‘Take A Bow’ Part 6: The Staff of DCMetroTheaterArts’ Favorite Spring/Summer 2016 Performances

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Here’s Part 6 of the staff of DCMetroTheaterArts’ favorite Spring/Summer 2016 performances. To our honorees: TAKE A BOW!

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Hasani Allen as J.D. in Heathers at Red Branch Theatre Company.

Hasani Allen (J.D.) sings "Freeze Your Brain" to Vivian Cook (Veronica Sawyer). Photo by Bruce F. Press Photography.
Hasani Allen (J.D.) sings “Freeze Your Brain” to Vivian Cook (Veronica Sawyer). Photo by Bruce F. Press Photography.

More toward the lethal-drone end of the sociopathic spectrum is second lead J.D., the moody loner played by another of the cast’s charismatic newcomers, Hasani Allen. In his black trench coat and don’t-mess-with-me bearing, Allen makes J.D. the sort of protector a girl like Veronica would run to after being repulsed by the sadistic cruelty of the Heathers.-John Harding.

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Kelli Blackwell as Motormouth Maybelle in Hairspray at Toby’s Dinner Theatre.

Kelli Blackwell (Motormouth Maybelle). Photo by Jeri Tidwell.
Kelli Blackwell (Motormouth Maybelle). Photo by Jeri Tidwell.

Kelli Blackwell, in a kudzu-ized blonde wig, is sensational as Motormouth Maybelle, particularly when she launches into her soulful, up-from-oppression anthem, “I Know Where I’ve Been,” which features her vigorous vocal range.-Gina Jun.

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Anna Phillips-Brown as Violet Hilton and Tori Meyers as Daisy Hilton in Side Show at Montgomery College’s Summer Dinner Theatre.

Anna Phillips-Brown (Violet Hilton) and Tori Meyers (Daisy Hilton in Side Show). Photo by Richard Church.
Anna Phillips-Brown (Violet Hilton) and Tori Meyers (Daisy Hilton). Photo by Richard Church.

I am a huge fan of Side Show and Anna and Tori sang the heck out of the amazing score by Henry Krieger and Bill Russell. Their harmonies were spine-tingling, especially in “Who Will Love Me As I Am,” “Feelings You’ve Got To Hide,” and the powerful and heart-tugging finale: “I Will Never Leave You.”

Anna and Tori were not only terrific singers – but also wonderful actors. Their performances of Violet and Daisy were multi-layered, and so human and real. Two tour-de-force performances!-Joel Markowitz

Link: ‘Very Well-Connected’: Meet Cast Members of Montgomery College Summer Dinner Theatre’s ‘Side Show’: Part 1: Anna Phillips-Brown by Joel Markowitz.

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Olivia Ercolano as Eliza Doolittle and Tony Tsendeas as Alfred Doolittle in A Fully Staged Reading of My Fair Lady at Annapolis Shakespeare Company.

Olivia Ercolano (Eliza Doolittle). Photo by Joshua McKerrow.
Olivia Ercolano (Eliza Doolittle). Photo by Joshua McKerrow.

Olivia Ercolano as Eliza Doolittle, the cockney flower girl made a lady, and Tony Tsendeas, as her scheming father Alfred, shined so brightly. From the first lines of “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?,” I was putty in Ms. Ercolano’s delicate porcelain hands.  Tsendeas was a treat in every scene, making a scoundrel both very funny and very endearing.-David Gerson.

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Da’Von Moody as Jake in Side Show at Montgomery College’s Summer Dinner Theatre.

Da’Von Moody as Jake. Photo by Richard Church.
Da’Von Moody as Jake. Photo by Richard Church.

Da’Von Moody’s passionate renditions of “The Devil You Know” and ‘You Should Be Loved” (with Anna Phillips-Brown as Violet Hilton) were so heartfelt and beautifully sung. Although there was so much power in his singing, there was so much love and yearning and frustration in his performance of Jake – labeled as a ‘freak’ by the woman he adores. This was a performance I won’t soon forget.-Joel Markowitz.

LINK: ‘Very Well-Connected’: Meet Cast Members of Montgomery College Summer Dinner Theatre’s ‘Side Show’: Part 3: Da’Von Moody by Joel Markowitz.

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Alex Stone as in Catch Me If You Can at Montgomery College Summer Dinner Theatre.

Alex Stone in 'Catch Me If You Can.' Photo by
Alex Stone in ‘Catch Me If You Can.’ Photo by James Nelson.

He’s a multiple Cappie Award winner and one of his wins was for playing con-artist Frank Abagnale, Jr. in The musical version of the popular 2002 film, Catch Me In You Can, at McLean High School.

With a bouncy score by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (Hairspray), and some difficult choreography to master, this triple threat burned up the stage and wowed the appreciative audience at Montgomery College – once more – with his high energy, dancing, and passionate singing, and acting. It’s not easy playing a character who is hardly respectable, but Alex Stone gave this scoundrel some well-needed heart.

When I heard that Alex was cast in the role again – this time at Montgomery College’s Summer Dinner Theatre – I was elated and couldn’t wait to see if his recent vocal training at at University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music had heightened his astounding vocal talents. Well, the voice now has more depth. It’s still glorious and beautiful – but now he can hit the high notes so flawlessly, and this was so jaw-droppingly evident in his big 11:00 soliloquy “Goodbye.” Simply awesome! –Joel Markowitz.

LINK: He’s Back: Alex Stone on Playing The Con Man Again-in Montgomery College’s Summer Dinner Theatre’s ‘Catch Me If You Can’ by Joel Markowitz.

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Russell Sunday as Sweeney Todd and Janine Sunday as Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street at Red Branch Theatre Company

Russell Sunday (Sweeney Todd) and Janine Sunday (Mrs. Lovett). Photo by Bruce F Press Photography.
Russell Sunday (Sweeney Todd) and Janine Sunday (Mrs. Lovett). Photo by Bruce F Press Photography.

The powerful Russell Sunday has been persuaded to return to the title role he played night-after-night at Toby’s Dinner Theatre in 2009, and for Signature Theatre as well. If anything, Sunday has grown more commanding in the role. Now his intense anger is felt from his first appearance; his bitter belief that the world is a “black hole” seems even more warped and controlling. Maybe it’s the close quarters at Red Branch, but more than any Sweeney I’ve seen, Sunday arrives fully possessed.

It’s not until he stumbles upon the bakery shop of old chum Mrs. Lovett that he finds a new human identity and a channel for his vengeance. It is a partnership made all the tighter by the casting of the actor’s mega-talented real-life wife, Janine Sunday, in the role of that mad shop owner.

Janine Sunday takes the humor in the role and makes it her own, adding matronly snits, boisterous guffaws, and her own flicks of nastiness to the brew. Under her influence, Sweeney softens a bit and even rediscovers his former sense of humor in the delightful comic duet “A Little Priest.” It is an instant highlight of a show in which the two disparate characters come together with an unexpected rapport.

Both Sundays are known as marvelous singers. Russell’s sonorous ode to his former professional instruments (“My Friends”) and his chilling counterpart on “Pretty Women” are especially rich, and Janine’s girlish “I Am a Lass” (From “Sweet Polly Plunkett (Reprise)”) and “By the Sea” set up the final tragedy as never before. But this show proves again what enormously nuanced actors the pair can be.-John Harding.

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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. (Coming).

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

‘Take A Bow’ Part 6: The Staff of DCMetroTheaterArts’ Favorite Spring/Summer 2016 Performances.