PRESS RELEASE: East Coast Premiere of DEAR FRIENDS opens at Just Off Broadway

Dear Friends will play ONE WEEKEND ONLY, May 18-21 at Just Off Broadway

Four married couples have been friends for several years and one of the couples, Lois & Michael, decide to call it quits. The other couples, Charlotte & Lenny, Gigi & Vivian, and Douglas & Sal want desperately to help these two see the error of their ways and realize divorce is not what they really want and concoct an intervention, unbeknownst to Lois & Michael. As the evening wears on, problems in all of the marriages and in the friendships themselves start to bubble to the surface. Are these dear friends trying to help Lois & Michael get back together because they truly believe it’s what’s best for them or… are Lois & Michael examples of the raw truth that could shatter the seemingly blissful lives of the others and they want to stop it for their own sakes?

You can purchase tickets online at www.justoffbroadwaymd.wordpress.com/tickets

Tickets also available at the door.

Thursday, Friday, & Saturday – Doors open 7:30PM; Curtain 8:00PM

Sunday – Doors Open 2:30PM; Curtain 3:00PM

Just Off Broadway @ JELC

Jerusalem Evangelical Lutheran Church

4605 Belair Road, Baltimore, MD 21206

(On the corner of Belair Road and Moravia Road)

PRESS RELEASE: Psycho Beach Party Opens at StillPointe Theatre

Psycho Beach Party will be playing May 18 through June 16 at StillPointe Theatre!

A manic party-mix of 50’s psychological thrillers, 60’s beach movies, and 70’s slasher films. The story focuses on Chicklet Forrest, a sixteen-year old tomboy who’s desperate to be part of the in-crowd of Malibu beach surfers. She’s the typical American girl – except for one little problem: her personality is split into more slices than a pepperoni pizza.

June 3rd & 10th have double shows – 7:00PM and 9:30PM

All other performances at 8:00PM

Directed by Courtney Proctor

Tickets available online at: http://events.eventzilla.net/e/stillpointe-presents-psycho-beach-party–2138912517

Located at The Mercury Theater

1823 N Charles Street

Baltimore MD 21201

Review: Little Women the Musical at Third Wall Productions

By Jason Crawford Samios-Uy

Running Time: 2 hours and 45 minutes with one intermission

Cast of Little Women the Musical. Credit: Karen Osborn, House of Bankerd

This season, I’ve seen more Victorian age stories brought to the stage than I’ve seen in my entire life (only about three, but still) and, I’m not a huge fan of this era with its stuffy clothes and attention to the particulars of etiquette and all that jazz but, I have to say, aside from the style (with which all the Costume Designers did impeccable work), I actually enjoyed to the stories being told. Thus is the case with Third Wall Productions’ latest production, Little Women the Musical with Book by Allan Knee, Music by Jason Howland, and Lyrics by Mindi Dickstein, based on the novel by Lousia May Alcott. This production is Directed by Christine Thomas with Music Direction by Eliza van Kan, Set Design by Jordan Hollett, and Costume Design by Lisa Ann Dickinson and makes for a charming evening of relatable and enjoyable musical theatre.

Set Design by regular Third Wall Productions designer Jordan Hollet is massive, to say the least. Well, for the space at Third Wall Productions, it’s massive. With essentially four different scene settings, an outdoor garden, a living room, an attic, and a small parlor room, Hollet has managed to cleverly fit all of this in the space provided him. The one level design works quite well, with an elevated attic area, but there are spots in the audience where the action is not easily seen. However, that being said, it’s really the nature of the beast with spaces like this and of no real fault to the designer. Just note that the phrase, “Not a bad seat in the house” does not apply here as there are a few seats that aren’t ideal. Overall, the set design is innovative and creative and helps the story along very nicely and keeps the action interesting.

Grace Dillon, Mea Holloway, Lizzy Jackson, Maggie Flanigan, and J. Purnell Hargrove. Credit: Karen Osborn, House of Bankerd

Lisa Ann Dickson, with the help of House of Bankerd gives us an on point Costume Design for this piece. As stated, this is a Victorian era story and the wardrobe may be just as important as the story itself and Dickson knocks it out of the ballpark with this one. The attention to detail and style are exquisite and seem to be tailor made for each performer. Dickinson and House of Bankerd are to be commended for the fantastic Costume Design of this piece.

I admit I was expecting a different type of score walking into this as I had never experienced Little Women the Musical before but I was pleasantly surprised. The music for this piece is quite contemporary and entertaining and is allowed to shine under Music Direction by Eliza van Kan. The ensemble has a very good, strong sound and seems to make easy work of this score. It’s worth mentioning the pit orchestra for this piece gives a polished, accomplished performance as well. Though the orchestra may have drowned out the cast, at times, and weren’t as tight as they usually are (here and there), they still give a very good showing in this production.

