J. Wynn Rousuck | WYPR

J. Wynn Rousuck

Midday Theater Critic

J. Wynn Rousuck has been reviewing theater for WYPR's Midday (and previously, Maryland Morning)since 2007. Prior to that, she was the theater critic of The Baltimore Sun, where she reviewed more than 3,000 plays over the course of 23 years. Her feature coverage for The Sun included a comprehensive series chronicling the development of the Tony Award-winning musical, “Hairspray.” Judy got her start at The Cleveland Press and at Cleveland’s fine arts radio station, WCLV. Her broadcasting experience also includes a year as an on-air theater critic for Maryland Public Television.

A member of the Artistic Advisory Committee of Young Audiences of Maryland, Judy is also a freelance teacher for the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth and the Hippodrome Foundation, Inc. (the Hippodrome’s non-profit partner, which focuses on education and outreach). She was a faculty member at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s Critics Institute in Waterford, CT, for two decades; she is a former National Endowment for Humanities Journalism Fellow; and she was a visiting student at Brown University (2007-2008), under the mentorship of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, Paula Vogel. Judy and her husband, Alan Fink, share their home with two dogs, who enjoy hearing their “Master’s Voice” on WYPR.

Courtesy Annapolis Shakespeare Company

Theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins us today with a review of the new production of William Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors, by the Annapolis Shakespeare Company.

In this fast-paced farce, which many consider one of Shakespeare's funniest plays, two sets of identical twins separated at birth are reunited after a succession of mistaken identities, situational shenanigans, and a steady stream of puns and antic wordplay.  The Bard's classic comedy -- reimagined in an 1890s Paris setting, with a SteamPunk theme and a time-travel twist -- is directed for Annapolis Shakespeare by Sally Boyett.

The Comedy of Errors run at Annapolis Shakespeare Company through Sunday, October 28.

Photography by Bill Geenen

It's time for another weekly visit with our peripatetic theater critic, J. Wynn Rousuck, who joins Tom today with reviews of not one but two theater-season openers here in Baltimore.

The first is the new production at Baltimore's Center Stage of Tennessee Williams' sultry American classic, Cat on a Hot Tin RoofThis searing drama about multi-generational family ties and unsustainable deceptions unfolds over the course of a sweltering summer night, in the mansion house of a sprawling Mississippi Delta plantation.  Tony and Obie Awards laureate Judith Ivey directs the strong cast, led by actors David Schramm as Big Daddy, Andrew Pastides as Brick, and Stephanie Gibson as Maggie.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof continues at Center Stage through Sunday, October 14.

Photo Courtesy Rep Stage

Today, Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom with her review of Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, now playing at the Rep Stage in Columbia. 

From the pages of the Penny Dreadful, to the stage and screen, the story of the 'Demon Barber of Fleet Street' has been adapted many times over over the years.  But, be it a fable of love or revenge, the shocking deeds of the murderous barber,  his accomplice, the lovelorn baker Mrs. Lovett, and her dubious recipe for meat pies, have frightened and enchanted audiences for over a century. 

Joseph W. Ritsch directs and choreographs the Tony Award-winning Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler musical, which is set in the impoverished lanes of Victorian London.

Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street continues at the Rep Stage through Sunday September 23rd.

Photo by Joan Marcus

Early in September each year, Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck skips her usual weekly review to look ahead at the upcoming theater season, and spotlight some of the interesting productions coming to the region's stages.

Judy begins her 2018-19 Season Preview by noting the exciting news from Baltimore Center Stage, which last month announced its new artistic director, Stephanie Ybarra, currently Director of Special Artistic Projects at The Public Theater in New York City.   She assumes her new role at Center Stage in October.  

Of course, the big theater event coming up in Baltimore will be The Hippodrome's production of Hamilton, toward the end of the season next June.  The historic theater will also be staging a revival in April of the Tony Award-winning musical Come From Away, based on the true story of how the people of Gander, Newfoundland, welcomed a crush of airline passengers stranded there by the 9/11 attacks.  Among the many other Tony laureates getting revivals in Baltimore this season is the uplifting coming-out musical, Fun Home, now set for a January-February run at Center Stage.   

Spotlighters Theatre/Shaelyn Jae Photography

It's Thursday, and time again for our weekly visit with theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck. Today, she joins guest host Rob Sivak with a review of Consent, a new play about medical ethics from local playwright Glennyce Lynn. It's being produced by the Spotlighters Theatre in collaboration with the Baltimore Playwrights Festival.

