Capital Fringe 2014 Scene Stealers-Part 2 And DCMTA Names its ‘Bestest Show’ and Performances

 Here are our final Scene Stealers for this year’s Capital Fringe Festival.

And we are handing out 4 special honors to performances and productions that moved and entertained us that we will never forget.

Congrats to all our Scene Stealers and our honorees and to everyone who made the 2014 Capital Fringe Festival such a huge success!

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Haely Jardas and Henry LaGue in the fight scene in TAME.

Haely Jardas and Henry M. LaGue.
Haely Jardas and Henry M. LaGue.

“There are lots of scenes in TAME. “with sky-high stakes that cut right to the most uncomfortable and intriguing of situations,” as Andrew Baughman wrote in his 5-star review of Jonelle Walker’s brilliant new play. But there’s one that’s a pivotal knockout: the scene in which  a young clergyman-in-training named Patrick Vacus (Henry LaGue) tames—literally breaks the spirit of—a morose and impertinent wannabe poet named Cathryn (Haely Jardas). Cat, as she wants to be called, has dropped out of college and returned home, where her welcome was already worn out. Her parents have had it with her. They haven’t a clue about the enormous sadness beneath her sullenness. They enlist a fresh-faced boy-next-door preacher in hopes he will exorcise her demons. They haven’t a clue about his vicious capacity for violence.

Left alone with Cat, Patrick strikes her, then hits her more. The culminating scene in which Patrick pummels Cat into submission could not be more shocking and disturbing. And as well staged by Fight Choreographer Stephen Michael as it is, it would not have worked without Jardas’s and LaGue’s pinnacle performances. Because they have etched each of their characters up to that point with such precision, when their character arcs collide—as they do in this show-topping scene—we are left breathless. At the same time are left relieved to realize that two gifted actors have brought the craft and forged the trust needed to make this high-stakes scene the utter gut punch that it is.”John Stoltenberg and endorsed by Andrew L. Baughman.

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Gracie Jones, as Chelsea, singing “A Nurse Named Desiree” in Breast in Show
Gracie Jones ( Chelsea) sitting sings the song "A Nurse Named Desiree." Megan Westman (Desiree) is standing. Photo by Betty Adler.
Gracie Jones ( Chelsea) sitting sings the song “A Nurse Named Desiree.” Megan Westman (Desiree) is standing. Photo by Betty Adler.

“At the Chemo Cafe, while undergoing chemo treatment and struggling to stay warm under a blanket, Gracie Jones sings a torch song tribute to her nurse, Desiree: ‘A Nurse Named Desiree.” It is the show’s defining moment.

The way Gracie Jones walks, sits, flips her hair or tweaks her tone belies a polished actress who takes time to craft, from flesh and fiber, rich and resonating characters. She juggles a crone’s wisdom with a child’s rawness, because she can play old or young convincingly. Truly a breathtaking performance, and one that will connect with everyone in the audience, as if she’s speaking just to you.”-Terry Byrne.

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Laura Quiroga Dances a Solo Tango, in Tango, Cabaret, Love!

Chipi (Lorena Sabogal), Bombon (Laura Quiroga) and Kiki (Cecilia De Feo).
Chipi (Lorena Sabogal), Bombon (Laura Quiroga), and Kiki (Cecilia De Feo).

“In Tango, Cabaret, Love!, veteran dancer Laura Quiroga proves it takes only one to tango. There is a sobering moment in this flirty, frilly and at times frivolous cabaret that she dons a man’s hat, grabs a dinner jacket and performs a serious tango, solo. Profound, philosophical and a show-stopper.” -Terry Byrne

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SPECIAL AWARDS FROM THE STAFF OF DCMETROTHEATERARTS

PERFORMANCES WE WON’T SOON FORGET:

We honor these two performances that we can’t stop talking about. 

We tip our hats to Valerie Holt and Robert Michael Oliver!

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 Valerie Holt in Sage of Blackwell

Valerie Holt in "Sage of Blackwell.'
Valerie Holt in “Sage of Blackwell.’

[Valerie] Holt has been acting in local productions since she was young and played the Little Girl in Tantallon Community Players’ production of Ragtime. Her experience shows and she brings a freshness and energy to the stage in the somewhat underdeveloped storyline of the mutual attraction between her character, a strong union supporter at the plant, and Runyon Law who is known as the Sage of Blackwell. Holt has a great stage presence with an expressive face that delights.”-Kim Moeller

AND

Robert Michael Oliver in Song of Myself: The Whitman Project

Michael Robert Oliver in "Song of Myself: The Walt Whitman Project.' Photo courtesy of performingknowlegeproject.com
Michael Robert Oliver in “Song of Myself: The Walt Whitman Project.’ Photo courtesy of performingknowlegeproject.com

It’s got to be tough to do a solo show, opening night at 9 p.m. on a sultry summer night, but remarkable, energetic, and seemingly tireless Robert Michael Oliver pulled it off without a noticeable drop of sweat. He is tour-de-force in Song of Myself: The Whitman Project… 

