Theater

Grounded (review)

Grounded (review)

THE PLAY: An Air Force pilot has to adjust to guiding remote-controlled drones.

 

THE PRODUCTION: Luckily, this one-woman show has Bianca Bryan running full throttle. Her ferocious energy and confident swagger give the drama a finely-tuned intensity. It’s almost 40 minutes until she takes a breath! This tour-de-force would have been more powerful with a richer play. Although its language sometimes borders on poetic and the story is compelling, the one-note approach lacked depth or variety. An actor herself, director Maggie Roop has skillfully guided Bryan thru her relentless portrayal. However, she did stage too much of the show on the floor, which may present problems for those in the rear of the audience. There isn’t much of a set, just a few projections by Kelsey Cordrey that add little to the design, while Erin Barclay manages to create some variety in the lighting. Running time: 1:15

 

THE POINT: Bianca Bryan’s performance sears with a emotional intensity and powerhouse physicality.

 

4 Stars (4 / 5)

 

A TheatreLab production at The Basement thru 6/3

 

Photos by Deejay Gray

The Glass Mendacity (review)

The Glass Mendacity (review)

THE PLAY: This is a satirical mashup of 3 Tennessee Williams classics: “Glass,” “Cat” and “Streetcar.” (If you can’t guess the plays from those abbreviations you might miss the jokes.)

 

THE PRODUCTION: This cast is having fun playing with their classic characters’ stereotypes. Some of that translates into genuine laffs, while at other times it seems a bit sophomoric. Jeff Clevenger has directed the show with an ear for the gags, but less emphasis on the archetypal Southern accents. Just when the show needs to build THE comic momentum, Act Two slacks in pace. Running time: 1:45

 

THE POINT: Moments of genuine humor (and some that are silly) created by an uneven, but lively cast.

 

2.5 Stars (2.5 / 5)

 

At Firehouse Theatre thru 5/28

Third’s the charm

Third’s the charm

The coming season will mark Quill Theatre’s 3rd full season since the 2015 merger of Richmond Shakespeare and Henley Street Theatre. It focuses back to their mission of bringing the classics to Richmond in a fresh and innovative way.

 

Lysistrata: One of the most famous ancient Greek plays about the women who plot to end the Peloponnesian War by withholding sex from their husbands. (9/22 – 10/14)

 

Brave New World: Aldous Huxley’s dark look at the future. (A co-production with the Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen, 2/2 – 17, 2018)

 

Romeo & Juliet: The Shakespeare classic but not part of the summer festival. (Dates TBA)

 

Speaking of…the 20th annual Richmond Shakespeare Festival at Agecroft Hall will present:

 

Titus Andronicus (6/1 – 24)

 

As You Like It (7/6 – 29)

What’s Possible

What’s Possible

Firehouse Theatre is calling its 24th season A SEASON OF POSSIBILITIES, which they define as “something that may happen or be chosen or done out of several alternatives.” They’ll continue to program three series:

– Firehouse Plays

– Firehouse Fringe

– Firehouse Studio

 

 

FIREHOUSE PLAYS

 

HEATHERS: THE MUSICAL: Based on the 1980’s cult movie favorite, directed by Debra Clinton, in partnership with TheatreLAB. (June)
FOOD, CLOTHING, AND SHELTER: The world premiere of their Artist-in-Residence Bo Wilson’s new play. (Directed by Joel Bassin) September
DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS: Eugene O’Neill’s classic. (Directed by Josh Chenard) October
TO DAMASCUS: A world premiere of Richmond composer Walter Braxton’s opera in partnership with Capitol Opera Richmond. (Directed by Joel Bassin). January 2018.
WINGS: An aviatrix confronts her final stunt in this chamber musical, (Directed by Adam B. Ferguson) February

 

AN OAK TREE: Explores the relationship between reality and illusion. (Directed by Mark Lerman) March
THE EXTREMISTS: Revolves around a TV talk show that explores the issues of extremism. (Directed by Todd Labelle). Spring/summer 2018.
GHOST QUARTET and PRELUDES: Two new musicals by Dave Malloy, creator of the current Broadway hit NATASHA, PIERRE, AND THE GREAT COMET OF 1812.  Spring/summer 2018.

