the actors with whom she is working and the actors seem to have picked up the simple, but appropriate dances and perform them with gusto and hit their marks.

Michelle Harmon-Bruno takes on Music Direction and, though contending with canned music that sounds straight out of a 1980s video game, she still has the young cast singing their hearts out and interpreting cute songs such as “Eating,” “Who Says We Can’t Be Friends?” and “Don’t” as only children can. Aside from a few hick-ups and microphone issues, the ensemble performs the music well and look to be having a great time doing so.

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Alexis Arthur and Simon Gusso. Credit: Artistic Synergy of Baltimore

Concerning the performance aspect of this production, overall, the young ensemble does well with this piece and seems to understand the story they are telling and though there is much more to learn, these fledgling actors seem to be well on their way, including Jasmine Artis, playing Goose who has a booming voice and good stage presence, and the cool, well-rehearsed Madi Anne Cosden, who takes on the role of Templeton, the seemingly selfish, curmudgeon barn rat who ends up caring more than he lets on. Chloe Davies takes on multiple roles including Owl, Reporter, Concessionaire, Judge, and Announcer and makes the most of all of the roles. Among these aforementioned actors, the entire ensemble deserves kudos for a job well done!

Taking on the role of Wilbur is Simon Gusso. Gusso goes all in with this role, taking on the persona of the young pig who has no control over what happens to him but learning how to deal with whatever is thrown his way. He knows his lines and, what’s more, has a good comprehension of his role and gives a commendable performance.

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Raychel Nguyen, Simon Gusso, and Madi Anne Cosden. Credit: Artistic Synergy of Baltimore

Taking on the titular role of Charlotte, the gentle spider, is Alexis Arthur and she certainly makes this role her own. She portrays Charlotte with an authentic gentleness that is required of the character and, vocally, she is strong and gives a quite delightful performance.

Lurvy, the Zuckerman farmhand, is humorously played by Gregory Areford, who is a perfect match of this role. He has a good stage presence and isn’t afraid to be a clown, which is a good attitude for any actor to have.

A standout in this piece is young Raychel Nguyen, who takes on the role of the loving and sensitive Fern, who saves Wilbur and raises him for the first few months of his life. Nguyen seemingly has some experience on stage and has a good technique allowing her to project well, speak naturally, and hit her marks. She gives a believable performance, embodying the character nicely.

Final thought… Charlotte’s Web the Musical at Artistic Synergy of Baltimore is a sweet, fun re-telling of a childhood favorite that teaches important life lessons in way that doesn’t necessarily sugar-coat but explains in a way children will understand. The cast is works hard and gives 100% effort to the production making for a charming evening of theatre.

This is what I thought of Artistic Synergy of Baltimore’s production of Charlotte’s Web the Musical… What did you think? Please feel free to leave a comment!

Charlotte’s Web the Musical will play through August 6 at Artistic Synergy of Baltimore, Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, 8212 Philadelphia Road, Baltimore, MD. For tickets, purchase them online.

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Review: Tick, Tick… BOOM! at StillPointe Theatre

By Jason Crawford Samios-Uy

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Running Time: Approx. 80 minutes with no intermission

If you’re a fan of musical theatre, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard of Jonathan Larson or… you’ve at least heard of that relentless bohemian musical he penned called RENT. With that out of the way, let’s get into StillPointe Theatre’s latest offering, Tick, Tick… Boom! with Music and Lyrics by Jonathan Larson and Book by Jonathan Larson and David Auburn, Directed by Grace Anastasiadis, with Music Direction by Stacey Antoine. Tick, Tick… Boom! is Larson’s pre-RENT, semi-autobiographical piece that gives us more insight into his life with catchy but thoughtful songs and a nostalgic feel that takes us back to those flannel, maroon and black, angst-y 90s that we all remember and love.

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Set of Tick, Tick… Boom! at StillPointe Theatre. Credit: Ryan Haase

It’s no secret I am a fan of Ryan Haase’s set designs and this production is no different. Once again, Haase has creatively and efficiently designed the intimate StillPointe Theatre space into something magical and befitting of this material. His minimal, immersive set puts the audience smack-dab in the middle of the action and makes us part of the show. His choice of material, which really is just some chairs, a small love-seat, an old upright piano, and a sea of musical staff paper that floats above the audience, may not sound like much, but really works with this show, not distracting but adding to the story and production as a whole.

