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Theatre Reviews

Finding humor in Hitchcock

      Though he was the auteur of eerie, Alfred Hitchcock always found the perfect spot to add a splash of humor to his movies. This includes his 1935 British thriller The 39 Steps, widely recognized as an early masterpiece of the genre. Now playing at Annapolis Shakespeare Company is a stage adaptation that has not just a splash of humor, but an ocean.

Good Grief, What a Fun Show

       Charles Schulz, the creator of Peanuts, once said “You can’t create humor out of happiness.” Which may be why Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Schroeder, Linus and Sally are still popular 70 years after their comic strip first appeared. Schulz never treated them as punch lines, but as individuals with wisdom beyond their years in simple drawings with complex connotations.
     “What do you see?” Those are the first words of Red, John Logan’s Tony-winning look at famed abstract impressionist artist Mark Rothko, now being presented by Compass Rose Theater.          While Rothko asks the question of his new assistant Ken and is referring to a painting, it could be asked of all of us as we witness this brief yet intense ­production.

A chilling cautionary tale

        Lucy Kirkland’s The Children is a small play about big issues: namely the apocalyptic aftermath of a nuclear disaster on Britain’s coast. It premiered in London at the Royal Court Theatre in 2016, won the U.K. Writers’ Guild Award for Best New Play, and moved to Broadway in 2017, where it received two 2018 Tony Award nominations. It’s now in downtown Annapolis, in a production by Colonial Players that is at once witty, chilling and cautionary.

Second annual Holly Jolly Polypalooza turns kids into characters

     Sticking to a self-proclaimed mission of bringing great children’s theater to the Southern Anne Arundel County region, the Polymath Place ushers in the holiday spirit.          This year’s production, The Voice That Would Sleigh, brings the saga of finding a replacement for an ailing Rudolph to the stage at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in Owensville.

A quick-paced hour of family-friendly humor

      Need a quick tutorial in the true meaning of Christmas? The Colonial Players’ production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever fits the bill. The plot is simple: The Herdmans are a seemingly parentless group of siblings known for picking fights, smoking cigars and extorting lunch money from their classmates. They show up at Sunday school hoping to snag free snacks. Instead, they commandeer all the best roles in the church’s annual Christmas pageant. Chaos ensues. Lessons are taught and learned — by everyone.

Sense of community  - plus a few miracles - get you in the holiday spirit

       Stranded travelers arrive at a town’s hastily prepared shelter. That opening scene should tip you off: You are about to witness a feel-good play about overcoming adversity.          But Closed for the Holidays, written by Flip Kobler and Cindy Marcus and directed for Twin Beach Players by Terri McKinstry, is not quite so simple. Plus, it will leave you wishing for a miracle of your own this season.

Broadway comes to Bowie

       A Christmas Carol the Musical ran each holiday season on Broadway from 1994 until 2003. With music, lyrics and choreography by Broadway and movie legends Alan Menken, Lynn Ahrens and Susan Stroman, it was a crowd-pleasing can’t-miss spectacle, full of humor and heart. It would be silly to expect Broadway spectacle to transfer to the community theater stage; still, 2nd Star Productions’ version holds tight to the show’s humor and heart.

Sit in on a debate with the highest stakes

      In 1943 Munich, a small group of college students calling themselves The White Rose risked their lives to distribute leaflets condemning the actions of the Nazis during World War II. In 1991, playwright Lillian Garrett-Groag wrote a dramatic play of the same name, now playing through November 16 at Colonial Players.

Staging the Bible is a big production

     Straight from the pages of the Bible’s Book of Genesis, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is a natural fit for Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church in Severna Park. The upcoming production follows on the church’s previous success of biblically themed Godspell in 2017 and Children of Eden in 2018.