view counter

Performing Arts

Shakespeare makes a thrilling return to the Dark Ages

This month Annapolitans celebrate Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary with not only his First Folio on display at St. John’s College’s Mitchell Gallery but also a fine production of Hamlet at the Compass Rose Studio Theater.

This comic opera sparkles like sunshine on the sea with all the charm that made it a hit more than a century ago

You may have never heard of Arthur Sullivan and W.S. Gilbert, but you’ve certainly heard of Gilbert and Sullivan. The two had a run of comic opera hits in England whose popularity propelled them across the pond to America, where that popularity was magnified. Because Gilbert’s father was a naval surgeon, life on the seas and the politics of power were often themes of the librettist. That’s certainly the case with H.M.S. Pinafore, the light yet acerbic jab at patrician politics and love that 2nd Star Productions in Bowie has brought to seafaring life.

For $1,000, maybe you should try

Could you write a play? It’s a tough job, as you’ve got to create plot, characters and conflict. Tougher still, you’ve got to do it all in dialogue.     Would winning a $1,000 cash prize make the challenge any easier?

Back to the ’80s

To celebrate its 50th season bringing musical theater to Annapolis, Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre has chosen this summer to stage, in reverse order, The Producers, Rent … and The Wedding Singer. The Producers won 12 out of its 15 Tony nominations, setting the nominations record and joining the short list of musicals winning in every nominated category. Rent was nominated for 10 Tonys and won four, plus the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The Wedding Singer … five nominations, no wins and critical yawns.

A sure bet for a good time

From auditions to curtain, every theater production is a gamble, but 2nd Star Productions’ Guys and Dolls beats the odds. A period piece lampooning its own subculture, this 1950 Tony winner for Best Musical still feels funny and frisky from the opening Call to Post to the classic Fugue for Tinhorns. It grabs you by the lapels and doesn’t let go as Nicely Nicely Johnson (James Hulcha), Benny Southstreet (Nathan Bowen) and Rusty Charlie (Daniel Starnes) vow I Got the Horse Right Here.

How a classic continues to charm

Nathan Detroit, Harry the Horse, Dave the Dude, The Seldom Seen Kid and Benny Southstreet sprang from the imagination of Broadway-bedazzled newspaperman Damon Runyon, who died in 1946. His stories made it to Broadway as Guys and Dolls in 1950.     That’s 66 years ago. Yet it keeps turning up.     2nd Star Productions is about to do it again.     Why? Is it the names? The story? Or what?     I put my questions to 2nd Star’s director and producer Nathan Bowen.

Can you stretch your comfort zone into 18th century debauchery?

Give The Theatre at Anne Arundel Community College credit for refusing to play it safe, for going out on a theatrical limb in its choice of productions.     Last spring’s Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, as complex and raucous as any musical you’ll see, was a case in point. The current Les Liaisons Dangereuses is another example of the theater’s propensity for asking itself, and its audiences, to stretch beyond their comfort zones.

The formula for the chemistry of commitment

     I Do! I Do! has been done over and over in community theaters, repertory theaters, dinner theaters and church basements since it closed on Broadway in 1968. One reason is that its two-person cast and simple single set of a four-poster bed make it far easier and less expensive to mount than the typical big-cast-and-chorus musical, thus very attractive to those looking to bring in an audience at relatively little cost.

Two past winners illustrate the magic of make-believe

     Make a play! Bay Weekly challenged two aspiring young playwrights to show us how the Twin Beach Players Kids Playwriting Festival lights the fire of creativity.     Holmes and Watson Make the Best Summer Ever is the result.

Talent Machine’s young actors are rehearsing for life

     Talent Machine is a gifted crew of kids and volunteers who make magic for audiences of every age. This year, the seven- to 14-year-old troupe is working on Peter Pan; the kids have learned lines, choreography and music to captivate audiences. From this experience, they’ll take away more than memories and new friends.     As actors, they have learned to manage their time, to carry on when things didn’t go according to plan and to work with different people. Most of all, they have gained confidence in themselves.