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Theatre Reviews

The Colonial Players’ fresh take on this classic offers laughs, emotion and good doses of nostalgia

       What’s Christmas season without nostalgia? What’s nostalgia except a look back at how things were? Or, for George Bailey of Bedford Falls, a look back at how things might have been?

Grief makes monsters in this funny, savage film

     In the seven months since Mildred Hayes’ (Frances McDormand: Hail, Caesar!) daughter was murdered, no progress has been made in the case. Furious, Mildred decides to shame the corrupt, small-town police department into action. She uses her meager savings to rent three dilapidated billboards on the lonely road to her home. 

Theater like you’ve never seen it 

     The U.S. Naval Academy’s Masqueraders chose a daring format for their fall play, The Infinite Wrench: USNA Style.       The Infinite Wrench, according to its creators, the Chicago-based Neo-Futurists troupe, “is a mechanism that unleashes a barrage of two-minute plays for a live audience.” In each theatrical experience, 30 plays delve into the topics of the day as the performers have experienced them.

What’s old is new again

     In 1925, the so-called Scopes Monkey trial adjudicated creationism versus evolution in a battle of legal titans. John Scopes, a substitute teacher in Tennessee, had been charged with breaking a local law that banned the teaching of evolution. Allowing himself to be used as a test case, he became the subject of one of the most closely followed trials in American history, broadcast across the country by radio.

Solving the mystery of Beethoven’s greatest work

      B — as in Bach, Beethoven and Brahms — is the most revered letter in music. One of the three great Bs, Beethoven, devoted five years to the works of another B composer, B as in so-so, like a B actor. 

See these shows — and reach for new levels of understanding

     I admire the local community theater company Twin Beach Players in North Beach, Maryland. 

Hear those old spectacular songs sung by strong new voices

     When Annie Get Your Gun opened on Broadway in 1946, it was a star vehicle for the brassy, trumpet-voiced Ethel Merman. Irving Berlin’s songs became legendary, from the lively There’s No Business Like Show Business and Anything You Can Do to the romantic They Say It’s Wonderful and I Got Lost in His Arms.

Fake News, 1644 Style

       Mistaken identities, a hero’s fondness for unashamed exaggeration and the quest for love permeate The Liar, Richard Wilbur’s modern interpretation of Pierre Corneille’s 1644 farce, his most famous comedy. Under the deft guidance of director Steve Tobin, Compass Rose Theater’s production is not only well acted and well staged but also an ageless play you want to watch.

Qué Calor! 

         The hottest thing in Annapolis these days isn’t the weather but Lin Manuel-Miranda’s In the Heights, playing through Memorial Day weekend at The Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre. Under the direction of Darnell Patrick Morris, the same guy who brought us Avenue Q and Hair Spray, this production is so outstanding it’s easy see why the Hamilton composer’s show won the 2008 Tony for Best Musical.

Come to hear kids tell you what’s on their minds

   Scene: An up-and-coming Bayside town. The building, a Boys and Girls Club, is charming in a functional way, surrounded by playgrounds and parking lots, filled with laughter and noise. Rooms are utilitarian. Walls are speckled with flyers for team meetings and reading club dates.             Despite its sensible nature, the building shimmers with the energy of kids unleashed.