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Performing Arts

Fake News, 1644 Style

       Mistaken identities, a hero’s fondness for unashamed exaggeration and the quest for love permeate The Liar, Richard Wilbur’s modern interpretation of Pierre Corneille’s 1644 farce, his most famous comedy. Under the deft guidance of director Steve Tobin, Compass Rose Theater’s production is not only well acted and well staged but also an ageless play you want to watch.

Qué Calor! 

         The hottest thing in Annapolis these days isn’t the weather but Lin Manuel-Miranda’s In the Heights, playing through Memorial Day weekend at The Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre. Under the direction of Darnell Patrick Morris, the same guy who brought us Avenue Q and Hair Spray, this production is so outstanding it’s easy see why the Hamilton composer’s show won the 2008 Tony for Best Musical.

Come to hear kids tell you what’s on their minds

   Scene: An up-and-coming Bayside town. The building, a Boys and Girls Club, is charming in a functional way, surrounded by playgrounds and parking lots, filled with laughter and noise. Rooms are utilitarian. Walls are speckled with flyers for team meetings and reading club dates.             Despite its sensible nature, the building shimmers with the energy of kids unleashed.

Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre, 2nd Star Productions and Colonial Players take top Ruby Griffith Awards

 If dinner and a show sound like an ideal date night but you’re reluctant to drive to the city and drop $75 a ticket, consider that some of the area’s best theater is right in your own back yard at a fraction of the price. Such was proven last month for the 10th time in as many years when three troupes from Anne Arundel County nearly swept highest honors at the 45th Annual Ruby Griffith Awards.  

Dickens’ last becomes a whodunnit

            Charles Dickens’ commentaries showed the often dark and ­dreary reality of life in Victorian England. So why is a group of teenage actors of The Talent Machine Company dancing and singing a Dickens’ story at St. John’s College?             The author’s death in 1870 left The Mystery of Edwin Drood unfinished, opening the door to creative interpretations. The first modern major theatrical adaptation was a musical comedy.

Bringing the Book of Matthew to Life

Godspell was originally a college project by the show’s author, John-Michael Tebalak, then a student at Carnegie-Mellon in Pittsburgh. Another student, Steven Schwartz, was brought in later to add a score, which of course includes such musical staples as Day By Day and Light of the World. Debuting off-Broadway in 1971, Godspell was a smash. It still is all these years later because of its simple staging, relatively uncomplicated music and the universal and timeless message of the Book of Matthew.

Be sure to see this lovely ­production of an American classic

Love is a flower that grows in any soil, works its sweet miracles undaunted by autumn frost or winter snow, blooming fair and fragrant all the year, and blessing those who give and those who receive.             —Louisa May Alcott  

Practically Perfect in every way

It’s always dangerous to take on a classic; the chances of disappointment are so great. Who could ever compete with Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews as Bert the Chimney Sweep and Mary Poppins? Popular brother-and-sister team Nathan Bowen and Emily Mudd, that’s who.

Rocking with televangelical energy

Surely you remember Whoopi Goldberg in the hit film Sister Act? How outsized she was as nightclub chanteuse Deloris Van Cartier, how woefully entangled with her married mobster boyfriend, how terrified when she saw him shoot a man in cold blood and how hilarious she was masquerading as a nun? Hold that thought …

A refreshing cocktail of comedy

Summertime is the right time for a refreshing cocktail of comedy, and Colonial Players serves up a hilarious gimlet with the 2013 Tony Award winner for Best Play, Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike. Christopher Durang’s semi-absurdist script mixes a jigger of Chekhov with a Brothers Grimm simple syrup, adds a dash of Jerry Springer and tops it with a voodoo garnish.