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November 12, 2010

In today's Sun: reborn Arena Stage, cutting-edge Iron Crow Theatre

In case you haven't already spotted my sure-to-be-life-changing reviews elsewhere online or in print, I thought I'd better mention them here.

I weighed in on the much-awaited production of "Oklahoma" that inaugurates the impressively renovated complex that houses the venerable DC company Arena Stage. It's great to see the space so magically transformed, with the sweeping glass walls wrapping the three-theater venue into a most welcoming package.

It's also gratifying to see an iconic American musical treated with such respect and enthusiasm -- not to mention high-calibre choreography (Center Stage could sure have used something of this level in its otherwise highly effective recent revival of "The Wiz"). And I think the idea of

diversifying the cast, reflecting the actual history of the territory that became Oklahoma, pays off handsomely.

I've also got a review of another new cutting-edge troupe in Baltimore, Iron Crow Theatre, this one specializing in works with a connection to the LGBT community. The current production looks at the notorious, horrifying figure Jeffrey Dahmer. At a time when bullying of gays seems even worse than usual, it's compelling, if ever so uncomfortable, to come face to face with violence inflicted on gays by one of their own.

I admire the company for tackling such a subject and for giving this intriguing new play such a stylish production. I like, too, the way the set-up when you arrive for a performance. No programs are given out in advance, and no one is seated until the play is ready to start, so when audience members enter, they are put immediately into the terrible world inside "Apartment 213."


Posted by Tim Smith at 12:40 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Drama Queens

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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