 

 

FIREHOUSE FRINGE and FIREHOUSE STUDIO

Selections will include:

 

Aura Curiatlas Physical Theatre’s DREAM LOGIC and A LIFE WITH NO LIMITS (June)

 

A new musical from Dreamers Theater (July)

 

ALICE: A new musical based on Lewis Carroll’s books, directed by Adam B. Ferguson in partnership with TheatreLAB (August)

 

New work from RVA playwright Doug Jones

 

Dory Previn’s MARY C. BROWN AND THE HOLLYWOOD SIGN (Directed by George Boyd)

 

Sam Shepard’s AGES OF THE MOON

 

Marc Blitzstein’s THE CRADLE WILL ROCK

Cash on Delivery (review)

Cash on Delivery (review)

THE PLAY: A man who’s scamming Britain’s social support system invents ever more implausible lies to keep his deception from being exposed.

 

THE PRODUCTION: Playwright Michael Cooney is the son of Ray, who’s penned several successful farces. His son’s effort features the familiar scenario: a escalation of confused stories and mistaken identities that spiral into wacky mayhem. The only difference is that this play seems more mired in dialogue without as much of the zany physical comedy to make it fun. Despite that, the cast musters plenty of verve (sometimes too much) with Richard Koch working hardest and Kenneth Putnam’s expertly-timed reactions bringing the most joy. Despite director Tom Width’s typically brisk pace, this show has moments that lag, especially the early exposition. His set is a charming cottage in shades of blue. Running time: 2:11

 

THE POINT: This enthusiastic cast never lags on energy, but the play doesn’t offer as many opportunities for madcap mirth as their gusto supports.

 

3 Stars (3 / 5)

 

At Swift Creek Mill Theatre thru 6/24

 

LISTEN TO MY REVIEW (as aired on WRIR)

 

The cast. (Photos by Robyn O’Neill)

When There’s a Will (review)

When There’s a Will (review)

THE PLAY: A rich matriarch demands that her heirs meet her mandates in order to get their part of the estate.

 

THE PRODUCTION: The concept of a greedy group jockeying for the family fortune isn’t new and this world premiere by Philip Ventrella brings little original to the scenario. His intensions aren’t clear: Is this a comedy? If so, there’s little humor to mitigate the meanness. If it’s supposed to be serious, the drama is lacking. There’s no subtlety to the interactions and the one-dimensional characters are relentlessly spiteful. It’s not helped by the uneven, sometimes uncomfortable performances. Overall, the men fare better than the women, but any energy the cast musters drops with grandmother Pat Walker’s stiff, slow delivery. Director Ann Davis’s sometimes awkward staging and slow pacing don’t add any professional polish. Kent Walker’s set is a mismatch of styles and textures that belies the character’s richness. Running time: 1:48

 

THE POINT: The production provides little reason to like this dysfunctional family or the play.

 

1 Stars (1 / 5)

 

At CAT Theatre thru 6/3

 

Anastasia Brunk, Joshua Gutierrez, Pat Walker, Caitliin St. Clair (Photos by Daryll Morgan)

The 25th gay season

The 25th gay season

 Richmond Triangle Players celebrates its 25th Anniversary by launching a 3-year programming arc that focuses on the impact of LGBTQ theater on the art form, as well as on the local community.  “Our Theater, Our Stories, Our Lives” will celebrate some of the most influential works in LGBTQ theater and shine a light on the positive impact that the theatre embodies.

 

Programming will focus on:

– A “Mainstage Series” of 6 fully-produced works

– A “Sister Series” of films and staged readings

– A “Spotlight Series” with local, national & international cabaret artists

 

Here’s the Mainstage Series:

 

The View Upstairs: The recent off-Broadway musical inspired by the fatal fire at a New Orleans gay bar in 1973. (Directed by Lucian Restivo) 8/9 – 9/2

 

Cloud 9: Caryl Churchill’s period-hopping puzzle goes from British colonial Africa in the Victorian era to a London Park in 1979. (Directed by Rusty Wilson) 9/27 – 10/21

 

The Santaland Diaries and Season’s Greetings: First produced at RTP almost 15 years ago, this brings back 2 of David Sedaris’s pieces with their original stars, Jacqueline Jones and Robert Throckmorton. (Directed by T. Ross Aitken) 11/15 – 12/16