Kitt Crescenzo has great attention to detail with it comes to costuming this small cast of three and the 90s pop out with the dark color palate and accessories, and she even has the “90s yuppie” look down with the vertical striped shirt and loafers. The authenticity of the wardrobe took me back to this by-gone ear and added value to the piece.

Direction by Grace Anastasiadis is superb and she really seems to have a good comprehension of the material. With a more popular Larson piece out there in the world, it can be daunting to take on a lesser known piece, but Anastasiadis takes it and runs with it. Her blocking keeps the action moving and keeps the audience engaged and part of the story unfolding in front of them. With minimal sets, cast, and props, she tells the story beautifully and her casting is top notch.

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The Band. Credit: Rob Clatterbuck

Music Direction by Stacey Antoine is on point. The small, four-piece band including Stacey Antoine on Piano, Tanner Selby on Guitar, Cody Raum on Bass, and Joe Pipkin of Percussion are well-rehearsed and Antoine has a good grasp on Larson’s score. The cast is in tune and in harmony and the band, behind glass doors but still very much intertwined in the production, give a commendable performance.

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Adam Cooley and Ryan Haase. Credit: Rob Clatterbuck

Ryan Haase is delightful as Mike, the best friend who never gives up on you but is finding his own way in the process. I’ve already stated he’s a wizard when it comes to Set Design, but he’s rather able onstage, as well. He understands this character and his yearning for something more. He plays him with a stiffness that works well for the role and, vocally, Haase shines with a smooth tone in numbers such as his featured number “Real Life” and in his beautiful harmony in “Johnny Can’t Decide.” It’s good to see him using his talents onstage in this production, as well as off.

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Adam Cooley as Jon. Credit: Rob Clatterbuck

Adam Cooley as Jon gives a commendable performance and really gets to the heart of this character. It’s worth noting that from the moment you step into the theatre, Cooley does NOT LEAVE THE STAGE. He’s there for the entire 80 – 90 minute ride and he doesn’t falter once. He keeps the energy up and transitions smoothly through each scene, telling the story as he goes along. Impressively, Cooley actually plays the piano, quite well, in his poignant and emotional number “Why” and it just takes the show to the next level. This show is really on his shoulders, as Jon, but he rises nicely to the challenge.

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Amber Wood and Adam Cooley. Credit: Rob Clatterbuck

Last, but certainly not least, we have Amber Wood as Susan and she is a definite highlight of this production. She gives an absolute natural performance that takes the audience in from the moment she steps onto the stage. Relaxed and cool, as the characterization calls for, she performs this role seemingly effortlessly and her vocal performance is spot on and is a joy to watch. She has a good comprehension of the role and the characters place in the story and she superbly makes it her own. I’m looking forward to seeing more from Ms. Wood.

Final thought… Tick, Tick… Boom! at StillPointe Theatre is a charming, poignant look semi-autobiographical look at one of the prolific composers of the 20th century who was teetering on entering the 21st century but was taken from us too soon. Though I am not a fan of Jonathan Larson, this piece touched me. Without the fanfare and over-saturation that I had to endure with RENT, this piece stands firmly on its own but certainly gives us the beginnings of RENT but only subtly. StillPointe, as usual, has managed to take this small show and give us an immersive experience that is beautiful, thought-provoking, and all-around entertaining. The performances are authentic and emotional and the overall production is on you do not want to miss so get your tickets now!

This is what I thought of StillPointe Theatre’s production of Tick, Tick… Boom!… What did you think? Please feel free to leave a comment!

Tick, Tick… Boom! will play through August 10 at StillPointe Theatre, 1825 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD. For tickets, purchase them online.

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Review: Bonnie & Clyde at Monumental Theatre Company

By Jason Crawford Samios-Uy

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

The infamous Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow me their fate on a back road made of dirt in Bienville Parish, Louisiana on May 23, 1934 but their deeds and notoriety have lived on since. Their dastardly actions were plastered on the newspapers of the time but, until recently, little was known about the love story between these two outlaws. Though a cautionary love story, this makes for good fodder for a musical theatre piece and Monumental Theatre Company‘s latest offering, Bonnie & Clyde with Music by Frank Wildhorn, Lyrics by Don Black, and Book by Ivan Menchell and Direction by Ryan Maxwell, Music Direction by Paige Rammelkamp, and Choreography by Melrose Pyne takes us back to the dusty Depression of the 1930s and sheds light on this fascinating and poignant story.

