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No longer relegated to second place, Tinker Bell stars in own show

Michelle Polera as Tinker Bell and Carlos Castillo as Peter Pan in Adventure Theatre show. COURTESY PHOTOMichelle Polera as Tinker Bell and Carlos Castillo as Peter Pan in Adventure Theatre show. COURTESY PHOTO  Whether she’s a speck of light or a fairy in green, Tinker Bell is an indispensable character, first appearing in J. M. Barrie‘s 1904 “Peter Pan” and its novelization, “Peter and Wendy.”

She was also in multiple film and television adaptations of the Peter Pan stories – including the 1953 Walt Disney animated film “Peter Pan” – besides being the unofficial mascot of the Disney Company.

Tinker Bell is considered Peter’s sidekick, necessary but not sufficient to carry the story.

Except, that is, in “Tinker Bell,” a world premiere by local playwright Patrick Flynn at Adventure Theatre MTC.

“It takes a character – relegated to an appendage to Peter – and looks at the whole story from her point of view,” said Nick Olcott, the director. “The play doesn’t begin and end with Peter Pan.”

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Imagination Stage’s “Charlie Brown” highlights joys and honesty of childhood

Snoopy (Joe Mallon) and title character (Christopher Michael Richardson) enjoy special friendship in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” at Imagination Stage.  COURTESY PHOTO Snoopy (Joe Mallon) and title character (Christopher Michael Richardson) enjoy special friendship in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” at Imagination Stage. COURTESY PHOTO  Television specials, feature-length movies, books, dolls and figurines, a popular line of greeting cards, not to mention a hit off-Broadway musical production that has had countless revivals. What fictional character based on a comic strip receives all those honors, even after his creator has passed away?

Charlie Brown, that’s who. He and five of his pals from the Peanuts comic strip likely will bring joy to audiences in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” the musical now at Imagination Stage.

Christopher Michael Richardson plays Charlie Brown, described as an everyman with changing moods but ultimate optimism.

“Through Charlie Brown, we learn a lot about being happy and finding the positive,” said Richardson, who recently finished a run of “The Wiz” at Ford’s Theatre as the Lion. He also appeared in “Elephant and Piggie: We are in a Play!,” a production of Kennedy Center’s Theatre for Young Audiences.

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Play grieves for those lost to suicide and offers prevention hope

The cast of “Right Before I go” with the playwright Stan Zimmerman (in the middle wearing a tie). COURTESY PHOTOThe cast of “Right Before I Go” with playwright Stan Zimmerman (in the middle wearing a tie). COURTESY PHOTOA few years before the latest disturbing statistics were released from the Centers for Disease Control, indicating a spike in suicide rates by more than 30 percent in half the country from 1999 to 2016 – and before the latest high-profile suicides of designer Kate Spade and chef-author-travel guide Anthony Bourdain stunned the world – Stan Zimmerman experienced suicide up close and personal.

A good friend took his own life in May 2012.

Zimmerman, who had been primarily a comedy writer and infused even his serious plays with humor, decided to write a play with little lightness.

“I was looking to process my own grief through the play,” said Zimmerman, who called his work “Right Before I Go.”

Monday night saw a one-night-only performance at The Ratner Museum in Bethesda to benefit two prominent suicide-awareness and prevention nonprofits: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (afsp.org) and JED Foundation (JEDFoundation.org).

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Drama teacher searches for missing wife in Best Medicine Rep’s ‘Blue Over You’

Francis (played by John Morogiello) believes he’s found a clue in the Best Medicine Rep’s one-person mystery “Blue Over You.” COURTESY PHOTOFrancis (played by John Morogiello) believes he’s found a clue in the Best Medicine Rep’s one-person mystery “Blue Over You.” COURTESY PHOTO  On the surface, “Blue Over You” is about a high-school drama teacher who is trying to find his wife who’s gone missing.

Beneath the surface, Dan Noonan’s play, which Best Medicine Rep Theatre is presenting, is the theme of reality and what people think it is.

The fact that “Blue Over You” takes its title from the song Barbra Streisand (as Fanny Brice) sings in the movie version of “Funny Girl” is appropriate. The protagonist Francis periodically breaks into snippets of song from musicals.

These are familiar rather than obscure show tunes, Noonan said.

Since this is a one-person play, audiences will find themselves “intimately involved,” said Best Medicine Rep’s artistic director, John Morogiello, who portrays Francis.

“It’s incredible, wonderful play” he said. “I laughed, and I cried. And Francis is fun. He’s completely off the wall.”

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Protagonist in Round House Theatre show finds life lessons in drag

Zack Powell plays Elvis impersonator turned drag dancer and Yesenia Iglesias plays his wife in Round House Theatre production of “The Legend of Georgia McBride.”  COURTESY PHOTOZack Powell plays Elvis impersonator turned drag dancer and Yesenia Iglesias plays his wife in Round House Theatre production of “The Legend of Georgia McBride.” COURTESY PHOTO  For the first five years of his career, actor Zack Powell did musical theater almost exclusively – even getting a bit “burned out.” His resume of late mostly comprises the classics – Shakespeare and Chekhov, among others – although he still averages about one musical a year.

Now Powell is starring in a show he calls a cross between a straight play and a musical.

It’s “The Legend of Georgia McBride,” a play with music that is opening soon at Round House Theatre under the direction of Tom Story. Powell makes his debut as the show’s protagonist.