Christine Thomas not only plays Marmee March in this production, but she also takes the helm of it and her vision for this piece is apparent as she brings the story of the March girls to the stage. She keeps the action moving and seems to really grasp the story of these ladies – some who are traditional for their time and some who are forward thinkers. She understands the relationship between these sisters and the different stories going on in this piece and presents them beautifully though, the link between the characters is a little weak and the chemistry is there, but at times seems as though the actors are just going through the motions. Regardless, the entire ensemble works well together and creates Thomas’ vision nicely and the solo moments are absolutely lovely. As Marmee March, she is a vocal powerhouse. She has a strong, clean vocal style and commands the stage with every note in her solos “Here Alone” and “Days of Plenty.” Her portrayal as the matriarch of four daughters is admirable and she seems quite comfortable in the role.

Producer Mike Zellhoffer steps onto the stage as the seemingly curmudgeon neighbor, Mr. Laurence, and Patricia Brunker takes on the role of the actual curmudgeon Aunt March. Both Zellhoffer and Brunker give commendable, authentic performances complimenting the story and the other characters while helping move the story forward. Brunker gives a terrific vocal performance and totally embodies the character of Aunt March and all her stuffiness, while Zellhoffer transitions nicely from stern to kind in his wonderful character work.

Grace Dillon, Mea Holloway, Lizzy Jackson, Maggie Flanigan, and J. Purnell Hargrove. Credit: Karen Osborn, House of Bankerd

Purnell Hargrove takes on the role of the amiable Laurie Laurence, quite literally the boy next door and close friend to the March sisters. Hargrove gives a committed and confident performance and has good chemistry with his cast mates. He looks like he’s having a blast up on the stage and, in his featured numbers “Take a Chance on Me” and “Five Forever,” he seems to be pushing his upper range, vocally, but still gives a commendable showing.

Taking on the role of the youngest sister, Amy March, Lizzy Jackson has a good comprehension of this character and plays her well, though, at times, is a bit scripted in her delivery. However, that being said, she nails the demeanor and personality of this character and plays the transition of Amy March beautifully.

Maggie Flanigan tackles the role of the eldest sister, Meg March, and does so with gusto. She works well with her fellow actresses and her portrayal of Meg makes her a likeable character who’s just trying to find her own way in life with Mr. John Brooke, played by Andrew Pedrick. According to his bio, Pedrick is making his way back to the stage after a decade or so and though he’s quite natural, the character gets lost, sometimes, and I see Andrew Pedrick onstage rather than John Brooke. However, as soon as Pedrick opens his mouth to sing as in his featured number “More Than I Am,” a duet with the able Maggie Flanigan, it’s pure art. He has a smooth, resonating tone and I found myself putting down my pen just to listen to him.

Patricia Brunker and Grace Dillon. Credit: Karen Osborn, House of Bankerd

Daniel Plante takes on the role of Professor Bhaer, the serious and stern fellow boarder to Jo March at a New York City boarding house. Plante’s interpretation is spot on and authentic and though he decided not to use an accent (the character is German), it doesn’t hinder his performance in the least. Vocally, Plante has a unique sound and, technically, gives a superb performance of “How I Am” making for a strong performance overall.

Regular, Mea Holloway takes on the role of the gentle Beth March, the other middle sister who has a sweetness and saintliness about her that the other sisters don’t seem to have. Holloway plays this part to the hilt and impressively portrays the sweet nature of this character consistently throughout. She impeccably interprets her featured songs, “Off to Massachusetts” and the poignant “Some Things are Meant to Be” and she embodies this character wholly.

Grace Dillon as Jo March. Credit: Karen Osborn, House of Bankerd

Grace Dillon as Jo March couldn’t have been cast more perfectly. Dillon takes this role and runs with it, making it her own while sticking to the basics of this character of the exuberant, exciting, forward thinking, middle sister, Jo March. With high energy and a seemingly complete grasp of this character and her objectives, Dillon is authentic and confident in this part. She has a great command of the stage and, aside from her acting abilities, gives an outstanding vocal performance as well. As the evening progresses, she seems to pull back, but still gives powerful performances in songs such as “Astonishing” and “The Fire Within Me”. Kudos to Dillon for a job well done.