Walking into the small space, I’m immediately taking back to the 1930s dust bowl with a minimal but authentic Set Design by Jessica Cancino. As it is a unit set, the locations are implied with simple but thoughtful set pieces that tell me exactly where I am in the scenes with no confusion. Her clever use of silhouettes keeps the piece interesting and adds great value to the production. Overall, Cancino is to be commended for her use of the space and intelligent design.

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Rachel Barlaam as Bonnie and Russell Silber as Clyde. Credit: RJ Pavel

Like the Set Design, Ethan Henry’s Costume Design fits the piece perfectly. The earth toned color palet keeps everything authentic and it’s a very well thought-out costume plot. The wardrobe for Bonnie Parker is sexy, but not overly sexy and the plain floral print dresses for the ladies work quite well and are coordinated nicely. The gentlemen, with their suspenders, tank-tops, and high waist pants add a realness to the production and the pinstriped suits are spot on. Overall, the Costume Design adds to the piece rather than deflects from it and makes for a great looking production.

Choreography by Melrose Pyne is polished and together and her ensemble keeps it tight. This production hit it out of the ballpark in the gospel inspired number “God’s Arms Are Always Open” and, well, give me a good gospel song and my toes are a-tappin’! Melrose knows the cast and their abilities and matches her choreography to bring out the best in them. Major kudos go out to Pyne for this engaging and entertaining choreography.

Though the orchestra is small, Music Direction by Paige Rammelkamp is near perfect. Her cast was in harmony and on point and the orchestra (consisting of Paige Rammelkamp on Keyboards, Theresa Arnold on Bass, Jess Bauer on Violin, Jack Cohen/Doug Elliott on Trombone, Marque Nelson on Percussion, Rick Peralta on Guitar, and Justin Baughman on Reeds) sounded like a damn recording! They are well rehearsed and give a brilliant performance.

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Rachel Barlaam as Bonnie and Russell Silber as Clyde. Credit: RJ Pavel

Telling a biographical story on stage is quite a feat but Ryan Maxwell takes the helm of this production and his direction makes for an easy to follow, charming evening of theatre. He keeps his cast moving and the action running smoothly, using his intimate space wisely. Even when the story slows down in Act II, Maxwell keeps it interesting with his blocking and seems to have a strong grasp of this story and what these characters are going through. His casting couldn’t be better and he seems to have pulled the best performance out of each of them. His understanding of minimalism is apparent and choosing a more implied approach rather than spectacle is a wise one.

Moving on to the performance aspect of Bonnie & Clyde, it’s worth mentioning this is a strong ensemble. Though only a few performances are mentioned in this review, every single actor in this ensemble is to be commended for his or her work and for the foundation they give to the entire production, such as the Salon Girls in “You’re Goin’ Back to Jail.”

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Russell Silber as Clyde, Rachel Barlaam as Bonnie and Morgan Scott as Ted. Credit: RJ Pavel

Jonathan M. Rizzardi takes on the role of Preacher and though he seems a little stiff (which may be a character choice), his vocal work is fantastic. He’s the featured singer on the aforementioned “God’s Arms Are Always Open” and he is no joke in this number. Hitting notes that are sometimes up in the rafters, he brings this number home. Another featured role, Ted Hinton is tackled by Morgan Scott and he seems to embody this down-home boy character making him a likable character even though he is written as somewhat of a nemesis to our main characters. Both actors do well by their characters and add to the story.

Young Bonnie and Clyde are played by Hailey Ibberson and Camryn Shegogue, respectively and they make these parts their own. Vocally, both give confident, seemingly effortless performances.

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Rachel Barlaam as Bonnie. Credit: RJ Pavel

Taking on the title roles of this piece are Russell Silber as Clyde Barrow and Rachel Barlaam as Bonnie Parker and both are well fitted in their roles. Both are absolute able actors but that’s not to say there were a few minor issues such as chemistry. Though the chemistry is good between Silber and Barlaam, it does seem to come and go and there are few awkward kisses (passionate kisses, mind you) that seem to be more scripted than natural. Vocally, both actors are quite adroit, especially Barlaam with a clear, strong voice that resonates throughout the theatre but at times the performances from both seemed a little lackluster for these two outlaw characters. However, these two do share some great moments such as in the numbers “How ‘Bout a Dance” and “Bonnie”.

