Theater

Broadway in 2021

Broadway in 2021

Hoping that life and theatre returns to normal next year, Broadway In Richmond has announced their 12th season, which will feature 2 Richmond premieres and 3 Broadway classics at Altria Theater in 2021.

 

JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR by Webber and Rice (2/23-28)

In celebration of its 50th Anniversary, this new production was staged by London’s Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre and won the 2017 Olivier Award for Best Musical Revival.

 

MY FAIR LADY by Lerner & Loewe (5/ 4 – 9)

This production is from Lincoln Center Theater that also created revivals of The King & I and South Pacific.

 

MEAN GIRLS by Tina Fey, Jeff Richmond and Nell Benjamin (7/13 – 18)

Direct from Broadway, this musical is based on the 2004 movie written by Tina Fey.

 

ANASTASIA Book by Terrence McNally, score by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens (8/3 – 9)

Inspired by the films, this new musical is from the Tony Award-winning creators of Ragtime follows a woman on her quest to discover her aristocratic roots.

 

HAIRSPRAY Music by Marc Shaiman with lyrics‎ by ‎Scott Wittman‎ & Marc Shaiman (8/24 – 29)

The musical is based on John Waters’ film set in ’60s Baltimore. This tour reunites the creative time that earned the show a Tony for Best Musical.

 

IN ADDITION:

Due to COVID 19, two shows of the 2019-2020 have been rescheduled for 2021 and tickets for the originally scheduled performances are valid for these new dates.   

Fiddler On The Roof (6/1 – 6)

The Band’s Visit (9/14 – 19)

 

Subscribing to the Broadway In Richmond series is the best way to guarantee seats with packages starting at $215 (plus applicable fees). Click here to read more and subscribe.

 

 

Firehouse announces a new show

Firehouse announces a new show

Firehouse Theatre is presenting the Richmond premiere of Holland Taylor’s ANN. This one-woman show features Jacqueline Jones as Ann Richards, the first female Democratic governor of Texas and a powerful voice in the pro-choice and women’s rights movements. Richards came to national attention when she gave the keynote address at the 1988 Democratic Convention.

 

The only other cast member is a voiceover Nancy Kohler played by Erica Hughes. The show is directed by Billy Christopher Maupin.

 

Firehouse will continue the contactless theatre procedures they started with THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY. It runs 9/16 – 10/11 with audiences limited to between 2 – 6 people. Some performances will be live-streamed. Click here for reservations to the live performances and click here to sign up for a streamed performance (or you can call 804.355.2001).

The Picture of Dorian Gray (review)

The Picture of Dorian Gray (review)

THE PLAY: A one-man show taken from the text of Oscar Wilde’s noted novel.

 

THE PRODUCTION: Since I’m reviewing the first live stream of this show, I’ll discuss the production itself before addressing the streaming (although it greatly undermined the experience).

 

Billy Christopher Maupin reads the descriptive sections from a book, while acting out the interactions between people. Since he plays all of the roles, it’s vital that the audience has a clear understanding of who’s speaking. Some of Maupin’s characters displayed little variation in characterization or delivery, which sometimes made it hard to discern who was involved. Even so, his assured presence sustained attention and created a few dramatic moments. Director Shirley Kagan’s staging was routine and the measured pacing kept the show from ever achieving any dramatic momentum. Edwin Slipek’s set featured a stylized version of London with a few pieces of furniture, most notably a chair covered in a variety of fabrics (none of them adding any information about the location). It wasn’t possible to judge the lighting and sound design because of the poor quality streaming.

 

As for that, this first venture was a disaster. First, there was endless buffering (the spinning wheel that indicates that the show is loading). Not only is this distracting, but it was nearly impossible to follow the narrative. Making matters worse was the low resolution output with murky video and muffled audio (made worse by placing the mic on Maupin’s shirt where it was occasionally hit by costumes or his breath). The camerawork was sometimes sloppy, mostly in medium or wide shots, depriving us of close-ups of Maupin. Instead of cutting between shots, they dissolved and dissolves imply a transition (like passing of time) and they didn’t work for this. Hopefully, they’ll be able to improve the quality before the next outing.