Final thought… Little Women the Musical at Third Wall Productions is an enjoyable and stimulating piece that this company executes wonderfully. The story is entertaining and relevant, concerning itself with the struggle of woman and the different choices different women make each day, even if they are cut from the same cloth. With strong female characters, the message of finding one’s own way and overcoming any obstacle is clear and apparent. With a fun score and a clever script, the story is easy to understand and the performances are top notch. Whether you’re familiar with the story or seeing it for the first time, Little Women the Musical will delight and entertain and is a production well worth its price of admission.

This is what I thought of Third Wall Productions’ production of Little Women the Musical… What did you think? Please feel free to leave a comment!

Little Women the Musical will play through May 21 at Third Wall Productions, 5801 Harford Road, Baltimore, MD 21206. For tickets, call 443-838-4064 or purchase them online.

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Review: Voices in the Rubble and Endgame at Rapid Lemon Productions – The End of the World as We Don’t Know It

By Mark Briner

Run time: Approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes with one intermission

Director Lance Bankerd pairs a contemporary play by award winning Irish playwright Darren Donohue with an absurdist classic by Irish avant-garde master Samuel Beckett and delivers an evening of comic highs and depressing lows in two oddly complementary works about searching for meaning in a meaningless world.

Zack Jackson and Lee Conderacci. Credit: Rapid Lemon Productions

The opening act, Dononhue’s Voices in the Rubble is a manic take on the absurdities of everyday life, marriage, the workplace, and unrealized dreams. Bankerd takes an inspired directorial take on the piece, framing the farce in the device of an idyllic 50s sitcom, albeit one on LSD. He creates an anti-Ozzie & Harriet if you will, if Ozzie and Harriet were dissatisfied, sexually out of control suburbanites of questionable mental health and David and Ricky may or may not be dead in the fridge. Lee Conderacci and Zack Jackson portray Tony and Avril, a married couple who have each lost their way and in the process discarded their values, their virtues, and all sense of discretion. Opening with a cheery, stereotypical “Honey, I’m home!”, in place of the expected trite “How was your day?” banality, Tony greets Avril with the news that he has been fired from his job for having sexual relations “in flagrante delicto” with his secretary. Avril counters that she may have killed the mailman (or the milkman, or his brother, or….) and stowed him in the refrigerator. Conderacci and Jackson flit back and forth in rapid fire scenarios that reveal their frustrations, their abandoned dreams, their loss of purpose, and, through it all, their unquestioning love in the face of their many sexual dalliances and possibly criminal activity. Bankerd filters this all through the wholesome values and suburban perfection of classic American television. Equal parts Ozzie and Harriet, Burns and Allen, and Lucy and Ricky, this pair spins a dizzying story of the events of the day, their marriage, and desperate future in the context of a standard 30 minute sitcom episode (minus commercial breaks, of course). His actors are gamely on board embracing his vision, aptly changing directions and emotions in the brief pauses where the laugh track would traditionally be inserted.  Aided by Matthew Lindsay Payne in the stock role filled by the wacky neighbor, albeit in this case one who doesn’t live next door but in the couple’s refrigerator. His George compounds Tony and Avril’s absurdity as his identity develops after his introduction as Avril’s intended victim, killed and stuffed in the fridge. The three, eventually joined by Bankerd himself as the Man, a critical cameo whose identity is best left for the viewer to learn, all play exceptionally well off each other in the manic style Bankerd has developed without losing any sincerity of the characters’ journeys, arriving in the most decidely unorthodox sitcom ending ever (not counting that horrible Will & Grace finale). Sebastian Sears and Deana Fisher Brill also deserve praise for providing minimalistic set pieces and costumes respectively that handle the constriants of the small performance space but hit all the right retro notes as far as style and colors to enhance Bankerd’s vision.

Cast of Voices in the Rubble and Endgame. Credit: Rapid Lemon Productions

During intermission, the performers move the dressing room to the set and prepare with their makeup artists for the more demanding apocalyptic visuals of the act to come. This allows the audience to subtly shift gears in preparation for an experience that thematically complements where they’ve just been but approaches it from a distinctly different angle.