Casey is soon to become a father, as well as evicted. He makes his living as an Elvis impersonator but, always strapped for cash, he takes a more-lucrative job slinging drinks at a dive bar in Panama City, Florida. After the rundown bar gets a makeover, including a new stage, and one of the drag queens is unable to perform, Casey finds himself thrown into the world of stilettos and sequins.

“It’s a heartwarming, funny piece to which I felt a strong connection,” Powell said

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Striking “A Delicate Balance” at Silver Spring Stage

From left, Diana Lee Arnold, Louis Pangaro, and Susan Harper star in “A Delicate Balance” at Silver Spring Stage.  COURTESY PHOTOFrom left, Diana Lee Arnold, Louis Pangaro, and Susan Harper star in “A Delicate Balance” at Silver Spring Stage. COURTESY PHOTOHas company you didn’t expect or want ever fallen in on you?

That’s one of the dilemmas facing the protagonists of “A Delicate Balance,” the first of Edward Albee’s three Pulitzer Prize-winning plays, a Tony Award nominee, and the next production at Silver Spring Stage.

It takes place over one weekend in the living room of a suburban home belonging to Agnes and Tobias, a long-married, middle-aged, upper-class couple who are comfortable financially, but not emotionally.

They’re already besieged by Claire, Agnes’s live-in alcoholic sister, when their supposedly best friends Harry and Edna arrive, running from an unnamed “terror” in their own home. Agnes strives to remain complacent, but teeters on the brink when her daughter also shows up after her fourth marriage breaks up.

“As with many things in life, what makes the play challenging is also what makes it satisfying,” said Fred Zirm, who is making his directorial debut at the Stage. “Albee deals with some raw, fundamental emotions – fear, guilt, anger, and resentment, as well as love and compassion – that can be difficult to deal with in both life and on stage.”

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Highwood brings student production of "West Side Story" to Siena School

Angel Soriano (left) and West Remy star as Bernardo and Riff, heads of warring gangs in “West Side Story” at Highwood Theatre. COURTESY PHOTOAngel Soriano (left) and West Remy star as Bernardo and Riff, heads of warring gangs in “West Side Story” at Highwood Theatre.  COURTESY PHOTO  Initially, Hellen Cabrera De Oliveira auditioned for The Highwood Theatre’s all-student production of “West Side Story” for reasons other than the show itself.

“What appealed to me is how they wanted to make the production in the round, and how we would have master classes with Broadway performers Nick Blaemire and Cate Caplin [affiliated with Highwood],” said De Oliveira, who previously was a dance captain for “James and the Giant Peach” and a young boy in “All My Sons” at the theater.

However, artistic director Matthew Nicola said all the actors became “completely entranced” by the 1957 musical, arguably one of the most beloved to come to Broadway. Based loosely on Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” the show pits the love of two young people from different backgrounds against warring ethnic gangs in New York City, with inevitable tragedy.

Presenting what he calls a “timeless piece” has “always been in the back” of Nicola’s mind. “I was just looking for the right time to do it. It has been an amazing journey.”

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Sleeping Beauty is a Rom Com for the Puppet Company

 

Paige O’Malley performs as Briar Rose, and Christopher Piper performs as the prince in Puppet Co.’s ‘Sleeping Beauty.’ COURTESY PHOTOPaige O’Malley performs as Briar Rose, and Christopher Piper performs as the prince in Puppet Co.’s ‘Sleeping Beauty.’ COURTESY PHOTO  The Puppet Co Playhouse’s telling of “Sleeping Beauty” is, according to Allan Stevens, by and large traditional.

Except for the frog.

“We think the storyline has been enhanced by the inclusion of some elements of ‘The Frog Prince,’” said Stevens, the puppet theater’s founding director.

While interpretations of “Sleeping Beauty” often emphasize its dark side, such as the princess pricking her finger on a spinning wheel, Stevens believes it’s really a “romantic comedy, imbued with sweetness and good humor.”

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Writing and performing are the music driving ArtStream production

Volunteer mentor Sylvia Herrada, actor Kirsten Davidson and director Madeleine Barry in ArtStream production. COURTESY PHOTOVolunteer mentor Sylvia Herrada, actor Kirsten Davidson and director Madeleine Barry in ArtStream production. COURTESY PHOTO  During rehearsals, actors may offer input about how to do a scene. But at ArtStream, Inc., they actually help write as well as perform.  

They vote on a theme, create original characters, and improvise scenes, which staff then script into original, one-act musicals.

After the script is in place, the production proceeds like any other – with the help of a professional music director and choreographer, said Heller An Shapiro, executive director.

ArtStream productions present a double-bill of two musicals, each about an hour long.

Actors with disabilities, volunteer mentors, and theater professionals work as a team, producing six inclusive musicals in the region, in addition to classes in acting and social skills.

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Olney’s “Crucible” finds new life in Miller’s classic drama

Choreographer Kelly Crandall d’Amboise with Dani Stoller, other cast members, rehearsing ‘The Crucible.’ COURTESY PHOTOChoreographer Kelly Crandall d’Amboise with Dani Stoller, other cast members, rehearsing ‘The Crucible.’ COURTESY PHOTO  As literally written and usually played, Abigail Williams is the antagonist of “The Crucible,” Arthur Miller’s 1953 dramatized and fictionalized play about the Salem Witch Trials.

The seductive 17-year-old has had an affair with her married 35-year-old employer, John Proctor, and subsequently lost her job. Still in love with him, she takes advantage of the mass hysteria to accuse his wife, Elizabeth, of witchcraft in the hope of replacing her.

But Dani Stoller, the Abigail in the Olney Theatre Center production, sees her as more complex, with more justification for her actions.

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