 

Corpus Christi: In writer Terrence McNally’s version of the New Testament, Christ is a gay man raised in ’50s Texas. (Directed by Dexter Ramey) 1/31 – 2/24, 2018

 

The Normal Heart: The classic by Larry Kramer about indifference to the AIDS plague. (Directed by George Boyd) 4/18 – 5/12

 

A Chorus Line: The Tony Award winning musical. (Directed & Choreographed by Justin Amellio and Penny Ayn Maas) 6/6 – 7/7

 

 

Some of the 25th Anniversary Events include:

 

Fun Home: (A part of the Cadence Season, co-produced by Virginia Repertory Theatre at the Theatre Gym) The recent Broadway musical about a young woman who grew up with her gay father in his funeral home. (Directed by Chase Kniffen) 9/7 – 10/8

 

An Intimate Evening with Nicholas Rodriguez: The star of Arena Stage’s productions of Oklahoma and Carousel celebrates New Year’s Eve in this solo show. 12/31

 

I Am My Own Wife (Produced by 5th Wall Theatre & RTP) Scott Wichmann returns in this one-man show based on a true story of a real-life German transvestite who managed to survive the Nazis and the repressive East German Communists. (Directed by Morrie Piersol) 3/8 – 17, 2018

 

Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens (Part of the Sister Series) A dramatic musical theater piece composed of free verse poems and songs reflecting the lives of people who have lived with and died from AIDS. 3/23-24, 2018;

 

 

Heights news

Heights news

This summer, Virginia Rep is opening IN THE HEIGHTS (the hit hip-hop musical written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of Hamilton). Virginia Rep Artistic Director Nathaniel Shaw, who’s directing the show, has announced the cast and crew:

 

These actors are making their VaRep debut:

 

Arielle Jacobs returns to role of Vanessa after starring as Nina in the Broadway production and in the first national tour.

 

JJ Caruncho will play Usnavi, a role he has played Off-Broadway.

 

Shea Gomez will play Nina. Recent credits include the National Tour of Joseph Dreamcoat,

 

Choreographer Karla Garcia comes to Richmond from New York, where she is currently in the Broadway cast of Hamilton.

 

Ben Miller will serve as Music Director. Recent music directing credits include A Christmas Story and The Color Purple for Virginia Rep.

 

They’re remounting the original Broadway design, by Anna Louizos. which was created for the Richard Rodgers Theatre in 2008.

 

Joe Doran will serve as lighting designer. Recent Virginia Rep credits include A Christmas Story and Dreamgirls.

 

Costume Director, Sarah Grady‘s work was last seen in VaRep’s Dreamgirls,.

 

Josh Marin was most recently in Buffalo Soldier, The Color Purple, and Violet, a co-production with Cadence Theatre.

 

Vilma Gill (Beehive and Swingtime Cantina for Virginia Rep) returns in the role of Camilla Rosario.

 

Other cast members include:

Kita Grayson

Melissa Vasquez Cartwright

Yvonne Strumecki

James Schoppe

Fernando Rivadeneira

Roberto Whitaker

LaWanda Raines

Dia Davis

Makenzie Mercer

Diontey Michael

Joshua James Crawford

Alana Thomas

Savannah George

Ira White

Edgar Cavazos

Gabi Campo

Musicals, comedies & Arthur Miller

Musicals, comedies & Arthur Miller

Swift Creek Mill Theatre has announced their season for 2017-18:

 

The Woman In Black, A Ghost Play: The title pretty much sums it up.

(9/14 – 10/21)

 

The Andrews Brothers: When the Andrews Sisters miss a UFO performane, 3 stagehands put on the show (featuring 25+ of their favorite songs).

(11/ 9 – 12/31)

 

All My Sons: Arthur Miller’s classic drama about a family torn apart by greed and guilt

(1/18 – 2/24, 2018)

 

Dames At Sea: A celebration of movie musicals about an eager young dancer who gets her big break.

(3/8 – 5/5)

 

Always A Bridesmaid: A comedy about marriage from the authors of “The Dixie Swim Club” and “The Hallelujah Girls.”