Bankerd blends this performance art choice seamlessly into the start of the second piece, where Payne transitions into protagonist Clov in front of, and with a costume assist from, the audience. He adeptly (through a nearly ten minute dialogue free pantomime) scours the world he now embodies like a post-apocalyptic dumpster diver acquiring supplies for the day to day survival of his makeshift nuclear family back home. His return couldn’t be any further from “Honey, I’m home”, but more of a soul crushing “Omigid, I’m in Hell.”. The dark nucleus of his family is Hamm (Jackson), who took Clov in as a child, but now sits angrily in the center of a room, blinded and confined to a wheel chair, perpetually wallowing in his helplessness and bitterness, and Hamm’s senile parent’s Nagg (Bankerd) and Nell (Conderacci), both of whom have lost their legs and live in separate side by side trash bins. (Don’t ask. Beckett.) The foursome take the audience on a jouney through their hopeless lives and lost histories. They are a study of four free falling souls adrift in the world, frequently detesting yet always depending on each other. They are physically contrasting incomplete individuals who each possess pieces of what the others have lost. Clov has a disability that leaves him with constant pain in his feet, legs that barely work, and the inability to sit down. Hamm is confined to the chair, thus can’t stand, and depends on Clov to be his legs and eyes. The parents depend on Clov to be their legs and provide their very sustenance, and for Hamm and each other to be their fading memories. The four embody all the stages of life in a world that ceases to exist as we know it, almost as the upside down, inside out, thoroughly devastating version handed us by the ancient Greeks. Clov is a young man who is physically unable to exist on his own, facing a future of nothing but pain and despair. Hamm is the middle aged man who is stranded in a bleak life he never planned. Nagg and Nell are a sad, pathetic pair representative of life on the decline, their bodies, minds, memories, and basic humanity failing them daily, the only comfort to look forward to is their impending release from it all by death.

Lee Conderacci, Zack Jackson, and Matthew Lindsey Payne. Credit: Rapid Lemon Productions

Bankerd’s inspired pairing of the two pieces works for thematic purposes. He traces historically a path from the classic beginning of Beckett to an evolution of those themes via Donohue present day. Bankerd elaborates, “Both deal with the existential woes of finding meaning in a meaningless world. they share themes of routine, repetition, and people being trapped,” in these instances literally as well as figuratively. He describes the evening as an elevator ride. “Voices takes you a few floors down. Endgame cuts the cord.” In Bankerd’s able hands and finely focused vision, that elevator ride plays more like the Tower of Terror.

Zack Jackson, Lee Condericci, and Matthew Lindsey Payne. Credit: Rapid Lemon Productions

Placing the two pieces together in repertory gives Bankerd two dual challenges. Voices, on one hand, requires him to interpret and visualize the world he finds on Donohue’s pages. Beckett, on the other hand, is a rare playwright that is adamant about his staging, providing stage direction and set design specifics, and has freely bashed productions who have strayed from them. Thus for the second act, Bankerd is required to filter his interpretation and visualization through the author’s concrete demands. The combination also gives the quartet of very talented actors two totally disparate vehicles in which to display their range and depth by either playing off or contrasting their two characters. Jackson at the center of each piece (quite literally for the second) is a capable and dynamic core off which to build. We watch Tony in Voices spiral out of control as he eventually comes face to face with his uncertain future. In Endgame, he displays the contempt and devastation of a man whose uncertain future has become a dreaded reality. Conderacci provides a subtle continuity. Her Nell is a Blanche duBois-like faded version of Avril, desperately depending on the kindness of others. Her Avril desperately clings to any vestige of her unattainable dreams before it is too late. In her Nell, we see a woman whose dreams not only never materialized, but the cruelties of aging and the world have assured they never will. We mourn for her yet are touched by her as the lone instance of the world’s lost gentility and refinement she retains. Bankerd is the culmination of the roller coaster comedy in Voices, and the extremely welcome sole voice of comedy in Beckett’s dreary world. An equally accomplished actor as he is a director, Bankerd unquestionably succeeds playing characters almost twice his age in both pieces, hopefully alluding to a long future for him on stage as well as behind the curtain. Payne however in a showdown wins the evening for displaying sheer range and acting prowess. His manic performance in Voices alone requires continuous flexibility and adaptability as Avril and Tony change the parameters of his existence with exhausting frequency. But in Endgame, his pathetic and emotionally wrenching portrayal of a young man trapped in a life of misery and despair, chained to people and situations that can only be remedied via death, his emotionally devoid performance is ultimately heartbreaking.

Lee Conderacci, Zack Jackson, and Matthew Lindsey Payne. Credit: Rapid Lemon Productions

Bankerd and company succeed in combining both of these works and exploring the meaningless in which they have completely thrust themselves. Voices in the Rubble allows us to laugh at the comic potential of what such an existence represents. In Endgame, they beat us down with the dread of what such an existence truly is.

This is what I thought of Rapid Lemon Productions’ production of Voices in the Rubble and Endgame… What did you think? Please feel free to leave a comment!

Voices in the Rubble and Endgame will play through May 21 at Rapid Lemon Productions, Motor House, 120 W. North Avenue, Baltimore, MD. For more information, go to www.rapidlemon.com or purchase tickets online.