“I celebrate myself,” Oliver declares in his opening monologue. He then went on to recite – or perhaps a better description would be “absorb” – the words of Walt Whitman. “I lean and loaf at my ease, observing a spear of summer grass,” continues the robust actor, at times a cross between Burl Ives and Oscar Wilde. At first he romps about the makeshift stage, stopping a moment to ponder a blade of grass, then Oliver falls to the floor with a roar, laughing aloud, perhaps, at Whitman’s egotistical poem.” -Carolyn Kelemen

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AND THE SHOW THAT HAD US ALL CHEERING AND SMILING AND THE ONE WE WANT TO SEE AGAIN AND AGAIN…

OUR BESTEST OF THE 2014 CAPITAL FRINGE FESTIVAL…

DRUMROLL PLEASE…

You, or Whatever I Can Get

DCMetroTheaterArts' Bestest of the 2014 Capital Fringe Show: 'You, or Whatever You Want.'
DCMetroTheaterArts’ Bestest of the 2014 Capital Fringe Show: ‘You, or Whatever You Can Get.’

Every summer, there is a fringe show that everyone is talking about, well after the festival has ended. The people who saw the show talk about how wonderful it was, and the people who didn’t get their tickets in time talk about how they cannot believe they missed it. I believe that You, or Whatever I Can Get is that show for the 2014 festival. In short, You, or Whatever I Can Get is poignant, hilariously funny, and moving all at the same time. With references to Space Jam and Applebee’s worked into the script, what’s not to love? The creative team has created characters you can’t help but love, and their flaws/idiosyncrasies somehow make them even more loveable. This cast exemplifies strength, their chemistry with one another onstage is magnetic, their trust in one another is apparent from the first number, and they elevate each other’s performances to a level that transcends the festival.” Rick Westerkamp

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MOST HEARTFELT PERFORMANCE BY AN ENSEMBLE:

THE CAST OF BREAST IN SHOW

Left to right (top row) Matt Dewberry, Chris Rudy (bottom row) Ayanna Hardy, Megan Westman, Jennie Lutz, and Gracie Jones.
Left to right (top row) Matt Dewberry, Chris Rudy (bottom row) Ayanna Hardy, Megan Westman, Jennie Lutz, and Gracie Jones.

“All six impeccable actors play multiple roles. Suffice to say, they are top-flight talent ranging from New York stages to major local marquees (Signature Theatre, Olney Theatre Center, KenCen). Pros all, who turn trenchant prose to poetry. It was Maya Angelou who said: “Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning…And how refreshing to witness singers whose vocal powers can forgo those Britney Spears-esque lavalier mics. Their singing wells up from within — they sing because they can’t express themselves any other way. What’s beautiful is we get so wrapped up in it, we forget we’re being manipulated. And that, my friends, is theater.”-Terry Byrne

LINKS

DCMetroTheaterArts’ Reviews of all the shows in The 2014 Capital Fringe Festival and 65 Show Preview Articles.

Capital Fringe Scene Stealers #1-July 18, 2014.

Capital Fringe 2014 Preview: ‘Song of Myself: The Whitman Project’ by Robert Michael Oliver.

Capital Fringe 2014 Preview: Meet the Cast of ‘Breast in Show’: Part 1: Gracie Jones.

Capital Fringe 2014 Preview: Meet the Cast of ‘Breast in Show’: Part 2: Jennie Lutz.

Capital Fringe 2014 Preview: Meet the Cast of ‘Breast in Show’: Part 3: Matt Dewberry.

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Joel Markowitz
Joel Markowitz is the Publisher and Editor of DCMetroTheaterArts. He founded the site with his brother Bruce to help promote the vast riches of theatre and the arts in the DC Metro area that includes Maryland, Virginia, and DC theater and music venues, universities, schools, Children's theaters, professional, and community theatres. Joel is an advocate for promoting the 'stars of the future' in his popular 'Scene Stealers' articles. He wrote a column for 5 years called ‘Theatre Schmooze’ and recorded podcast interviews for DC Theatre Scene. His work can also be seen and read on BroadwayStars. Joel also wrote a monthly preview of what was about to open in DC area theatres for BroadwayWorld. He is an avid film and theater goer, and a suffering Buffalo Bills and Sabres fan. Joel was a regular guest on 'The Lunch and Judy Show' radio program starring Judy Stadt in NYC. Joel founded The Ushers Theatre Going Group in the DC area in 1990, which had a 25-year run when it took its final curtain call last year. Joel is a proud member of The American Critics Association.

1 COMMENT

  1. Not a specific comment to the above but THANK YOU and CONGRATS for such timely, well-written reviews. I may not have agreed w/ a couple of reviews but you and your staff posted SO fast, it’s mind-boggling. This site truly has high-quality writing which I appreciate — and covers the waterfront. So thanks to all — and may you get a tad of rest after the wonderful Capital Fringe. Feel free to post this elsewhere as I couldn’t find a place to write an overall thanks to you all.

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