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Performing Arts

The grand classic turns intimate 

      Fiddler on the Roof, which hit Broadway in 1964, set longevity records, won nine Tony Awards and has been performed thousands of times by high school and community theaters across the country. It’s usually a big musical with big casts. This month, Compass Rose Theater gives Tevye and his family a more intimate treatment that, in the hands of director Lucinda Merry-Browne, gives us a nice new perspective.

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?

We add another family favorite to our holiday list

      The ghosts of Christmas haunt the Twin Beaches this time of year. One is angelic, one is joyful and one is downright frightening. Yet their messages penetrate to the heart of the season.       The three spirits, characters in Charles Dickens’ classic tale A Christmas Carol, made quite an impression on my family last weekend, as we attended the opening of the final production in Twin Beach Players’ 20th season.

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.

Women fight their Civil War as ­battlefield reenactors in this comedy with conscience

       How aptly Colonial Players’ season-opener reflects current events the company could not have predicted a year ago, when Doris Baizley’s Shiloh Rules was booked. As the nation continues to struggle with issues left over from the Civil War, this light-hearted 2009 drama is art imitating life in a world where art imitates life: the venue of battlefield reenactors. It’s called Shiloh Rules because in this game, as in battle, there are no rules (that anyone obeys).

Behind this regal persona is a man of many faces

     It’s opening weekend at the Maryland Renaissance Festival, when the magical 16th century English village of Revel Grove awakens for its annual harvest festival — attended as always by the magnanimous Henry VIII, portrayed by Glen Burnie’s own Fred ­Nelson.      Heads turn as the entourage approaches. King Henry VIII, courtiers in tow, has come to the countryside to visit the faire. 

In a dramatic turn, playwright’s dreams come true

A million may or may not be an exaggeration. Strictly speaking, Andrea Fleck Clardy was chosen Colonial Players’ Promising Playwright from a talent pool of 230 applicants in the theater company’s biennial competition.     But when you consider all the twists and turns of chance that led to this singular moment, the odds rise.     Clardy, a writer in life’s eighth decade, took up playwriting only after three or four careers.

Jeanne Kelly’s Encore Chorale proves music can reverse aging

Silence falls. All eyes are focused on Jeanne Kelly. At her signal, the Encore Chorale bursts into song. Senior citizens one and all, the singers are primed, vibrant and ready for adventure.     “Is that your best?” Kelly asks. “Can you give me more excitement?” Of course they can, and they do; Jeanne Kelly brings out the best in every singer.     But is it true what she says? Can performance singing truly slow down the aging process?

Scandalously good in the nearly nude

By doing nudity-in-the-round while preserving the players’ and audience’s modesty, Colonial Players accomplishes the nearly impossible.

Still dazzling after 35 years

Let me describe the spirit of Christmas: It’s the wonder in a child’s eyes when Scrooge talks to them as they wait in line November 19 with their parents for a ticket to Colonial Players’ 35-year Annapolis holiday tradition, A Christmas Carol. It’s another child’s giddy excitement when Ebeneezer pulls them from the audience to dance as he joyfully transforms from cold-hearted humbug to warm, genial benefactor.