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Review: Legally Blonde at Silhouette Stages

By Jason Crawford Samios-Uy

Running Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes with one intermission

It’s interesting how many incarnations a story can make. Usually a story will be created in a novel and then be turned into a film, then a stage production… or after the novel, the stage production will come and then the film. Either way, it’s usually a well-known story from the get and it can be challenging for a creative team (whether stage or film) to visually recreate or reimagine a beloved novel. However, some stories just lend well to a transfer from film to stage and Silhouette Stages latest production, Legally Blonde the Musical with Music & Lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin and Book by Heather Hach, and on the novel by Amanda Brown and the MGM Motion Picture, is a story that looks just as good on the stage as it does in the pages of a novel or on the silver screen. This latest production is Directed by TJ Lukacsina, with Music Direction by Nathan C. Scavilla and Michael Wolfe, and Choreography by Rikki Lacewell and is a joy to experience and should not be missed.

The cast of Legally Blonde; Photo by Silhouette Stages.

Briefly, Legally Blonde the Musical is about Elle Woods (Lindsey Landry), a pretty, blonde West Coast girl, from Malibu who follows her college boyfriend, Warner (Stephen Foreman), all the way to Harvard Law School to win him back and along the way, shows herself and those around her, such as teaching assistant Emmett Forrest (Matt Wezel) and Professor Callahan Ryan Geiger) that you can’t judge a book by its cover and that she is much more than what she looks like. She overcomes challenges and finds friendships places she least expected. It’s a story of discovering what is inside of a person is much more important that what we see on the outside. It’s a good message told with a balance of humor and poignancy that makes for a delightful evening of theatre.

Set Design by TJ Lukacsina is simple, yet appropriate for this production. More set pieces than a permanent set, each scene is insinuated but it is easy to see where everything is taking place and the clever use of set pieces makes it easier to create the many different locations needed for this piece. Aside from a few lackluster pieces that are supposed to represent simple doors but look a little untidy, the cast and crew are well-rehearsed on the changes and everything moves smoothly and quickly keeping up with the pace of the piece and not hindering it.

Andrew Malone has yet to disappoint with his Costume Design and this production is no different. As the nature of this piece goes, the look is just as important as the story and Malone has managed to capture that look beautifully. From the West Coast, haute couture look for Elle Woods (and there is no mistaking that pink is her signature color) to the darker, more conservative look of the East Coast, Malone has chosen a near perfect wardrobe for each character in this production. Kudos to Andrew Malone for a job well done.

Erica Loy as Kate; Lindsey Landry as Elle Woods; Kendall Nicole Sigman as Serena; Jennie Phelps as Margot; Nia Smith as Pilar; Photo by John Cholod.

Choreography by Rikki Lacewell is well on point. Definitely much more than dance squares and jazz hands, this choreography is well thought-out and befitting of this upbeat and modern piece. The fast-paced numbers such as “Omigod You Guys” (the opening number), “Positive,” “Whipped Into Shape,” and the infamous “Bend and Snap” are exciting and stimulating and Lacewell seems to know her cast and the varying abilities of each and wonderfully blends them all into all these numbers. There was an attempt at a hip-hop style of dancing during “Positive” that might have benefitted from a bit more rehearsal, but overall, the choreography is fitting, thought-out, and well executed adding great value to this production.

Music Direction by Nathan C. Scavilla and Michael Wolfe is superb with a strong, vocally stellar ensemble. The music is recorded, but that doesn’t damper the abilities of the cast as they in harmony and spot in in every number. Some performances are stronger than others but Scavilla and Wolfe have managed to get brilliant performances out of every member of the cast and this music is presented exquisitely and with gusto.

Along with Set Design, TJ Lukascsina has double duty and also takes on Director duties of this production and he’s risen to the challenge of bringing this popular and familiar story to the stage. He has a vision of his own and it’s apparent in this piece while still being faithful to the original to both the film and staged productions. His casting is impeccable and the characters really come to life and move the story along nicely. Lukascina has created a smooth pace but, because of the use of recorded music, the transitions into musical numbers seems a bit abrupt and it’s clear the actors are waiting for their music cues whereas with a live band, a little vamping goes a long way for seamless transitions. Overall, his work is to be commended and he gives us a fun, meaningful piece that is a joy to experience.

Moving into the performance aspect of this piece, I have to mention that the entire ensemble of Legally Blonde the Musical gives a strong, confident, and committed performance. With a large cast, it’s easy to blend in, but there were many good, worthy performances in this piece and all of the ensemble are to be commended and congratulated on a job well done!

