Review: 9 to 5 the Musical at Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre

By Jason Crawford Samios-Uy

Running Time: 2 hours with one 15-minute intermission.

Ensemble Members of 9 to 5. Credit: Alison Harbaugh

Every morning I get up for work, I can’t help but think of the ever-popular tune that states, “I tumble of out of bed and stumble to the kitchen, pour myself a cup of ambition and yawn and stretch and try to come to life.” Ain’t it the truth?! This reviewing thing is just a part time gig, a passion, but a part time gig, and just like many others out there, I’m still working 9 to 5! Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre’s latest offering, 9 to 5 the Musical, with Music and Lyrics by Dolly Parton and Book by Patricia Resnick, based on the 1980 film, gives us a glimpse into the life of an female office workers who faced some of the same struggles women in the workforce face today. Though the message is dead serious, this production is a fun and delightful take on what it’s like to be a strong, independent woman in a male dominated world. This production is Directed and Choreographed by Tommy Malek, with Music Direction by Rachel Sandler and Assistant Music Director Chris Pinder.

In a nutshell, 9 to 5 the Musical is based on the 1980 film of the same name, and features music and lyrics by Dolly Parton and  Book by Patricia Resnick. The musical centers on the the working lives of three women, Violet, the Senior Supervisor, Judy, the new girl, and Doralee. the sexy and sassy, but kind secretary to the big boss. They all work at Consolidated Industries, which is presided over by the sexist, lecherous, and pompous, Franklin Hart. By cause of a misunderstanding and innocent mistake, these three women hilariously take matters into their own hands and chart a course to better themselves and better the conditions for their co-workers.

Set Design by Tommy Malek and George Lawson is simple and practical but the bright colors and levels keep the action flowing and interesting. It’s a great space for this piece and Malek and Lawson use their space wisely, with moving set pieces and levels to present different locales. Kudos on well though-out design.

Costume Design by Tommy Malek (who seems to be wearing most of the hats on the creative side of this production), is on-point. Set in the first year of the 80s decade, there are heavy remnants of the 70s style still alive and well. Not only is the ensemble dressed with accurate attire for the time, they are dressed in business attire of the time, which adds value to this production. The wigs are spot on and everyone looks like they stepped out of a late 70s-early 80s JC Penny ad… which is absolutely appropriate for this piece.

As I said before, with Music & Lyrics by Dolly Parton, you can’t go wrong, but… I’m a huge fan, so I might be a little biased on that point. However, Music Direction by Rachel Sandler with Assistant Music Director Chris Pinder is as close to perfection as one can get for a production. All of the songs came across clear and well-rehearsed and the ensemble had their cues and harmonies down pat. It’s also worth mentioning the pit orchestra was aaahhh-mazing! At points, I thought I was listening to a polished recording and this orchestra didn’t falter once. The orchestra included: Ken Kimble (Piano/Conductor), Trent Goldsmith (Keyboard), James Rodak, Joe Calianno, Justin Kaley (Reeds), Randy Neilson and Tony Settineri (Trombone), Allyson Wesley (Trumpet and Flugelhorn), Diego Retana (Guitar), Reid Bowman (Bass), and Larry Berry and Andrew Bilbrey (Drums). Kudos to Sandler, Pinder, and the Pit Orchestra for a job very well done.

(l-r) Ande Kolp as Violet, Sydney Phipps as Doralee, and Lindsay Litka as Judy. Credit: Alison Harbaugh

Tommy Malek, among many other duties, takes the helm of this piece and I’ve got to start off with saying his casting can’t be better. He has assembled a strong, versatile cast that work well together and off of each other. The pacing of this piece is fantastic and the energy keeps up throughout the entire production. Malek seems to have a good comprehension of these characters and this story and presents it in a polished piece with a clear vision.

Moving on to the performance aspect of this piece, I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention that the entire ensemble puts 100% effort into this production, if not more. The dances are tight and the harmonies are clear making this a standout ensemble and each and every person involved should be proud of his or her work.

