Elf Jr. at Children’s Playhouse of Maryland

The Children’s Playhouse of Maryland is putting some cheery folderol on ev’ry wall and ev’ry nook, and they’ve tinsel’d up ev’ry corner, ‘til it’s Christmas ev’ry where you look! That’s right— they’re having a sparkly, jolly, twinkly, jingly production of Elf Jr. The Musical! Based on the major motion picture, new line cinema film written by David Berenbaum, this razzle-dazzle-ringle-lingle-shiny-showy-cheery-kringle-holly-jolly-very-merry-sparkly-jolly-twinkly-jingly show is rearing up and ready to go just in time for Christmas!

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Review: It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play at Annapolis Shakespeare Company

It’s that time of year when the world falls in love, every song you hear seems to say, Merry Christmas! And no one’s singing or saying it brighter than the good folks over at WBFR: Playhouse of the Air as they prepare for their annual holiday broadcast, this year featuring It’s a Wonderful Life. Fully settled into the hokey yet happy holiday gimmick that is It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play,

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The fireside is blazing bright, and they’re caroling through the night! This Christmas will be a very special Christmas— just so long as you head over to ArtsCentric, now residing at The Motor House in Baltimore’s Station North Arts District, and celebrate the holiday season with their production of Sincerely, Holidays. The third in the Sincerely series, Conceived and Directed by Kevin S. McAllister, this beautiful musical revue celebrates African-American holiday musical traditions and is so full of joy that you’ll be bursting at the seams with the holiday spirit before the evening is over. With Musical Direction by Cedric D. Lyles, this joyous event is cause for celebration; you’ll leave with your heart filled by the true spirit of Christmas. With a simple set by Lee Lewis to put folks in the holiday mood— a tree, some presents, a giant teddy bear— the orchestra, led by Musical Director and Arranger Cedric D. Lyles, gets set right across the back of the play space so that everyone in attendance can really see and feel the passion and intensity with which the four-piece band (Jordan Chase on guitar, Kevin Ellis on percussion, Michael Kellam on bass, and Lyles at the keys) puts forth when they play. Lighting Designer Lynn Joslin runs away with the wild illuminating tools needed to really pump up the experience when it comes to lighting this show. Using all sorts of special colors and blends, Joslin finds the right feeling for each of the chapters of the show on either side of the intermission and gets that underlying aesthetic firmly cemented in place to properly compliment the performances as they happen. Director Kevin McAllister, who also outfits the cast in fabulously fashionable threads of the season, divides the show up into six chapters, three on either side of the intermission. The logical progression of this show structure keeps the audience engaged in the total experience. There’s a good old fashioned holiday sing-off and show-down between the ladies and the gents in the opening section of the show, as well as tribute to variety show hosts that features Nat King Cole and various guest stars. Like all of the performances in the Sincerely series, McAllister includes a bit of audience interaction and improvisation to showcase the versatility of his performers. This section also includes some crooning and singing outside of the holiday scope, which is a nice way to further display the range of styles the performers can achieve. The back side of the show includes a gospel section, which McAllister uses to open up the second act. Feeling much like a true holiday service in a very spirited church, Christmas hymns flood the stage and the inspiring heartfelt sentiment behind these songs carries in waves to the audience. McAllister includes a deeply sentimental message of peace and love in the middle of the second act as well, reminding everyone about the true spirit of Christmas. Closing out the show with a lively upbeat finish, it becomes an all-inclusive sing-a-long with just the right vibe to get the house bouncing and singing along, making for the perfect conclusion to the much-needed joyful noise of the evening. McAllister presents not only music but the history of the music with carefully crafted narrative speeches to introduce each of the segments as they roll along, delivering heartfelt tributes to the artists with projections of their likeness on the screen as well. Musical Director Cedric D. Lyles, who keeps the keys rocking from the moment starts right through to the engaging and energetic finale, is a masterful leader when it comes to the energy, tonality, and overall functionality of the show’s music. Whether guiding the girls or the guys through their blended harmonies, pairing them off against one another in the musical show-down that kick-starts the show, or focusing more intently on duet harmonies like during the “Some Day at Christmas” segment of the show, Lyles gets the perfect sound echoing out of these nine performers. Adding his own delectable voice to the mix for various songs in the opening segment— like “That’s What Christmas Means to Me” where he wails away— Lyles gives a well-rounded performance as both singer and player from his spot back-center stage in the pit. Nine other performers lend their exceptionally talented voices to the performance, blending and mixing together for group sounds throughout that are filled with the joys, elations, and spirits of the holidays. Kymon George Carriker, Bryan Jeffrey Daniels, David Hammett, and Marquis James make up the gentleman’s section of the performance duos in the opening section of the show while the quintet of ladies, featuring Kelli Blackwell, Denae’ Fielder, Raquel Jennings, Shayla Lowe, and Pam Ward, hold their own against these jovial gents in the sassy and ferocious sing-out showdown. All nine of the performers are not only talented of voice but fleet of foot and exceptionally well-motivated to move to Choreographer Shalyce Hemby’s enriching dance routines. Featuring a world of two-stepping style that does a great many eras of musical styling justice, Hemby finds a great deal of choreographic movement that is custom tailored not only