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Theatre Reviews

Highschoolers shone as ­highschoolers shining

     School of Rock is a success by all measures.       The 2003 movie starred Jack Black, who won an MTV Movie Award for Best Comedic Performance and was nominated for a Golden Globe Best Actor. In 2015, Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes rewrote the movie for stage with new music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. It was nominated for four Tonys.       Magic happened when Southern High School Drama Company brought the musical spectacular to Harwood.

Five out of Five Licks

       Under the direction of Jeff Larson, this Twin Beach Players theater treat, Certain Souls, written by New York Times editor Ken Jaworoski, is as warm, as buttery smooth and as salty as a bag of crisp, freshly popped popcorn can be. You might even lick your fingers from the back row.

Teens did Broadway-quality show

           Victor Hugo penned Notre-Dame de Paris in 1831 and created some of literature’s most enduring characters: the courageous Gypsy girl Esmerelda, the dashing Captain Pheobus, the dour Archdeacon Frollo and the partially deaf, physically deformed bell-ringer Quasimodo. Hugo’s captivating story continues to thrill audiences in film and stage productions, most notably for moderns the 1996 Disney animated film with its award-winning soundtrack and happy ending.

Little Mermaid’s sea creatures sing and sign

       Disney’s The Little Mermaid features a unique element when it opens this weekend at Annapolis High School: American Sign Language.          A complete, complex language all its own, American Sign Language uses signs — made by moving the hands — along with facial expressions and body posture.

Don Quixote’s swashbuckling ­optimism will send your pessimism packing 

     In these times of acrimony, hypocrisy and hate, is it an impossible dream to believe in chivalry, goodness and love? Not according to Don Quixote, the would-be knight errant whose comic yet sincere optimism and swashbuckling bravery send pessimism packing every time. There’s a lesson there for us all.

Shakespeare, like, totally amped for the ‘80s

         The plays of William Shakespeare are often placed into more modern settings, and there couldn’t be a better match than The Merry Wives of Windsor and the 1980s. Shakespeare’s comedy stars Sir John Falstaff, who embodies the excess, greed and bombast of a decade that spawned Reaganomics, conservatism and MTV.

Making all the right moves

         With music by former ABBA band-mates Benny Anderson and Bjorn Ulvaeus and lyrics by Tim Rice of Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita fame, Chess made a hit with its 1984 concept album. Not only was the music exciting and unique, the story of two chess grandmasters playing for their countries was perfectly timed as an allegory to the then-current Cold War tensions between Russia and the U.S.
Colonial Players unleashes female star power past and present
      Playwright Lauren Gunderson’s Silent Sky is a humorous, heartwarming and thought-provoking play about ­Henrietta Leavitt, an astronomer at the Harvard Observatory in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

The Accident Bear would be your chance

       Bob Bartlett teaches playwriting, screenwriting, dramatic literature and theater theory at Bowie State University. He’s also deeply involved in the theater world in and around the Washington, D.C., area and beyond.          A few years back, Bartlett lived in historic Annapolis and found himself every Thursday lugging laundry up Maryland Avenue to the Avenue Laundromat. He’d sit near the front window and read and write while the washer churned.

Freshened 20th century classic delivers message of hope 

        Long before Hallmark Channel’s Countdown to Christmas, legendary director Frank Capra gave us It’s A Wonderful Life. The holiday perennial most of us have seen a dozen times is now being performed by Twin Beach Players.