 

Maupin did manage one reference to his current situation when he read the line “the theatre was crowded” with an ironic nod to his live audience of 2. Speaking of, there are numerous safety precautions in place, including assigned bathrooms and entrance/exit times. Visit the website for more information. Running time: 2:30

 

THE POINT: Even though Maupin’s performance was confident, this bold experiment was marred by the flawed streaming.

 

1 out of 5 stars (1 / 5)

 

At Firehouse Theatre thru 8/7

 

Photos by Tom Topinka

Artsies theme and nominations annouced

Artsies theme and nominations annouced

Like most everything else right now, this year’s Artsies will be virtual. Since it’s the 13th year, the theme will be “Lucky 13,” highlighting the funny ways that theater can go wrong. Area theater artists can submit a 30-second video about their experiences with the unpredictable nature of live theater. The awards will be presented by the critics and TAP members from their homes.

 

This year’s celebration will be live streamed at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, September 13.

 

Since the season was truncated this year, there are only 3 or 4 nominees in each category. Here’s a link to the nominations on the RTCC website.

 

If you want to contribute a story for the Lucky 13 theme, click here for submission guidelines.

 

The Artsies are the primary fundraising event for the Theatre Artist Fund of Greater Richmond, which provides emergency financial assistance to theater artists. Since its inception, the Artsies have raised $83,446 for the Fund, which has written 10 grants totaling $13,000 for artists in need. While there will be no tickets sold for this show this year, people who can afford it are encouraged to make a contribution to support of the Theatre Artist Fund of Greater Richmond.

First show of the season

First show of the season

Firehouse Theatre is the first local theatre that’s announced a show to open since March. It’s the world premiere of Oscar Wilde’s novel, The Picture Of Dorian Gray. This is a slightly reduced version of the full text of Wilde’s 1891 Gothic tale and will be performed by Billy Christopher Maupin.

 

It’s the first production in their 2020-2021 Season Of Discovery. The theatre will maintain and enforce CDC recommended guidelines for contactless/physically distant performances. It will open on 6/18 and run thru 7/19 with SEATING CAPACITIES OF 2 TO 6 AUDIENCE MEMBERS.

 

Select performances will also be live-streamed. Visit their website, or call 804.355.2001.

Let’s get SORDID!

Let’s get SORDID!

The Del Shores Foundation is presenting an all-star live stream benefit reading of his most popular play, Sordid Lives.

May 31

8pm

Live on Facebook and YouTube

 

Sordid Lives started on stage, then moved on to film and TV. Members from every version will be appearing, including:

– Leslie Jordan

– Bonnie Bedelia

– Beau Bridges

– Caroline Rhea

– Del Shores

– Carson Kressley

– Alec Mapa

 

Sordid Lives was produced by Richmond Triangle Players, when they were still at Fielden’s on Broad Street. It featured Amy Berlin, Kathy Parker, Chris Hester, Leila Pendleton, Jennfier Frank Clevenger and Kirk Morton. Del later brought his stand-up comedy to RTP’s Robert B. Moss Theatre.

 

The funds raised will be split among 20+ theatres, including RTP.

Here are links to the broadcast:

YouTube Broadcast.

Facebook Live.

Starting 5/25, there’s also an online auction of unique items with all proceeds also benefiting select nationwide theatres, including RTP.

Legends take their final bows

Legends take their final bows

The Legends at Home series will take its final bow with 2 performances that include talented artists from Richmond, as well as natives from other parts of our country.

 

RICHMOND ALL STARS

Wednesday, April 29

12 pm & 7 pm

 

This one-hour special will include:

– Tasha Anderson and Michael Gray

– Taylor Baltimore

– J. Plunky Branch

– Michael Cole

– Kenneka Cook

– Grey Garrett

– Kelly Kennedy

– Katrinah Carol Lewis

– Rachel Marrs

– Mary Page Nance

– Ian Page and PJ Llewellyn

– RL Rowsey

– Matt Shofner

– Durron Tyre

– Dawn Westbrook

– SPECIAL GUEST Steven Skybell, fresh from his Broadway run as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof!

