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Author Archive | Robert Michael Oliver

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Review: ‘Top Girls’ at Keegan Theatre

Only the indubitable Caryl Churchill could, in a play about a contemporary dysfunctional British family, give us an opening restaurant scene that includes the likes of: Dull Gret (a warrior peasant woman from Breughel’s famous painting), Pope Joan (the fictional woman who served as Pope for a few years during the Middle Ages), Lady Nijo […]

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Review: Isley Brothers at The Kennedy Center

The Isley Brothers rocked into The Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall this last Sunday night. Though the Hall is still standing, it may never be the same. Since their founding in 1955, the Isley Brothers have recorded numerous Gold and Platinum Albums, with dozens of number 1 hits. Their first Grammy Award came in 1970 with “It’s Your Thing.” Since […]

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Review: NEA Jazz Master Ron Carter Trio at The Kennedy Center

The Ron Carter Trio visited The Kennedy Center this Friday night. Consisting of bassist Carter, pianist Donald Vega, and guitarist Russell Malone, the harmonics couldn’t have been sweeter; the melodies, more agreeably delightful; or the riffs, more creative of joy. Led by Jazz Master Carter, the trio began the evening with several in memoriam pieces for […]

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Photo courtesy of The Kennedy Center.

Review: Dizzy Gillespie Centennial Celebration at The Kennedy Center

Dizzy Gillespie’s 100th birthday celebration at The Kennedy Center jazzed the Eisenhower Theatre last night. I’m sure the rooftop is still aglow this morning. Dizzy Gillespie (1917-1993) revolutionized bebop; he and Charlie “Bird” Parker launched modern jazz. The evening began when NEA Jazz Master Jimmy Heath, a lifelong friend of Gillespie, described his first big […]

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Review: NEA Jazz Master Lee Konitz’s Birthday Celebration at The Kennedy Center

Nonagenarian jazz–what is it? It’s Lee Konitz leading a quartet that includes George Schuller on drums, Jeremy Stratton on bass, and Dan Tepfer on piano. And in his Kennedy Center’s Birthday Celebration, Konitz couldn’t have been any more expressive, or ready for flight. Nuanced, graceful, unhurried, and sublime are but a few of the descriptors […]

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Review: ‘The Price’ at Arena Stage

Arthur Miller is best known for his two American classics: Death of a Salesman and All My Sons. American high schoolers still know him for his third significant work, The Crucible. Although The Price, now playing at Arena Stage’s Kogod Cradle, might not be among his most significant works, its penetrating examination of the choices […]

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Spine: Love and Menace in ‘The Lover’ and ‘The Collection’ at Shakespeare Theatre Company

Early Pinter is marked by menace. The Room, The Birthday Party, and The Homecoming leave a chill in the air, and in the audience’s agitated brain. We are disturbed as much by what we don’t know as by what we can extrapolate from cryptic innuendo. The Lover and The Collection, two early Pinter one-acts now playing at The Shakespeare Theatre Company, have but […]

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Review: ‘M. Butterfly’ at Everyman Theatre

Though written 30 years ago, few contemporary plays speak so profoundly to America’s current situation in the world as does David Henry Hwang’s M. Butterfly, now playing at Baltimore’s Everyman Theatre. A complex and compelling drama, M. Butterfly explores the psycho-cultural terrain of what celebrated author Edward Said called Orientalism: the West’s compulsion to romanticize and feminize the East. Butterfly premiered […]

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Review: ‘Big Fish’ at The Keegan Theatre

Family-friendly musicals are relatively rare these days. Family-friendly musicals that have adult themes are even rarer. Big Fish, with book by John August and music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa, is a rare bird indeed. T.S. Eliot’s J. Alfred Prufrock “heard the mermaids singing, each to each,” but he didn’t think that they would sing […]

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Review: Contemporary American Theater Festival (CATF): ‘Everything Is Wonderful’

The Amish with their horse and buggy, 19th century culture; their simple, old world uniforms and habits; their infamous Rumspringa where the teenage Amish is given the opportunity to choose between the church and the outside “English” world; and, after the West Nickel Mines school massacre, the Amish’s capacity to forgive. Chelsea Marcantel’s Everything is […]

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