Lindsey Landry as Elle Woods; Matt Wetzel as Emmett Forrest; the cast of Legally Blonde; Photo by John Cholod.

Though this piece seems like a female-character heavy piece, there are actually quite a few featured roles for males, as well, including Warner Huntington III, played by Stephen Foreman and Professor Callahan, played by Ryan Geiger. These gentlemen carry their own against the female driven script and give admirable performances. Ryan Geiger has as great look for Callahan and the way he carries himself as the character is spot on. He understands the antagonistic ways of his character and he’s comfortable in the role, giving a very confident performance. Playing the character of Warner Stephen Foreman made some curious choices in mannerism and delivery. Warner is supposed to be a “bro” per say, and not much on his mind besides old family money and when the next kegger is but Foreman’s performance seems a bit too forced and uncomfortable at times. Vocally, he does a fine job with his featured number “Serious” but I would like a more of a jerk-like confidence in this portrayal. However, that being said, Foreman does a good job and makes this role his own. He has great chemistry with his cast mates and it makes for a worthy performance, overall.

Lindsey Landry as Elle Woods; Stephen Foreman as Warner Huntington III; Photo by John Cholod.

Kendall Nichole Sigman as Serena, Jennie Phelps as Margot, and Nia Smith as Pilar take on the responsibilities of the “best friends” and Greek chorus of this piece and they hit the nail on the head. They are committed and stay upbeat (as required by their characters) throughout the entire production and are in step with every bit of choreography thrown at them. All three are assets to the ensemble and they are comfortable in these roles giving splendid performances.

Summer Hill gives a top notch performance as Brooke Wyndham, Elle Wood’s first client and fellow Delta Nu sorority sister. Portraying a fitness instructor has its own set of challenges but Hill steps up to the plate and knocks it out of the ball park with a high energy jump rope/aerobic number “Whipped Into Shape” that had my heart racing and I was just sitting in my seat. However, Hill didn’t miss a beat or a note and that, my friends, is quite impressive. She makes the entire thing look easy and she has a good understanding of her character and makes the role her own. It’s also worth mentioning, the ensemble members who join Hill in “Whipped Into Shape” also keep up with the high energy number, not missing a beat, and give a tight, well-rehearsed performance.

Parker Bailey Steven as Enid; Nia Smith as Pilar; Lindsey Landry as Elle Woods; Jennie Phelps as Margot; Allison Bradbury as Vivienne Kensington; Summer Hill as Brooke Wyndham; Ryan Geiger as Professor Callahan; Photo by John Cholod.

Allison Bradbury takes on the role of Vivienne Kensington, the uptight, snobby, and, well… bitchy, new girlfriend of Warner and, no offence intended, but Bradbury nails this part. She gives off just enough bitchiness to make you not like her, but also makes her transition toward the end of the piece all the more important and Bradbury gets this importance of that transition. She gives a hell of a vocal performance and, overall, gives a terrific performance.

Matt Wetzel as Emmett Forrest is quite likable and gives an admirable performance. He has great chemistry with Lindsay Landry making for a believable and authentic portrayal. His vocal stylings on his featured number such as “Chip on My Shoulder” and “Legally Blonde” are commendable and heartfelt and he really grasps the essence of his character making for an enjoyable performance.

I’d also like to mention the four-legged actors of this ensemble, who both did stupendous jobs in their roles: Biscuit Boo Bradbury who takes on the challenging role of Elle’s faithful friend Bruiser, and Olive Ann Landry who takes on the part of Rufus, the poor furry child in the middle of a custody dispute with Paulette and her ex. Note: If you put dogs in a production… you can’t go wrong with me. I. LOVE. DOGGIES. I’m just sayin’.

Matt Wetzel as Emmett Forrest; Lindsey Landry as Elle Woods; Photo by John Cholod.

Definite highlights of this production are Lindsey Landry as Elle Woods and Michele D. Vicino-Coleman as Paulette. Both of these actresses are a joy to watch and their performances are superb as they really comprehend their characters and their motivations and play the roles to the hilt.

Michele D. Vicino-Coleman plays a hilarious, down-to-earth, and street-wise Paulette, the local stylist who befriends Elle and supports her no matter what. Vicino-Coleman takes this role and gives it a fresh look and portrayal. She has a strong and beautiful belt and smashes her featured number “Ireland” not taking it too, too seriously and adding just enough comedy in to keep it funny, but still poignant. Her chemistry with the hunky Kyle (played brilliantly by a hunky Rob White) is fantastic and, importantly, she looks as though she’s having a blast playing this part which, in turn, makes for a fabulous performance.

