Ellen Burns

Ellen Burns


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LAST 30 DAYS

BWW Review: Yes, It's Enchanting! ELLA ENCHANTED at Adventure TheatreBWW Review: ELLA ENCHANTED at Adventure Theatre
Posted: Feb. 7, 2017


LAST 365 DAYS

BWW Review: Yes, It's Enchanting! ELLA ENCHANTED at Adventure TheatreBWW Review: ELLA ENCHANTED at Adventure Theatre
Posted: Feb. 7, 2017


BWW Interview: Being That Sixth Person-Talking with Director Timothy Douglas about DISGRACED at Arena StageBWW Interview:Being That Sixth Person-Talking with Director Timothy Douglas about Arena's DISGRACED
Posted: Apr. 26, 2016


New 2016-17 Season Announced: The Kennedy Center Artfully Celebrates a Kennedy CentennialNew 2016-17 Season Announced: The Kennedy Center Artfully Celebrates a Kennedy Centennial
Posted: Mar. 14, 2016


BWW Review: AN OCTOROON Brings Hilarity and Hard Truths to Woolly MammothBWW Review: AN OCTOROON Brings Hilarity and Hard Truths to Woolly Mammoth
Posted: Jun. 6, 2016


BWW Interview: THE LION's Benjamin Scheuer Takes His Pride on the RoadBWW Interview: THE LION's Benjamin Scheuer Takes His Pride on the Road
Posted: Mar. 14, 2016


BWW Review: ANNIE Brings Her Smile To The National TheatreANNIE Brings Her Smile To The National Theatre
Posted: Mar. 17, 2016


BWW Review: WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE'S LONG LOST FIRST PLAY: A Cauldron Full of Belly Laughs at the Folger from the Reduced Shakespeare CompanyBWW Review: WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE'S LONG LOST FIRST PLAY:A Cauldron Full of Belly Laughs at the Folger
Posted: Apr. 26, 2016


BWW Review: Yes, It's Enchanting! ELLA ENCHANTED at Adventure TheatreBWW Review: Yes, It's Enchanting! ELLA ENCHANTED at Adventure Theatre
February 7, 2017

I can't resist: if you want to be thoroughly 'enchanted,' get thyself to Glen Echo Park (a worthwhile destination for many reasons), for the venerable Adventure Theatre's charming production of Ella Enchanted, a world premiere musical based on the beloved book by Gail Carson Levine. This stage adaptation, from gifted and celebrated playwright Karen Zacarias and composer Deborah Wicks La Puma, is an hour of delight for all ages.

BWW Review: AN OCTOROON Brings Hilarity and Hard Truths to Woolly MammothBWW Review: AN OCTOROON Brings Hilarity and Hard Truths to Woolly Mammoth
June 6, 2016

"Out of every eight drops of my blood, seven are red, but one is black." In those words, spoken with despairing apology in An Octoroon by Zoe, the titular octoroon, the illegitimate daughter of a plantation owner, are revealed the most profound and internalized depths of racism. Like a root vegetable, where the substance of the plant is buried under the ground, it truly visible only when you yank it out to examine what has grown underneath. In this case, what's above ground is a brilliant adaptation by playwright, 2016 Pulitzer finalist (for Gloria), and DC-native Branden Jacobs-Jenkins of an 1859 play by Anglo-Irish Dion Boucicault; a play that caused controversy and sold-out houses in somewhat equal measure when it played at the Winter Garden Theatre in the looming shadow of the Civil War.

BWW Review: THE OBJECT LESSON Unpacks Art and Stories at Studio TheatreBWW Review: THE OBJECT LESSON Unpacks Art and Stories at Studio Theatre
May 20, 2016

Ever wanted to take a trip down that fabled rabbit hole? Or step through the storied looking glass into a world where things are not what you expect? You know that happy anticipation you feel when you're unwrapping a gift, and you have no idea what you might find? Or how about that rush of nostalgia and rediscovery when you're rifling through the boxes you've filled with stuff and stored away? Geoff Sobelle's The Object Lesson, currently playing at Studio Theatre takes all of those feelings and explodes them into 95 minutes of storytelling that captivates, challenges, entertains, and maybe even changes you.

