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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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“School of Rock” gets local run while on Broadway

schoolofrockcast copy photoWill Valdes, lead in ‘School of Rock,’ surrounded by his students.   COURTESY PHOTO  Sometimes you get an offer you can't refuse.

When the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation approved The Highwood Theatre's request to license "The School of Rock," even though it is still playing on the Great White Way, moving forward was a no-brainer.

"It was a unique opportunity to do a Broadway show," said Kevin Kearney, the theater's executive director who is co-directing the show with Dylan Kaufman. "We're part of a select group of youth theaters and schools who received the licensing."

But aside from the opportunity, "School of Rock" is also "the perfect show for Highwood," said Kearney, who saw the musical four times on Broadway and "loved" it.

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Re-envisioned “My Fair Lady” mostly delights at Olney

My Fair LadyDanny Bernardy and Brittany Campbell star in the Olney Theatre Center's production of "My Fair Lady." COURTESY PHOTO  Virtually any production of “My Fair Lady”  – one of the best-beloved musicals ever – is always welcome.

Based on George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion,” with books and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe, the 1956 Broadway hit has seen several revivals, inspired a major Hollywood film, and is expected to return to the Great White Way next year.

Who doesn’t know the story of the uneducated British flower girl transformed by the sophisticated phonetics professor, who, unbeknownst to him at first, changes as well? And who doesn’t love such delightful songs as “The Rain in Spain” and “On the Street Where You Live?? Happily, the show can be seen now at Olney Theatre Center. With its fine acting and singing and clever, but mostly minimalist set, this production overall rekindles the affection and admiration many of us feel for this classic musical and will no doubt win over younger generations as well. The production’s “fair lady,” Brittany Campbell, has a “loverly” voice (to quote one of her songs), which soars above the difficult high notes of “I Could Have Danced All Night.” But also packs a vengeful punch in “Just You Wait, Henry Higgins.

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Local students appear on public television special

One hundred and fifty members of a Bethesda-based youth arts program appeared on a televised tribute to an acclaimed composer June 1.

Founded in 2011 by brother Rolando and Kristofer Sanz, Young Artists of America at Strathmore provides instruction and mentorship to middle and high school students throughout the D.C. metro area in various aspects of musical theater. The one-hour television special, “Young Artists of America: The Songs of Tim Rice,” is hosted by Rice himself, a frequent collaborator with Andrew Lloyd Webber and others on several acclaimed Broadway musicals. It was recently filmed at Maryland Public Television’s studio in Owings Mills.

The program features performances of songs from “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Evita” and others. It also featured segments where Rice speaks about his career, as well as featuring footage of the performers’ backstage preparations.

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Center Stage: "Children of Eden" adaptation is kinder version

children of eden photoSebastian Amoruso as Japheth in “Children of Eden.” COURTESY PHOTO  

WASHINGTON D.C.  — Last weekend, a production of “Children of Eden” ran at the Levine School of Music. The play, an adaptation of the story of Adam and Eve, their descendants, and Noah and his ark, is a gentle interpretation of God’s relationship to mankind.

The Levine School of Music is a non-profit community music center that accepts students of all ages regardless of their theater background. As a result, “Children of Eden” was a diverse production of actors. 

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Center Stage: Montgomery College mines comic gold in “Bat Boy”

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ROCKVILLE – At Montgomery College’s campus theater, the musical “Bat Boy” featured a memorable final performance Sunday.

A tragi-comedy play about a part-human, part-bat found in the caves of West Virginia who just wants to fit in, “Bat Boy” is a hilarious story that pays homage to classic themes in storytelling while remaining a highly original work.

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Youth theater company performs Sondheim classic

Into the Woods posterThe Wildwood Summer Theatre Company performed “Into the Woods” for their 50th season. This year’s production, written by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, is a refreshingly grown-up take on fairytales such as “Cinderella”, “Jack and the Bean Stalk”, “Little Red Riding Hood” and “Rapunzel.” The fairytales become connected when a childless baker (Wesley Diener) and his wife (Katherine Worley) quest through the woods to retrieve artifacts from the other characters in order to lift a witch’s curse.

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