‘Dear Edwina’ at Red Branch Theatre Company by Andrew L. Baughman

It’s no surprise that Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich’s family musical Dear Edwina achieved a sort of cult status among Off-Broadway audiences in its 3 year run. Fortunately, DC Metro audiences can now experience the magic at Columbia’s Drama Learning Center with Red Branch Theatre Company’s winning production!

The cast of 'Dear Edwina.' Photo courtesy of Red Branch Theatre Company.

The cast of ‘Dear Edwina.’ Photo courtesy of Red Branch Theatre Company.

The reason for that success is a smart (and even sophisticated) story about Edwina Spoonaple (Adeline K. Sutter), a child who aspires to be the next “Dear Abby.” Edwina and her friends stage a backyard advice-giving extravaganza that is part Vaudeville, part Dr. Phil show. There’s a lot of fun to be had for young and old audiences alike. Along the way, youngsters learn about proper dining etiquette, polite manners, coping with an embarrassing sibling, meeting new friends, managing money and savings… even confronting issues involving unrequited love!

Director Stephanie Lynn Williams and her cast find the perfect tone and chemistry for this adorable show, supported by appropriate “lemonade stand” aesthetic infused by Costume Designer Amy M. Weimer and Scenic Designers Elizabeth Pellegrini and M. Gerard Williams. Sutter anchors the show with humor and pathos as the quirky Edwina, tugging at the heartstrings with her delivery of “Up On The Fridge” and “Sing Your Own Song.” The entire cast is delightful, and every child is sure to have his or her own favorite character. Darrius Pugh is a hilarious standout as a Keenan Thompson-like Bobby. Courtney Branch inspires giggles with a mere facial expression as child-ballerina Kelli Poshkonozovich.

While Heisler’s book strikes the tone of a hip You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown, Goldrich’s score is anything but child’s play, filled with complex vocal harmonies and counterpoints. Vocal performance is where this cast uniformly shines, under the Music Direction of Dustin Merrell (accompanied by Merrell on keys and Patrick Klink on drums).

The cast of 'Dear Edwina.' Photo courtesy of Red Branch Theatre Company.

The cast of ‘Dear Edwina.’ Photo courtesy of Red Branch Theatre Company.

It should be noted that Red Branch Theatre Company also cleverly offers “PJ parties” for children at select performances. Parents may arrange to drop off children and take a date-night out on the town while their children watch the show and attend an after-party under the supervision of Drama Learning Center staff. On Friday night, a lively bunch of partygoers filled the front row of the theatre, eagerly posting letters to Edwina in her mailbox before the show.

Dear Edwina is a show that could easily run for three years, but you’ll have to catch it at Red Branch Theatre Company by October 27th!

Running Time: One Hour and 10 Minutes with no intermission (“no matter what they say on stage”).

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Dear Edwina plays through October 27, 2013 at Red Branch Theatre Company at the Drama Learning Center — 9130-I Red Branch Road, Columbia, MD. For tickets, call (410) 997-9352, or purchase them online.

 

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