NEIL PATRICK HARRIS
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Baltimore Backstage - March 10, 2006

Thursday night I had the pleasure to attend the Carver/> Center/>/> for the Arts and Technology production of "Urinetown, the Musical". Let me first say from the start that I am a card-carrying member of the "Urinetownmaniacs" (colleague James Howard is the other member). We both love this show. And kudos to Carver for having the courage to present this Tony winning musical. And in typical Carver fashion where the students build the sets, make the costumes, do the lighting and sound, it's so much fun.  Director Mathew Bowerman (you may remember his wonderful portrayal as Leo Frank in the Fells Point Corner Theater incredible production of the Jason Robert Brown musical, "Parade") was all smiles watching his students perform Thursday night. Some sound problems need to be corrected and when that's done, it will be fine. I wish people were not inhibited though to laugh. I sure wasn't. While the material in the first half may be a bit sluggish, the astonishing jubilant second half makes up for it.  Carver is blessed with so much talent. Stand-outs are Xavier Taylor as Bobby Strong (who has a voice that goes along with his name), Rebecca Lachance in the plum role of "Little Sally" (who can forget Spencer Kayden in the Broadway production), William Shelton as Caldwell B.Cladwell (played on Broadway by John Cullum), and Frank Anthony as Hot Blades Harry (who has a great future as a singer/dancer…what moves!!!)  Special mention has to be made about Jamila Sabares-Klemm who played Hope Cladwell. She has amazing charm, beauty, and a wonderful voice and could head right to Broadway in the role of "The Lady of the Lake/>" in "Spamalot" which was originated by Tony winner Sara Ramirez. This is no ordinary high school production. You have two more performances left to see it, March 10 and 11 at 7 p.m./> Tickets are $15.  Call 410-887-2775.

 And then there were no more performances. Looking forward to seeing the well-received "And Then There Were None" at the Spotlighters. You only have tonight, March 10, and Saturday night, March 11. Call 410-752-1225.

 Closing this week-end, Center Stage's courageous production of "The Murder of Isaac".

Call 410-332-0033.

 Also closing this week, the Olney/> Theatre/> Center/>/> production of "The Heiress". Call 301-924-3400. The musical "Anything Goes" is next up at the OTC.

 Theater Bargains Anyone?  Washington/>/>'s acclaimed Studio Theater is presenting a U.S./>/> premier of a new adaptation of "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie".  On Saturday afternoon, March 11 at 2 p.m/> it's Pay-What-You-Can". Call 202-332-3300. Who says you can't afford going to the theater?

 Baltimore/>/>'s Everyman Theatre also offers a "Pay-What-You-Can" for its production of "A Number" by Caryl Churchill for the Tuesday night, March 14 preview performance at 7:30/>. Opening night is Friday, March 17. Call 410-752-2208. 

 Here's another addition to my wish list for Baltimore/>/> theater.  Washington/>, DC/>/> offers "All Stages For All Ages" which aims to introduce young people to the magic of live theater with FREE tickets for kids 5-17.  Here's the deal. Purchase one regularly priced ticket at participating theaters for select performances and get a second one – for a child 17 or younger- FREE. Theaters include the Arena, Folger, Ford's, Kennedy Center, National Symphony, National, Olney, Rep Stage, Round House, Studio, Theater J, and Wooley Mammoth.  Call 202-334-5885 or log onto www.lowt.org.

 If you missed the wonderful Center Stage production of "The Rainmaker" or want to compare and contrast, the Arena Stage has the show till April 9. They offer a Target Family Fun Pack: 4 orchestra seats, 4 non-alcoholic drinks, and 4 snacks for $100. Call 202-488-3300 (children must be between the ages of 5 and 18). Over 1,000 families took advantage of this offer during their run of "Damn Yankees".

You may recall my mentioning how much I enjoyed the Disney televised "High School Musical". The CD of this production is now the nation's #1 selling music album. It's beating performers such as Mary Blige, Barry Manilow, Andre Bocelli, and Eminem.  What is happening here? What it is, not exactly clear.  But young people love this show. Statistics don't lie.  During six telecasts from January 20 to Feb. 13, the movie drew 8.4 million kids ages 6-11 and 8.7 million aged 9-14.  This core may very well be the future of musical theater.  The DVD arrives on May 23 with two versions: the original and a sing-along edition that displays on-screen lyrics so viewers can participate in the musical numbers. Bonus material includes dance lessons by choreographer Kenny Ortega. Fans will be able to learn the moves by using the DVD remote's angle feature to see dance steps from different points of view.  This technology could be used in future musical releases. What fun it would be to have sing-along editions of "Rent", "The Producers" and the soon to be made "Hairspray".

You can catch "High School Musical" tonight, March 10 on Disney @ 8 p.m. Set your tivos, dvrs, and video-tape machines.

 I will use this space occasionally to suggest music purchases.  Seventeen songs from the jam-packed "Wall to Wall Sondheim" event held March 19, 2005/> at New York/>/>'s Symphony Space have been preserved on a new CD. This was a free, all-day concert devoted to the works of Sondheim and featured dozens of stars performing songs spanning over fifty years of the composer's work.  I purchased this keep-sake and highly recommend it. Performers include Gregg Edelman, his wife Carolee Carmello, Judy Kaye, John Dossett (all three "Mamma Mia" vets), Chip Zien, Laura Benanti, Neil Patrick Harris, Emily Skinner, Michael Cerveris, Liz Callaway, and Donna Murphy. Go to www.symphonyspacestore.org.  Cost is $20. If you are a Sondheim fan, this is a must for your collection.

Finally, you may recall my recommendation of the film "Mrs. Henderson Presents". I recommend this to all theater lovers. Now showing at the Rotunda Cinemtheque and Valley Center in Owings Mills.

For any questions or comments, please email me at cgshubow@broadwayworld.com.




 

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