Steve Castrodad as Mr. Hart. Credit: Alison Harbaugh

In a strong female heavy cast, Steve Castrodad takes on the villainous role of Mr. Hart, the cold, hard boss and big man in the office. Rawls seems to have a good grasp of the character who is, and I quote, “an sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot,” but his execution of the character wasn’t as strong as his fellow cast mates. It’s clear that Castrodad gets what this character was about, but he seems to be trying too hard to get there. Vocally, he pulls the numbers off well enough and acts his way through them beautifully and humorously such as  in his featured number, “Here For You.” Though there are a few minor bumps in his performance, Castrodad still has a strong showing giving full effort and really gets you to hate his character and his sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical, bigot ways. Getting an audience to hate or love your character is a feat in itself and he pulls it off nicely.

Ande Kolp as Violet and Zac Brightbill as Joe. Credit: Alison Harbaugh

Zac Brightbill takes on the role of Joe, a junior accountant and office mate that apparently has feelings for Violet and wants to see where the relationship goes. Brightbill embodies this character and his natural delivery and chemistry with his cast mates makes for a strong performance. His vocal work in his featured number, the poignant “Let Love Grow” is solid and his ensemble work is energized and on point making for a praiseworthy performance all around.

Roz Keith, Mr. Hart’s right-hand-man and nuisance to everyone else in the office, is played with gusto by Traci Denhardt. Denhardt has a good grasp on this character and takes this role and makes it her own with flawless comedic timing and an energized, wailing (in a great way) rendition of her featured number, “Heart to Hart.”

(l-r) Lindsay Litka as Judy, Ande Kolp as Violet, and Sydney Phipps as Doralee. Credit: Alison Harbaugh

The absolute standouts in this production are, hands down, Ande Kolp as Violet Newstead, Syndey Phipps as Doralee Rhodes, and Lindsey Litka as Judy Bernly. These three actresses are to be commended and applauded for their work in this production. Vocally, all three are powerhouses and, if Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre had a roof, they would blow it off! Their chemistry is second to none and vocally, they complement each other perfectly adding great value to their group numbers such as the upbeat, inspirational “Shine Like the Sun.” I’m familiar with the film and went in with some reservations, being a huge fan, but these three actresses, alone, made this production worth it and put my reservations to rest.

Kolp plays Violet Newstead with a good balance of wit and tenderness, as the character requires. She wants to kick open the door to the boys club and show them she’s just as good, if not better and Kolp manages to bring this across in her performance in such numbers as the high energy “One of the Boys,” Though her delivery may seem a little too scripted at times, she has a strong presence on stage and gives a powerful vocal performance.

(l-r) Ande Kolp as Violet, Sydney Phipps as Doralee, and Lindsay Likta as Judy. Credit: Alison Harbaugh

Doralee Rhodes, the country gal with good old fashioned values, but knows how to take care of herself, is played superbly by Phipps. Though her southern accent comes and goes, the character is spot on and, vocally, this woman knocks it out of the park. Disclaimer… I’m a HUGE Dolly Parton fan. I was definitely watching Phipps through squinted, suspicious eyes when she first entered but… she won me over in the first couple of lines because I knew she understood this character entirely. Vocally, Phipps knocks it out of the ballpark, especially with her renditions of “Backwoods Barbie” and her parts in group numbers. She’s a standout that you want to keep any eye on.

Lindsay Litka as Judy Bernly. Credit: Alison Harbaugh

This brings us to Lindsay Litka taking on the role of the timid, mousey Judy Bernly, who is the new girl in the office after a heartbreaking divorce. Litka pulls off this character superbly with just the right blend of timidness and strength that the character requires. She has a natural delivery and strong presence that makes for a robust performance. Litka, too, is a vocal dynamo with a strong voice that rings throughout the theatre and brings down the house in her featured number, “Get Out and Stay Out.” Litka makes one stand up and take notice and should not be missed in this role.

