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CHARM CITY STAGE DOOR – 07/04/2006

Happy 4th of July!!

MARYLAND ARTS FESTIVAL IN FULL SWING 

The 25th Anniversary season of the Maryland Arts Festival at Towson University is up and running, with the recent openings of Beehive: The 60's Musical and the American Musical classic, Gypsy. (Reviews of both Beehive and Gypsy should post today).  Other theatre-related events on tap: The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, starring Julie Herber, Air Heart, starring aerialist Mara Neimanis, Tea for Three: Lady Bird, Pat and Betty, starring Emmy Award- winning actress Elaine Bromka, and a recital of Sondheim classics called, "A Woman is a Sondheim Thing", starring Carolyn Black-Sotir.  The MAF season is trulty a celebration of women.  Dates and performance times vary widely for these events, as do ticket prices.  For more information, call 410-704-2787 or go online at www.towson.edu/maf

COCKPIT-IN-COURT CONTINUES 34th SEASON   

June found Cockpit-in-Court at its home at CCBC-Essex as usual – 34 years in a row!  They opened with The Full Monty and Plaza Suite, and are now gearing up for three truly classic shows.  First up is the musical Mary Martin made famous, Peter Pan, presented by the children's theatre group whose home is the Essex campus.  Peter Pan runs from July 7 – 16, Fridays and Saturdays at 8PM, Sundays at 2PM.  Then, on the main stage is the beloved American Musical, The Music Man, running from July 21 – August 6, Fridays and Saturdays at 8PM, Sundays at 2PM.  Closing out the season in the upstairs cabaret is the mystery classic, An Inspector Calls, running from July 28 – August 6, Fridays and Saturdays at 8PM, Sundays at 2PM.  For tickets and more information go to www.ccbcmd.edu/cockpit.    

TOBY'S DINNER THEATRE FOR THE SUMMER   

Local theatre icon Toby Orenstein has great summer fare in two locations – her original Toby's of Columbia and now the terrific new Toby's of Baltimore.  And that great fare takes place at both the dinner table (sumptuous buffets are featured at both locations) and on the stage!  Toby's Columbia just opened its summer show, Buddy: The Buddy Holly Musical, which will run through September 3, 2006.  For more information about this rock n' roll event, call 1-800-88TOBYS or go online at www.tobysdinnertheatre.com

(Review to be posted 07/07/2006 on BroadwayWorld – Baltimore) 

At the fabulous new Toby's in Baltimore (located at the newly renovated Best Western at the Baltimore Travel Plaza) the terrific Footloose:The Musical continues its successful run throughout the summer.  This don't-miss production features two of Baltimore's most thrilling new performers, Kurt Boehm as Ren and Becca Vourvoulas as Ariel.  For more information, and to make reservations (you REALLY should) call 1-866-99TOBYS or go online at www.tobysdinnertheatre.com

An interview with Mr. Boehm and Ms. Vourvoulas will be posted this week on BroadwayWorld – Baltimore.  Review of Footloose posted 06/20/2006 on BroadwayWorld – Baltimore. 

25th ANNUAL BALTIMORE PLAYWRIGHTS FESTIVAL

25 seems to be Baltimore's number this year – The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is coming this season, the Maryland Arts Festival is celebrating 25 years of summer theatre, and the Baltimore Playwrights Festival is in the midst of its 25th year of bringing new, exciting works to the stage.  Through this Sunday, July 9th, Run of the Mill Theater at Loyola College presents Laura Ridgeway's new play, Turn Your Head and Kafka, directed by Jenny Tibbels.  Performances at this venue run Thurs – Sat at 8PM, Sun at 7PM and tickets are $15 General/ $12 Seniors and BTA members and only $5 for Students with ID.  For more information, go to www.runofthemilltheater.org or call 410-796-1555. 

Running through July 23rd at Fells Point Corner Theatre is "The Past is Present," a collection of one-act plays: Willie Baby by Joe Dennison, Carol Weinberg and Kimberley Lynn, directed by Marianne Angelella; Memory Garden by Mark Scharf and directed by Sharon Weaver; Wilderness by Mark Scharf and directed by Miriam Bazensky; and Miss Alice Plays by Rich Espey and directed by Mark Squirek.  Show times at FPCT are Thurs – Sat at 8PM, Sun at 7PM and tickets are $14 General/ $12 Seniors and Students.  For more information go to www.fpct.org or call 410-276-7837.

For more information about the entire festival, go to www.baltimoreplaywrightsfestival.org or call 410-276-2153.

