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Movers & Shakers: 46 Artists of the 2007 Baltimore Theatre

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The Up and Comers Class of 2007

Every year, hundreds of shows, and thousands of actors, directors, technicians and the like converge on Baltimore's many theatre spaces.  And every year, a new crop of folks debuts, branches out into new areas or simply flourishes after years in the background.  Here, in alphabetical order, are the 10 men and 10 women who really distinguished themselves onstage or behind the scenes this year.  Plus, there were a few younger people who really made a difference, too!  Some literally made their debut, while others showed Charm City audiences what they could do over the course of the year. 

The Gentlemen:

Ian Belknap (Director: Save Me, Legs (Variations on Justice); Actor: Much Ado About Nothing):  Ian has really run the gamut this year, working as press rep for the BSF for part of the year, and directing Save Me for the Baltimore Playwrights Festival, and the one act Legs for Run of the Mill's Variations on Justice.  Charisma fairly springs from this talented young man, who made his presence first known when he directed the award-winning play Split, by one of last year's "Up and Comers," Ira Gamerman.  Then, late this year, Mr. Belknap went back to his acting training and secured an ensemble role in Everyman's Much Ado About Nothing.  That he could hold his own against the acting chops of no less than Vivienne Shub is a credit to him.  Up next:  He's directing The Comedy of Errors for the BSF.

Vince Eisenson (Actor: As You Like It, Henry V, Macbeth):  A new face and now regular to CSC, this extremely talented young actor is also currently appearing in National Treasure 2 at your local Cineplex.  Mr. Eisenson made quite an impression in the summer comedy As You Like It, swooning and singing his way around stage, and then showed his dramatic flare in Henry V, as one of Henry's betrayers.  In Macbeth, he scored nicely with the role of heir to the throne of Scotland, bringing a simmering anger and indignation to a young man exiled from his own country and ready to stage a comeback.

Adam Grabau (Actor: Fiddler on the Roof, Little Shop of Horrors, Titanic: The Musical, The Sound of Music):  A part of the Toby's family, Mr. Grabau really came into his own this year, making the most of ensemble roles in both Fiddler on the Roof and The Sound of Music.  He also played one of the puppeteers of Audrey II in Little Shop.  But what most impressed me about this young actor was his intensity and subtle facial acting in Titanic: The Musical, as Murdock, the edgy, unsure officer on that fated ship, his hands on the wheel at the time of impact.  The look of fear and panic on his face as he refused to let go of the wheel is etched in my mind forever.  For Mr. Grabau and his audience the tragedy was really happening.  And that's why he is one to watch for in 2008!

J. Buck Jabaily (Artistic Director, Single Carrot Theatre; Director: Red Light Winter; Actor: Short Play Festival, The Baltimore Waltz):  Much print has been given to the coming of this new theatre company from Colorado to Baltimore, including on this site.  But Mr. Jabaily still makes the list because he is a young man with whom the buck stops.  But is he afraid?  NO!  Red Light Winter proved to be one of the most well-received and challenging productions of 2007, and he isn't bad onstage either, which he proved with a sincere, heartfelt and funny performance in The Baltimore Waltz.  I'm sure this won't be last we hear of him!

Peter Kendall (Actor: The Blessed Mothers of War):  Young Mr. Kendall, a theatre major at McDaniel College gave one of the most intense performances I've seen in years in The Blessed Mothers of War, a problematic, if timely play presented as part of The Baltimore Playwrights festival.  Mr. Kendall managed in a short time to transport us through the dangerous maze of politics, fear, confusion and rage, as he portrayed an unwilling participant in the Iraq war, later coming to grips with the consequences of doing what is right.  I'm excited to see what comes next from this young man!

Todd Krickler (Actor: Fat Pig, The Pillowman):  Though The Pillowman at Mobtown has more potential than actual excitement to it, Mr. Krickler managed to do his best with the role of a mentally challenged young man left to decide whether to be honest or lie to save his brother.  But it was his powerhouse performance as the nasty best friend to the "hero" of Fat Pig that really brings him this honor.  Krickler's performance nearly redefines the term "a#%$%^le" he was so blistering in his delivery.  Best part of that?  That he was saying everything most of us are probably too ashamed to admit we were thinking.