Filling the cute, fashionable shoes of Elle Woods, Lindsey Landry is just about perfect casting for this role. It helps that her look is spot on for this character, but more importantly, her understanding of Elle Woods is quite apparent as her transition from the beginning of the show to the end is seamless but definitely noticeable. Her voice is absolutely beautiful as it fills the theatre during numbers such as “What You Want,” “So Much Better,” “Legally Blonde,” and the touching “Find My Way.” She gives an authentic portrayal and really connects with the audience to where you’re really rooting for her every step of the way. Landry gives an impeccable performance and I’m looking forward to seeing more of her work in the future.

Final thought… Legally Blonde the Musical  at Silhouette Stages is a delightful, fun, well put-together production that should not be missed this season.  Having to contend with the successful film and book on which it is based, it could have gone horribly wrong or amazing well and, thank goodness, it’s the latter. This production is fresh while staying true to those previous incarnations and, if you’re looking for an enjoyable evening head on down to Columbia to see this production. With a clever script, uber-fun and catchy music, and a well-abled, dedicated cast that makes the show their own while staying true to the original characters, Silhouette Stages has a bona fide success on their hands.

This is what I thought of Silhouette Stages’ production of Legally Blonde the Musical… What did you think? Please feel free to leave a comment!

Legally Blonde the Musical will play through May 28 at Silhouette Stages, Slayton House, 10400 Cross Fox Lane, Columbia, MD 21044. For tickets, call 410-637-5289 or purchase them online.

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Review: [Title of Show] at Fells Point Corner Theatre

By Jason Crawford Samios-Uy

Running Time: 1 hours and 55 minutes with no intermission

With the arts scene booming in Baltimore, some who are not in the “the know” enjoy (or don’t enjoy) the final product of months of auditions, casting, rehearsals, finding designers, and sometimes even writing but sometimes folks wonder what it takes to get a show from page to stage. Fells Point Corner Theatre‘s latest offering, [Title of Show] by Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell, with Direction by Kristen Cooley, Music Direction by Mandee Ferrier Roberts, and Choreographed by Tom Wyatt.

[Title of Show] actually covers its own creation and it’s journey from a blank page to the New York Musical Theatre Festival, all the way up to it’s Off Broadway run. Much of the material is based on true events and people, including writers, Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell, so much so that they used the real names of the folks involved. It explains the process and the changes and compromises that must be made and even the possible change in the people involved.

Set Design by Bush Greenbeck is simple but he uses his space wisely and his use of levels and revolves keeps the action moving and interesting. Primarily a unit set with set pieces, Greenbeck’s design fits this piece nicely and move the piece along.

Owen O’Leary as Jeff and Lauren Stuart as Heidi. Credit: Tessa Soloway

Choreography by Tom Wyatt is charming and the cast seems to have a good grasp of it and they are tight and well-rehearsed. There’s not a lot going on so you won’t see any big dance numbers, but with four characters, that would be going a bit overboard, anyway, but the choreography that is present is appropriate and adds value to the production.

Music Direction by Mandee Ferrier Roberts, who is also a character in the show, as the sole instrumenalist, is superb. I want to take a moment to say that the vocal work in this piece is outstanding. The four actors are in key and in harmony every step of the way. The whole piece has a very subdued sound having only piano accompaniment as backup, but the music shines through because of stellar performances. Mandee Ferrier Roberts is the usual accompanist, but I had the pleasure of experiencing Homeretta Ayala’s performance and it’s as if she had been performing with them from day one. Overall, the music is what makes this piece, but then again, it should… it’s a musical! Kudos to Roberts for a job well done.

Kristen Cooley, a wonderful fixture in Baltimore theatre, takes the helm of this production an makes her vision and love for this piece apparent. With an easy seat and good casting, she keeps this show moving and interesting. This is a unique show in that it’s not really a show within a show, but a show about its own creation, but Cooley seems to have a good comprehension of the script and and presents it clearly and with authenticity making for an enjoyable evening of theatre.

Owen O’Leary as Jeff and Izaak Michael as Hunter. Credit: Tessa Soloway

Moving into the performance aspect of this production, Owen O’Leary takes on the role of the more cautious, subdued Jeff and Izaak Michael tackles the role of the more exuberant and frantic Hunter. Both of these actors really do get their characters but, whether or not it is a directorial choice, both seem a bit too scripted throughout the entire piece. The singing… top notch, but the acting seems a bit forced. The script is a bit trite at times, as well, so that doesn’t help, either. This isn’t to say these gentlemen didn’t do an admirable job in these roles. Vocally, they are strong and have a pleasant, clean sound and they are both confident and seem comfortable on the stage, giving commendable performances.