to the musical numbers featured in the show but also to the talented skills that each of the performers brings to the stage. A special shout-out is well deserved by Miss Jaya Cuffie, who appears just before the Whitney Houston tribute and dances a beautiful ballet while Raquel Jennings sings “Who Would Imagine a King?” Jennings, who possesses powerhouse vocals like the other eight members of the company, really sparkles when she takes the lead during “Santa Bring Me a Man for Christmas.” Falling on the floor in soul-searing desperation, Jennings brings an inferno of fire that fuels her vocal expression for this number, driving home that need and sparking up a fire that would roast everybody’s holiday chestnuts! Singing and bouncing in the background for the introduction of Nat King Cole and his variety show, Jennings blends her vocals divinely in moments when others are meant to be the leader of the scene. Pushing with enthusiasm in all of the group numbers that the girls carry in the beginning, Jennings is a radiant streamer of vocal tinsel, a shiny and illuminating addition to the Sincerely, Holidays tree. Pam Ward, who features as a wonderful fourth in the quartet— “Who Took the Mary out of Christmas?”— with Kelli Blackwell, Cedric D. Lyles, and Denae’ Fielder, is a fierce vocal talent to have in the mix of the holiday production. Riffing and wailing away in duet with Shayla Lowe for their solo features during one of the gospel hymns, Ward showcases her vocal prowess with ease. Lowe, who gives the narrative introduction to the variety show segment, does her finest character work when appearing on the Nat King Cole show as Pearl Bailey. Complete with the intoxicated personality and physicality to match, Lowe pays fine homage to the larger than life personality with her song and stumble routine in this moment. But her crowning moment of vocal glory is the duet that she shares with Kymon George Carriker. Bringing the house to tears— even choking up their fellow performers on stage— Carriker and Lowe sing a blended rendition of “Someday at Christmas/My Grown Up Christmas List”, which calls to the forefront of everyone’s mind all of the strife we face in the world and how peace and love is what we really need. Carriker, who is an adorably cherubic addition to the cast, showcases a great deal of character work in both the improv section of the show—near the end of the first act— as well as at the top of the second act when the gospel portion of the program gets underway. Getting to put his vocal talents on display in the non-holiday section of the show, where he takes turns with other performers crooning and serenading various audience members on stage— Carriker proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that he’s got the vocal chops to run with the big kids when it comes to this holiday revue. David Hammett, who catches the eye frequently throughout the program but especially with his dancing during the “Little Drummer Boy” call and response portion of the first chapter, is another crooner who takes his moment in the spotlight outside of the holiday numbers. Much like Carriker, Hammett really puts his skills on display when it comes to putting the moves on the audience members, both during the interactive portion and the dance party near the show’s end. Denae’ Fielder is a sassy vixen whose rendition of Eartha Kitt is purrrfect! Sidling into the role during the variety show segment, her version of “Santa Baby” does the legendary singer a great deal of justice. Performing with even greater justice in her tribute to Whitney Houston, Fielder’s voice shines during “I Miss You Most at Christmastime.” A delight as both a soloist and ensemble singer, Fielder fits perfectly into the quintet of girls featured in the show. As does the boisterous and vocally proud Kelli Blackwell. With a soulful voice belting to the heavens— particularly during the finale of “Joy to the World” where she sings along and invites the audience to sing into her microphone with her (an ultimate and thrilling experience if you’re fortunate enough to have it!)— Blackwell is a singing sensation all throughout the show. But it’s her wild and wicked rendition of the worm as ‘grandma Kelli’ in the improv section that is most memorable. Or her shenanigans with her flute and then later with her angel wings; Blackwell has such a blast of a good time that her jubilant spirit is simply contagious! Marquis James and Bryan Jeffrey Daniels are in mini competition all their own for show-stealer when it comes to the performances they are laying down. James and Daniels are both exceptionally gifted of voice and with emotional expression when it comes to singing. Their character work in this production is what has them really standing out. James rocks onto the scene during the variety act as Louis Armstrong, delivering a sensational rendition of “’Zat You, Santa Claus?” and really gets that smooth verve going in that number with his highly stylized delivery. Second only to his Prince tribute near the end of the performance— where Daniels gives a stunning rendition of “Purple Rain”— his homages are aces all throughout the show. But Daniels squeaks ahead by just a hair when it comes to show-stopping, scene-stealing moments. With Nat King Cole being the mildest of his over-the-top performances, Daniels is well recognized for his vocal ability in this character as well as his wailing falsetto as Michael Jackson in the Jackson 5 cover of “I Saw Mommy Kissin’ Santa Claus.” Daniels’ wild attitude informs a great many of his numbers and characterizations, keeping the show full of holiday hilarity. It’s the feel-good show of the season. There is love, joy, happiness, and heartwarming sentiment that just cannot be beat. It’s what the world needs, especially this time of year, and you’ll leave feeling relieved and full of the grace of the holidays! It’s a show that must be seen, it’s the show that the holidays are begging for. Don’t miss Sincerely, Holidays this Christmas at ArtsCentric, you’ll find yourself more in the true spirit of Christmas if you do. Running Time: 2 hours and 15 minutes with one intermission Sincerely, Holidays plays through January 1, 2017 at ArtsCentric on the main stage of The Motor House— 120 W. North Avenue in the Station North Arts District of Baltimore, MD. Tickets are available for purchase at the door or in advance online.

