JONATHAN GROFF
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Baltimore/Washington Backstage - January 28,2007

January 28
8:50 PM 2007

Always great to hear from readers with corrections. So, make sure you catch David Letterman's "The Late Show" on Thursday night, Feb. 8 to see the first national appearance of the hit Broadway musical, "Spring Awakening". The cast will also perform on "The View" on Wednesday, Feb. 22.

 

I highly recommend two wonderful interviews by Robert Diamond, Editor of BroadwayWorld.com with the two stars of "Spring Awakening", Jonathan Groff (1/26/07)and Lea Michelle (1/23/07). Just click on broadwayworld.com and look for these two great pieces.

 

For a review by a New York high school student, check out "Play by Play", Winter 2006/07 edition. This wonderful publication for students is a production of the Theater Development Fund. Also in this issue, a review of "A Chorus Line", "Striking 12", and an interview with Alex Gemignani of "Les Miserables".  Anyone interested in theater would enjoy this.  It's also a useful tool for discount tickets for students. You can get a free subscription by calling 212-221-0885, ext. 252, email playbyplay@tdf.org, or read the online version at www.playbyplayonline.org.

 

Also on the BWW web site, view "Broadway Beat" which features two new plays, "Journey's End" and "Adrift in Macao".  No…you don't have to live in New York anymore to view this 30 minute television show devoted to theater.  The reason I recommend this particular program involves "Journey's End" which features two of my favorite Center Stage veterans, and they are BOTH Tony winners. They are Boyd Gaines ("Twelve Angry Men" and "Contact") and Jefferson Mays ("I Am My Own Wife"). Both have appeared at Center Stage numerous times.  The World War I play takes place in a trench in St. Quentin, France. It begins previews at the Belasco Theatre on Feb. 8 and opens on  Feb. 22.  Here's a suggestion for Center Stage. Why not have a group to see this heralded play with a talk-back afterwards with both these stalawarts?


And speaking of Center Stage, I hear you should not miss "Help Wanted: A Personal Search for Meaningful Employment at the Start of the 21st Century" written and performed by Josh Lefkowitz. This one man show runs through Feb. 17 (only Thursdays through Saturdays) and tickets are ONLY $15. This sold-out hit of DC's Capital Fringe Festival was highly recommended by the Signature Theatre's Manager Director, Sam Sweet. 410-332-0033.


Also on its way at the N.Calvert Street theater is Alice Childress' "Trouble in Mind" which runs Feb. 2 to  March 4. This has been described as a "disarmingly funny look at race and its much-debated progress in America".

Really pleased to see great reviews of the Manhattan Theatre Club production of the Irish play "Translations" by Brian Friel. I was fortunate to see this play at the famous Abbey Theatre in Dublin and hoped it would make to Broadway. Well, under the Tony winning Director, Garry Hynes, it will certainly garner a Tony nomination. Check out a video interview with the Director with photos from the production at the New York Times website.

MPT's "Artworks This Week" will be replayed Monday morning, Jan.29 at 5:30. It's a superb episode. It features the an interview with Ari Roth, Artistic Director of Washington's Theater J (located at the Washington, DC Jewish Community Center) and shows a clip from their funny and moving world premiere of "Sleeping Arrangements" which continues at this lovely theater till Feb. 18. Call 800-494-TIXS. (Sunday night tix are only $25.  Is there anyone else who wonders why Baltimore cannot establish a similar theater devoted to Jewish works at the Jewish Community Center's 500 seat Meyerhoff Theater in Owings Mills?

One of Baltimore best-kept secrets the Creative Alliance housed at the Patterson Theater is featured.  Performance artist Mara Neimanis is featured in her role as Amelia Earhart in "Air Heart" which takes place Feb. 1-3. Phone 410-276-1651 or get tickets at www.missiontix.com.


The other theater segment was a repeat of a terrific Rhea Feikin interview of Vivienne Shub and her sister and author of "The Cone Sister", Naomi Greenberg-Slovin which includes a segment of the play. You better act fast if you want to see this acclaimed production. Shows are Jan. 28039 and Feb. 4-6 at 7:30 and matinees on Tuesdays, Jan. 30 and Feb. 6. Here's the latest on ticket availability: Five seats left for both the Jan. 30 (Tuesday evening) and Sunday evening, Feb. 4 shows.  Best availability is for the two matinees. Tuesday, Jan. 30 and Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 6. The matinees are at 2:30. Call 410-752-2208. For a nice article by Carol Sorgen about the show, see The Beacon, a free monthly paper available throughout Greater Baltimore.