Michael Leicht (Actor: CYA, Anna in the Tropics, The Lion in Winter): My first memory of Mr. Leicht comes from remembering my thoughts as I drove home from CYA, a BPF entry this year.  In that he played a philandering company executive.  And I remember thinking that he could charm the skin off of a snake, and that he had such intense eyes when he acts.  My instincts about him were proven correct has he tackled the slimy, sexy villainous role in Anna in the Tropics, and later as the arrogant, strong and smoldering Richard in The Lion in Winter.  His intensity and raw passion make him the best kind of bad guy – you know you shouldn't like him, but his charms draw you in anyway.  It will be interesting to see him play something against this type.

Kevin McAllister (Director/Designer: AIDA at ArtsCentric; Actor: Dreamgirls):  I remember the day Mr. McAllister wrote to invite me to review his production of AIDA last summer.  He wanted me to be brutally honest.  I was.  His production was better than the Broadway version in every way.  It was more interesting to watch, thanks to his direction and design, and it was much better sung.  On the directing/design front alone, McAllister would have made this list, but he also dazzles onstage, as well.  Last year, he was amazing in Ragtime, and this year, he seemed to revel in the "dark side" of his bad guy character in Dreamgirls.  Make going to the next ArtsCentric production your New Year's resolution.  You won't regret it!

Brendan Ragan (Actor: Red Light Winter, The Baltimore Waltz; Director: La Muneca):  It is hard to think of a more grounded, real, and meticulously quirky performance than Brendan Ragan's in Red Light Winter.  His insecurities became ours, his triumphs and downfalls ours, too.  But I also remember the truly amazing sense of company between the three actors in that difficult play, with Mr. Ragan playing the tie that bound them all.  Then he showed an equally adept flare for the funny in this multiple roles in The Baltimore Waltz.  In that he played probably 15 distinct parts, sometimes with only a fast costume change to separate them.  He, like the rest of the founding members of Single Carrot are worth watching for in 2008!

Jan-David Soutar (Actor: Almost Vermillion):  Even though he played a very small role in only one play in 2007, Mr. Soutar easily made this list due to the immense impression he made with just a few lines and one brilliantly staged and played heinous act against a child.  That a young actor can make that work so well is exactly why he is one to watch for in 2008!

The Ladies:

Rebecca Ellis (Marketing Director, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company; Actress: Burn This, As You Like It, A Shayna Maidel): In the crowded field of talent that is the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, Rebecca Ellis has been a steady contributor.  This year, however, she really has taken off both behind the scenes and on stage.  Her easy, sophisticated delivery and piercing eyes make her the kind of actress you watch, be it in a major role (Burn This, As You Like It) or in a supporting role (A Shayna Maidel).

Nancy Flores (Actress: Angels in America: Perestroika, Blood Wedding): This year, Nancy Flores burst onto the scene in plays that allowed her to express herself both in movement and acting.  At Spotlighters, she played the Angel in Perestroika, recreating Central Park's Bethesda Fountain – a stunning image not soon forgotten.  At Run of the Mill, she flamenco danced and created a memorable character the was a symbol of death in Blood Wedding.  Let's hope she gets a chance to play something more cheery in 2008!

Natalia Chavez Leimkuhler (Actress: Rudy Doo; Director: Rounding Third):  This very talented lady first came to my attention in 2006's Real Women Have Curves, but it was in 2007 that she really came into her own.  She played a multitude of roles in Rudy Doo, including a donut hoarding choking victim and a sex crazed socialite.  More recently, she made her directorial debut at Catonsville Theatre Company with the baseball dads comedy/drama, Rounding Third.  Talk about eclectic!

Giti Lynn (Actress: Red Light Winter, La Muneca; Director: True Blue):  My first encounter with Miss Lynn was in the lobby of the Mobtown Players theatre space.  She took my hand and thanked me profusely for coming to the show, a short play festival, and premiere production of Single Carrot Theatre.  She directed one of the plays, True Blue, memorable for its terrific plot twist and all-encompassing staging.  But it was in Red Light Winter where she made her greatest impression on me as an actress.  I was among the crowd of people mesmerized by her soulful, measured performance, and joined in the gasp when she dropped her superb French accent to reveal that her character was, in fact, American.  In La Muneca, Miss Lynn showed us a completely different character, a 7 year old homeless girl.

