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February 18, 2013

Center Stage adds performance of 'Mountaintop'; Annex Theatre extends 'Equus'

It looks like a full-fledged trend -- Baltimore theater companies adding performances of productions thanks to popular demand this winter.

First to announce was Everyman Theatre, which extended the run of "August: Osage County." Two more companies have likewise found themselves with hits.

Katori Hall’s "The Mountaintop" isn't for everybody, but this serious/humorous/surreal look at Rev. Martin Luther King's last night, April 3, 1968, has turned out to be "one of the highest grossing plays" in the 50-year history of Center Stage, the company reports.

Although the production, directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah, still has to close on Feb. 24 as originally scheduled, an extra performance has been added that day -- 7:30 p.m. (Scheduling conflicts prevent a longer extension.)

Meanwhile, Annex Theatre, one of the city's young, intrepid troupes, reports that, "due to an extremely positive audience reaction," two more weekends have been added to its production of Peter Shaffer's "Equus." 

The show, directed by Mason Ross, opened Feb. 7 at the H&H Building downtown and was slated to finish up on the 17th. It will instead continue there through the weekends of Feb. 23 and March 1.

(You may recall that the Annex Theatre had hoped to be in a new, permanent home on North Avenue in a renovated fast food place, but there have been delays in the renovation process.)

PHOTO (Myxolydia Tyler, Shawn Hamilton in 'The Mountaintop') BY RICHARD ANDERSON

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January 18, 2013

Katori Hall's play about MLK gets effective production from Center Stage

No matter how many times it is replayed, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech in Memphis, April 3, 1968, retains uncommon, chilling power. “Longevity has its place,” he said. “But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will.”

In more ways than one, that sentiment haunts “The Mountaintop,” Katori Hall’s provocative, fanciful play about King’s final hours in Room 306 at the Lorraine Motel.

Since its modest Broadway run in 2011, the play has picked up steam. Several productions are slated around the country this season, including a satisfying one currently on the boards at Center Stage with a terrific cast.

It is easy to quibble with Hall’s concept, especially the turn in the plot that the press has been asked not to discuss, for the benefit of unsuspecting audiences.

Even before that point, however, ....

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January 3, 2013

Center Stage offers pay-what-you-can performance for MLK Day

Center Stage welcomes the New Year with Katori Hall's "The Mountaintop," a play set in the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis on April 3, 1968. The main characters are Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and a maid who stops by his room.

The production, directed by Center Stage artistic director Kwame Kwei-Armah, starts previews next week, opens Jan. 16 and runs through Feb. 24. The run coincides with MLK Day on Jan. 21, so the company is adding a performance that night to mark the occasion. Pricing will be different, too -- there's a pay-what-you-can policy for 100 tickets.

In addition to the performance of the play, there will be ...

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Categories: Center Stage, Drama Queens
        

December 17, 2012

Center Stage's Kwame Kwei-Armah receives OBE from Prince of Wales

Kwame Kwei-Armah, artistic director of Center Stage, was at Buckingham Palace last Thursday to be presented with the Order at of the British Empire from the Prince of Wales.

The official investiture came six months after the announcement that Kwei-Armah had been included on the list of the Queen’s Jubilee Birthday Honors.

His work as a playwright, director and actor has long been admire in his native Britain, and he has been winning ardent fans on this side of the Atlantic as well.

He is now in his second season at the Center Stage helm.

The OBE, established in 1917, is bestowed for distinguished service to the arts and sciences, public services, and charitable organizations.

PHOTO: WPA Pool/Getty Images

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December 7, 2012

London production of 'I Stand Corrected' to be streamed live at Center Stage

Late-breaking: Center Stage is offering a free live stream of a production from London's Ovalhouse Theatre on Saturday afternoon. (See trailer below.)

"I Stand Corrected," by playwright Mojisola Adebayo and South African dancer Mamela Nyamza, is described by Time Out London as "a physical theatre piece ... about two black African lesbian lovers.

"Created as a response to the epidemic of 'corrective' rapes of gay women in South Africa, as well as the anti-gay marriage lobby in Britain, the piece uses text, dance, music and comedy to tell its story. Nyamza is an unconventional choreographer, using her background in ballet, contemporary and African dance to take on political themes.

The play will be streamed into the lobby of Center Stage at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free.

