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Chekhov-inspired comedy opens Highwood Theatre’s season

Vanya Pub 11 1 copyThe cast of Christopher Durang's comedy “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” now playing at Highwood Theatre. COURTESY PHOTO  Richard Fiske admits to being an adrenaline junkie.

He fulfilled that need in the past by serving as a U.S. Navy officer for 27 years, then as an engineer and diving and salvage engineer, also for the Navy.

Now he gets that fix onstage.

For over six years, he’s performed as an actor in the D.C. area. “I get to do fun stuff and be different people,” Fiske said.

His current role is Vanya in Christopher Durang’s comedy “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” the production launching Highwood Theatre’s 2017-2018 season. The play also stars Margaret Condon as Sonia, Rachel Varley as Masha, Thomas Shuman as Spike, Kecia Campbell as Cassandra, and Amber James as Nina.

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Love comes in many forms on Rockville stage

IMG 6470 copy guyker almost maineAlexandra Guyker rehearses one of her roles in the play "Almost, Maine" at Rockville Little Theatre. COURTESY PHOTO  Sabine is a woman at an exciting point in her current relationship when she bumps into her ex at a bar. The meeting provokes a juggling act between past feelings and guilt, and the ways people deal with moving on.

Gayle has been in an 11-year relationship that’s apparently going nowhere. She finally brings it all to her boyfriend’s door, literally.

After many years away from her high-school sweetheart, Hope is looking to find her place in the world – with him.

These are some of the various characters in John Carian’s oft-performed play “Almost, Maine,” now on stage at Rockville Little Theatre. The play comprises nine two-character short plays that explore love and loss in the titular, mythical town.

Alexandra Guyker portrays Sabine, Gayle and Hope.

“All three characters have experiences I myself have dealt with, so it is easy to connect to each one when I look back on those times in my life,” Guyker said. “Because they’re different people, it’s important I take some time before each scene and really think about where I was before. But I rely on the author’s words to show the differences in their thought processes, pace, and emotions.”

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It’s a Free for All . . .

Shakespeare company makes "Othello" a free for the summer fest

OTHELLO 121 1 copy photoFaran Tahir stars in the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Free For All production of “Othello.” COURTESY PHOTO BY SCOTT SUCHMAN  

It’s a long-established practice for theater companies to present the plays of William Shakespeare to the public at no charge during the summer months.

Locally, the Shakespeare Theatre Company in D.C. has been doing that since 1991 – presenting one production during the hot months (although indoors) in what it calls “Free For All.” Shakespeare’s comedy “The Merry Wives of Windsor” was the first Free For All production. Michael Kahn, STC’s artistic director, found inspiration in the pioneering achievements of Joseph Papp. Kahn had worked with the legendary producer and director who established almost 60 years ago New York City’s famed Shakespeare in the Park.

“Michael Kahn wanted to make sure Shakespeare was accessible to as many people as possible,” said Joy Johnson, director of audience services at STC who organizes and manages Free For All. “The best way to do that is through free performances.”

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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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Center Stage: ‘Or’ qualifies as a quality restoration event

OR 5Now playing at Round House Theatre, the role-switching play “Or,” features Erin Weaver, Holly Twyford, and Gregory Linington. COURTESY PHOTO  BETHESDA — “Or,” a suffix of binary implications barely qualifies as a phrase. Yet the new play at the Round House Theatre about playwright and former spy Aphra Behn takes the meaning of this word to its full extent.

“Or,” written by Liz Duffy Adams takes place in Restoration Era England when Behn, played by Holly Twyford, abandons her espionage career to become a writer under the new government of Charles II.

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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: Morella’s adaptation of “Christmas Carol” is a feast

Paul Morella in A Christmas CarolPaul Morella from Olney Theatre's "A Christmas Carol." COURTESY PHOTO

OLNEY — Alongside its smash hit production of “Mary Poppins”, the Olney Theatre Center is also running “A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story of Christmas” for the holiday season.

Paul Morella, one of Olney Theatre’s favorites, returns from his role as Otto Frank from his previous Olney show “The Diary of Anne Frank” to perform “A Christmas Carol” entirely by himself.

Although “A Christmas Carol” is popularly performed by a cast of characters, the Olney Theatre is unique for offering the experience “the way Dickens intended” by having one person narrate and act out the story himself.

As a result, Olney’s production retains much more of the dialogue and literary imagery described by Dickens in his novel.

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Center Stage: Olney Theatre shines with new "Diary of Anne Frank"

anne frankThe cast of Olney Theatre Center's "The Diary of Anne Frank."   COURTESY PHOTO  

OLNEY – For a heart-wrenchingly humanistic performance, look no further than “The Diary of Anne Frank” at the Olney Theatre Center.

Within the first 10 minutes of watching the Franks and the van Daans move into their cramped quarters, all sense of time is lost as the actors’ enrapturing performance fills the beautifully-crafted stage.

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