Jaye Nicole (Actress: A Touch of Spring, Anna in the Tropics, Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge):  Her first role this year, in the BPF production of A Touch of Spring, really stood out for her honest connection to the audience.  Later, in Anna in the Tropics, her heartfelt performance added an emotional depth to the whole show.  And in Mrs. Bob Cratchit, she got to show her comedic side as the sassy ghost of Christmases Past, Present and Future.  I look forward to seeing what else she has up her sleeves!

Mary Rose O'Connor (Director/Designer: Mr. Marmalade):  When it was announced that the Maryland Arts Festival would be no more in 2007, the students of Towson University stepped up and offered two summer productions.  Mr. Marmalade, a difficult piece, was craftily directed and designed by Mary Rose O'Connor.  Ms. O'Connor, it seems, has a knack for making the quirky accessible to the masses, coaxing out fine performances from her actors.

Ashley Parker (Actress: AIDA, Grease, Dreamgirls, Holiday Hot Nostalgia):  Miss Parker's small stature in no way prepares you for the power of her voice and the level of her acting.  She pretty much fills the stage where ever she goes!  The variety of roles that she took on this year really speaks to her range both as an actor and vocalist.  Here's hoping we see a lot more of her in 2008!

Erin Riley (Actress: Fat Pig):  Requests for an interview with Erin Riley came flooding in from you readers after she opened in Fat Pig at Spotlighters.  All of us were taken by her raw, honest portrayal.  And her subsequent interview just made all of us bigger fans – her warmth, sense of humor and her enviable self-image struck a chord with many readers.  Up next for her: directing the premiere of Six Dead Queens and an Inflatable Henry!  2008 may just move her to next year's Masters list!

Shaunte Tabb (Actress: Once on This Island):  Ms. Tabb's heartbreaking performance as Ti Moune in Winters Lane's Once on This Island, was one of the best of 2007.  This young woman is a true triple threat actress/singer/dancer, and that performance took full advantage of her talents.  One can only imagine what she'll bring to local stages next!

Lindsay Kitt Wiebe (Actress: As You Like It, Henry V):  Ms. Wiebe made an instant, indelible mark on my memory when she took the stage this summer as The Chorus in Henry V.  Her powerful voice and full body expression made the whole play easier to understand, and infinitely more dramatic.  Her comic chops were put to the test in supporting roles in As You Like It, and she passed with flying colors.  Let's hope we get to see more of her next summer at CSC's Theatre in the Ruins.

The Young Ones:

As a policy, we do not review children at BroadwayWorld.com when they are in all kid shows.  Obviously, we couldn't review Annie without talking about the child playing Annie, or the same with the boy playing Oliver in Oliver!  But this year, several young actors more than held their own against a stage full of adult actors.  I'll be willing to bet that most of them could go on to great acting careers given time, training and experience.  Here are 6 from 2007.

Bradley Bowers:  To be honest, I've never seen this young man act, but how bad can he be when he was plucked from the stages of The Children's Playhouse of Maryland to star on Broadway as Young Tarzan during the final weeks of that show's run?  Or how about a starring role in Off-Broadway's Crossing Brooklyn?  This guy already has a resume most of us adults would kill for!

Robyn A. Cole:  His performance as the mentally, physically and sexually abused boy in Almost Vermillion was no less than amazing.  He has the finesse of a professional and the raw edges so perfect for that role.  And is he ever brave.  I don't know many actors older than he is that would take the kind of risks he did.

Gabriella DeLuca: With the composure of a seasoned actress and the vulnerability of a teenaged girl, Miss DeLuca breathed new life into the role of Liesl in The Sound of Music.  Her best scenes? Sneaking back into the house after secretly meeting her boyfriend, and, of course, the "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" scene with our next young star on the rise…

Charlie Eichler: Mr. Eichler, like his co-star, is a natural.  His composure and intensity should be an example to more than a few adult actors I've seen.  And his edgy, forceful performance in The Sound of Music gave his role an unexpected amount of layers.