Here's the trailer:

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November 30, 2012

'Bus Stop' at Center Stage a revival worth pulling over for

The snowbound folks in Grace’s Diner travel quite a distance, emotionally and physically, while cooped up for a long night in 1955 somewhere outside Kansas City. Things won’t necessarily be smooth for all of them once the roads are finally cleared.

What transpires in that nondescript roadside eatery provides potent fuel for “Bus Stop,” the classic dramedy by William Inge that has received a welcome and satisfying revival from Center Stage.

Inge had a knack for generating extraordinary theater out of ordinary people, places, passions and, especially, illusions. In this case, he brings together well-known types — cowboy, sheriff, waitress, alcoholic and the like — and gives them fresh and unexpected turns, all the while avoiding easy sentimentality or blatant melodrama.

On the surface, “Bus Stop” ...

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November 26, 2012

Cyber Monday deals from Center Stage, Baltimore Shakespeare Factory, more

Performing arts organizations in various places are getting into the act on Cyber Monday.

Locally, that includes Center Stage, which is offering a Cyber Monday enticement that has "bargain" stamped all over it -- two Flex Passes for the price of one.

OK, so you have to buy two of these two-for-one passes, but that still means a significant savings, since you end up with ...

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November 1, 2012

Center Stage presents 'Final Strange Tale of Edgar Allan Poe'

Center Stage opened its 50th anniversary season last month with “An Enemy of the People,” a heavy-handed, often dull play that an uneven cast could not quite enrich.

That has now been followed by “The Complete Fictional — Utterly True — Final Strange Tale of Edgar Allan Poe,” a heavy-handed, often dull play that a dynamic, well-matched cast cannot quite enrich.

It’s really a little too soon to worry about where Center Stage is headed, but artistic director Kwame Kwei-Armah’s first two choices for the 2012-2013 lineup give one pause.

There was, of course, an obvious reason to consider “Enemy,” Arthur Miller’s Ibsen-inspired examination of politics and ethics, during an election season.

Likewise, it's understandable to focus on Poe, given the master of the macabre’s strong ties to Baltimore. But “The Final Strange Tale” seems ...

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October 30, 2012

More theater cancellations: Center Stage, Everyman

The storm-related cancellations continue to roll in.

Center Stage will not present "The Completely Fictional—Utterly True—Final Strange Tale of Edgar Allan Poe" Tuesday night, but will resume normal scheduling Wednesday. Tuesday's ticket holders will be contacted by the Center Stage box office to arrange for exchanges.

Everyman Theatre has also canceled Tuesday's scheduled performance of "Heroes." In this case, too, ticket holders will be contacted by the box office to make exchanges.

PHOTO BY RICHARD ANDERSON

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September 28, 2012

Center Stage opens 50th season with revival of 'An Enemy of the People'

Walking into the Center Stage production of Arthur Miller’s “An Enemy of the People,” his adaptation of the Henrik Ibsen drama, is sort of like entering a swing state where voters are bombarded round the clock with negative political ads on TV.

Back and forth fly the attacks on honor and integrity, the attempts to claim ownership of the facts, the charges about who will be more responsible with the public’s money, who more likely to cause a tax increase.

Then with a seismic shudder, the whole darn state suddenly tips decisively to one side — and not the side you favor.

The intriguing Center Stage venture, the opening salvo in the company’s 50th anniversary season, seizes on the ever-contemporary issues in the play with an emphasis on media. The media for Ibsen in 1882 and Miller in his 1950 version was newspapers; here, it’s television.

Updated to 1960 and designed with a cool touch by Riccardo Hernandez, the staging suggests a live version of a TV show. That chic set and David Burdick’s “Mad Men”-worthy costumes provide a feast of black and white shades, streaked with the occasional, almost glaring touch of red.

In addition to vintage black-and-white footage shown on monitors and projected on the rear wall, live black-and-white video of the actors is used at key points. All of this visual reinforcement drives home just how, well, black and white the issues are at the heart of the play, which ...

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September 25, 2012

Free ticket offer for theater fans; includes Center Stage, Everyman, Iron Crow

The Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance has organized "Free Night of Theater Baltimore" in October, in conjunction with Free Fall Baltimore, the annual project of the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts.