CSC GOES REP WITH LEAR AND SHREW  - CLOSING WEEKEND 

In true repertory, CSC is performing an alternating schedule of Taming of the Shrew and King Lear through July 9, 2006 on the grounds of the Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park, 3691 Sarah's Lane in Ellicott City, Maryland, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 5:00 p.m. Gates open 90 minutes prior to show time for picnicking and The Show Before the Show. Tickets are $25; tickets for seniors are $22 and children under 18 are free (at least one paying adult for every three free children). Tickets can be purchased at 866.811.4111, on-line at www.chesapeakeshakespeare.com, or prior to the performance. Sundays are special family performances with all ages welcome. For more information and a complete schedule, call 410.752.3994 or visit www.chesapeakeshakespeare.com.  

The Chesapeake Shakespeare Company is thrilled to announce that, thanks to a sponsorship from Group 1 Software, a Pitney Bowes Company, it is able to offer free admission to this summer's King Lear and Taming of the Shrew for every child under 18.  In order to ensure adequate supervision, there must be at least one paying adult per three free children.  

(Shrew reviewed on BroadwayWorld.com – Baltimore 06/05/2006)  (Lear reviewed on BroadwayWorld – Baltimore 06/09/2006)

VAGABOND PLAYERS 'ON BORROWED TIME' TO CLOSE 

The fantasy-drama On Borrowed Time by Paul Osborne ends its run this Sunday at the Vagabond Players in Fell's Point through July 9, Fridays and Saturdays at 8Pm, Sundays at 2PM. Tickets are $15.00, with a $2.00 discount for seniors and students. Call 410-563-9135 for information and reservations. 

Directed by Donald Owens, the cast features Fred Haun, Penny S. Demps, Da 'Quan Webster, Jerome Banks-Bey, Charlene Williams and Virginia Frank, Geanna Franqui, Charles R. Landry and Roger William MacDonald.

BEST THEATRE BET OF THE WEEK: Beehive: the 6o's Musical

Look for my review of this fun filled trip down memory lane later this week.  The musical, featuring a terrific band and 6 of Baltimore's best female singers runs this week on Thursday, July 6 at 8PM, Saturday, July 8 at 8PM, and Sunday July 9 at 2PM.  The show also continues the following week.  See the information on the show and the Maryland Arts Festival above.

BEST THEATRE DVD BET OF THE WEEK:  The Ed Sullivan Show

I got this great DVD as a birthday gift from a dear friend, and I love it.  Musical theatre buffs will also, I'm sure.  The Best of Broadway Musicals: Original Cast Performances from The Ed Sullivan Show is a terrific compilation of numbers from the golden age of the American Musical, including: "Tonight" from West Side Story with Larry Kert and Carol Lawrence, "Wouldn't It Be Loverly" from My Fair Lady with Julie Andrews and cast, and my personal favorite, "I'm a Brass Band" from Sweet Charity with the late, great Gwen Verdon and a troupe of Fosse's best dancers.  This great DVD is presented in the original black and white or color format of the show.  The DVD is distributed by GoodTimes Entertainment.  For more information go to www.sofa4u.com

BEST THEATRE CD BET OF THE WEEK: The Drowsy Chaperone

Everything about this CD is awesome!  The sound quality is unparalleled, the performances are superb, and laugh out loud funny, and the narration of Bob Martin, The Man in Chair, is side-splitting and charming (an a great help if you haven't seen the show, which you really should do).  The booklet is also a stitch.  It has the usual pictures and lyrics, but also an interview with the "real" creators of the show and an absolutely hilarious picture of Beth Leavel as her character in Hamlet!  The score is as light as feather, and chock full of hummable tunes.  It reminds me of a musical that Chaperone is sort of sending up, Me and My Girl.  "Toledo Surprise" with stick with you all summer long, much like Girl's "The Lambeth Walk" did back in the late 80's.  This great recording is available in music stores everywhere in the area.

READERS WRITE

First of all, thanks to all of you who wrote concerned about my lack of column last week.  I am fine, thank you very much.  I was on a trip to the Big Apple to see Tarzan.  Don't believe everything you've read or heard about this one.  It is absolutely charming, eye-popping, and has a great score by Phil Collins and winning performances by Josh Strickland, Jenn Gambatese and Merle Dandridge, all of who were gypped at awards time this past season.  I'm not saying they'd have won, but they were better than at least one nominee in each of their respective categories, and I agree with Tony-winner Bob Crowley – he should have won for his design of Tarzan.  It is incredible.

Second, I'd like to thank Katie at the Hippodrome for sending in a correction to a previous column.  Norbert Leo Butz will NOT be playing Freddie when Dirt Rotten Scoundrels gets here this fall.  Our loss for sure, but I am sure that we will still get a great production of this funny, dazzling musical.

And lastly, to Gaynele, who wrote to let me know that Essex Community College hasn't been called that for the past 7 years.  It is known as the Community College of Baltimore County- Essex Campus (I hope I am at least close!).  Old habits die hard, and it doesn't help that I have Hairspray on the brain!  Thanks!

Have a safe holiday!  Thanks for reading, James.


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