BWW Interview: Laughs Most Generous: Reduced Shakespeare Company's Reed Martin & Austin TichenorBWW Interview: Laughs Most Generous: Reduced Shakespeare Company's Reed Martin & Austin Tichenor
April 28, 2016

It would be quite the coup to talk to the guys who found the long lost first play of a 17-year-old Will Shakespeare. Let me know if that ever happens to you. For my part, I'd actually prefer what I got, which was a great conversation with Austin Tichenor and Reed Martin, the guys who are pretending they found the long lost first play of a 17-year-old Will Shakespeare. At their request and in their words, I will emphasize this pointWe're pretendingWe did not find a play! It's a joke! Point taken.

BWW Review: WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE'S LONG LOST FIRST PLAY: A Cauldron Full of Belly Laughs at the Folger from the Reduced Shakespeare CompanyBWW Review: WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE'S LONG LOST FIRST PLAY: A Cauldron Full of Belly Laughs at the Folger from the Reduced Shakespeare Company
April 26, 2016

There is but poor substitute for a trio of fools on a romp to entertain; nay, but it is futility at its finest to resist the siren call of slapstick's song. Anyone else have the urge to, as I call it, "Shakespeak" after an evening of Shakespeare? No? Just me? Ok, well no matter. In any pentameter, the Reduced Shakespeare Company's (RSC) Reed Martin, Austin Tichenor and Teddy Spencer are very, very funny; fearless, quick witted, masters of quick change and, most importantly, having a blast on stage, which means the audience is likely to have fun too. The RSC has a long history of taking gargantuan themes (think American history, The Bible, Hollywood) and mining them for laughs, and, inspired by a 2010 visit to the Folger, creating a work that covered the Shakespearean universe in one "holy grail" of a play, seemed an obvious mission to them.

BWW Interview: Being That Sixth Person-Talking with Director Timothy Douglas about DISGRACED at Arena StageBWW Interview: Being That Sixth Person-Talking with Director Timothy Douglas about DISGRACED at Arena Stage
April 26, 2016

Lest you might think careers are well-planned, organized endeavors, take a lesson from director Timothy Douglas, who is gracing Washington in a return visit to Arena Stage (last season's King Hedley II was his Arena Stage debut) with his work with Ayad Akhtar's Disgraced, a play about being Muslim or, perhaps more importantly, being perceived as Muslim, in America in current times. 'I tripped into directing,' says Timothy, 'I went to LA as an actor, but found I didn't have the skin for it, so I stepped back and thought I'd be a career teacher, but through some dumb luck, I directed a show, and some people liked what they saw, and I ended up with the Center Theatre Group in LA, as a director. When I finally stopped resisting the path, it started to work.' 'It seems every good thing,' he laughingly reflects, 'has happened as I was being dragged through the back door kicking and screaming.' So, it seems, tripping doesn't always mean falling.

BWW Review: ANNIE Brings Her Smile To The National TheatreBWW Review: ANNIE Brings Her Smile To The National Theatre
March 17, 2016

Thatperennially adorable optimist Annie, and her fellow orphans have landed at Washington's National Theatre, and they're bringing the cute. Seriously folks, the show has real dogs, talented kids, a heartwarming story, and songs you know well (whether you like them or not might be another issue, of course). There's an impressive Beowulf Boritt set that makes good use of the height of the National's stage, and frequent set changes, refreshing for a touring production (which are often more spare for logistical reasons). And it's always a treat to have a live orchestra, a true overture and Act II musical introduction, and a troupe of excellent voices.

BWW Interview: THE LION's Benjamin Scheuer Takes His Pride on the RoadBWW Interview: THE LION's Benjamin Scheuer Takes His Pride on the Road
March 14, 2016

Benjamin and I talked over smoothies at a Logan Circle coffee shop, an appropriate venue to discuss a show and music that Benjamin originally thought was just a "coffee shop gig with slightly better talking." Now, that coffee shop gig has gone from a little cub to The Lion, Benjamin's award winning solo show, currently touring the US after a sold out NYC run in 2015. DC audiences are meeting Benjamin and his music at Arena Stage this spring through April 10 '16. If you haven't gotten your tickets yet, availability is limited, but Arena has added extra seats to the Kogod Cradle to accommodate slightly larger audiences.