Several area theaters are setting aside tickets that will be awarded through a registration process. Events at Center Stage, Everyman Theatre, Iron Crow Theatre, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, Audrey Herman Spotlighter’s Theatre and Baltimore Performance Kitchen are included in the give-away. More groups and performances may be added.

When you register for the drawing, you can select up to five performances that you are most interested in; winners may receive up to five pairs of tickets. The contest is "intended to give audiences an opportunity to experience new arts organizations," so registrants are being asked to sample the work of companies they haven't visited in the past year.

To have a crack at the freebies, register by Friday (Sept. 28). Winners will be notified via email by Oct. 1.

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Categories: Center Stage, Drama Queens, Everyman Theatre
        

September 4, 2012

Center Stage 'GO Pass' for 18-34-year-olds on sale Tuesday

OK, you lucky Gen-X-ers, or Y-ers or whatever, Center Stage is repeating its popular bargain introduced last year to help lower the median age of theatergoers.

The "GO Pass," available to those between the ages of 18 and 34, includes a ticket to all seven productions of Center Stage's 50th anniversary season.

The price of the pass is ...

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April 13, 2012

'The Whipping Man' gets taut, atmospheric production at Center Stage

There is always something new to learn about the Civil War and the struggle for this country’s soul.

A just-out book, for example, examines a little-known order in 1862 issued by Gen. Ulysses Grant, expelling Jews from territories in Tennessee and two other states. The fact that the edict was quickly rescinded by President Lincoln hardly lessens the chilling nature of the incident.

And consider “The Whipping Man,” a play by Matthew Lopez that had a well-received run Off Broadway last year. Lopez takes as his starting point another little-discussed aspect of the Civil War — the fact that some Southern Jews were slaveholders, and the likelihood that their slaves adopted the Jewish faith.

The play, which has received a taut, atmospheric production from Center Stage, seizes on this intriguing footnote to put an almost dizzying spin on the issues of bondage and freedom. There may be a question of how much historical weight is behind the idea, but the theatrical result is quite intriguing.

The scene is Richmond, April 1865, just after Lee’s surrender. Passover is about to begin, and ...

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March 30, 2012

Center Stage announces 50th anniversary season, Kwame Kwei-Armah's first

When Kwame Kwei-Armah started on the job of artistic director at Center Stage last fall, he summed up his attitude with a simple message: Welcome to the conversation. That philosophy runs throughout the company’s 50th anniversary season, 2012-2013, the first to be totally planned under Kwei-Armah’s watch.

Plays, old and new, were chosen not just for the value of the lines spoken onstage, but also for their potential to generate a broader dialogue on various issues. By the end of next season, it may seem as if the plays themselves are conversing with each other.

“It’s a reflection of the kind of world I want Center Stage to be, a very significant civic partner in the community,” Kwei-Armah said. “If you leave my theater saying only, ‘That was a nice evening,’ I’ve failed. I want people to be talking about the work on the way home and, I hope, the next day as well.”

Here's a snapshot of the '12-'13 lineup: 

An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen, adapted by Arthur Miller; Sept. 19 to Oct. 21.

This revival is timed for the election season. The plot revolves around a form of whistle-blowing that puts brothers into conflict with each other, amid challenging issues of politics, finance and science.

“The play asks what the responsibility of the individual is, and what we owe society,” said Kwei-Armah, who will direct the production. “The brothers will be played by two actors who will alternate the roles, so that will change their conversation onstage. This work is also a conversation between the adapter of the play and the originator.”

The Completely Fictional — Utterly True — Final Strange Tale of Edgar Allan Poe, by Stephen Thorne; Oct. 17 to Nov. 25

This work, which originated last year at the Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, examines the pathetic last days of Poe. “It’s kind of profound and deeply felt, but with zany hilarity, including some vaudeville and burlesque,” said Gavin Witt, associate artistic director and director of dramaturgy at Center Stage.

The play fits the conversation theme by giving Baltimore audiences a fresh opportunity to consider a local icon. It also adds to the dialogue about Baltimore’s theater companies. Kwei-Armah is breaking with Center Stage’s longtime tendency to overlook local talent in favor of New York performers by hiring ...