Directed by Andre Tittle, the play is set in an unfamiliar near-future, where civilians volunteer to undergo traumatic medical testing, consenting to torturous procedures in exchange for “favors” from the government. In an unexpected turn of events, two doctors suddenly find themselves in lockdown with their angry and unruly patient, and they are forced to confront the questionable ethics of  their work.

Consent continues at the Spotlighters Theatre through Sunday, August 26th.

Kelli Finch Photography

It's Thursday, and that means our theater critic, J. Wynn Rousuck, joins us for her weekly review of one of the region's thespian offerings.

Today, she spotlights a show about love and loyalty: ArtsCentric's new production of Aida, on stage at the Motor House on North Avenue in Baltimore.

This Aida is not the famed Verdi opera, but rather the Disney-produced version (with book by Linda Woolverton, Robert Falls, and David Henry Hwang and tunes by Elton John and Tim Rice),  a multiple Tony Award-winning pop musical that premiered on Broadway in 2000 and ran for four years.  Like the opera, it tells the tale of  forbidden love between a Nubian princess named Aida (played by Awa Sal Secka) and an Egyptian soldier, Radames (played by Jo'Nathan Michael). Radames' engagement to the Pharaoh's daughter, Amneris (played by Kanysha Williams), and Aida's loyalty to her people threaten to tear apart their star-crossed romance.

Directed at The Motor House by Kevin S. McAllister, Aida presents a bevy of Elton John/Tim Rice compositions, including "Elaborate Lives" and "The Past Is Another Land," and showcases the work of musical director Cedric D. Lyles and choreographer Shalyce N. Hemby.

ArtsCentric's production of Aida continues at The Motor House through August 26th.

Margot Schulman

Today our theater critic, J. Wynn Rousuck, joins Tom (a day earlier than usual) to share her take on the new political musical, Dave, now playing at the Arena Stage in Washington D.C. 

Directed by Tina Landau (SpongeBob SquarePants) and adapted from the 1993 Oscar-nominated film of the same name, Dave tells the story of Dave Kovic -- played by Drew Gehling (Waitress) -- a high school teacher with an uncanny resemblance to the President of the United States (also played by Gehling).  Dave is recruited by members of the White House staff  to stand in as the President's secret double when the Commander-in-Chief falls into a stroke-induced coma.  As Dave  struggles to manage the complex charade, he realizes that he must also gain the trust of the American people -- and the First Lady, played by Mamie Parris (School of Rock, Cats).

Tom Lauer

Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom in the studio every week with a review of the one of the region's many thespian productions,  and today she stops by to discuss Cockpit in Court's new production of Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean.

Set in an old-style five-and-dime variety store in the small west-Texas town of McCarthy, the play explores the reunion of the "Disciples of James Dean," a fan club obsessively devoted to the brief, stellar career of 1950s film star James Dean, who became a cultural icon after his death in a car crash at the age of 24.  The club members prize their special connection to the moody, handsome actor, recalling their roles as local extras in Dean's final movie, Giant (1956).

Written by Ed Graczyk in 1976, the play became a 1982 film directed by Robert Altman, and now, at Cockpit in Court, the twists and turns of the Disciples' lives again grace the stage, under the direction of Linda Chambers,  

As the Disciples pay tribute to the life of their teenage Hollywood idol , the group is rallied by their ringleader, Mona, (played as a teen by Sarah Jones, as an adult by Regina Rose) as they reminisce about their youth -- and stir up some long-buried passions.

Cockpit in Court's production of Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean continues through August 5th on the Essex Campus at the Community College of Baltimore County.

Spotlighters Theatre/Shealyn Jae Photography

Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins us each week with her review of one of the region's many theatrical productions. Today, she spotlights Judy and the Generalthe new musical comedy on stage at Spotlighters Theatre in Baltimore.

Judy and the General is playwright Rosemary Frisino Toohey's funny, feminist take on the biblical character Judith, and her 1st-century confrontation with the powerful Assyrian general, Holofernes. 

The play (whose book, music and lyrics are all by Ms. Toohey) draws from The Book of Judith, a so-called deuterocanonical book that's included in the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christian versions of the Old Testament Bible, but excluded from Jewish texts and assigned by Protestants to the Apocrypha.