Zack Hornberger:  This high school actor stepped up to the big time in The Lion in Winter, playing the ornery spoiled brat John with abandon and honesty.  He reminded me of a puppy, full of exuberance, but often chastised and down with his tail between his legs.  In a cast of adults that included some of this area's most seasoned, passionate actors, he not only held his own, he rose to the occasion.

Julia Unitas:  Her I'm-an-adult-in-a-kid's-body take on her role in High Society made her a charming, scene-stealing highlight of that production.  It is hard to believe, watching her that she was only in the 6th grade!

The Masters Class of 2007

Just as there are "new faces" every year, so too are there familiar names and faces that have been sharing their expertise and love for theatre with local audiences for years.  Here, in alphabetical order, are the 10 men and 10 women who really distinguished themselves onstage or behind the scenes this year, even surpassing their already monumental achievements.

The Ladies:

Jessica Ball (The Full Monty, Fiddler on the Roof, Grease, Titanic: The Musical, The sound of Music):  Mark my words, in the very near future, Miss Ball will be discovered and whisked off to Broadway or Hollywood or both!  With a wide range of roles, from ensemble (I will never forget her in the bathroom scene in The Full Monty) to supporting roles (she broke hearts in Titanic: The Musical) to leading roles (Julie Andrews who?), there is nothing she can't do.  Add to that the "it" factor that people talk about but can never define, which she has in excess, and you have a real star in the making.  While we still have her here, don't miss a thing she's in!  (The Sound of Music runs through February 15 at Toby's Columbia.)

Sherrionne Brown (Mary, Mary, Burn This, The Lion in Winter):  Ms. Brown has been a local director, designer and actress for years in Baltimore and beyond.  But 2007 was truly a banner year for her.  Her apartment set for Mary, Mary took up every inch of Spotlighters' space and looked so real, you could live in it!  And with The Lion in Winter, she showed us how it is possible to do it all – act, design and direct – creating one of the most riveting theatre experiences of the season.

Tina Marie DeSimone (The Full Monty, Fiddler on the Roof, Grease, Dreamgirls, Holiday Hot Nostalgia):  Anyone who attends Toby's Dinner Theatres knows the work of Tina, whether she's in the show or not.  She is an outstanding choreographer, capable of making the clumsiest of dancers look like Tommy Tune.  What really makes her work stand out, though, is that in addition to using the natural talents of her dancers, she manages to create original, exciting pieces that stand on their own AND contribute to the story.  Then, too, she is quite a singer-actress.  This year, she belted the hell out of "There Are Worse Things I Could Do" as Rizzo in Grease, and was absolutely charming as Tzeitel in Fiddler on the Roof.

Karina Ferry (The Mineola Twins, Angels in America: Perestroika, The Great American Trailer Park Musical):  My first brush with Karina Ferry was when she replaced another actress in a production of And Then There Were None.  She was so good, that both she and the other actress were named Outstanding Actress for the same role last year.  She continued her excellent work this year in The Mineola Twins, in a supporting role, but nothing prepared me for her next two performances.  First, she gave a gutsy, all-out performance as the drug-addled Harper in Angels in America: Perestroika at Spotlighters, then dazzled us at the same venue with her best trailer trash shtick in The Great American Trailer Park Musical.  Ms. Ferry has been on the Baltimore scene for some time, but this year she took her skills to a whole new level.

Lynn Joslin (Lighting Designer for both Toby's locations – George M!, Little Shop of Horrors, Titanic: The Musical, The Sound of Music, The Full Monty, Fiddler on the Roof, Dreamgirls – and AIDA at ArtsCentric/Morgan State):  Designers are often the unsung heroes of a show, unless the design is really bad, then they get tons of blame.  Nowhere is that more true than in the area of stage lighting.  Special effects aside, the best lighting creates moods and places and times, but you really shouldn't notice it.  For years, Lynn has been a staple in the design team at Toby's, but this year she really showed that she is a true artist.  Her lighting for Titanic: The Musical, and currently, The Sound of Music was/is a tapestry of color, transporting audiences.