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February 3, 2012

'A Skull in Connemara' gets smashing production at Center Stage

If you are perfectly at peace with the dust-to-dust concept — you know, the reality that all of us, except maybe Lenin and Kim Jong Il, are going to disintegrate anyway after we die, so who cares how? — then the sight of a few old bones being pulverized by mallets won’t bother you.

Otherwise, you may feel just a wee bit twitchy during the second half of Martin McDonagh’s “A Skull in Connemara,” a dark-as-night comedy enjoying a decidedly vivid production at Center Stage. You may want to avoid a front row seat, too.

Bone particles (or a realistic semblance thereof) fly as forcefully as insults and insinuations in this play. It’s set in an Irish town where space in the church yard cemetery is at such a premium that those who have rested in peace for seven years are disinterred to make way for fresh customers.

OK, so. That sure sounds extreme, but not in Connemara.

No one even gives this practice much thought until Mick Dowd, the man in charge of the skeletal business, faces the prospect of uncovering his own wife. You see, her death never was satisfactorily explained for some people in town, so reopening her grave takes on a whole new level of interest.

Things get pretty messy, in physical and emotional terms, before the digging (also in physical and emotional terms) is done. Oddly enough, things get awfully funny, too.

“A Skull in Connemara” springs from ...

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January 19, 2012

Center Stage offers free readings of Martin McDonagh plays at ale house

You knew things were going to be different with Kwame Kwei-Armah heading Center Stage, and you were right.

The latest proof: Center Stage will present free public readings of two Martin McDonagh plays featuring members of Everyman Theatre and Single Carrot Theatre and other local actors.

How's that for collaboration within the arts community? Pretty cool.

The project provides a neat way for Center Stage to promote its production of one of McDonagh's "A Skull in Connemara," which opens next week.

The readings will focus on ...

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Categories: Center Stage, Drama Queens, Everyman Theatre, Single Carrot Theatre
        

January 14, 2012

'Gleam' production has put a venerable spiritual in my head

The experience of attending "Gleam" at Center Stage has stayed with me, despite some reservations about the play and one of the performances. As I said in my review, the work made me think of the great spiritual "This Little Light of Mine," which has been ringing through my head.

I should the say the melody that I know and love is ringing through my head. There are two musical treatments of the words. Maybe someone can fill me in on the true history of each -- they're similar, but distinct.

The best known -- judging by frequency of YouTube entries, for one thing -- is embraced by black gospel singers and white folk (and rock) singers alike.

The one that I learned is part of the Negro spiritual tradition. The first time I realized that it wasn't so widely known was when I played it on the piano at a memorial service for ...

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Categories: Center Stage, Clef Notes, Drama Queens
        

January 13, 2012

Center Stage offers rare revival of 'Gleam,' adaptation of Zora Neale Hurston novel

There’s a vintage spiritual with a gentle, folksy tune and a message of optimism, self-worth and defiance: “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.”

It could be the theme song of Zora Neale Hurston’s 1937 novel, “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” a sprawling story about an African American woman named Janie, who struggles to lift male-imposed bushels off of her light and manages, against considerable odds and with inspiring honesty, to shine. Or gleam.

Although not entirely fulfilling, “Gleam,” Bonnie Lee Moss Rattner’s earnest adaptation of the Hurston book, conveys the heart of the matter. And although the Center Stage revival of the play could use a more persuasive anchor in the cast, the production provides an engaging theatrical experience.

First performed under a different title in 1983 at Rattner’s alma mater, Wayne State University (the playwright wrote it as her master’s degree thesis there), a revised version of “Gleam” had its professional premiere five years later at New Jersey’s Crossroads Theater. It has been out of sight since then.

There’s a nice reason to revive the piece in Baltimore — Hurston ...

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November 18, 2011

Latest NEA grants include Center Stage, BSO, Baltimore Choral Arts

A fresh round of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts includes music and theater organizations in the Baltimore area. Given periodic political threats to the NEA, threats that tend to get louder with each election cycle, any grant must seem doubly valuable these days.

Center Stage received $55,000 "to support the production of 'Gleam,' an adaptation by Bonnie Lee Moss Rattner of Zora Neale Hurston’s novel 'Their Eyes Were Watching God' ... considered one of the jewels of the Harlem Renaissance."

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra was awarded ...

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Categories: BSO, Center Stage, Clef Notes, Drama Queens
        

November 15, 2011

Center Stage production serves up raw slice of life in 'American Buffalo'

Felling like one of the forgotten 99 percent lately?