Photograph by Doug Hamilton

Today, theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom with her review of Ain't Too Proud--The Life and Times of the Temptations, now playing at the Kennedy Center

The Broadway-bound musical showcases one of the most influential R&B groups in the history of contemporary music.  We see how five young men are discovered by Motown Records producer Berry Gordy (played by Jhai Kearse) on the streets of Detroit, and how they become the legends known as "The Classic Five," rising to the top of the charts amid the political and civil unrest in America during the 1960s and '70s.

"My Girl," "Just My Imagination,"  "Papa Was a Rolling Stone," and the titular "Ain't Too Proud to Beg," are just a few of the hits that enliven the show, whose book is by the Kennedy Prize-winning playwright Dominique Morisseau, based on Otis Williams' original book, The Temptations.  The Kennedy Center show is directed by two-time Tony Award-winner Des McAnuff (Jersey Boys), and Laurence Olivier-Award winning choreographer, Sergio Trujillo (On Your Feet!).

Ain't Too Proud--The Life and Times of the Temptations continues at the Kennedy Center through Sunday, July 22nd. 

Photograph by Seth Freeman

Today on Midday, theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck ventures a bit beyond Charm City, as she shares her thoughts on the roster of new plays at the 2018 Contemporary American Theater Festival at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia -- about a 90-minute drive from Baltimore.

This year's CATF is featuring six powerful new plays, each portraying aspects of contemporary life through tragedy, romance, drama, and comedy: "The Cake," "Memoirs of a Forgotten Man," "Thirst," "The House on the Hill," "Berta, Berta," and "A Late Morning (in America) with Ronald Reagan."

Rousuck notes two standouts among the new CATF offerings:  In “Berta, Berta,” directed by Reginald L. Douglas, playwright Angelica Cheri creates a backstory for an American work song. Set in 1920s Mississippi, Cheri's prison pipeline account focuses on a widow and her former lover, who has done time in Mississippi’s notorious Parchman prison and fully expects to go back. Rousuck says though “Berta, Berta” contains seeds of hope, it will break your heart.

And the political thriller, "Memoirs of a Forgotten Man," written by D.W. Gregory and directed by Ed Herendeen, takes viewers back to Soviet Russia where the fates of a journalist, psychologist, and government censor become entwined as victims and collaborators in Stalin’s campaign to rewrite public memory. 

The Contemporary American Theater Festival continues at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, through Sunday, July 29th.  Follow the link above for more information on tix, show schedules and directions.

Photos by Shealyn Jae

It's time for another visit from our well-traveled theater critic, J. Wynn Rousuck, who joins us each week with  a review of one of the region's many theaterical offerings.  Today, she's spotlighting the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company's new production of the Bard's romantic farce, A Midsummer Night's Dream, being performed on the outdoor stage at the PFI Historic Park in Ellicott City.

A Midsummer Night's Dream was written by William Shakespeare in 1595-96. The play portrays the madcap events surrounding the marriage of Theseus, the Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta, the former queen of the Amazons. These include the interconnected adventures of four young Athenian lovers and a group of six amateur actors who are manipulated by the Fairies who inhabit the forest in which the play is mostly set.

One of Shakespeare's funniest and most popular works for the stage -- and performed by theater companies around the world -- AMSND is directed for the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company by Gerrad Alex Taylor.   He guides a 19-member cast that features guest actor Michael Toperzer as Theseus/Oberon, CSC member Elana Michelle as Hippolyta/Titania, and Imani Turner as Puck.

The Chesapeake Shakespeare Company's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream continues at the PFI Historic Park in Ellicott City, Maryland, through Sunday, July 29.  For ticket info and directions, click here.

Austin Barnes Photography

Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom each week with a review of one of the region's many theatrical offerings.  Today, she's spotlighting the new production of  Avenue Q at the Community College of Baltimore County's Cockpit in Court Summer Theatre.

Avenue Q is an American musical in two acts, featuring music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, and a book by Jeff Whitty.  The coming-of-age satire tells the story of a hapless recent college grad named Princeton, who moves into a rundown New York City apartment located on the titular Avenue Q, in an edgy part of town.  While drawing lessons from the realities of his new neighborhood -- and shedding the idealism of his youth -- he and his new-found friends face the challenges of finding work, love and a purpose in life.

Originally conceived as a TV series, Avenue Q opened on Broadway in July 2003 and won three Tony Awards, including Best Musical.  Since its 6-year Broadway run of more than 2500 performances, it has been picked up for two national tours and a variety of international productions.