(5/17-6/30)

 

Tomfoolery: A musical review of Tom Lehrer’s satirical political songs created by Cameron Mackintosh.

(7/12-8/18)

 

Visit the website for subscription information.

Rabbit Hole (review)

Rabbit Hole (review)

THE PLAY: A couple has lost their young son and months later, the family is still coping.

 

THE PRODUCTION: Grieving parents is a fairly common narrative and can easily deteriorate into melodrama if not handled correctly. Fortunately, this production has its hands on all the right buttons. Since this is a WASP-type family, the emotions are never histrionic, but controlled and minimized. This excellent ensemble handles the dark moments with quiet depth and complex sensitivity (Duke Lafoon movingly provides the emotional core). As is her strength, Anna Johnson’s directorial hand is subtle, allowing her actors to create their best work while maintaining a solid vision. The design team has created a simply gorgeous two-story set (bigger than some Fan apartments). Running time: 1:55

 

THE POINT: The ensemble is exquisite, underplaying the complexity of emotions, which makes the drama and the production more masterful.

 

5 Stars (5 / 5)

 

A Cadence Theatre production in partnership with Virginia Rep at the Theatre Gym thru 5/20

 

LISTEN TO MY REVIEW (as aired on WRIR)

 

Chris Lindsay-Abaire and Tyler Stevens in David Lindsay-Abaire’s Rabbit Hole. Photo by Jason Collins.

 

 

Dry Land (review)

Dry Land (review)

THE PLAY: The dialogue revolves around 2 teenage girls on the high school swim team, one of whom is desperate for a way to terminate her pregnancy.

 

THE PRODUCTION: Call me old fashioned, but I like my plays to have some focus. This is more a situation surrounded by teenage interactions and their mercurial emotions. Despite the sometimes pointless exchanges, the production is superb. Aiden Orr and Jessie Kraemer are excellent in capturing the neurotic insecurity and easy natural rapport in their relationship. Dixon Cashwell’s brief appearance brings a captivating level of hyper energy to the show. Director Dr. Tawnya Pettiford-Wates has allowed the actors to create compelling characters and staged the interactions with variety and energy (the climactic scene is intense to the point of discomfort). David P. Melton has created a simple, yet attractive locker room with one easy scene change. NOTE: Sit in the middle section or house right for the best viewpoint. Running time: 1:35 (no intermission)

 

THE POINT: Although the play’s aimless exchanges clutter the central theme, it presents interesting characters and the production is fiercely compelling.

 

4.5 Stars (4.5 / 5)

 

At TheatreLab thru 5/6

 

LISTEN TO MY REVIEW (as aired on WRIR)

 

Dixon Cashwell and Jessie Kraemer (Photos by Tom Topinka)

RTP names the building

RTP names the building

Richmond Triangle Players has purchased its venue and re-named the building the Robert B. Moss Theatre.  Moss is the real estate entrepreneur who located the building and provided the naming gift.

 

Moss is a Richmond native and a top producing realtor with Long & Foster Christie’s International Real Estate.  He was inspired by a presentation he saw at Triangle Players’ 15th Anniversary Celebration, when they were still performing on the 3rd floor of Fielden’s nightclub. “It wasn’t even a week later that Robb came to us with an idea for a building that could be renovated into the kind of theater we needed,” said Philip Crosby, Executive Director of RTP. “He not only located the theater, but bought it for us!”

 

“I’m thrilled to be a part of making this happen,” said Moss. “Finding a home for RTP and enriching the cultural arts for the Richmond community makes this honor even more special.”

 

“Back then, there was no way any bank would have given RTP a mortgage on that property,” echoed RTP Board President Julia Flenner.  “Robb put his reputation – not to mention his credit score — on the line for RTP, because he believed in us and what we were doing. Sometimes an angel arrives at just the right time.”

 

The re-dedication took place at the theatre on 4/26 with entertainment provided by Chris Hester (an Artsie winner for the title role in RTP’s production of The Boy from Oz) and jazz chanteuse Emme St. James and Her Jazz Gentlemen.

 

The new sign in the lobby

Phil Crosby & Rob Moss in the lobby before the celebration

Board President Julia Flenner

Chris Hester with Emme St. James and Her Jazz Gentlemen

 

 

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