Step into the seedy re-sell-it shop that has been painstakingly and brilliantly constructed in the Head Theater at Center Stage and you can be connected to enough distrust, frustration and contempt to fuel a thousand Occupy Wall Street movements.

David Mamet's "American Buffalo" may be set in mid-1970s Chicago and may be concerned with one attempt at one absurd little crime, but it could be set anywhere, any time.

And it could be the story of any scheme to strike out at a cold, unfair world that seems to have stacked everything against the little guy, a world where even a card game among friends might be rigged.

Mamet electrified the theater world with "American Buffalo" more than three decades ago. Something about the language -- not just the unfettered vulgarity of it, but the cadence and even poetry of it -- struck a nerve. And although society's losers have been the subject of many a work of literature, theater and cinema, Mamet's particular trio of misfits still stands out.

This is certainly ...

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October 10, 2011

Head Theater at Center Stage to get makeover

Good news for those of us who just never could warm up to the configuration of the Head Theater at Center Stage.

That upstairs space, where "The Second City: Charmed and Dangerous" soon finishes its run, has had a cabaret-style look, with little tables filling most of the floor space and bleacher-style seating on the sides. It's about to get a makeover.

In a statement released Monday, new Center Stage artistic director Kwame Kwei-Armah said: ...

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September 6, 2011

Center Stage offers low-cost season pass for the 21-34 age set

Performing arts groups are always trying to think up ways to attract customers whose hair has yet to turn gray (or fall out), and whose minds are still flexible. Center Stage announced Tuesday an unusually attractive offer geared to the younger set, specifically ages 21 to 34.

The company has introduced a $38 membership plan for these folks. It includes a season-long "GO Pass."

That pass is not valid for "special engagements" -- sorry, but "Second City: Charmed & Dangerous," the follow-up to last season's smash production by the Chicago comedy troupe, is not included in the deal.

Still, that leaves all the other presentations of the 2011-2012 season, including mainstage productions, cabaret shows and theater labs.

But, wait, there's more!

Go Pass-holders not only ...

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August 11, 2011

London-born Center Stage director Kwame Kwei-Armah on the turmoils back home

Kwame Kwei-Armah has only just settled into Baltimore and his tenure as artistic director of Center Stage. "It's head down and running to whichever meeting is next," he said Thursday.

But this week, he has understandably been distracted by the intense rioting back in his hometown of London. "I have been following events assiduously," he said.

Three of his four children are still in the U.K., due to arrive her later this month (a fourth child and his wife are already in the States.)

"My youngest went with his mother [Kwei-Armah's first wife] to pick up his grandmother at midnight Saturday in Tottenham, a street away from where the first big fire was," Kwei-Armah said. "You can understand how frightening that was. His last view of London was of flames and riot police.  And my brother was ...

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August 2, 2011

Center Stage cancels production of Toni Morrison's 'Jazz'

A musical adaptation of Toni Morrison’s "Jazz," one of the high-profile items on the 2011-2012 season at Center Stage, has been pulled from the line-up.

The company's new artistic director, Kwame Kwei-Armah, made the decision after the show, adapted by Center Stage associate artist Marion McClinton, was work-shopped last week in Minneapolis.

According to a statement released by Center Stage, "It was decided ...

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July 27, 2011

Cast change coming to Arena Stage's 'Oklahoma' as E. Faye Butler prepares next role

E. Faye Butler, one of the region's most popular and respected actresses, will soon hand over the role of Aunt Eller in the Arena Stage revival of "Oklahoma," which is back at the venue for a summer-into-fall run after its much-praised premiere last season.

Terry Burrell, whose credits "Show Boat" at Signature Theatre and "The Women of Brewster Place" at Arena Stage, steps into Aunt Eller's shoes on Aug. 9.

Butler will then head into rehearsals for "Trouble in Mind," a 1950s play-within-a-play by Alice Childress about a cast preparing to perform an anti-lynching drama on Broadway.

This production, which will ...

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May 5, 2011

Center Stage postpones Josh Kornbluth's 'Andy Warhol: Good for the Jews?'