The Cockpit in Court production at CCBC in Essex is directed by Todd Starkey, and continues through Sunday, July 1.  Ticket and location info here

It's Thursday, and that means our theater critic, J. Wynn Rousuck,  joins us with her review of a little musical you might have heard of:  Hamilton. The popular show, now on stage at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., uses rap, hip-hop, R&B, and a variety of other musical styles to tell the story of the American Revolution through the lens of one its most charismatic and ill-fated architects.

Winner of 11 Tony Awards and the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama (among other honors), the musical by playwright, actor and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda was inspired by Ron Chernow's best-selling 2005 biography of the founder, Alexander Hamilton.  Miranda's three-hour-long musical rendition premiered on Broadway in August 2015.

Photography by Shealyn Jae

Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins us now with her regular Thursday review of one of our region's many thespian offerings.  Today, she spotlights playwright Mark Scharf's The Quickening, now getting its world premiere at Baltimore's Fells Point Corner Theatre, in a co-production with the Collaborative Theatre Company.

The Quickening is a modern ghost story about a pregnant woman and her husband who move into a Richmond, Virginia, home that appears -- at least to the women in the play -- to be seriously haunted. The home's strange energies, and a succession of bizarre events, spark growing tensions between the wife and her skeptical, distracted husband, and remind us of the mysterious space between open and closed minds, and between science and folklore. 

photo by Matthew Murphy

Each Thursday, Midday's peripatetic theater critic, J. Wynn Rousuck, joins us with a review of one of the region's many theatrical offerings.  This week, she's spotlighting On Your Feet!, the new touring musical production based on the life and career of Cuban pop sensations (and husband-and-wife team) Gloria and Emilio Estefan, that's now on stage at Baltimore's Hippodrome Theatre.

photo courtesy Annapolis Shakespeare Co.

It's Thursday, and time again for a visit with Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck, who joins us in the studio each week with her reviews of the region's theatrical endeavors.  This week, she spotlights the new production of Kiss Me, Kate, the Bard-inspired musical now on stage at Annapolis Shakespeare Company

Kiss Me, Kate is the "backstage" story of the production of a fictional musical version of William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, fueled by the conflicts, on-stage and off, between the show's director, producer and star, and his temperamental leading lady (and ex-wife).

Written by Samuel and Bella Spewack, with music and lyrics by the inimitable Cole PorterKiss Me, Kate opened on Broadway in 1948 and enjoyed a long and successful initial run. In 1949, it won five Tony Awards, including the first Tony ever presented for Best Musical.  Ever since, it has been a frequent and internationally popular choice for revivals.

Directed and choreographed for Annapolis Shakespeare Company by Sally Boyett, with musical direction by Marc IrwinKiss Me Kate features a 17-member cast led by Benjamin Russell as producer Fred Graham and Robin Weiner as his ex-wife and star, Lilli Vanessi.

Kiss Me Kate continues at Annapolis Shakespeare Company through Sunday June 3.

ClintonBPhotography

It's time again for our weekly visit from theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck, who joins Tom today with her review of the new production of The Book of Joseph, now on stage at Baltimore's Everyman Theatre.

The play is a stage adaptation by Seattle playwright Karen Hartman of a book by former Baltimore newpaper and TV journalist Richard Hollander.  After Hollander's parents were killed in a car accident in the mid-1980s, he discovered in their attic a briefcase filled with correspondence. The letters, all stamped with Third Reich swastikas, provided a unique record of the tragic fate of his Jewish relatives in German-occupied Poland during the Holocaust, and of his father's heroic efforts to save them.

The discovery of those letters led Hollander, eventually, to write a book, which he published in 2007, called “Every Day Lasts a Year: A Jewish Family’s Correspondence from Poland.”  The book inspired the play that world-premiered in Chicago in 2017, and has now come to the Everyman, with Noah Himmelstein directing the resident company cast.

The Book of Joseph continues at Baltimore's Everyman Theatre until Sunday, June 10. 

Photo by Bill Geenan

Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom today with her review of the world premiere of Soul: The Stax Musical, now rattling the boards at Baltimore Center Stage.

The production is the directorial swansong of departing artistic director Kwame Kwei Armah, who's stepping down after seven years running the shows at Center Stage. (Check out his May 9 interview here on Midday).

