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Theatre Reviews

Cast of pumped teens leap with energy into newpaper’s good old days

      Back when everybody read newspapers, early morning hours brought the newsboys out, each huffing and puffing with a fresh, hot paper in their hand. Talent Machine’s teens reprise those days in the company’s newest production, Newsies, a musical that delivers.
        Amelie was a well-received 2001 movie about a young girl in Paris whose penchant for whimsy could not be stopped by a misdiagnosis of a weak heart. As she grows up, Amelie finds that orchestrating good luck for those around her is fun, but there is also that little matter of finding her own happiness.

Come (if you can) for the play, stay for the party

     For their end of summer blowout, The Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre has brought the magic of the Aegean to Maryland with Mamma Mia.       From the moment that Sophie (Karlee Allen) steps out onto the blue-lit dock and wistfully sings I Have a Dream, the audience is transported to a Greek island for an evening of dancing, singing and fun.  

Local playwrights get together for last hoorah

     Colonial Players’ latest performance, Generations, lives up to its namesake. The play marks the end of a generation.

Decisions — and life — put to music


     Jason Robert Brown is a Tony Award-winning composer, lyricist and playwright best known for his work on Parade, The Bridges of Madison County, and The Last Five Years. Prior to those successes, Brown in 1995 debuted the self-penned Songs for a New World, a musical revue now playing at Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre through July 20.

2nd Star Productions’ Gypsy Rose Lee is Vaudeville, baby!


     If it’s challenging to walk in the shadow of greatness, treading in two great shadows is daring. It’s an achievement of another order of magnitude to shine your light so brightly as to blend all three images into a moment of greatness. That’s what it was like watching Debbie Barber-Eaton play Rose, as in the mother of Gypsy Rose Lee, the hallmark, powerhouse role for both the late great film star Rosalind Russell and for stage virtuoso Ethel Merman.

Like ice cream on a hot day


      It takes a little chutzpah and a lot of hard work for a community theater to try to perform Crazy for You with the original Broadway choreography. With plenty of both, Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre has scored. The dancing awes, and the music and singing soars, riveting the audience for a full two and one-half hours (plus a 15-minute intermission).      Crazy for You takes us back to the 1930s with music by George and Ira Gershwin performed by a nine-piece live orchestra.

StoryTellers’ Bowie Playhouse debut

     StoryTellers Theater Arts Academy is now rehearsing an adaptation of the Tony Award-winning musical Les Miserables, which will mark the company’s Bowie Playhouse debut May 2 to 5. Founded in 2016 by mother-daughter team Terry Sweet Bouma, artistic director, and Alyssa Bouma, production director, StoryTellers has mounted seven productions in venues across the area, from Into the Woods and A Midsummer Night’s Dream to A Tribute to Patsy Cline and Twelfth Night.   

Lots of heart in this musical ­autobiography of recovery

     William Finn is best known for writing and composing The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee Falsettos with his collaborator, writer and director James Lapine. Soon after Falsettos opened in 1992, Finn was rushed to the hospital with what turned out to be arteriovenous malformation: an abnormal formation of blood vessels in the brain. He survived, with A New Brain the result of Lapine’s insistence that Finn keep a record of his own recovery. 

Highschoolers shone as ­highschoolers shining

     School of Rock is a success by all measures.       The 2003 movie starred Jack Black, who won an MTV Movie Award for Best Comedic Performance and was nominated for a Golden Globe Best Actor. In 2015, Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes rewrote the movie for stage with new music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. It was nominated for four Tonys.       Magic happened when Southern High School Drama Company brought the musical spectacular to Harwood.