Review: Sincerely Holidays at ArtsCentric

The fireside is blazing bright, and they’re caroling through the night! This Christmas will be a very special Christmas— just so long as you head over to ArtsCentric, now residing at The Motor House in Baltimore’s Station North Arts District, and celebrate the holiday season with their production of Sincerely, Holidays. The third in the Sincerely series, Conceived and Directed by Kevin S. McAllister, this beautiful musical revue celebrates African-American holiday musical traditions and is so full of joy that you’ll be bursting at the seams with the holiday spirit before the evening is over.

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Review: Slay Ride at Do or Die Mysteries

Deck the halls with boughs of holly! Fa-la-la-la-la! La-la-la-BLOOD??? What? At Christmas time? How terrifying! Tis the season to be donning the gay apparel and making merry…or making murder? That’s exactly what Do or Die Mysteries is cooking up this Christmas! When things at the North Pole start to go south during the Annual Elf-preciation Celebration, it suddenly seems like the fat man isn’t so popular. But no one could possibly be bold enough to murder Santa Claus,

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Review: A Christmas Story at The Hippodrome Theatre

There’s so much more to do! Shopping, cooking, baking, wrapping— and there’s only 17 days to go! Because it all comes down to Christmas! And if you’re in Baltimore at The Hippodrome Theatre, then you’ve only got seven more chances to see A Christmas Story, The Musical before it hops on Santa’s magic sleigh and flies away for the holiday! Presented as a part of the CareFirst Hippodrome Broadway Series,

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Review: Uncle Nick at Wolfpack Theatre Company

Wolf Pack Theatre Company’s Uncle Nick! introduces you to a family on Christmas Eve. But for those lucky enough to spend the holidays with their extended family, this one feels remarkably homey. The set looks like your Aunt Irene’s over-decorated living room as of All Saint’s Day what with all the Christmas lights and tchotchkes – a remarkable feat considering Uncle Nick’s venue is the sanctuary of a church and so it must come down each week for services.