 

 

GRAND FINALE

Friday, May 1

12 pm & 7 pm

 

This one-hour spec8ial will feature some of the original Legends at Home and Legends on Grace stars, including

– Kikau Alvaro and Derrick Jaques

– Bianca Bryan

– Anthony Cosby-Knowles

– Susan Greenbaum and Chris Parker

– Audra Honaker

– Kelly Kennedy

– Jason Marks

– Cathy Motley-Fitch

– Desirée Roots

– Susan Sanford

– Jerold Solomon

– Ali Thibodeau

– Georgia Rogers Farmer

 

These performances will be streaming on Facebook @RPAAlliance and our website https://rpaalliance.com/rpaa-live-streaming-event. They’ll also be posted on YouTube after the live airings. Visit the website for more information and to make donations.

Curtains for local theatres

Curtains for local theatres

With the entire theatre community in a state of instability (along with the rest of the world), this week’s Curtain Call looks at our theatres and their response to COVID-19. It will air Friday, April 17 at noon on Open Source RVA (WRIR 93.6 FM) and the podcast will be posted on Artsies.org after 1pm.

 

This special 50-minute Curtain Call will feature 20 interviews, including a representative from every local professional theatre, as well as:

– Scott Garka (CultureWorks) about the COVID-19 Artists Relief Fund

– Jacqueline O’Connor (RPAA) about “Legends at Home”

– The quartet that lives together and created Quarantine Theatre

– Two artists who are creating online work

 

Producer Jerry Williams has crammed it full of information about:

– The productions that were affected

– How those involved with the shows were compensated

– How the theatre staff has been impacted

– What each theatre is doing to ensure its viability

– How/what the theatres  have planned for next season

– Words of support and hope

 

To add variety and a few moments of entertainment, all of the interludes feature music or sound design from shows that were cancelled or from online broadcasts. Even though this could be a downbeat podcast, it’s ultimately full of encouragement and optimism for the resilience and strength of our local theatres.

Local playwright a national finalist

Local playwright a national finalist

Local playwright Chandler Hubbard is a finalist for national recognition. His play Animal Control, which premiered last season, is one of 6 finalists for this year’s American Theatre Critics Association Harold and Mimi Steinberg / ATCA New Play Award.

 

It was actually produced by Firehouse Theatre two times with a slightly reworked cast. Here’s my review of the first production and here’s the 2nd.

 

About the honor, Hubbard responded”

In the past weeks and months I’ve been experiencing an overwhelming maelstrom of emotions, exacerbated by the fact that I couldn’t tell anyone until the finalists were announced. I’m simultaneously grateful and honored but also really anxious – I was supposed to go to the ATCA conference in April, be a part of a new works panel and attend the award ceremony, but that, of course, has been postponed. 

More than anything else, really, I’m shocked and blown away. I’m a small town kid, this is the first play I’ve written, and the show has really taken on a life of its own in the past two years or so.

Looking at the list of past Steinberg winners and finalists, I’m definitely a small fish in an enormous pond. Some of the past honorees include August Wilson, Arthur Miller, Lanford Wilson and Moises Kaufman. So many of the finalists have gone on to win other major national awards or be produced on Broadway. To be thought of in the same vein is astounding. I just hope and pray I’m not a one hit wonder!”

 

The ATCA has been administering this award since 1977, honoring the best new work premiering outside New York City. The top award of $25,000 and two citations with $7,500 each is funded by the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust. The award was to be presented during ATCA’s conference at the Pacific Playwrights Festival in Costa Mesa, but the COVID-9 intervened. A new date will be announced at a later time.

