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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.

How to sing Messiah for St. James’ sing-along

     On key, according to Michael Ryan, the mighty voice retired from the President’s Own U.S. Marine Band and, later, St. Mary’s College to lead Chesapeake Country in a unique opportunity to sing George Frideric Handel’s most beloved and “accessible” oratorio.

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.

Our best family night at the theater — ever

Anight at the theater — or anywhere, for that matter — is always an adventure when you have children in tow. A few weeks ago, our family of four attended a musical production in Baltimore that left me wondering if I had made a big mistake thinking my sons would enjoy the theater.     Dad slept through the whole thing, the younger said there was too much singing, and the elder commented all the way through, despite my insistent hushing.

Like a horrific accident, it makes you cringe even as you brake to see it better

When outrage-stage author Edward Albee passed away in September, the theater world mourned with a collective gasp, as if his death from old age were just another violent trick designed to snap us out of complacency. The triple Pulitzer prize-winner aimed to make audiences so uncomfortable they would “run out of the theater — but come back to see the play again.” He succeeded most notably with his first full-length production, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. The Pulitzer committee chose to grant no prize in 1963 rather than award it to Albee.

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?