New 2016-17 Season Announced: The Kennedy Center Artfully Celebrates a Kennedy CentennialNew 2016-17 Season Announced: The Kennedy Center Artfully Celebrates a Kennedy Centennial
March 14, 2016

On March 8, 2016, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announced that the upcoming 2016-17 season will honor the late President Kennedy's centennial birthday with an array of partnerships and performances inspired by the ideals that inspired John F. Kennedy himself: Courage, Freedom, Justice, Service and Gratitude. Kennedy Center PresidentDeborah Rutter highlighted the responsibility everyone at the Kennedy Center feels to offer a fully inclusive calendar of events that engage the artistic community, the public and society at large in the broad spectrum of the arts.

Bringing a Musical to Life: Nick Blaemire and Kyle Jarrow Shepherd FALLOUT to a NYC stageBringing a Musical to Life: Nick Blaemire and Kyle Jarrow Shepherd FALLOUT to a NYC stage
March 7, 2016

We are never too old for heroes. They are the stuff of which dreams are made. Dreams like creating a new musical and offering it up to the world. And it works really well when the new musical is about finding your heroes, or, maybe even becoming one for yourself. Enter Fallout, a new musical by DC-native Nick Blaemire and musician/composer Kyle Jarrow, which just recently had a concert presentation at Feinstein's/54 Below in New York.

BWW Interview: Broadway Welcomes Washington's Own Nancy RobinetteBWW Interview: Broadway Welcomes Washington's Own Nancy Robinette
November 27, 2015

The bustle and chaos of the Friday evening pre-show crowds on West 47th Street on Broadway are a fitting contrast to the calm that emanates from venerable DC-based actor, Nancy Robinette, who kindly agreed to chat with me about making the move to Broadway as Mrs. Alexander, in the Tony Awards Best Play of 2015, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. We met up in front of the Barrymore Theatre, Nancy's current professional home, butDC is very fortunate to call Nancy one of our own; she was raised in Arlington, graduated from Yorktown High School, and has graced the stages of Washington's most well-respected theaters over the years, including The Shakespeare Theatre Company, Arena Stage, Woolly Mammoth, Ford's Theatre and Studio Theatre. She's a Helen Hayes Award-winner for her work in Washington, and now the work has taken her a few hours north to make her Broadway debut; although to hear her tell, no matter the city or the theater, good work is good work, and Nancy is definitely familiar with lots of good work, having performed in every major DC theatre, Off Broadway at the New York Theatre Workshop andRoundabout Theatre Company, among others, Papermill Playhouse (New Jersey),at The Williamstown Festival (Massachusetts), and in cities around the country, including San Diego at The Old Globe.

BWW Interview: Johannah Easley and Aimee K. Bryant Cast a 'Spell' at Arena Stage in AKEELAH AND THE BEE!BWW Interview: Johannah Easley and Aimee K. Bryant Cast a 'Spell' at Arena Stage in AKEELAH AND THE BEE!
November 16, 2015

'People are complex,' muses Aimee K. Grant, who plays Akeelah's mom, Gail, in AKEELAH AND THE BEE, the new musical at Arena Stage when I sat down with her and her on-stage daughter, 17-year old Johannah Easley (Akeelah) to talk about their experiences with the show. Increasing understanding within and among people is the power of theater, we agree, and Akeelah definitely offers up a story of complex people, young and old. Based on the wildly popular 2006 film of the same name, it's the story of a determined young girl from a difficult situation, competing in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Akeelah's life is filled with challenges, as are many people's, and that's where this story resonates. Although a tale of triumph over adversity may not seem a new one, each person's story is different, and Akeelah's has layers that will be relatable to many in the audience.

BWW Review: Synetic Theater Takes Alice, and Us, to WonderlandBWW Review: Synetic Theater Takes Alice, and Us, to Wonderland
October 7, 2015

One thing is certain, when the lights go down in the Synetic Theater space, they will not come up on the expected; the imaginative company's signature is their unique and creative approach to storytelling on stage. They are known for their physicality and elaborate staging (you might have already experienced one of their silent productions; particularly memorable is The Tempest in 2013), and ALICE IN WONDERLAND is classic Synetic. Alice in Wonderland is one of those tales that lends itself to as many interpretations as there are people who read/hear/see it, and is thus fertile ground for the stage.

