Menu

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.

Read more...

Victorian-era entertainment still resonates today

The title character (Robin Steitz) and the fake poet (Rick DuPuy) who courts her in Victorian Lyric Opera Company’s operetta “Patience.” COURTESY PHOTOThe title character (Robin Steitz) and the fake poet (Rick DuPuy) who courts her in Victorian Lyric Opera Company’s “Patience.” COURTESY PHOTO  Gilbert and Sullivan originally intended their operetta “Patience” to lampoon the church. Concerned about possible backlash, they poked fun of poets and the Aesthetic Movement instead.

The mid-19-century movement believed in art for art’s sake and the pursuit of beauty and self-expression over the moral strictness of the Victorians, who, in turn, mocked the movement.

“‘Patience’ is about people pretending to be poets and people pretending to love poets, and a dairy maid, who can’t understand people’s attachment to poetry,” said Felicity Ann Brown, who is directing the Victorian Lyric Opera Company production of the operetta. “She’s never been in love, and doesn’t understand why people want to be.”

“Patience” doesn’t get performed often, she added, “because it’s hard to explain to audiences – the language is so poetic, and it makes fun of a movement people are not familiar with. But the music is beautiful.”

Read more...

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

Read more...

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.”

Read more...

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.”

Read more...

Artist and children’s book author chosen to participate in outdoor arts festival

Raya Salman, one of the juried artists at Rockville’s A-RTS festival, poses in front of her booth. COURTESY PHOTORaya Salman, one of the juried artists at Rockville’s A-RTS festival, poses in front of her booth. COURTESY PHOTO  For a time, despite her devotion to it and training at the prestigious Sorbonne University in Paris, Raya Salman “couldn’t afford to live on art.”

Still, Salman, who was born in Lebanon and later relocated to England with her three children before landing in Montgomery County in 1991 and remarrying, wasn’t ready to give up on a professional art career.

Now that her children are 35, 32, and 28 – she also has two grandchildren – she is making up for lost time.

“I paint religiously two times a week,” she said. “One day a week I devote to marketing and social media.”

Her efforts have been recognized. Salman is one of seven Montgomery County artists selected by a jury to participate in A-RTS, a free annual outdoor arts festival at Rockville Town Square, which took place earlier this month on May 5 and 6.

Read more...

Singer/songwriter produces for love of music, not money

  • Published in Music

Jim Kennedy’s latest CD reflects multiple sources of inspiration. COURTESY PHOTOJim Kennedy’s latest CD reflects multiple sources of inspiration. COURTESY PHOTO  Asking Jim Kennedy how he intends to market his new album, “The Mischief of Life,” elicits an unexpected response.

“The point is not to sell the album; the point is to make it,” said Kennedy. “Music can be produced as a consumer product with sales as the goal, or it can be [artistic] expression and craftwork. My ‘marketing strategy’ is to share the CD with people. and hope they like it. I’m not trying to become a rock star or get rich.”

If they do like it, he’ll try to put together a “good group of musicians” and perform it to attentive audiences. If that doesn’t happen, he says he’s “still perfectly satisfied” having made the CD.

Kennedy wrote all 12 songs on “The Mischief of Life.” He plays all the instruments, and did the engineering and producing. He recorded the songs in his “home studio” – a laptop on his kitchen table and a cluttered corner of his band-rehearsal room.

Read more...

Silhouettes are an outline of an ancient art form renewed

Partially three-dimensional maypole dance by a contemporary artist is a part of an exhibit on silhouettes currently featured at the National Portrait Gallery. COURTESY PHOTOPartially three-dimensional maypole dance by a contemporary artist is a part of an exhibit on silhouettes currently featured at the National Portrait Gallery. COURTESY PHOTO  Silhouettes have been around since ancient times – think of those shadowy figures on Grecian urns.

But it was in the 19th century that the art form of cut-paper profiles took on new life. “They were a hugely popular and democratizing form of portraiture, offering virtually instantaneous likenesses of everyone,” said Asma Naeem, curator of an exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery devoted to silhouettes.

“Black Out: Silhouettes Then and Now” reveals the complexities of an art form that was once ubiquitous but is little known today, Naeem added.

The exhibit explores the historical roots of silhouettes and contemporary iterations.

Read more...

Bethesda-based art gallery celebrates 25th anniversary

Carol Leadbetter (left) and Grace Peterson, chair Waverly Street Gallery’s silver anniversary celebration.  COURTESY PHOTOCarol Leadbetter (left) and Grace Peterson, chair Waverly Street Gallery’s silver anniversary celebration. COURTESY PHOTO  Though she was always interested in taking pictures, Carol Leadbetter became a professional photographer later in life. That was after a formal course in photography motivated her to earn an associates’ degree at Montgomery College, specializing in portrait photography. Now she does a great deal of what’s called “photographic transfer,” or alternative printing.

“With transfer, each piece is done individually and looks different,” Leadbetter said. “It’s not making 100 copies of the same thing.”

Grace Peterson always loved art; first she became a self-taught oil painter and later worked in stained glass until arthritis kicked in. She then returned to oils, also obtaining a degree from Montgomery College.

Peterson exhibited and entered competitions, but felt the lack of an artist’s “home base.” After Strathmore sent her a list of area art galleries, she found Creative Partners, a precursor of the Waverly Street Gallery.

Leadbetter also found her home base at the Gallery.

Read more...

Diverse performances featured in Maryland Youth Ballet’s Spring Concert

Corps de Ballet achieves perfect synchronization in Maryland Youth Ballet’s “La Bayadere.”  COURTESY PHOTOCorps de Ballet achieves perfect synchronization in Maryland Youth Ballet’s “La Bayadere.” COURTESY PHOTO  Dancing a lead role in a classical ballet is something Elena Remez dreamed of ever since she was a girl. It’s also something she “worked up to” during her 12 years of study at Maryland Youth Ballet.

Now Remez is living the dream: she’s dancing the title role in “La Bayadere” (which translated from French means “The Temple Dancer”), one of the three pieces comprising the Spring Concert of the school. It’s only a portion of the long ballet – set in India, with music by Ludwig Minkus, and the 1877 original choreography by Marius Petipa – entitled “Kingdom of the Shades.”

“It’s an honor to dance the lead in ‘Bayadere,’” said Remez, a senior at Woodrow Wilson High School.

The ballet is also challenging. “The two leads come on and off constantly ... There’s not much of a break,” she said. “Usually as soon as I stop breathing heavily after one part, I have to go right back to another.”

Read more...
Subscribe to this RSS feed