While you're at the Everyman, you better hurry to get tickets to their current Lee Blessing play "Going to St. Ives" which runs through Feb. 25. Do not miss the terrific and topical play. The two person cast of Lynn Chavis and Kimberly Schraf are on stage throughout the play and they nail their respective accents (African and English). Kudos to the Everyman for bringing this play to local audiences. The Everyman will donate $2 of each ticket for that final performance to the Physicians for Human Rights, a nonprofit organization honored by a Nobel Peace Prize. More information of this organization that attempts to raise the visibility about medical issues and social justice, call Dr. Lawrence Egbert,  Executive Director, at 410-235-7760.


Don't forget the Grammy Awards, Sunday night, Feb. 11 on CBS from 8-11:30 p.m. The Broadway show competition will be fascinating with nominees "Sweeney Todd", "The Pajama Game", "The Color Purple", "The Drowsy Chaperone", and Tony winner, "Jersey Boys".  My prediction? An upset with "The Drowsy Chaperone".


One of the most anticipated events of the year is August Wilson's "Gem of the Ocean" at the Arena Stage which continues till March 18.. This is the only Wilson play I have yet to see.  You can get specially discounted tickets through the 31st.  Call 202-488-3300. For a podcast of interesting interviews about the production, go to www.arenastage.org.


There's another Wilson play in town. At the Ford, is "Jitney" through Feb. 18. Call 202-397-7328 in conjunction with the African Continuum Theatre Company. So you can have yourself a Wilson double-header!


Well, ticket bargain of the week? Bethesda's Round House Theatre is presenting "Orson's Shadow", January 31 – Feb. 25. Their PAY WHAT YOU  CAN performances are Jan. 31 and Feb. 1. So NO EXCUSES…you can't afford good theater. This is the Baltimore/Washington premiere of this Off-Broadway hit by Austin Pendelton where Orson Wells, Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh and Joan Plowright come to life. For more information on PWYC tickets, call 240-644-1100.


The Folger Theater is presenting a terrific production of "King Lear" which happens to star Baltimore's own Andre DeShields in the leading role. Remember him in the original cast of "The Full Monty"? This production is co-produced by the Classical Theatre of Harlem. I recommend J. Wynn Rousuck's review in the Baltimore Sun (Jan. 21, 2007). "Lear" runs till Feb. 18. 202-544-7077.


"Wicked" has arrived and is completely sold-out at the Hippodrome. The producers continue the Broadway tradition of having a lottery for tickets two hours before each show where they sell tickets limited tickets to the winners for $25. I just happened to be at the box office last Thursday and was unaware of the matinee that day. Only four people were in the lottery line which certainly suggests that not many people were aware of the only matinee in the month's run. Read my colleague James Howard's article on this site about how to get these tickets.


You must not delay if you want to see the marvelous "Into the Woods" at the brand new Signature Theatre located in Shirleyton, VA. You have until Feb . 25. Call 800-955-5566 NOW!!!!

 

The musical "Cats" is back in Baltimore. Would you believe at a high school? The Beth Ifiloh Dahan Community High School Creative Arts Department presents the Webber musical Sunday, Feb. 4 at 1 p.m., and Tuesday and Thursday, Feb. 6 & 8 at 7 p.m.  Reserve tickets Online at www.BethTfiloh.com/Register.

I know many readers head to New York to see Broadway shows so I am going to attempt to give some notice about groups that include tickets, transportation, and sometimes food from Baltimore. Here are some listings: "Curtains" (the new Kander/Ebb musical) May 30 and "Jersey Boys" Sept. 5. Call Thelma at 410-764-6571.  Joan Caplan offers: "Curtains" April 28, the sold-out "Mary Poppins" July 7 and August 4, and Tony winning "Jersey Boys" July 15, Sept. 1, and Oct. 6. Call 410-486-1272. Golden Ring Travel has trips to "Color Purple", April 22, and "Mary Poppins" Sept. 8. They also offer round-trip to NYC Wed. Sat. and Sun for $40. Call 410-391-8700.  Eyre Bus Co. has trips to "The Color Purple" March 10, "Mary Poppins" July 14 and Oct. 6, "Wicked" July 21, and "Jersey Boys" on both Aug. 25 and Sept. 22. Eyre also has day trips to NYC on Saturdays. Call 410-442-1330.

Other bus companies that offer affordable day trips are Superior Tours (410-602-1704) and Hunt Valley Motor Coach (410-584-7377).

Locally, Polovoy Tours features "Spamalot" on March 18 and "Sweet Charity" April 15 both at the Hippodrome. Call 410-653-9366.

I recently came across an interesting Australian film on HBO entitled "Bootmen". I recommend it, not for the acting or drama, but the film's director and choreographer, Dein Perry, based the film on his successful performance piece "Tap Dogs". Yes, it's all about tap dancing and the dancing is terrific. It's a combination of "Billy Elliott", "The Full Monty", and "Stomp". Disregard some of the gratuitous violence. But for anyone who has ever tap danced, you will LOVE it.

cgshubow@broadwayworld.com 

 

 

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