With a book by Matthew Benjamin, choreography by Chase Brock, musical direction by Rahn Coleman and a multi-talented 21-member cast, Soul: the Stax Musical tells the story (with renditions of more than 30 songs) of Memphis-based Stax Records and the recording company's role in launching such legendary artists as Otis Redding, The Staple Singers, Isaac Hayes, Booker T & The MG's, Rufus & Carla Thomas, David Porter, Wilson Pickett, Johnnie Taylor, and Eddie Floyd — singers whose iconic work during the 1960s and 70s laid the foundations for American Soul Music. Their story, and the rise and fall of Stax Records, play out against the backdrop of the evolving civil rights struggle and the growing power of R&B music -- still evident today -- to unite a divided nation.   

Soul: The Stax Musical continues at Baltimore's Center Stage through Sunday, June 10.   

Photo by Britt Olsen-Ecker

Our theater critic J. Wynn  Rousuck joins Tom for another of her weekly reviews of the region's theater offerings. Today, she's spotlighting the world premiere of an adaptation of the J.M.Barrie classic, Peter Pan, ​now on stage at Baltimore's Single Carrot Theatre.

Billed officially as Peter Pan: Wendy, Peter. Peter, Wendy, the play is a modern re-imagining of Barrie's beloved 1904 stage fantasy (and 1911 novel) about identity, growing up and belonging.  It retains the original's iconic characters, from Peter Pan and Wendy and the Darling family dog Nana, to Captain Hook and Tiger Lily and the Lost Boys.  But playwright Joshua Conkel, working in collaboration with Baltimore’s LGBTQ+ residents and service organizations, has updated the Barrie original (as the Single Carrot program explains) "to include contemporary conversations about gender, sexuality, and performative identity, and to embrace queer culture."  The result is that Barrie's nostalgic Neverland is transformed "from a distant fantasy to a modern safe-haven for those who have been rejected and devalued, a stronghold against normalcy and a place where Peter and his Lost Boys can finally be themselves."

Tristan Powell directs Peter Pan at Single Carrot with a cast that features Tina Canady as Wendy/Peter, and Single Carrot Ensemble member Ben Kleymeyer as Peter/Wendy.

Peter Pan continues at Single Carrot Theatre through Sunday, May 20. 

Photo by Matthew Murphy

It's time for our regular Thursday visit with Midday's peripatetic theater critic,  J. Wynn Rousuck, who joins Tom in the studio today with her review of An American in Paristhe touring stage adaptation of the Gershwin-inspired 1951 film musical. The Tony Award-winning production premiered on Broadway in 2015, hit the road in 2016, and is just now making its local stop at Baltimore's Hippodrome Theater.

Like the classic Vincente Minnelli film -- which starred Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron and won six Academy Awards, including Best Picture -- this award-winning stage adaptation tells the story of an American World War II veteran and aspiring painter who lingers in the newly-liberated Paris of 1945 and falls in love with a young French woman.  Also like the film, the stage version weaves their complicated romance through a rich tapestry of George Gershwin's brilliant orchestral works -- including the titular An American in Paris, the Concerto in F and a Second Rhapsody/Cuban Overture medley -- and more than a dozen of the incomparable songs that George and his brother Ira Gershwin penned during the 1920s and 30s.  Show numbers include I Got Rhythm, S'Wonderful, But Not for Me, Stairway to Paradise, and They Can't take That Away.  And as in the Gene Kelly-choreographed film, a lot of that great music is set wonderfully to dance.

Photo by Will Kirk

It's Thursday, and that means it's time for Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck and her weekly review of the region's noteworthy thespian offerings.   Today, she spotlights the new and unusual staging of William Shakespeare's Othello at Baltimore Shakespeare Factory.

What's distinctive about this production of the Bard's 1604 tragedy is its use of "Original Pronunciation," or O.P., which employs the sounds and rhythms of the English that actors in Shakespeare's London theaters would have spoken more than 400 years ago.  The cast was trained in the antique dialect by O.P. coach  Ann Turiano.

Directed by Tom Delise, BSF's Othello features Troy Jennings in the title role, Kathryn Zoerb as Desdemona, Ian Blackwell Rogers as Iago, and Jess Behar as Aemelia.

Othello (in Original Pronunciation) continues at the Baltimore Shakespeare Factory through April 29.

Photo by David D. Mitchell

It's Thursday, and Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom with her weekly review of a production lighting up one the region's many stages. Today, it's Hoodoo Love, a bluesy play (and one of the earliest works) by Katori Hall, being produced by Baltimore's Arena Players, the oldest continuously operating African American community theater in the United States.

