Out on Stage

Out on Stage

Ryan M. Clark

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Flawed American Dream

August Wilson’s Fences at Everyman Theatre

A worn down front porch sets the scene for the odyssey of Troy Maxon in Everyman Theatre’s production of August Wilson’s Fences. Similar to the way the great American playwrights Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller explore the tapestry of the human condition, August Wilson provides us with his own unique thread commonly referred to as The Pittsburgh Cycle – a series of ten plays representing each decade of the 20th century chronicling the African-American experience. Fences is his entry for the 1950s – a post-World War II American that is segregated but on the verge of change. We meet Troy (played by Alan Bomar Jones) on a Friday afternoon after a long hard week working as a garbage man. Soon we are introduced to his lovely wife Rose (played by Joy Jones), his best friend Bono (played by Jason McIntosh), and his son from a previous marriage Lyons (played by Gary Kayi Fletcher). At first, Troy seems a likable character full of larger than life stories and a larger than life sexual appetite directed toward his wife. As the narrative unfolds, we soon realize how deeply flawed Troy is. In much the same way as audiences experience Tom Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie or Eddie Carbone in Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge, we want to root for Troy until we come to understand his sins as a father, husband, and brother.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Vengeance, Guts, and Gore

Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s Titus Andronicus

Blood, gore, entrails, dismemberment, and sex make up the world of William Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus. Chesapeake Shakespeare Company holds nothing back in their unique telling of this classic tale. The story in brief is – Titus is a Roman General who has returned from slaying the Goths in war. In victory, Titus claims the life of Tamora’s (the queen of the Goths) first-born son. This sets in motion a cascade of devastating events, as Tamora and her two living sons are hell-bent on revenge against Titus. Meanwhile, Rome is at a moment of transition without an emperor. The popular General Titus chooses Saturninus to be the new emperor, which proves to be a fatal mistake when he falls in love with Tamora. Trickery, rape, murder, and a cut-off hand ensue leading all to a horrible destruction (think the last scene of Hamlet.)

If there’s one thing you can say about Into the Woods, the Tony Award winning musical whose score and lyrics were brought into the world by the genius of Stephen Sondheim and the book by James Lapine, is that the production playing at Toby’s the Dinner Theatre of Columbia was perfectly cast. With every one of the show’s 22 characters popping up at a frenetic pace throughout the musical donned in dazzling old-time costumes by Eleanor Dicks, it is clear that there is no one better who could have performed each of the roles.

On July 27, Iron Crow Theatre’s board of directors announced that Sean Elias, previously Iron Crow Theatre’s executive director, is the company’s new artistic director and chief executive officer. Steve Satta had resigned as artistic director and will continue to serve on Iron Crow Theatre’s board of directors. Elias will join the board, effective immediately.

It might be seen as a miracle, but the cozy Spotlighters Theatre has been transformed into a spacious Baltimore concert hall where screaming fans of the five-member Christian boy band Altar Boyz stomp, clap, and cheer at the band’s final concert of their Raise the Praise tour. Well, maybe not exactly, but the performances from the band themselves spew enough energy and talent to fill any venue, and it clearly works well at Spotlighters.


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