This just in from Center Stage:

"Due to scheduling conflicts, we’re saddened to have to postpone our performances of Josh Kornbluth’s 'Andy Warhol: Good for the Jews?' "

Actor/comedian Kornbluth was to have performed his play about "art, identity, Judaism, and culture," directed by David Dower, May 10-15 at the theater. Tickets will be refunded.

PHOTO COURTESY OF CENTER STAGE

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April 22, 2011

Center Stage fills in remainder of 2011-2012 season

When Center Stage announced its 2011–12 season a few weeks ago, one slot was TBA. It has now been filled with "The Whipping Man," a play by Matthew Lopez that had a well-received run at New York's Manhattan Theatre Club earlier this season.

The production, scheduled for April 4–May 13, 2012, will be directed by incoming Center Stage artistic director Kwame Kwei-Armah.

"The Whipping Man" tells the story of three Jews in

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March 18, 2011

Reviews: Center Stage's 'Snow,' Shakespeare Theatre Company's 'Husband'

Just so you never fall out of my precious loop, I wanted to alert you to a couple theater reviews running on the Sun's Web site and, in slightly abbreviated form, in Friday's paper.

Baltimore's Center Stage is offering "Snow Falling on Cedars," an adaptation of the David Guterson novel. I'm a little tired of shows with actors playing multiple roles, and with narrative taking over the drama, but this play does raise important issues.

We need to confront the shameful internment of Japanese Americans during WW II; that issue is woven through this work. And we always need to be reminded of our problems with prejudice and rushes to judgment; those issues, too, are at the heart of the murder/love/war plot.

Note that the Smithsonian's America Art Museum has loaned to Center Stage a striking collection of works from the exhibit "The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese American Internment Camps, 1942-1946." The items will be on display during the first part of the show's run.

If you're in need of some great laughs ...

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February 28, 2011

Center Stage names new artistic director

Interesting new from Center Stage. My story is elsewhere online.
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February 3, 2011

Center Stage salutes Irene Lewis after opening night of 'The Homecoming'

The opening night audience for Harold Pinter's "The Homecoming" Wednesday night at Center Stage was invited to stay put after the house lights came on.

Cast member Larry O'Dwyer then came out to start a tribute to the company's artistic director, Irene Lewis.

Although she will see this season through, the Pinter play is her last directing assignment of her two-decade tenure.

O'Dwyer singled out many qualities that he admired in Lewis, including "her insanity, with a tendency to anarchy." It was a warm-hearted, charming speech, concluding with Puck's curtain speech from "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

Lewis then took a spot in front of the stage, standing next to a

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January 7, 2011

A couple more thoughts about 'Second City Does Baltimore,' and more SCTV

By now, surely you have your tickets to "The Second City Does Baltimore" (all right, I'll stop calling you Shirley), because you're obviously cool (evidence: you read this blog) and all the cool people are going to want to see this show. You can find  my review of this Center State presentation elsewhere on the site.

Note that most Wednesdays during the run will feature a bonus -- a walk-on by a local celeb. The first was Ed Norris, which, to tell the truth, made me ever so uncomfortable.

I'm all for rehabilitation, but you'd never have guessed during his jaunty time onstage -- being interviewed by cast members -- that he had ever done a different kind of time for tax-cheating and misusing a police fund to help pay for his extra-marital affairs. I mean, we're talking New Jersey-level corruption here, and he's now a great Baltimore celeb because he's got a sports radio show? Hon (imagine Trademark symbol here), I guess this city really is quirky.

Anyway, other guests for the "Walk-On Wednesdays" include Poe the Raven Jan. 19, Marin Alsop Jan. 26, Cindy Wolf Feb. 2, Dan Deacon Feb. 9 and Patrice Harris Feb. 16. I hope those segments will go more smoothly than the Norris one; it just didn't turn out very funny. And I still think it's a mistake to place the walk-on celeb thing after the regular show. That's just asking for an anti-climax.

Anyway, the production does have a lot of offer in the way of laughs. It would be hard not to like the Second City troupers and the way they "do" Baltimore.