Final thought… 9 to 5 the Musical is a fun, energized adaptation of a classic film about the worth of women in the workplace and it’s a strong message to young women everywhere. They couldn’t go wrong with Music and Lyrics by Dolly Parton, though Patricia Resnick’s book does seemed rushed and scattered at times. The entire ensemble is on point and gives 100% to the performance and the live pit orchestra is nothing short of spectacular. Big, bright, and full of catchy tunes, this is what I call a modern-old-fashioned musical comedy with the perfect blend of song, dance, and book with an important message. This is not a production you want to miss this summer. Get your tickets now!

This is what I thought of this production of 9 to 5 the Musical.… what do you think?

9 to 5 the Musical will play through September 22 at Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre, 143 Compromise Street, Annapolis, MD 21401. For tickets, call the box office at 410-268-9212 or purchase them online.

CORRECTION: The actor playing the role of Mr. Hart was mistakenly listed as Leigh K. Rawls, who plays Mrs. Hart. Steve Castrodad is the actor playing Mr. Hart and the article has been corrected.

PRESS RELEASE: Fells Point Corner Theatre seeking original 10-minute plays by Baltimore area playwrights for the 10 x 10 x 10 (2018) Unfinished Business


Fells Point Corner Theatre is seeking original 10-minute plays by Baltimore area playwrights for our critically acclaimed play festival 10x10x10.  The 10x10x10 play festival has turned into a staple of local theatre in Baltimore, selling out nearly every performance for the last two year.
As is tradition with our 10x10x10 festival, we will collect audience votes at the end of each performance.  The top play, by the accumulation of votes, will be awarded an Audience Selection Award in the form of a cash prize of $150. That’s 10 TIMES the price of admission!  Second and third place finishers will also receive a cash prize award.  See festival rules and guidelines below for more information.
The 10x10x10 festival  will open on Friday, March 31st and run through Sunday, April 16th.  They will be performed in our Godfrey Stage on the first floor.  Performances will be held on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings @ 8:00pm and Sunday afternoons at 2:00pm. General admission tickets will be sold for $15 for all performances.
SUBMISSION RULES AND GUIDELINES:

  • Scripts should be submitted via email between September 24th, 2017 and January 7th, 2018 to submissions@fpct.org. Scripts must be attached as a PDF.
  • Playwrights located in or around the Baltimore area are eligible for production. Playwrights who no longer reside in Baltimore but were once Baltimore-based artists may also submit. We encourage those playwrights who are selected to engage with us during the rehearsal process.
  • Writers can submit a maximum of two plays.
  • The body of the email should contain the playwright’s first and last name, address, and a primary phone number. Please also attach a character list, as well as the genders and ages of characters if the script calls for them. The play should be included as an attachment, preferably a .pdf or .doc, with the playwright’s name and contact information removed from the actual script (blind submission).
  • Submissions should be no more than 1700 words in length.  If your play is longer than that we will read it but you may be asked to provide a shortened version.  Whether or not you want to provide a shortened script will be completely up to you.
  • No child actors will be cast.
  • Scripts must have relatively simple demands for stage, costume, props or other design requirements. No script may have more than six characters.
  • Scripts must represent completely original works. We are looking for NEW plays. Please do not submit anything that has previously been produced. No adaptations or transcriptions.
  • Audience votes will be tallied and cash prizes will be given out on the final Sunday of the festival. 1st Place – $150.00 2nd Place – $100.00 and 3rd Place – $50.00.

DEADLINE FOR ALL ENTRIES IS 11:59 PM Sunday, January 7th, 2018.