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Review: Seussical the Musical at Greenbelt Arts Center

“Think and wonder, wonder and think.” Infamous children’s book author Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel) seemed to be a big fan of a good think. All throughout his books, he encouraged kids to think for themselves, find out and become who they are and fight for what they believe in. So, it’s no small wonder that a musical based on his books is all about characters trying to do just that. Seussical, The Musical,

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The Dancing Princesses at Pumpkin Theatre

Hidden in the winding back roads of Owings Mills lies one of the oldest and only theatres in the Baltimore area specifically geared towards young audiences. Pumpkin Theatre is currently in its 49th year of producing child-friendly performances and educational outreach. It is clear from their current production that their mission to introduce young audiences to the stage is still going strong.

The Dancing Princesses written by Jimi Kinstle with music composed by Mandee Ferrier Roberts opens with a singing Chancellor played by Roberts and a very perplex King played by Derek Cooper.

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Review: Babes in Toyland Really at Tantallon Community Players

Tantallon Community Players production of Babes in Toyland Really— Directed by Valerie Holt, with Music Direction by Charla Rowe— isn’t specifically a Christmas show, but the way it evokes the magic and wonder of childhood is certain to put you in the holiday spirit. Tantallon stalwart Charla Rowe’s adaptation of Victor Herbert’s classic 1903 operetta, now set in today’s electronic age, had the audience in stitches on opening night. A little boy (Jack Horner;

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Review: The Zero Hour at Iron Crow Theatre

The Zero Hour by Madeleine George, presented by Iron Crow Theatre at the Baltimore Theatre Project will run for only for more shows, all this weekend.  Go grab your tickets before you continue reading; you won’t want to miss it. The play is set in a contemporary New York, following an established lesbian relationship.  The scenes feel more like vignettes in a way that feels jarring at first but quickly settle into a digestible pattern.  

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Review: Family Holiday at Maryland Ensemble Theatre

Oh there’s no place like home for the holidays…except for when home for the holidays comes with a handful of surprises that you just weren’t ready for and a quartet of secrets that you just can’t keep to yourself! Settle into the Maryland Ensemble Theatre this Christmas season and let their zany family be your home as they present the world premiere of DC Cathro’s Family Holiday. Putting the fun in dysfunction with his high-octane farce,

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Review: A Christmas Carol at Toby’s Dinner Theatre

Ding! Dong! Ding! Dong! Christmas bells are ringing! Wishing you a Merry Christmas and the happiest of holiday seasons, Toby’s Dinner Theatre of Columbia is proud to present their stellar production of the musical version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Directed by David James with Musical Direction by Pamela Wilt, this iconic classic brings the true meaning of Christmas to kids from ages one to 92 and beyond and everywhere in-between.

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Review: Cats at Milburn Stone Theatre

Jellicle cats come out tonight! Jellicle cats come one, come all! Jellicle cats at Milburn Stone— Jellicle cats have a Jellicle Ball! And you too will find yourself among the feline fantasy world of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats if you dare to venture to the Milburn Stone Theatre for a sensational production of Broadway’s second-longest running musical. Directed and Choreographed by Bambi Johnson with Musical Direction by Shane Jensen, this phenomenally enchanting evening is whimsy incarnate and invites you to a wildly wondrous world of feline fantasy that will delight every family this holiday season.

