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Theatre Reviews

You may be done with the past, but the past is never done with you.
—Magnolia (1999)

That aphorism sums up the point and the effect of Bowie Community Theatre’s ambitious Language of Angels.     Whether they are angels, ghosts or memories, voices from our past accompany, haunt and speak to us throughout our lives. They rarely speak in a linear or logical way, and often we aren’t sure of their message.

Musical comedy doesn’t get any better than this toothy horror story.

Broadway’s most profitable show ever, Howard Ashman and Alan Menken’s sci-fi musical Little Shop of Horrors, is now playing at Infinity Theatre Company, a professional troupe from New York that is the area’s newest addition to the summer arts scene. If you missed their Annapolis debut with My Way last month, you’ll definitely want to take in this last show of their season.

If’n you like watchin’ young’uns have a good time, you’re gonna like Li’l Abner.

In 24 years of showcasing Annapolis’ youth, The Talent Machine has groomed countless stars of community and professional theater, who continue to prove allegiance by fostering the company’s newest talents.

Songs from the ’50s and ’60s are the stars of this refreshing show

Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre’s The Marvelous Wonderettes is frothy, refreshing and a complete contrast to its most recent production, Chicago. The all-black set has given way to pastels, and the jailhouse trollops are replaced by 1950s’ suburban teenagers.

Kids are totally invested in the story, and the script is so packed with hyperbole that it transcends caricatures to entertain the adults as well

Will Bartlett’s one-hour musical adaptation of Rumplestiltskin has run continuously off-Broadway since 1985 with good reason. It does a nice job of distilling a long and complex children’s classic with a warped message into an entertaining and concise plot with a healthy moral. And this summer, lucky little Naptowners need travel only as far as West Street to see it.

This update on Shakespeare is fun all the way to the interplanetary nether regions

Twin Beach Players’ Return to the Forbidden Planet is a howler, and I mean that in a good way. It’s original and it feels spontaneous, but a ton of work had to go into this production. The large cast, comprising 14 teenagers and one adult, take over the spacious stage for a romp that takes us out to the spatial interplanetary nether regions, and it’s fun all the way.

For those of Sinatra’s generation, this is a memory walk. For those younger, My Way could make some new Sinatra fans.

Tribute bands of performers impersonating famous artists are in vogue. My Way, now playing at Infinity Theatre, is subtitled “A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra.” But this show is intended as a genuine tribute, not merely an impersonation of Ol’ Blue Eyes. For that, be grateful because it is much more, and it reaches loftier goals.

This contemporary cousin to Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf debates the value of compassion and the ethics of art.

The shape of things (written in lower-case by playwright Neil Labute) intends to raise questions about art, its role in life and the value of the creative methods. Honesty, kindness and truth seem to be of lesser concern.

2nd Star Productions’ Cinderella Enchanted

2nd Star Production’s Cinderella is keeping up the tradition. Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical adaptation of the fairy tale has been delighting audiences of all ages for over 50 years. This Cinderella, playing for the next four weekends at the Bowie Playhouse, is so enrapturing that I found myself scribbling hearts instead of stars to mark the highlights.

It’s got “All the Jazz,” but it could use a bit of bite

Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre opens its season with Chicago, an upbeat musical with a downbeat outlook. Despite bouncy, memorable music, Chicago carries a cautionary tale about celebrity, corruption and media fascination with both. Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre captures the upbeat side flawlessly. The downbeat side is less well rendered.