As I mentioned the other day, anytime I hear the words Second City, I start thinking about SCTV, a fabulous invention from the Canadian branch of the Chicago-born comic franchise. I couldn't resist posting another little gem from that little network -- a TV commercial for the ages:

Continue reading "A couple more thoughts about 'Second City Does Baltimore,' and more SCTV" »

Posted by Tim Smith at 9:58 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Center Stage, Drama Queens
        

December 15, 2010

Center Stage production of 'ReEntry' to be streamed Thursday around the world

Center Stage will provide a free, live-streamed simulcast of "ReEntry," the sobering production that looks at US Marines returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, at 7 p.m. EST on Thursday evening.

Among the places lined up to show the performance are Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, the Naval Center for Combat Stress in San Diego, the US Department of Defense in Australia, and Towson University.

The simulcast is being made possible with the support of the NEA; Center Stage received a Chairman’s Extraordinary Action Award from that agency.

Military bases and other organizations interested in the simulcast are asked to contact David Henderson (dhenderson@centerstage.org) for more information.

Posted by Tim Smith at 10:18 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Center Stage, Drama Queens
        

November 10, 2010

Center Stage offers free tickets to veterans and active service members on Veterans Day

Center Stage is honoring Veterans Day by offering up to 100 free tickets to veterans and active service members for Thursday's preview performance of "ReEntry," a play by Emily Ackerman and KJ Sanchez that is based on interviews with veterans and their families. The cast includes Marine vet Joseph Harrell.

The tickets will be given away first come, first served; there's a limit of two per person. To request tickets, send an email to Lily Brown: lbrown@centerstage.org.

Posted by Tim Smith at 7:05 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Center Stage, Drama Queens
        

November 3, 2010

Center Stage presents acting class taught by Rain Pryor

If you've been bitten by the theater bug, or maybe just looking to get bitten, Center Stage may have just the thing: "Mindful Acting with Rain Pryor: An introduction into the Art of Performance."

The Baltimore-based Pryor, daughter of the late comedian Richard Pryor, will teach a weekly class covering such topics as monologues, characterization and scene study.

She is the author of a bittersweet memoir, "Jokes My Father Never Taught Me," and a seasoned performer whose comedy and cabaret shows have enjoyed considerable popularity. 

The class meets Monday nights (7-9 p.m.), starting on Nov. 8, and goes through Dec. 13. The fee is $200.

BALTIMORE SUN PHOTO

Posted by Tim Smith at 11:35 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Center Stage, Drama Queens
        

October 29, 2010

To celebrate record-breaking ticket sales for 'The Wiz,' a little quiz

Who knew a 1970s musical with a not exactly great reputation would become the runaway best-seller at Center Stage?

The company's vibrant revival of the "The Wiz" -- sensibly approached by director Irene Lewis for exactly what it is, rather than what it might have been -- has just become the best-selling production in Center Stage history.

The show surpassed the previous record-holder, "Ain’t Misbehavin' " (about $310,000), and "The Wiz" still has another week or so to ease on down the road to establish an even bigger record.

To celebrate the production's success, I thought it would be ever so fun to have a little theatrical quiz. I can't offer a great prize, other than cyber-immortality for the winner, but I hope that will be enough. Here goes:

 

Continue reading "To celebrate record-breaking ticket sales for 'The Wiz,' a little quiz" »

Posted by Tim Smith at 9:31 AM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Center Stage, Drama Queens
        

October 22, 2010

Michael Ross returns to Center Stage as consultant during transition period

Michael Ross, former managing director of Center Stage, will return temporarily to the company in the capacity of management consultant on December 1 to help with the transition to new leadership.

Current managing director Debbie Chin is leaving in December; longtime artistic director Irene Lewis will step down at the end of the 2010-11 season.

Ross, who served at Center Stage 2002-2008 and enjoyed great popularity inside and outside the organization, is currently managing director of the Westport Country Playhouse in Connecticut. He plans to stay with that company, but agreed to lend a hand at Center Stage.  

In a statement released late Thursday, the theater's board president Jay Smith said:

“Michael is a respected national arts leader who understands the inner workings of Center Stage ... We have a terrific and experienced staff in place and are highly confident about our ability to manage the organization after Debbie’s departure. However, Michael, as an additional resource who knows us well, will ensure a smooth transition to new leadership.”

A committee, headed by Center Stage trustee and Maryland Film Festival director Jed Dietz, is searching for a new artistic director.

SUN STAFF PHOTO 

Posted by Tim Smith at 7:10 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Center Stage, 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 baltimoresun.com/artsmash. 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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