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Renowned pianist Andre Watts to perform with Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

  • Published in Music

Andre Watts credit Steve J. Sherman copyAndre Watts performs with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at the Music Center at Strathmore and Meyerhoff Hall in Baltimore. COURTESY PHOTO BY STEVE J. SHERMAN  The beginning of pianist Andre Watts’s career was like a sunburst, introduced as a teenager onto the national stage to play with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic.

Now, with a music career that has spanned more than 50 years, Watts is returning to an orchestra with whom he has played many times – the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at the Music Center at Strathmore as well as Meyerhoff  Hall in Baltimore on the weekend of Nov. 17 through Nov. 19.

“Mr. Watts has had a long and very popular association with the BSO, having first performed with the orchestra in 1973,” said Miryam Yardumian, interim artistic administrator. “He has appeared with the BSO a dozen times since.”

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A snow day turns special when "Frosty the Snow Man" comes to life at Adventure Theatre

FROSTY 2 copyDallas Tolentino plays the title character of “Frosty the Snow Man” at Adventure Theatre. COURTESY PHOTO You can’t escape the wildly popular Christmas song when you enter stores during the holiday season.

“Frosty the Snow Man,” written by Steve "Jack" Rollins and Steve Nelson, and first recorded by Gene Autry, has taken on a life of its own. The story of the magical snowman has been sung by various artists since its inception, including Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby and Jimmy Durante, and been adapted in other mediums, including animated television specials and children’s books.

Now “Frosty the Snow Man” is commanding the stage at Adventure Theatre. Dallas Tolentino plays Frosty in a white suit and vest, with LED lights.

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The tale of two staged readings - one a comedy

9BMRJeterOct2017 copyLiz Galuardi and Paul Reisman in Best Medicine Rep’s reading of “Derek Jeter Makes the Play.” COURTESY PHOTO BY MARY ROBERDSThe historical farce “Philosophus,” by contemporary playwright Colin Speer Crowley, is billed as “clever and funny,” making it perfect fare for Best Medicine Repertory Theater.

The Gaithersburg-based theater began its programming earlier this year, focusing on new works and specifically on comedies, according to John Morogiello, artistic director.

“The Shadow of a Doubt,” on the other hand, was written by Edith Wharton, the author of such classic novels as “The Age of Innocence” and “The House of Mirth,” who passed away in 1937. It is her only known play – planned for a Broadway run that never happened.

“Two scholars working at the University of Texas found the manuscript, which Wharton wrote in 1901, right before she started writing novels,” said Drew Lichtenberg, Literary Manager of Shakespeare Theatre Company, where the play will have a reading. “Like many people, she wanted to write for the stage.”

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Strathmore concert highlights diversity in Jewish music

  • Published in Music

Yasmin Levy 3 1 copyLadino singer Yasmin Levy collaborates with Klezmatics at Strathmore.   COURTESY PHOTO  The concert series currently playing out at the Music Center of Strathmore is celebrating global music and divergent cultures.

“The thematic thread through Strathmore’s 2017-2018 season is ‘Windows,’ concerts in which international artists share the sonic riches of their heritage and homeland,” said Joi Brown, vice president of programming. “This is our effort to showcase music that reflects different perspectives, places, cultures, and eras.”

However, the Nov. 7 concert highlights the musical diversity within one culture alone.

It pairs Israeli singer Yasmin Levy, who performs primarily in Ladino – Judeo-Spanish language – with the Klezmatics, an ensemble that sings classical klezmer music from Eastern Europe.

“I started to sing songs in Ladino, then modern, Spanish and flamenco and moved to Turkish and Persian songs and Brazilian tango,” said the Jerusalem-born Levy.

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Participants kick up their social dancing heels in Glen Echo

Glen Echo DancingSocial dancers enjoy themselves in Glen Echo Park's Spanish Ballroom. COURTESY PHOTO  With swing dance – including such variations as West, East, Lindy, Balboa, and DC hand dancing – not to mention tango, Cathy Furlong has a full dance card.

She has danced in many places, but considers Glen Echo Park her “favorite place.”

Furlong has had plenty of time to form that opinion; she has been attending dances at the park’s Spanish Ballroom for more than 31 years.

The social dance program at the Park has a much longer history.