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The Best Christmas Pageant Ever! at Twin Beach Players

It’s that time of year…the lights go up, the shoppers rush around with their treasures, every theatre in town starts producing A Christmas Carol, cookies go into the oven, and every church in town starts practicing for their Christmas Pageant. Someone got the holiday wires crossed as The Twin Beach Players open their festive production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever! Directed by Rachel Clites Cruz, this delightful family fun holiday show is a reminder of what the spirit of Christmas is all about and it isn’t exactly what you think!

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Review: Silver Belles at Signature Theatre

Oralene was dead: to begin with. This must be distinctly understood or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate. Well, jingling Jesus, there ought to be a law that every Christmas musical start out with a coffin in Silver Ridge, Tennessee! Christmas is a gift, it’s true, (it’s the season of presents for a reason, after all) and Signature Theatre is giving you the simplest, most entertaining, down-home musical gift that anyone could ask for at this festive time of year: the world premiere of Silver Belles.

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Review: 1-800-Mice at Annex Theatre

You only live twice or so it seems, one life for yourself and one for your dreams. Annex Theatre might make you consider the dream life that you are or are not living at least twice with their current production of 1-800-Mice. Based on the comics of Matthew Thurber and adapted to the stage by Carly J. Bales and Sarah Jacklin, this absurdist nightmarish dreamscape takes interpretive experimental theatre to new levels with its nonsensical existence and surrealist approach to absurdism.

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Horatio Dark’s Between the Lines: November Broadcast at The Windup Space

November brings daylight savings time, which means it’s time to dim the lights an hour early! It’s 8:00 o’clock on the last Monday of the month, and if you know what’s good for you, you’re anxiously awaiting the master of the macabre, the antiquarian of the insane, Horatio Dark himself as he reads between the lines of reality for the monthly installment of his radio broadcast! Appearing now at W-IND, tune the dial, turn up the volume,

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Review: Soft Revolution: Shafana and Aunt Sarrinah at Venus Theatre

Clutch your dreams in your screwed up fists and carry them out into reality. A mantra statement that Artistic Director and Founder of Venus Theatre Deborah Randall has abided by long before those words made their way into print in Alana Valentine’s script, Soft Revolution: Shafana and Aunt Sarrinah. Appearing as the perfect conclusion to season 16 and arriving as Script#58 at Venus Theatre, this evocative new work is receiving its DC-area premiere under the Direction of Deborah Randall and the timing could not be more poignant and relevant to the cultural and political upheaval in which the city and the nation,

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James and the Giant Peach Jr. a Wheaton Arts on the Road Program

Come with me to see something strange unfold. Hear the weirdest tale that was ever told. From this rare depiction, some would swear it is fiction— yet— each peculiar twist I tell is true! And you shall see it in plain view! Middle school students performing theatre: not so strange. Middle school students performing and producing theatre: unusual. Middle school students performing, producing, and creating theatre to be seen for hundreds of elementary school students in Montgomery County?

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Review: The Secret Garden at Shakespeare Theatre Company

When a thing is wick it has life about it— just come to the garden and you’ll see— The Secret Garden now appearing in Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Sidney Harman Hall. Blooming with beauty and bursting with vibrant life, this newly envisioned production of Marsha Norman’s book & lyrics and Lucy Simon’s music based on Frances Hodgson Burnett’s novel, is a sensational and mesmerizing musical experience. Directed by David Armstrong with Musical Direction by Rick Fox,

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A Christmas Story is Coming to Town: An Interview with Joey Little

You’ll shoot your eye out! And the iconic leg lamp! All of the hallmarks that make an A Christmas Story, one of America’s favorite Christmas movies, are now incorporated into a live stage musical just in time for the holiday season. The touring production is landing in Charm City to kick off Christmas in the first full week of December! In a TheatreBloom exclusive interview, we have a quick chat with performer Joey Little— a native of Reisterstown— and find out just what it’s like to be a part of the iconic holiday musical show.