PRESS RELEASE: Friends, Romans, Countrymen (and Women): JULIUS CAESAR, by William Shakespeare at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, Sept. 29 – Oct. 29, 2017


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:      
Friends, Romans, Countrymen (and Women): JULIUS CAESAR, by William Shakespeare
Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, Sept. 29 – Oct. 29, 2017
BALTIMORE (Sept. 18, 2017) — With Julius Caesar and the Roman conspirators wearing suits instead of togas, the classic tragedy of political morals and personal ambition marches into the present September 29 through October 29, 2017, at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, 7 South Calvert Street, Baltimore, MD 21202.
Caesar’s adoring fans and paparazzi will give him the celebrity treatment as he returns victorious from foreign wars. Theatre audiences will be encouraged to cheer his homecoming, too. However, as every school kid knows, the great general’s amassed power makes him the target of scheming senators, some with noble intent and others who covet power for themselves.
The real story is what happens after Caesar’s assassination:  Did the conspirators’ bloody act save the Republic from dictatorship?  The answer is in the history books and the breathtaking civil war scene that erupts on the stage: It’s a resounding “no,” which explains why many Shakespeare scholars consider this 400-year-old play a cautionary tale for all times.
“The play deals with protecting a form of government that worked (for some) and is suddenly threatened by change,” says Julius Caesar director, Michael Tolaydo, who forbade designers from indulging any temptation to superimpose the story on a recognizable head of state, political party, or current social movement. To make it about Trump or any sitting official distracts the audience from Shakespeare’s words, he says. “Let the audience decide for themselves.”
Tolaydo is an accomplished Shakespearean actor and director, and professor emeritus at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, where he served for 25 years as professor in the Department of Theatre, Film and Media Studies.  Shakespeare’s Caesar dies before intermission, Tolaydo notes: “The play is not really about Caesar or any particular leader: It is about trying to protect the Republic and the voices of the Roman citizens. One can argue that very notion of protecting the citizens’ voices is at the heart of America’s current political situation. Julius Caesar speaks of our times right now.”
Tolaydo’s contemporary Caesar has a diverse cast and reinterprets several familiar characters as women, including Antony (our Antonia), who is Caesar’s friend and avenger, and Octavius (our Octavia), who is Caesar’s adopted heir and the future Roman emperor. This is not new, Tolaydo adds:  Women heads of state around the world are making headlines.
Performances of Julius Caesar are Thursdays at 7:30pm, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm. The 10am weekday school matinees with actor-audience talkbacks are also open to the public with limited seating. Prices are $16-$50.  The online ticket calendar is at ChesapeakeShakespeare.com. Box Office: 410-244-8570.
JULIUS CAESAR:  Community Conversations and Special Events:
Thursday, October 5, 2017  – Interpretations of Julius Caesar:  A Gallery Talk at the Walters Art Museum with Chesapeake Shakespeare actors presenting scenes from Julius Caesar during a tour of the museum’s world-class collection of Roman antiquities. Our tour guide is Lisa Anderson-Zhu, Associate Curator of Art of the Mediterranean, 5000 BCE – 300 CE. When: 6:30pm – 7:15pm, on Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017, at the Walters Art Museum, 600 N. Calvert Street, Baltimore. Admission: Free
Sunday, October 15, 2017   – “The Women of Julius Caesar”: A Community Conversation with Dr. Judith Peller Hallett, Professor of Classics at UMD and an expert on the women of Rome. This 1pm pre-show talk at Chesapeake Shakespeare explores the lives of the political wives in the play (Caesar’s wife Calpurnia and Brutus’ wife Portia), and the play’s reinterpreted political leaders, Mar Antonia and Octavia. Patrons may combine the free 1pm talk with a ticket to the 2pm performance of Julius Caesar. Get October 15 tickets at ChesapeakeShakespeare.com.
Thursday, October 26, 2017 – “Lawyers’ Night” at Julius Caesar, pre-show reception from 5:30pm, with 7:30pm performance of Julius Caesar. Bar Association members and others in the legal community gather to discuss using the performing arts in professional development, with The Studio at the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company. Email education@chesapeakeshakespeare.com for details.
October 4, 5, 12, 13, 18, and 20, 2017 — New 10am Weekday Matinees of Julius Caesar for school groups are also open to the public with general admission seating. These matinees encourage audience engagement and learning. A talkback with actors follows the play. Public seats are $25, available at ChesapeakeShakespeare.com. For school rates and reservations, email matinees@chesapeakeshakespeare.com.