Definite highlights of this production of Bonnie & Clyde are and Jana Bernard as Blanch Barrow and Benjamin Stoll as Buck Barrow. These two, together and individually, are powerhouses. Their chemistry seems effortless and their performances are near flawless. Benjamin Stoll embodies the character of Buck Barrow, the conflicted brother of Clyde who finds himself always having to choose between his wife and his brother, and his portrayal of him his completely believable. Vocally, Stoll is phenomenal with a smooth, clear baritone that I could listen to for days and days and shines in the numbers such as “When I Drive” and “Raise a Little Hell (Reprise)”. Jana Bernard, as the confident, opinionated, independent Blanche Barrow, steals every scene she’s in, without really trying, and her portrayal of Blanche Barrow is not only uber-authentic but damn funny. Her presence on stage is strong and she is nothing less than a joy to watch. Her vocal talents are superb and she commands the stage, especially in her featured number, the hilarious “You’re Goin’ Back to Jail”Bernard takes this role and chews it up and makes it her own. Did I mention their chemistry? Totally believable and they work well off each other. Keep an eye on these two in this production.

Final thought… Bonnie & Clyde, a beautifully tragic and cautionary tale, though not so successful on Broadway, is a bonafide hit at Monumental Theatre Company. It is well thought-out, precise and a delight to experience. The ensemble is top-notch, with a few solid standout performances, and the orchestra is spot on. The director and entire ensemble have a strong comprehension on the characters they are playing and the story they are telling making an outing down to Alexandria, Virginia well worth it. Whether you’re familiar with the story of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow or not, you won’t want to miss this production so… run and get your tickets now!

This is what I thought of Monumental Theatre Company’s production of Bonnie & Clyde… What did you think? Please feel free to leave a comment!

Bonnie & Clyde will play through July 30 at Monumental Theatre Company, Ainsle Arts Center, 3900 West Braddock Road, Alexandria, VA. For tickets, purchase them at the door or purchase them online.

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Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Baltimore Shakespeare Factory

By Jason Crawford Samios-Uy

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Running Time: Approx. 2 hours with one intermission

Lately, I’ve had the opportunity to experience theatre that is not full of flashy sets or intricate costumes, but of minimal design and I’ve grown to appreciate this style immensely. I’m learning that you don’t need all the bells and whistles to tell a good story (notice, I said “good” story) and Baltimore Shakespeare Factory (BSF) demonstrates this near perfectly with their latest offering, A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare, Directed by Tom Delise. It’s good old fashioned story-telling in a serene, outdoor setting that takes you back to the days of old when Shakespeare ruled the stage and people appreciated a good story.

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Titania and the Fairies seducing an egotistical Nick Bottom. Credit: Will Kirk

If you get a chance to check out a production in the Meadow at Johns Hopkins University’s Evergreen Museum and Library… DO IT! In the middle of a bustling city, this small patch of land is the perfect setting for an evening of Shakespeare, and you can bring your own picnic if you wish! The sounds of nature surround you as you watch a timeless story unfold before you performed by able actors working from a flawless text.

In a nutshell (if it’s possible), A Midsummer Night’s Dream is about events unfolding around the marriage of Duke Theseus and Hippolyta, the former Queen of the Amazons. Included in these events are the escapades of four young Athenian lovers, a traveling troupe of actors – The Mechanicals, a bunch of fairies, and the King and Queen of the Fairies who are throwing monkey wrenches in everything while trying to fix it at the same time. Sounds complicated doesn’t it? Well, it’s not too complicated if you pay attention and it’s quite funny and farcical making for a great evening of theatre.

Director Tom Delise, a Shakespeare purist, seems to have a confident grasp on the material. His vision of bringing pure Shakespearean theatre to the stage with little gems of modern day references to tell the story make it easy to follow and indubitably entertaining. He keeps the action moving and interesting creating a smooth flow that isn’t overwhelming to those not as experienced. He manages to keep it down to a nice 2-hours while still telling the entire story which is a feat in itself when it comes to any Shakespeare play. Kudos to Delise for an impeccable production.

 

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Kathryne Daniels and Jeff Miller. Credit: Will Kirk

Costume Design by Jessica Behar is simple, yet very appropriate and effective. Being a fanciful piece with a fairy king and queen and man turning into a donkey, one would think the costumes have to be outlandish and complex, but Behar has managed to design a costume plot that isn’t over the top, but still quite effective. Of course, the togas and tunics are present, but ornamented nicely and subtly differentiating the classes (the upper crust and the actors, really). Tatiana, Queen of the Fairies is elegant in her flowing robe while Oberon, King of the Fairies is aptly costumed in a nature-inspired ensemble with funky headpiece included. Overall, Behar’s design is appropriate, creative, and adds value to the production as a whole.