 

Here’s the list of finalists:

– Animal Control by Chandler Hubbard (Firehouse Theatre of Richmond VA)

– The Coast Starlight by Keith Bunin (La Jolla Playhouse)

– The First Deep Breath by Lee Edward Colston II (Victory Gardens Theatre, Chicago)

– How the Light Gets In by E.M. Lewis (Boston Court, Pasadena CA

– Nonsense and Beauty by Scott C. Sickles (Repertory Theatre of St. Louis) – Sheepdog by Kevin Artigue (South Coast Repertory, Costa Mesa CA)

 

Thx to local member of the ATCA Susie Haubenstock for the heads up.

Legends at Home

Legends at Home

The Richmond Performing Arts Alliance (RPAA) wanted to do something special for our community that supports, so they’ve launched Legends at Home (an extension of their “Legends on Grace” series).

 

Starting Monday, 3/30, the performances will be streaming on Facebook @RPAAlliance and the RPAA website. They will air each Monday, Wednesday and Friday at noon and 7pm (two times per show).

 

Jason Marks is kicking off the series with “A Corona Cabaret,” 40 minutes of musical theater songs, witty banter and games (with himself). There will also be a cameo by a famous dead musician!  Jason’s also serving as music director/coordinator for all the cabaret artists which includes (dates have not been set for some of them):

– Desiree Roots Centeio (April 1)

– Anthony Cosby Knowles (April 3)

– Debra Wagoner

– Audra Honaker

– Georgia Rogers Farmer

– Susan Greenbaum

– Cathy Motley-Fitch

– Ali Thibodeau

 

To provide employment for these artists, RPAA has created the “Performing Artist Support Program” with a link to donate to these Legends at Home. All contributions will be shared equally among the performers.

 

Everyone’s cabarets will be totally different, offering more at-home glances of life rather than traditional song/entertainment. Still, these events should provide a fun outlet of amusement during this scary time.

 

 

 

 

 

New play performed tonite!

New play performed tonite!

As a result of our current virus isolation, playwright Chandler Hubbard penned a play in a 12-hour frenzy yesterday. The RICHMOND QUARANTINE FRINGE ls using their collective brain cell to perform a play and livestream it on Facebook!

 

Tonite, 8:30pm

Here’s a link to watch it live on Facebook

Click “Discussion” and scroll down to watch.

 

Chelsea Burke, Adam Turck, Cooper Sved and Chandler Hubbard (collectively known as the House at Pooh Corner) will be performing AKELDAMA, a quarantine play about desperation, hope, found family, and witches. This is the inaugural presentation of Richmond Quarantine Fringe. Estimated running time: 45 minutes.

 

 

 

Small Mouth Sounds (review)

Small Mouth Sounds (review)

THE PLAY: Six people attend a silent yoga retreat.

 

THE PRODUCTION: One of this play’s biggest challenges is the “silent” part. How does a production create dramatic momentum and character development without many words? The play mostly succeeds: We get glimpses into each person’s issues that offer minimal character insights. Weirdly, there was only one explanatory monologue, which was confusing…why him and not all of them? Director Laine Satterfield has guided this first-rate cast in creating compelling, if not enigmatic, individuals. Each person has a few moments to shine, bringing out their characters’ frustrations or foilables with precise skill and quiet comic appeal. The leader (voiced by Marisa Guida) is only ever heard, but she provides a perfect grounding voice. Emily Hake Massie has designed an attractive semicircular space with yoga imagery decorating the walls and trees filling the windows. Joey Luck has created an immersive sound design that brings out the environment. Running time: 1:10

 

THE POINT: While not fully fulfilling in the traditional theatrical sense, this excellent cast offers amusing and sometimes tender insights into a group of encumbered strangers in a unique situation.

 

4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

 

A Virginia Rep / Cadence Theatre co-production at the Theatre Gym now closed due to the virus

 

LISTEN TO MY REVIEW (as aired on WRIR)

 

Adam Valentine, Jenny Hundley , Lauren Leinhaas-Cook, Maura Mazurowski, Jim Morgan, Larry Cook. (Photos by Jason Collins Photography)

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