The highlights of this production are the female counterparts, Heidi and Susan played by Lauren Stuart and Casey Dutt, respectively. These two actors are powerhouses and give superb and confident performances. Dutt has a natural flare and shines in her featured number “Die, Vampire, Die!” and Stuart gives a poignant, heartfelt performance of her featured number “A Way Back to Then” toward the end of the show. Both have great chemistry with each other and with O’Leary and Michael, making them a delight to watch.

Final thought… [Title of Show] at Fells Point Corner Theatre might not be my cup of tea as I see the script as a little trite and though the song selections are fitting and easy on the ear, they’re not ones that left an impression on me or had me humming as I left the theatre. However, it is a fun romp that delves into the subject of creating theatre, more specifically, musical theatre and all the good and not so good things that go into it. The production itself is simple, but the voices are absolutely top notch and the portrayal of the four characters by the actors give the lackluster script a good boost. With bouncy songs, a committed cast (and accompanist), and a composer/lyricist from right here in Baltimore, [Title of Show] is not the usual fare we get from Fells Point Corner Theatre but it’s refreshing to see they’re broadening their horizons and adding a musical to their season. If you’ve ever wondered how a musical is written, this show is a pretty good representation of the process and worth a look if you’re around town.

This is what I thought of Fells Point Corner Theater’s production of [Title of Show]… What did you think? Please feel free to leave a comment!

[Title of Show] will play through May 28 at Fells Point Corner Theatre, 251 S Ann Street, Baltimore, MD. For tickets, call 410-669-0220 or purchase them online.

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Press Release: Record-breaking advanced sales for Noises Off; Sardine spiked silliness starts May 17

Get your tickets to Everyman’s #1 pre-opening box office smash!

Everyman Theatre’s Resident Company of actors transforms into a British company of actors during the 1970s in this hotly anticipated revival of Tony Award-Winner Michael Frayn’s side-splitting farce to end all farces, Noises Off, directed by Vincent M. Lancisi. With their opening night on London’s West End just hours away, can the cast pull their act together before lost lines, love triangles and flying sardines upstage the production? A love-letter to the thrilling and unpredictable nature of the stage, Noises Off will leave you rolling in the aisles as everything that could go wrong, does go wrong.

Noises Off runs May 17-June 18. Tickets $10-64.


~~~~~~~~~~ DIG DEEPER ~~~~~~~~~~

The Show Must Go On!

Monday, May 22; Drinks & Music at 6:00 PM, Show at 7:30 PM

Co-presented with Stoop Storytelling, Baltimore theatre makers share hilarious-but-true stories of unexpected pitfalls and pratfalls of live performance.

Inside Look: Chaos in the Wings

Everyman’s own Resident Company Members Dawn Ursula, Beth Hylton, Wil Love, Bruce Randolph Nelson, and Carl Schurr share their best/worst backstage mishaps and personal theatre nightmares…

Last chance to save up to 15% on tickets to the “Mother” of all farces

Use code ROSE17 to save 10% off tickets to weekday performances, Sunday evenings, and Saturday matinees. Use code MUM17 to save 15% off tickets to Friday/Saturday evening performances and Sunday matinees.

Q&A with Noises Off Director Vincent M. Lancisi in DC Metro Theatre Arts

Learn more about the events and partnerships surrounding Noises Off in this DC Metro Theatre Arts interview with Noises Off director, and Everyman Founding Artistic Director, Vincent M. Lancisi.

~~~~~~~~~~ UP NEXT AT EVERYMAN ~~~~~~~~~~

Play a role: The Mousetrap

Saturday, June 3, 6:00 PM

An interactive play-reading event, hosted at the Baltimore County home of Everyman Board Member Corie Codine. Enjoy cocktails on the veranda along with a buffet dinner at this renovated old farmhouse, as you read a perfectly crafted whodunit by Agatha Christie.

Salon Series: Trouble in Mind

Monday, June 5, 6:00 PM

We close out our Salon Series’ season with the Alice Childress play, Trouble in Mind, directed by Dawn Ursula. Both a witty love letter to the theatre and a call for equality, Trouble in Mind reminds us that we all have a part to play in the fight for civil rights.

Codes ROSE17 and MUM17 expire Sunday, May 14 at 11:59 PM. Offers are valid on tickets to all performanes of Noises Off. Offer is valid on adult tickets only and cannot be combined with other offers and codes. Limit 4 tickets per order.