Arena Players calls Hoodoo Love "a tale of love, magic , jealousy and secrets in...1930s Mississippi and Memphis. It is a blues story about having your dreams realized."  Reviewing its premiere in New York's West Village in October 2007, New York Times theater critic Stuart Miller described the play as "an unsentimental, even brutal look at black life in Memphis in the 1930s, the central female characters burdened by rape and betrayal."

One of Hoodoo Love's central female characters is Toulou, a young woman who fled an abusive family and the cotton fields of Mississippi to pursue her dream of becoming a blues singer.

“I love my people’s history,” playwright Katori Hall told the Times back in 2007.  Hall, who studied African-American culture and creative writing at Columbia University, added, “I feel a huge responsibility to tell the stories of my past and my ancestors’ past.”

Director David D. Mitchell leads the Arena Players cast, which features IO Browne (Toulou), Theresa Terry (Candylady), Quinton Randall (Ace of Spades) and Quincy Vicks (Jib).

Hoodoo Love is at Arena Playhouse, 801 McCulloh St., Baltimore MD 21201, through Sunday, April 29.   Tix and info here.

Photo by Joe Williams

It's Thursday, and that means we welcome to the studio Midday's far-ranging theater critic, J. Wynn Rousuck, back from our western frontier and an evening at Frederick's Maryland Ensemble Theater, which is currently staging a new production of playwright Gina Gionfriddo's feminist comedy, Rapture, Blister, Burn -- a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Drama.

MET's program describes it as "an intensely smart, immensely funny play that asks the question, 'What makes us happy in life?' After graduate school, Catherine and Gwen chose polar opposite paths. Catherine built a career as a rock star academic, while Gwen built a home with her husband and children. Decades later each woman covets the other’s life, commencing a dangerous game of musical chairs."

Playwright Gionfriddo, in her program notes for Playwrights Horizons' 2012 world premiere of Rapture, Blister, Burn in New York, wrote, "I don't want to say too much about what happens in this play, but age and generation loom large. My play, Becky Shaw, feels to me a play about years 30-35; it's still possible to launch a career or start a family, but you need to hurry up. Rapture, Blister, Burn feels like a play about years 40-45. Big, unfulfilled dreams are still possible, but they're statistically less likely. If you're going to take a big leap and remake yourself, you have to do it now."

The production at MET is directed by Suzanne Beale, and the cast includes Gené Fouché, Carol Randolph, Madeline Reinhold, Laura Stark, and Ron Ward.

Rapture, Blister, Burn continues at Maryland Ensemble Theatre in Frederick through April 29.

Photo by Stan Barouh

Theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins us with her weekly review of one of the region's many thespian offerings.  Today, it's Aubergine, the new play by Julia Cho that's on stage at Baltimore's Everyman Theatre

Aubergine is a story about the complexity of family relationships and the emotional power of food.  The play centers on a Korean family that's struggling to bridge generational and cultural divides, and the foods and culinary traditions that help the family members find each other across those divides.

Produced in association with Olney Theatre Center and directed by Everyman's founding artistic director, Vincent Lancisi, Aubergine features Tony Nam (as Ray); Glenn Kubota (Ray's father); Song Kim (Ray's uncle); Jefferson Russell (Lucien); Eunice Bae (Cornelia); and Megan Anderson (Diane/hospital worker).

Aubergine continues at Everyman Theatre through Sunday, April 15th. 

Photo copyright by Matthew Murphy

It's Thursday, and that means Midday's intrepid theater critic, J. Wynn Rousuck, is here with another of her weekly reviews of the region's thespian offerings. 

This week, Judy braved the elements to attend the opening of the new touring production of School of Rock, the Andrew Lloyd Weber musical that's now raising the rafters at Baltimore's Hippodrome Theater.

Based on the hit 2003 film, the musical follows Dewey Finn, a down-on-his-luck wannabe rock star who poses as a substitute teacher at a prestigious prep school to make ends meet. When he discovers that his fifth-graders harbor some extraordinary musical talents, he encourages them to form a rock group and take a shot at winning the Battle of the Bands competition.