Kristina Lambdin (Costume Designer for Chesapeake Shakespeare Company – As You Like It, The Front Page): Ms. Lambdin's designs have never been off the mark in the two years I've covered shows at CSC.  She takes a director's vision and the time period and creates stunning costumes for huge casts.  No cookie-cutter designs where the ensemble has the same outfit on, just in different colors for her!  No each costume from the lead to the smallest walk on is detailed from head to toe, and her choices of color and fabric patterns and textures work miracles in the CSC venues of a black box and stone-walled ruins.  When you see her name in the program, you know you are in for a visual feast.

Kimberley Lynne (Scenic Designer – Baltimore Shakespeare Festival – Desdemona, A Play About a Handkerchief and Antigone):  Ms. Lynne, also a playwright, is a local set designer for the BSF.  I remember vividly both times I entered their space in Hampden and literally gasping at her sets for Desdemona and Antigone.  The latter was especially awesome, with a burned out shell of a car on stage and two levels of playing areas, suggesting at once a modern war-torn Iraq/Bosnia and an epic Greek amphitheatre.  Stunning work by one of the most creative theatre artists in Baltimore.

Anya Randall Nebel (Founder of Winters Lane Productions – Once on This Island, Disney's High School Musical; Cockpit-in-Court's AIDA):  Ms. Nebel is a can-do lady.  I have never spoken to her when she wasn't excited and energized (even her emails are full of that energy), and that is no small fete, considering she ran a successful company and directed and starred in a well-received production this year.  Her company, Winters Lane Productions, year after year sets a high standard for musical theatre at the community level, more often than not surpassing many a regional theatre.  Her company's hallmark is an inclusive philosophy, one where diversity is celebrated and honored not by simply doing shows that feature minority characters, but because their casting is truly and unobtrusively color-blind.  If you are right for the part you get it.  A lot of her work there is behind the scenes, but this summer she took on the directing and title role in Elton John's AIDA at Cockpit-in-Court, creating a lovely production and proving her meddle as an actress and singer.  I can't wait to see what she has in store for 2008!

Toby Orenstein (Owner, Director of Toby's Baltimore and Columbia):  2007 was this legend's year, I think.  She has turned a new location into another successful venue for musical theatre, had her hand in at least 8 productions at her theatres, and was named the Marylander of the Year.  And if her production of Titanic: The Musical doesn't win a Helen Hayes Award, there is simply no justice.  It remains the single most thrilling piece of theatre I've ever scene her produce in nearly 20 years of my own personal attendance.  And 2008 looks to be just as good – up next: La Cage aux Folles, and the area premieres of All Shook Up and The Producers!

Alexandra Pappas (Lighting Designer for The Baltimore Shakespeare Festival – Antigone, Desdemona, a Play About a Handkerchief, All's Well That Ends Well):  Another artist with the lighting instrument, Ms. Pappas provided the moody, complex lighting of a surreal setting with Desdemona, violent, evocative lighting for Antigone, and a bright European feel to Shakespeare's comedy, All's Well That Ends Well.  As every director seems to try to put a unique stamp on a treasured classic, Ms. Pappas has a gift for understanding both the demands of her director and design team and the script as intended.  The result is a wondrous assault on the senses. 

The Gentlemen

Randy Dunkle (AIDA, Songs for a New World, The Last 5 Years):  I met Randy in 2006 when he was in FPCT's Sunday in the Park with George, and had a great interview.  I knew then that Mr. Dunkle was going places, and this year he brought his best work to the table.  After singing in the ensemble revue, Songs for a New World for Cockpit-in-Court, he moved to the main stage to play Radames in AIDA.  His beautiful singing really brought a lot to that production, but those of us fortunate enough to see him in The Last 5 Years at Vagabonds really got a show.  Dunkle pulled out all of the stops, singing and acting his way through his best performance to date.

David Gregory (Once on This Island, Falsettos, Dreamgirls):  David Gregory came to my attention in 2006 with his understated, witty performance as Belize in Angles in America: Millennium Approaches at Spotlighters, but, like Mr. Dunkle, Mr. Gregory did amazing work in 2007, and all over the area, too!  He starred as Daniel in Winters Lane's Once on This Island, and then gave an angry, heart-wrenching performance as Whizzer in FPCT's Falsettos.  Then, he proved his mettle behind the scenes as co-director with fellow 2007 Master, Toby Orenstein, with their acclaimed staging of Dreamgirls at Toby's Baltimore.  I wonder where we'll find him next!?

