Favorite ‘Scene Stealers’ of the 2012-2013 DC Area Theater Season: Part 8

There were many wonderful Scene Stealing moments on DC Metro Area stages in our professional, community, children’s, and university theaters during the past theater season (August 1, 2012-August 1, 2013). Here’s our eighth set of honorees:

From John Harding:

Jamar Brown (Tom Collins) comforts the ailing Angel (Malcolm Lewis). Photo courtesy of Silhouette Stages.
Jamar Brown (Tom Collins) comforts the ailing Angel (Malcolm Lewis). Photo by JillAnne Grabau.

Jamar Brown as Tom Collins Singing ‘I’ll Cover You (Reprise)” in Rent at Silhouette Stages.

The sexy young cast that revived Rent at Columbia’s Silhouette Stages in November was better than a can of  Red Bull at delivering a jumpin’ jolt of energy. Working in partnership with Howard Community College, this Community Theater gained a tried-and-true treasure in Director Susan G. Kramer, who assembled a near-perfect multi-racial cast. Making perhaps the most indelible impression of all, though, was Jamar Brown, whose robust voice and presence riveted our attention on the figure of Tom Collins, the African-American teacher who left gainful employment to pursue “La Vie Boheme” as a liberated homosexual. On the night I attended, Brown socked all of his big vocal moments into the next county, including the emotional reprise of ‘I’ll Cover You.”

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From Julia L. Exline:

Grace Iekel (Grandmother Hood) and Robin Messner (Fairy Godmother). Photo by Larry McClemons.
Grace Iekel (Grandmother Hood) and Robin Messner (Fairy Godmother). Photo by Larry McClemons.

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Caroline Morely as Little Red Riding Hood and Grace Lekel as Grandmother in Encore Stage and Studio’s Big Bad.

Encore Stage and Studio’s production of “Big Bad” put one of the most notorious childhood villains on trial for his crimes: the Big Bad Wolf. There were many witnesses throughout the show (I mean, trial), including all your fairytale favorites such as the Three Little Pigs, Little Miss Muffett, the Fairy Godmother, and more. The young ensemble were entertaining and showed a bevy of burgeoning talent, but there was one pair that stood out to me as “Scene Stealers”: Caroline Morely as Little Red Riding Hood and Grace Lekel as her grandmother.

Caroline Morley (Little Red Riding Hood). Photo by Larry McClemons.
Caroline Morley (Little Red Riding Hood). Photo by Larry McClemons.

All of the familiar characters had fun little twists about them for this production, with these particular characters’ being that Hood and her Grandmother were a social-climbing, Jersey-accented pair who discussed the various ways they planned to upgrade their home with their settlement (hot tub, anyone?). Little Red chomped on gum, ever the disdainful teenager, as her Juicy Couture-clad grandmother poured on the (phony) dramatics for her “testimony.” Greedy, shallow, and seemingly oblivious to their complete lack of class, the pair received many laughs from the audience. Their time onstage was short, but the effect was long-lasting.

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From John Harding:

Dustin Merrell as Larry in [title of show] at Red Branch Theatre Company.

L to R: Josh Kemper (Jeff), Dustin Merrell (Larry), and Jennifer Weinreich Culotta (Heidi). Photo by Bruce F. Press Photography.
L to R: Josh Kemper (Jeff), Dustin Merrell (Larry), and Jennifer Weinreich Culotta (Heidi). Photo by Bruce F. Press Photography.

Red Branch Theatre Company explored the stuff that dreams can lead to in [title of show] in April at Howard County’s Drama Learning Center. The only one appearing to have more fun than the talented young foursome in the acting ensemble was pro Music Director Dustin Merrell, making the most of his on-stage appearance as the group’s resident accompanist, Larry. He silently allowed himself to be made the butt of several jokes, then literally let his hair fly at one point. And he proved he was even capable of speaking for himself when pushed!

With his help, this tiny community group out-did Rumpelstiltskin at spinning a pile of show-biz hay into 100-carat gold entertainment.

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From Max Johnson:

Kayla Dixon as Diana. Photo by Carmelita Watkinson.
Kayla Dixon as Diana Goodman. Photo by Carmelita Watkinson.

Kayla Dixon as Diana Goodman Singing ‘I Miss The Mountains” in Next to Normal at Act Two @ Levine.

The highlight of the performance for me was Kayla Dixon’s explosive interpretation of the mentally unstable Diana Goodman. Dixon’s portrayal of bipolar disorder was remarkable. I was astounded by how she perfectly walked up to the line of overdoing her most neurotic moments while creating a wholly realistic character that is absolutely believable at every moment. The true uniqueness of her performance can be best captured in her performance of “I Miss the Mountains,” in which she takes a song that could be dismissed as another Diana-acting-crazy-scene into a vocal tour de force in which she clearly communicates the rational reasoning for her erratic behavior, causing her downfall to be all the more comprehensible and relatable. Few performers are able to capture all sides of Diana’s complex character; however, Dixon went above and beyond, adding an immense amount of personal awareness to one of the most difficult roles in modern musical theater. Additionally, Dixon had spectacular vocal talent. She masterfully sang this difficult role with brutal emotional clout along with a set of soulful lungs that effortlessly took her melodies to the roof. Her sacrifice of exact form for eruptions of rash screams and shouts were well placed and properly motivated, backed up by a dynamic interpretation of her songs. Dixon’s Diana was near perfect in all regards.

[Note: Kayla Dixon and Katie Gerard rotated in the role of Diana].

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From Joel Markowitz:

L to R: Katie Gerard (Diana), Sean Watkinson (Gabe), and Eitan Mazia (Dan). Photo by Carmelita Watkinson,
L to R: Katie Gerard (Diana Goodman), Sean Watkinson (Gabe Goodman), and Eitan Mazia (Dan Goodman). Photo by Carmelita Watkinson,

Eitan Matzia as Dan Goodman, Katie Gerard as Diana Goodman, and Sean Watkinson as Gabe Goodmans Singing “You Don’t Know” and “I Am the One” in Next To Normal at Act Two @ Levine.

I was thrilled when I heard that Katie, Eitan, and Sean were cast in Act Two @ Levine’s production of Next to Normal. I knew they would be terrific in their roles of Diana, Dan, and Gabe, and I was so impressed by their performances in their Scene Stealing renditions of “You Don’t Know” and “I Am the One.” When I heard them sing these incredible Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey songs – I was not only moved by their wonderful singing, but also by their honest and emotional performances. (Watch it below).

LINKS
Favorite ‘Scene Stealers’ of the 2012-2013 DC Area Theater Season: Part 1.
Favorite ‘Scene Stealers’ of the 2012-2013 DC Area Theater Season: Part 2.
Favorite ‘Scene Stealers’ of the 2012-2013 DC Area Theater Season: Part 3.
Favorite ‘Scene Stealers’ of the 2012-2013 DC Area Theater Season: Part 4.
Favorite ‘Scene Stealers’ of the 2012-2013 DC Area Theater Season: Part 5.
Favorite ‘Scene Stealers’ of the 2012-2013 DC Area Theater Season: Part 6.
Favorite ‘Scene Stealers’ of the 2012-2013 DC Area Theater Season: Part 7.

http://youtu.be/MRo5GRlFCjU
http://youtu.be/ORW65Ge2jJM