Moving to the performance aspect of this piece, it’s worth saying the entire ensemble gives 100% to their performance and work quite well together. It’s a joy to watch this cast as a whole and they know their stuff!

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Micaela Mannix, Liz Galuardi, Fred Fletcher-Jackson, and Davon Harris. Credit: Will Kirk

Taking on the roles of the four confused lovers are Fred Fletcher-Jackson as Lysander, Liz Galuardi as Hermia, Davon Harris as Demetrius, and Micaela Mannix as Helena and this quartet hits the nail on the head with their performances. Their chemistry is second to none and they’re comedic timing is delightful. In a particularly farcical scene where poor Hermia is actually sat on by the boys, I was laughing out-loud and thoroughly enjoying the physical comedy before me. All four give confident performances and are a joy to watch.

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A couple of The Mechanicals performing the play-within-the-play. Credit: Will Kirk

The Mechanicals, the acting troupe, compsed of Cheryl Campo, Tess Garret, Jeff Miller, Tegan Williams, Kathryne Daniels, and Shaquille Stewart, much like their name implies, is a well-oiled machine and all work well off of each other. Their mini play-within-the-play had me belly-laughing – especially Jeff Miller, who had the honor of taking on the female role, as many males did in the time period, and he played it to the hilt with an impeccable grasp of the cheeky comedy. Other highlights in this troupe are Shaquille Stewart who takes on the role of Nick Bottom, the egotistical, self-admiring actor, and Kathryne Daniels as Peter Quince, the flustered writer of the troupe. Stewart steals just about every scene he’s in with his physical comedy and superb delivery and Daniels humorously portrays Quince’s frustration with big gestures and asides that work well with the material. It’s a job well done by all.

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Allie Press as Puck. Credit: Will Kirk

Allie Press tackles the role of Puck, the impish go-to guy for King Oberon and she really grasps this character. The character of Puck means well and is only doing his masters bidding but he is also a lurking observer most of the time and strikes when it is most opportune. Press skillfully delivers her dialogue and moves about the stage effortlessly giving a confident, strong performance.

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Elijah Moreland as Oberon, King of the Fairies. Credit: Will Kirk

Definite highlights of this production are the Titania and Oberon, the Fairy Queen and King played masterfully by Valerie Dowdle (a BSF Company Member) and Elijah Moreland. Their chemistry is brilliant and they work very well off of each other. Moreland, in probably the flashiest costume in the production, moves confidently and gracefully taking on not only the intricate role of Oberon, but also of Duke Theseus. He delivers his dialogue clearly and has a good comprehension of his characters. His interaction with the audience is subtle and not in your face which is something I can totally deal with not being a huge fan of breaking the fourth wall. Overall, Moreland has a strong presence on the stage and gives an absolutely commendable performance.

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Valerie Dowdle as Hippolyta. Credit: Will Kirk

Valerie Dowdle also takes on two roles – that of the Titania and Hippolyta and she nails both of these characters. Quite an able Shakespearean actor, Dowdle effortlessly embodies her characters, especially that of Titania, and gives a strong, graceful, and authentic performance. Her comprehension of the material is apparent and her delivery is completely natural, making it easy to follow and understand. Another fine performance from Ms. Dowdle.

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The Fairies and Nick Bottom. Credit: Will Kirk

Final thought…A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Baltimore Shakespeare Factory is a step back in time where there was no need for big spectacles or lights and sound but the actors told the story and the text spoke for itself. Baltimore Shakespeare Factory’s attempt at producing authentic Shakespearean theatre is a success, especially out on the rolling meadow at Johns Hopkins University’s Evergreen Museum and Library. T he actors are well-rehearsed and have an impeccable comprehension of the story they’ve been tasked to tell and their interpretation, along with the vision of Director Tom Delise, is easy to follow and quite entertaining. This is a fun, humorous, timeless tale and BSF knocks it out of the ballpark with this production. Those experienced with Shakespeare or those who are currently discovering his work will be thoroughly delighted and entertained.

This is what I thought of Baltimore Shakespeare Factory’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream… What did you think? Please feel free to leave a comment!

 A Midsummer Night’s Dream will play through July 30 at Baltimore Shakespeare Factory, The Meadow at Johns Hopkins University’s Evergreen Museum and Library. For tickets, purchase them at the door or purchase them online.

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