‘Take A Bow’ Part 4: The Staff of DCMetroTheaterArts’ Favorite Spring/Summer 2016 Performances

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Here’s Part 4 of the staff of DCMetroTheaterArts’ favorite Spring/Summer 2016 performances. To our honorees: TAKE A BOW!

Kestrel Coffee as Jessie in Rain Follows the Plow at The 2016 Capital Fringe Festival.

Steve and Kestrel Coffee. Photo by Jean Van Devanter White.

Stephen and Kestrel Coffee. Photo by Jean Van Devanter White.

This beautifully moving “dust opera” by Stephen R. Coffee featured a cast of wonderful ensemble singers and musicians who together told a poignant and powerful story of the plight of farmers during the 1930s Dust Bowl. But there was one standout performer who arrested my attention every scene she was on stage—Kestrel Coffee, a high school student who sings and plays the role of the daughter in a struggling farm family and in real life is the daughter of the musical’s writer and composer. She has a genuine, natural gift, an untrained authenticity that reads with simple truthfulness in her every gesture and facial expression. At moments her singular performance seemed a touching synecdoche for the entire show’s emotional resonance.-John Stoltenberg.

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Eric Hissom as Paul Watson and Thomas Keegan as Dan O’Brien in The Body of an American at Theater J.

Eric Hissom and Thomas Keegan. Photo by Stan Barouh.

Eric Hissom and Thomas Keegan. Photo by Stan Barouh.

Dan O’Brien’s The Body of an American is an intimate two-hander about a unique friendship between two men. Eric Hissom as the photographer Watson and Thomas Keegan as the dramatist O’Brien perform it so poignantly and personally there are moments you forget you’re watching a play. O’Brien’s script sometimes has both actors playing the same character, with fragments of a single speech spliced quickly between them. At other times each actor voices a score of minor characters. Eventually as the play settles in to telling us who these men are and how their connection intersects their separate lives, Hissom’s and Keegan’s performances emerge as some of the most powerful and persuasive actor partnering you’re likely to see electrify a stage.-John Stoltenberg.

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Ethan Hova as Humayun and Kenneth De Abrew as Babur in Guards at the Taj at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company.

Kenneth De Abrew and Ethan Hova. Photo by Scott Suchman.

Kenneth De Abrew and Ethan Hova. Photo by Scott Suchman.

Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company had a fantastic season and I was fortunate to see all of it, but in a season of standouts, for me, it was Ethan Hova and Kenneth De Abrew‘s complex and layered performances in Rajiv Joseph’s haunting Guards at the Taj that still linger bright in the memory. As two lowly guards conflicted by duty and principle, these two men, with humor and pathos, forced us to consider a world blessed with beauty at the expense of unspeakable horror. Although it was set 400 years ago, they made this legend feel as relevant as if it was ripped from today’s headlines teaching us the familiar lesson that the more things change, the more they really do, sadly, stay the same.-David Gerson.

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Alyssa Wilmoth Keegan as Maggie and Gregory Wooddell as Brick in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at Round House Theatre.

Gregory Wooddell (Brick) and Alyssa Wilmoth Keegan (Maggie). Photo by Cheyenne Michaels.

Gregory Wooddell (Brick) and Alyssa Wilmoth Keegan (Maggie). Photo by Cheyenne Michaels.

The relationship that stole the show was that of Maggie and Brick. Alyssa Wilmoth Keegan and Gregory Wooddell played off each other beautifully, and the stage chemistry was spot-on. Though their marriage had difficulties, the two characters also stood by each other, and all I wanted was to see them find a sense of happiness and succeed.-Lauren Katz.

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Pat O’Brien as The Librarian in Underneath the Lintel at The 2016 Capitol Fringe Festival.

Patrick O'Brien in 'Underneath the Lintel.' Photo courtesy of Mr. O'Brien.

Patrick O’Brien in ‘Underneath the Lintel.’ Photo courtesy of Mr. O’Brien.

Imagine an actor known for his roles in TV sitcoms–such as Monk and Saved By the Bell–playing a prissy librarian who loves collecting fines on overdue books, and you’ll have some inkling of the almost hallucinatory magic that Pat O’Brien pulls of in this tour de force that was a highlight of the 2016 Capitol Fringe. O’Brien runs madly around the set in a way that seems little short of miraculous. This is wizardry incarnate, a dazzling prance through time and space and even immortality. Luckily for DC theatre-goers, O’Brien promises to bring the show back next year.-Ravelle Brickman.

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Jonno Roberts as Iago in Othello at Shakespeare Theatre Company.

Jonno Roberts (Iago) and Merritt Janson (Emilia). Photo by Scott Suchman.

Jonno Roberts (Iago) and Merritt Janson (Emilia). Photo by Scott Suchman.

Jonno Roberts’ Iago is absolutely mesmerizing, and my eye was constantly drawn to him. The ironic element of his character is that he spews lies, but he is named ‘Honest Iago.’ Daniels found the perfect moments for Iago to break the fourth wall and speak to the audience, making us his confidante, and the only ones to see his true honesty, which was an intriguing choice.-Lauren Katz.

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Danny Rovin as Lucas in Coping at The 2016 Capital Fringe Festival.

Danny Rovin. Photo by Ryan Maxwell Photography.

Danny Rovin (Lucas) in Coping. Photo by Ryan Maxwell Photography.

Jacob Marx Rice’s fast-paced dramedy Coping has parts for five rather tightly wound women and one man, named Lucas, who’s a millennial stoner and a good-hearted dufus. Danny Rovin nails the role with such effortless, hang-loose, let-it-hang-out, literally pants-off comedic ease that it doesn’t seem like a performance at all. Whenever he ambles into a scene, he just comes across as a dude who’s really like this. Creating so much credibility with zero visible artifice is in my book one mark of damn good acting.-John Stoltenberg.

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Adrienne Warren as Gertrude Saunders and Florence Mills in 
Adrienne Warren and the cast of ‘Shuffle Along.’ Photo by Julieta Cervantes.

Adrienne Warren and the cast of ‘Shuffle Along.’ Photo by Julieta Cervantes.

In the Broadway season that will be remembered solely for giving us Hamilton, the single best female performance that I saw in the Big Apple was in a show with an all together different beat. Petite Adrienne Warren with a huge voice and magnetic presence stole the spotlight every time she was on stage in George C. Wolfe’s magnificent, but short-lived Shuffle Along Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All that Followed.  This was not an easy feat when she was billed below heavyweights like Brian Stokes Mitchell, Billy Porter, and Audra McDonald.  But when she took the stage and opened her mouth, one couldn’t help but think they were in the presence of a star!  Those of us lucky enough to see her, will look fondly back one day and say, “I saw her when…”-David Gerson.

LINKS:
‘Take A Bow’ Part 1: The Staff of DCMetroTheaterArts’ Favorite Spring/Summer 2016 Performances.

‘Take A Bow’ Part 2: The Staff of DCMetroTheaterArts’ Favorite Spring/Summer 2016 Performances.

‘Take A Bow’ Part 3: The Staff of DCMetroTheaterArts’ Favorite Spring/Summer 2016 Performances.

‘Take A Bow’ Part 4: The Staff of DCMetroTheaterArts’ Favorite Spring/Summer 2016 Performances.

‘Take A Bow’ Part 5: The Staff of DCMetroTheaterArts’ Favorite Spring/Summer 2016 Performances.

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