Jay Herzog (Lighting Designer, Chairman of the Theatre Arts Program at Towson University):  Aside from teaching and putting a nationally recognized theatre program at Towson University together and running, Mr. Herzog does amazing artistic work as a lighting designer.  His visually compelling work was seen in 2007 at Towson University in their double bill of Angels in America: Millennium Approaches and Perestroika.  Meanwhile, his literally artistic work added a nice dimension to Everyman Theatre's Sight Unseen.  The consummate professional, Mr. Herzog really contributes to both the present and the future of Baltimore theatre.

Vincent Lancisi (Artistic Director of Everyman Theatre, Director of And a Nightingale Sang and Much Ado About Nothing):  Respected everywhere I hear his name mentioned, Mr. Lancisi and his company have made Everyman Theatre an institution in Baltimore and the region.  Last year, he announced an expansion to a new theatre near the Hippodrome, due to open in 2009.  Not content to coast until then, Lancisi has guided the company to an expanded performance schedule, several cabaret productions, and personally directed the company's very first foray into Shakespeare with the critically acclaimed Much Ado About Nothing.  My personal favorite of his work though was this year's most under-appreciated productions, And a Nightingale Sang.  With Mr. Lancisi at the helm I can only see new heights for Everyman.

Shane Logue (The Mineola Twins, Assassins, Rudy Doo, The Lion in Winter):  This local actor apparently has very few limits to his onstage talents.  He is equally adept at comedy, drama, camp, and musicals.  One thing is for sure, though.  No matter what the role, you are guaranteed a full bodied not holds barred performance.  He was funny as the twisted sons of The Mineola Twins, heart breaking and even funny as the physically challenged Vic in Rudy Doo, and viciously bitchy as the third-wheel son in The Lion in Winter.  But it is his haunting, distant-looking eyes and his intensity as Lee Harvey Oswald in Assassins that showed us all what a real talent he is.

Chas Marsh (Sound Designer, Towson University, Rep Stage, Everyman Theatre):  Like Mr. Herzog, Mr. Marsh divides his time between several venues, and like his colleague, his area of artistic achievement is usually best when the audience doesn't even know he's doing his job.  Beyond microphone placement and balancing, Marsh's sound also encompasses creating mood and effects that carry an audience to different places and dimensions.  Nowhere was that more evident than in his stunning, evocative design for TU's Angels in America.  In an equally challenging task with Rep Stage's A Shayna Maidel, Mr. Marsh helped transition us between years past, the present, and in the dreamlike world of memory.  It made a beautiful production that much more so.

Daniel McDonald (Actor – The Full Monty, Fiddler on the Roof, Titanic: The Musical, Holiday Hot Nostalgia; Press Representative – Toby's Dinner Theatre of Baltimore):  As a press representative, Daniel gets to hear a lot from me – my dumb questions, my nagging for an interview… - but he never ever loses his patience (thanks, Daniel), and in large part, he is why Toby's Dinner Theatres and BWW have such a great relationship.  And, yes, he is being named to this list partly for his work in that area, but that he balances it with rehearsing one or two shows while teaching classes locally and directing on the side, all while performing most nights is why he is on this list.  And audiences who have had the pleasure of watching him work know he never gives his roles the short shrift, either.  Two of his many performances stand out in my mind from 2007.  First, it was as Dave, the hapless overweight charmer that warmed our hearts in The Full Monty, that Daniel really showed what he could do -sing, dance and be achingly funny.  Then, as the henpecked husband Edgar Beane in Titanic: The Musical, Daniel really showed his flare for the dramatic.  Was there a dry eye in the place when he and his wife (played brilliantly by Janine Gulisano-Sunday) parted as the ship went down?  And it was laughter through tears, as he accepted his fate by offering to gamble his savings in one last game of cards.  Two amazing performances, one amazing guy.