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Doomed romance at the heart of Kensington play

Bridges of Madison County at KATElizabeth Hester and Jonathan Rizzardi star in Kensington Arts Theatre s production of “The Bridges of Madison County." COURTESY PHOTO BY ENELISON AYALASome have labeled Robert James Waller’s 1992 novel “The Bridges of Madison County” oversentimental. But it inspired a well-received film three years later in which Clint Eastwood, who also directed, demonstrated his romantic chops and for which Meryl Streep garnered yet another Oscar nomination.

Nearly 20 years later, a show by the same name opened on Broadway – with a book by Marsha Norman and music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown.

Despite numerous nominations and some awards, as well as star power – including Kelli O’Hara as the female lead and director Bartlett Sher – the musical lasted only weeks on Broadway.

Now, “The Bridges of Madison County” is coming to Kensington Arts Theatre, the first community theater in the area to present it, said the show’s director Craig Pettinati.

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Baltimore Symphony Orchestra conquers MoCo

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P4010213 copy Baltimore SymphonyMarin Alsop conducts the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. COURTESY PHOTO  The story of Miguel de Cervantes’ “Don Quixote” has had a lasting cultural impact.

Many literary critics and authors consider the classic book by the 17th-century Spanish writer to be the first modern novel, with an immense influence on language that continues to the present day. Consider the expression “tilting at windmills” or the word “quixotic.”

“Don Quixote” and Cervantes’s dramatic life also have inspired other works in many artistic genres – including short stories, novels, ballets, operas, classical music pieces, plays, films, and of course, the hit Broadway musical “Man of La Mancha.”

Among the classical music pieces that have drawn inspiration from “Don Quixote” is the eponymous tone poem by Richard Strauss for cello, viola, and orchestra, which will be part of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s program for their Oct. 21 concert at the Music Center at Strathmore.

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Peace Mountain Theatre Company stages Neil Simon’s “Lost in Yonkers”

20171002 201109 001 copy Lost in YonkersDavid Dieudonne directs Elyon Topolosky and Leah Mazade in Neil Simon's "Lost in Yonkers." COURTESY PHOTO Those who only know Neil Simon as the comic playwright of such works as “Barefoot in the Park,” and “The Odd Couple” may be underselling him.

“Lost in Yonkers,” for example, won both a Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award, and many consider it his finest play.

That’s the prevalent attitude at Peace Mountain Theatre Company. The Potomac-based theater company is gearing up for a production of the play, after having previously produced such “heavier” fare as Edward Albee’s “A Delicate Balance” and Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons.”

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Puppets share stage with people in Olney Theatre’s ‘Our Town’

Wedding of George and Emily copyGeorge (left) and Emily (right) – William Vaughan and Cindy De La Cruz – stand with Jon Hudson Odom as the Stage Manager in Olney Theatre Center’s production of "Our Town." COURTESY PHOTO  The creative mind works in unexpected ways.

When Aaron Posner was staging “Measure for Measure” at the Folger Theatre in 2004 – a production that incorporated puppets – he pointed out to their designer Aaron Cromie that his creations looked “lively and human” during rehearsals but “so dead” during a break.

Posner made a mental leap, that should he direct Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town,” puppets would represent the dead people in the third act.

From there Posner went on to the idea of using puppets more extensively, as he is currently doing as the director of the Olney Theatre Center’s production of “Our Town.” 

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Multicultural music at Strathmore

  • Published in Music

Tararam copyTaharam group opens the Washington Jewish Music Festival. COURTESY PHOTO  When cultural organizations interact, they enrich the community.

AFI Silver Theatre, AMP Powered by Strathmore, the Music Center at Strathmore, and Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center – all Montgomery County arts groups – are serving as sites for the 11-day-long Washington Jewish Music Festival.

The Festival, the flagship of the Edlavitch Jewish Community Center of Washington D.C.’s year-round music program, starts formally on Nov. 2 with a group called Taharam, considered “Israel’s Stomp.” It continues through Nov. 12 with the silent film version of “Humoresque” and a performance by Nomadica, which performs music of Arabs, Roma, and Jews.

“The 19th Washington Jewish Music Festival’s lineup is a very exciting alchemy – it brings together some of the most prestigious, original and boundary-pushing artists from around the world working in the Jewish space, and encourages them to experiment in the nation’s capital,” said Festival Director Ilya Tovbis. “Additionally, we’re doubling down on highlighting and elevating the work and artistry of local D.C. musicians whose output spans hip-hop, klezmer, bossa nova, and cantorial repertoires.”

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