BWW Interview: A Date with DESTINY: Talking with  Playwright Karen Zacarķas
September 14, 2015

The energy and passion emanating from playwright Karen Zacaras is evident immediately upon meeting, and bodes well for a conversation about a genre of storytelling known for its intensity. Zacaras' new play, DESTINY OF DESIRE, having its world premiere at Arena Stage this month, is inspired by, and crafted in the style of a telenovela, a Latin American style of televised series, and one of the first things I wanted Karen to do as we began our talk, was clarify just what was meant by the term telenovela, as a storytelling genre.

BWW Review: Woolly Mammoth's WOMEN LAUGHING ALONE WITH SALADBWW Review: Woolly Mammoth's WOMEN LAUGHING ALONE WITH SALAD
September 13, 2015

Lettuce and laughter were being tossed in abundance at last night's opening, and world premiere, of playwright Sheila Callaghan's new play, WOMEN LAUGHING ALONE WITH SALAD, the inaugural production of Woolly Mammoth's 36th season. The play is among the more than fifty works by women being featured in DC theaters during the Women's Voices Theater Festival this fall. Woolly Mammoth has a well-earned reputation for presenting bold works that challenge audiences, and push the boundaries of how stories are being told on stage. WOMEN LAUGHING is a perfect fit for Woolly Mammoth, and for the cast and creative team who have crafted this piece.

BWW Review: Kristin Chenoweth Graces Wolf TrapBWW Review: Kristin Chenoweth Graces Wolf Trap
August 29, 2015

There are many gifted vocalists in this world (more about that later) and many gifted vocalists with charming personalities, but the sheer volume of gift and charm packed into the diminutive Kristin Chenoweth is a wonder to behold. She can sing, my word, can she sing, but when she is on stage, as last night at Wolf Trap, what particularly strikes you is her openness, sincerity and ease with herself and her audience. Chenoweth is a generous performer, warmly sharing the stage with local DC artists and musicians, and her music director, Mary-Mitchell Campbell, a talented vocalist in her own right.

BWW Reviews: Derek & Julianne Hough MOVE at Wolf Trap!BWW Reviews: Derek & Julianne Hough MOVE at Wolf Trap!
July 5, 2015

Dancers touring like rock stars might invoke some doubt, but the motto of Derek and Julianne Hough's Move Live on Tour is "Motion=Emotion," and it's a safe bet that the audience at Wolf Trap on Friday night was feeling it. One of the great trends over the past decade, has been the emergence of a measure of fame for dancers who, in the past, would have been nameless talent backing up the headliner. Even in the most hallowed ballet companies, it is the principal dancers who get the billing. But with the advent of shows like Dancing With the Stars, where the Houghs gained their reputations, to So You Think You Can Dance, and America's Best Dance Crew, we're now getting to know the names and faces of a multitude of dancers in more dance styles than most of us knew existed, and these performers are finally getting their due.

BWW Interviews: Dear (Evan Hansen's) Benj Pasek & Justin Paul, How Do Your Musicals Grow?BWW Interviews: Dear (Evan Hansen's) Benj Pasek & Justin Paul, How Do Your Musicals Grow?
July 2, 2015

The team of Benj Pasek & Justin Paul was literally on the move when I had the chance to chat with them about Dear Evan Hansen, their latest project, for which DC is fortunate enough to be the host for the world premiere, thanks to Arena Stage's dedication to nurturing new work. Benj and Justin were, in fact, driving to DC to begin the final stages of preparation for the July 10 first preview of the show. As it turns out, this was their very first visit to Arena Stage, and they were excited, and more than ready to be there. But first, we talked.

BWW Reviews: 1st Stage's THE GOOD COUNSELOR is More Than Just GoodBWW Reviews: 1st Stage's THE GOOD COUNSELOR is More Than Just Good
June 23, 2015

There is some stellar acting happening over at McLean's1st Stage Theatre right now. The Good Counselor is a taut, stirring story of family, that peels off the veneer, and shows us the layers of love, heartbreak, success and failure of which life with one's family is made. And it's a firm reminder that our own backyard is home to great theater.

BWW Reviews: NYGASP's THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE Delightfully Invades Wolf TrapBWW Reviews: NYGASP's THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE Delightfully Invades Wolf Trap
June 15, 2015

The Pirates of Penzance, Gilbert and Sullivan's classic romp of an opera is pleasure enough; but the lovely open air setting of Wolf Trap Performing Arts Center on a pleasant summer's eve makes the frolics of tender-hearted pirates, not-so-naive maidens and a constabulary force who seem to have misplaced their resolve, all the more of a treat.



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