Larry Munsey (Actor: The Full Monty, Titanic: The Musical, Holiday Hot Nostalgia, Falsettos; Director/Choreographer: The Full Monty, Titanic: The Musical, Holiday Hot Nostalgia): Talk about dedicated!  Where does this man find time to sleep or eat?  No matter where his name appears in the program you know you're going to get 100% from this true artist.  Many people will remember his fiery, passionate performance as Marvin in FPCT's Falsettos this past spring, but for my money he was at his despicable best as J. Bruce Ismay in Titanic: The Musical.  He brought nasty entitlement and sheer arrogance to new heights in the true-to-life portrayal of one of history's most selfish villains.  And then again, he brought a charming charisma and self-doubt to the role of Malcolm in The Full Monty.  I can't wait to see him as Albin/ZsaZsa in La Cage aux Folles!

FUZZ Roark (Executive Director of Spotlighters Theatre):  One can't help but believe that Audrey Herman, founder of Spotlighters, must be looking down from Heaven and smiling at her little theatre.  And its success, including an impressive string of hits in 2007, is due in large part to its Executive Director, FUZZ Roark.  Not only does he run the day to day operations (he is the charming man discretely asking you for money before each curtain), but he also has designed lights, costumes, and even directed one of the best local musicals this year, The Great American Trailer Park Musical.  Determined to take away the stereotype of "community theatre," Mr. Roark works tirelessly to challenge his company and the community.

Michael Tan (Musical Director: Falsettos, Angels in America: Perestroika, The Great American Trailer Park Musical; Actor: Rudy Doo):  Mr. Tan was all over the area spreading his professional grade skills to theatres far and wide.  But it was his thrilling musicianship and a healthy dose of fun acting as "The Teeny Tiny Band" in Falsettos that made a huge impression on me in 2007.  Was there anyone on that stage having more fun?  I don't think so!  And he proved that he is multi-talented, playing a variety of roles in the BPF production of Rudy Doo.  Given his schedule in 2007, I bet we can find him in any number of places in 2008!

Congratulations and thank you to all of our Masters, Up and Comers and Young Stars on the Rise.  You each make Baltimore theatre that much better.

PHOTOS: Courtesy of the represented theatre companies.  TOP to BOTTOM: Honoree Peter Kendall (right) in Blessed Mothers of War; Honorees Giti Lynn (center), Brendan Ragan (right) in Red Light Winter, directed by Honoree J. Buck Jabaily; Honorees Shane Logue (center, seated), Michael Tan (center, standing) and Natalia Chavez Leimkuhler in Rudy Doo; Honorees Michael Leicht and Jaye Nicole in Anna in the Tropics; Robyn A. Cole (seated) in Almost Vermillion; Honoree Gabriella DeLuca in The Sound of Music; Honoree Jessica Ball in The Sound of Music; Titanic: The Musical, lighting by Honoree Lynn Joslin; Honoree Kevin McAllister (center) in Dreamgirls, co-directed by Honorees Toby Orenstein and David Gregory; Much Ado About Nothing, directed by Honoree Vincent Lancisi; Honorees Michael Leicht, Zack Hornberger and Shane Logue (left to right) in The Lion in Winter, produced by Spotlighters under the Executive Direction of Honoree FUZZ Roark; Honoree Daniel McDonald (left) in Titanic: The Musical.

Don't forget to cast your ballot for the first annual Baltimore Readers' Choice Awards!  Deadline is noon on January 6th!

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James was first bitten by the theatre bug at the tender young age of 11, when, at the last minute, he was called upon to replace a classmate who, 42nd STREET-like, broke his leg, in a play, of all things, about the skeletal system! It was a trip to New York with his high school drama teacher to see Angela Lansbury in MAME that sealed his fate. As an actor, favorite roles include Sheridan Whiteside in THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER, Potiphar in JOSEPH..., Col. Pickering in MY FAIR LADY, and Sancho Panza?s ass in MAN OF LA MANCHA. After spending a summer feeling very conflicted playing both an apostle AND a high priest in JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, James' theatre career took a turn toward direction and design, including such varied productions as THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK, LOST IN YONKERS, GETTING AWAY WITH MURDER and GRAND HOTEL, SIDE SHOW, THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD and SWEENEY TODD. James holds a Bachelor's degree in English from Towson University, with additional course work in journalism, dramaturgy, scenic design and stage direction. He is living proof that you can be a devout Sondheim fan AND love MAMMA MIA!


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(Runs 9/20 - 11/16)
Footloose in Washington, DCFootloose
(Runs 11/20 - 11/22)

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