Andrew Lloyd Weber, who has done more than his share to bring rock and romance to Broadway, has composed 14 new songs for School of Rock, and kept all the original songs from the movie.  Directed by Laurence Connor and choreographed by JoAnn M. Hunter, the talented cast includes Rob Coletti as Dewey Finn, Lexie Dorsett Sharp as Rosalie, and a band of young actor/musicians who help deliver the musical's youthful spirit and high-octane score. 

School of Rock continues at the Hippodrome until Sunday, March 25.

Photo by Michael Brosilow

Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins senior producer Rob Sivak with her review of a new production of Animal Farm, an adaptation of George Orwell's dystopian 1945 novella that's now running at Baltimore's Center Stage.

This popular adaptation of the novella, written in 1982 by Ian Wooldridge, is being co-produced in its new run at Center Stage with the Milwaukee Repertory Theater.  It re-imagines Orwell's anti-Stalinist allegory, in which the animals of Manor Farm rise up against their human masters and the tyranny of their forced labor, inspired by the revolutionary ideas that an old boar named Major shared with the animals before his death. They establish a new order based on Major's commandments of "Animalism," in which all humans are enemies, all animals are comrades, and all animals are equal.  But the revolutionary doctrines are soon twisted to empower a ruling clique led by a brutal, authoritarian boar named Napoleon. The citizens of Animal Farm begin to realize that some animals are more equal than others.

Directed at Center Stage by May Adrales, the eight-member "Animal Farm" cast includes Melvin Abston as Napoleon, Jonathan Gillard Daly as Benjamin, Tiffany Rachelle Stewart as Squealer, Brendan Titley as Snowball, and Stephanie Weeks as Major.  Playing multiple roles, the actors deploy unique animal-head armatures created by Costume Designer Izumi Inabi to portray the creatures of Manor Farm.

Animal Farm continues at Baltimore's Center Stage through Sunday, April 1st.  

Photo by Tessa Sollway

It's Thursday, and Midday theater critic J, Wynn Rousuck joins guest host Rob Sivak with her weekly review of local thespian offerings.  Today, she spotlights the new production of a two-woman play by Win Wells called Gertrude Stein and a Companion, at the Fells Point Corner Theater.

Directed by Anne Hammontree and starring Marianne Gazzola Angelella as Alice B. Toklas and Andrea Bush as Gertrude Stein, the play explores the complex relationship between Stein, the celebrated American avante-garde writer, and Toklas, her lifelong companion.

Gertrude Stein and a Companion continues at the Fells Point Corner Theater through Sunday, m,arch 25th.

Photo by Shealyn Jae

It's Thursday, and our peripatetic theater critic, J. Wynn Rousuck, joins us once again, today with her review of Count DownThe play by Dominique Cieri is being produced by The Strand Theater Company, the only Baltimore theater that presents works written exclusively by women artists.

Cieri describes the play as a composite of her experiences working for a New Jersey youth arts program, helping a group of at-risk teenage girls express themselves by creating an original musical stage production.  Cieri says her work with the girls quickly became "a labor of love, and an odyssey into the psyche of the adolescent girl."

Count Down -- directed at the Strand by Bari Hochwald -- portrays that revelation, and, in the words of the Strand's program, "exposes the inherent dissonance between the child welfare system and the reality of the girls who have no choice but to spend their childhood and adolescence in its care."

Count Down was the recipient of the 2009 Mid Atlantic Individual Playwriting Fellowship, and Finalist for Playwrights First Award, the National Arts Club, NYC.

The Strand's production of Count Down is presented as part of the DC region's 2018 Women's Voices Theatre Festival.

Count Down continues through Sunday, March 4 at The Strand Theater,  which is located at 5426 Harford Rd. Baltimore MD 21201.  Ticket info at www.strand-theater.org.

Photo by Bill Geenan

It's Thursday, and that means theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom in the studio with her weekly review, today spotlighting a new production at Baltimore's Center Stage.

From the playwright of Detroit ’67, Skeleton Crew (the third play in Dominique Morisseau’s acclaimed Detroit Trilogy) tells the story of four workers at the last exporting auto plant in Detroit struggling to survive as their way of life disappears.  Directed by Nicole A Watson, the play's cast includes Stephanie Berry as Faye, Sekou Laidlow as Reggie, Brittany Bellizeare as Shanita, and Gabriel Lawrence as Dez, portraying a team of loyal and proud workers trying to navigate their uncertain futures.

Part of the Women’s Voices Theater Festival

Skeleton Crew continues at Baltimore's Center Stage through March 4th.

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