watched The Last Night of Ballyhoo, written by Alfred Uhry and directed
by Ilene Chalmers, at the Bowie Community Theatre, I had a thought somewhere during
Act I, Scene 4: “This play really is about something.” This is
not to say that I disliked the production before that; even before coming to
that revelation I would have acknowledged the stellar set and the faultless
performances from the cast.
Before we plunge into the guts of
this review, let me offer an admission: I am not generally a fan of musicals.
That said, I am incredibly fond of Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case
of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. I even reread it in preparation for reviewing
Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical, with book and lyrics by Leslie Briscusse
and music by Frank Wildhorn. I imagined that my affection for the source
In the program for the Peter’s
Alley production of Audrey Cefaly’s The Gulf, the director’s note begins
with a quote from the playwright: “…Audiences want to fall in love. But people
don’t fall in love with plot. They fall in love with people.” It’s a
sentiment the show’s director, Aly B. Ettman, obviously shares, and it’s a
sentiment that clearly informs both Cefaly’s script and Ettman’s direction.
Absolutely Dead, by
Michael Walker, is a rather difficult play for me to review. Whereas Ken
Kienas, director of the production currently running at the Bowie Community
Theatre, writes in his director’s note that he was floored upon reviewing the
play’s ending, I can’t say that my response was at all comparable — and, given
the overwhelming importance of the reveal to one’s impression of a
There are certain works that, for
all of their other merits, really demand to be seen for one specific scene.
Fans of obscure cinema know this well. In an age where sharing spoilers was not
a capital offense, amateur critics would often open reviews by describing these
climactic scenes in exhaustive detail, and readers were not deterred. Rather
than complaining that the work had been ruined for them, they signed into their
eBay accounts and searched for used VHS copies of the films in question because
it was incredibly important that,