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Review: Schoolgirl Figure at Cohesion Theatre Company

Nothing tastes as good as thin feels. Marilyn Monroe was Jell-o on springs. Harsh mantras that plague the warped minds of frustrated teenage girls in Wendy MacLeod’s Schoolgirl Figure, like those just mentioned, are what fuels this black comedic drama forward at Cohesion Theatre Company this season. Refusing to be weighed-in as an ‘issues play’ under the sharp and succinct visionary approach of Director Jonas David Grey, though MacLeod’s work does address eating disorders,

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Review: The Christians at Theater J

Brothers and Sisters of Washington DC, let us pray. Bow your heads, whether your Jewish, Christian, practicing, non-practicing, believing, non-believing; Lucas Hnath’s The Christians has got you covered anyway you look at it. It’s so simple, you might call it grace. This powerfully evocative drama, Directed by Gregg Henry, is opening the doors and challenging the community of Theater J and theatergoers across the nation’s capital to broaden their viewpoint on religion and salvation.

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Review: The Game’s Afoot at Spotlighters Theatre

Madhouse doesn’t begin to describe the utter shenanigans happening in William Gillette’s New England mansion on Christmas Eve. Scandal! Mystery! Murder! For god’s sake, there are actors present! What else could be expected from Ken Ludwig’s bitingly humorous and boisterously bloody play The Game’s Afoot? Directed by Fuzz Roark, this scintillating madcap comedy with just a dandy drop of blood for the murder mystery enthusiast in us all is the perfect way to ring in the holiday season.

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(L to R) Catherine Combs as Catherine, Dave Register as Rodolpho, Alex Esola as Marco, and Frederick Weller as Eddie

Review: A View From the Bridge at The Kennedy Center

All the law is not in a book, and perhaps the oldest law of them all— that blood runs thicker than water— is what Arthur Miller truly meant to showcase in his riveting drama, A View from the Bridge. Or perhaps it was the notion of betrayal and justice that he was harping upon in this masterful classic, topics much too close to home in the present day political climate in Washington DC.

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Poultry in Motion: A Burlesque Most Fowl

Cluckin’ A! It’s that time of year when the feathers are flying, the dancers are free-range, and the most happening show in town hit Hampden with wings a flappin’ as Twisted Knickers Burlesque ruled the roost with their one-night feathery extravaganza: Poultry in Motion: A Burlesque Most Fowl! Produced by troupe leader Tapitha Kix and featuring the return of two of the original founding members of TKB, there was a feather for everyone’s cap!

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Review: Tune In, Turn On, and Drop Dead! at Do or Die Mysteries

Hey, man! Time to get on the same wavelength with counter-culture, man! Wake up, millennials! It’s time to photobomb the picture of tomorrow with a wicked flashback from the past, man! It’s time to expand your mind, man, and do it the right way! With kitchen counter culture and a selfie, man! And Do or Die Mysteries has it all— if you’re just prepared to Tune In, Turn On…and Drop Dead! Written and Directed by Ceej Crowe,

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Review: The Second City’s Black Side of the Moon at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company

Returning from the windy city as if often the tradition at this festive time of year, The Second City is back in the nation’s capital with Black Side of the Moon and they’re ready to put hot sauce in our pants with all of their comic antics and feel-good messages in this seemingly unending darkened political time. With roughly one third of the show being rewritten just days before opening due to the surprising political upset in the Presidential Election,

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Review: Beauty & The Beast at Charm City Players

Tale as old as time. Executing a Disney stage musical is always a tricky endeavor because one is competing with decades of iconic memories perfected and preserved in flawless animation.  Even the best of the Disney stage shows suffer from the same stock problems: primarily easy to animate but difficult to stage scenes, added music significantly less stellar than the original scores, and inflated books from stretching the perfectly tailored 97-minute movie to two and a half hours of stage time.

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Review: Romulus at Memorial Players

When tragedy only suits cold climates and comedy best suits the situation, will you find yourself prepared to— make Rome great again? I call upon you now— friends, countrymen, Baltimoreans! We call upon you in this time of irreproachable past and uncertain futures to live in the now! Live without great expectation but also without fear! Live in the present moment and presently get yourself to Memorial Players in Bolton Hill to see their production of Romulus,

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