Review: Little Women the Musical at Third Wall Productions

By Jason Crawford Samios-Uy

Running Time: 2 hours and 45 minutes with one intermission

Cast of Little Women the Musical. Credit: Karen Osborn, House of Bankerd


This season, I’ve seen more Victorian age stories brought to the stage than I’ve seen in my entire life (only about three, but still) and, I’m not a huge fan of this era with its stuffy clothes and attention to the particulars of etiquette and all that jazz but, I have to say, aside from the style (with which all the Costume Designers did impeccable work), I actually enjoyed to the stories being told. Thus is the case with Third Wall Productions’ latest production, Little Women the Musical with Book by Allan Knee, Music by Jason Howland, and Lyrics by Mindi Dickstein, based on the novel by Lousia May Alcott. This production is Directed by Christine Thomas with Music Direction by Eliza van Kan, Set Design by Jordan Hollett, and Costume Design by Lisa Ann Dickinson and makes for a charming evening of relatable and enjoyable musical theatre.
Set Design by regular Third Wall Productions designer Jordan Hollet is massive, to say the least. Well, for the space at Third Wall Productions, it’s massive. With essentially four different scene settings, an outdoor garden, a living room, an attic, and a small parlor room, Hollet has managed to cleverly fit all of this in the space provided him. The one level design works quite well, with an elevated attic area, but there are spots in the audience where the action is not easily seen. However, that being said, it’s really the nature of the beast with spaces like this and of no real fault to the designer. Just note that the phrase, “Not a bad seat in the house” does not apply here as there are a few seats that aren’t ideal. Overall, the set design is innovative and creative and helps the story along very nicely and keeps the action interesting.

Grace Dillon, Mea Holloway, Lizzy Jackson, Maggie Flanigan, and J. Purnell Hargrove. Credit: Karen Osborn, House of Bankerd


Lisa Ann Dickson, with the help of House of Bankerd gives us an on point Costume Design for this piece. As stated, this is a Victorian era story and the wardrobe may be just as important as the story itself and Dickson knocks it out of the ballpark with this one. The attention to detail and style are exquisite and seem to be tailor made for each performer. Dickinson and House of Bankerd are to be commended for the fantastic Costume Design of this piece.
I admit I was expecting a different type of score walking into this as I had never experienced Little Women the Musical before but I was pleasantly surprised. The music for this piece is quite contemporary and entertaining and is allowed to shine under Music Direction by Eliza van Kan. The ensemble has a very good, strong sound and seems to make easy work of this score. It’s worth mentioning the pit orchestra for this piece gives a polished, accomplished performance as well. Though the orchestra may have drowned out the cast, at times, and weren’t as tight as they usually are (here and there), they still give a very good showing in this production.
Christine Thomas not only plays Marmee March in this production, but she also takes the helm of it and her vision for this piece is apparent as she brings the story of the March girls to the stage. She keeps the action moving and seems to really grasp the story of these ladies – some who are traditional for their time and some who are forward thinkers. She understands the relationship between these sisters and the different stories going on in this piece and presents them beautifully though, the link between the characters is a little weak and the chemistry is there, but at times seems as though the actors are just going through the motions. Regardless, the entire ensemble works well together and creates Thomas’ vision nicely and the solo moments are absolutely lovely. As Marmee March, she is a vocal powerhouse. She has a strong, clean vocal style and commands the stage with every note in her solos “Here Alone” and “Days of Plenty.” Her portrayal as the matriarch of four daughters is admirable and she seems quite comfortable in the role.
Producer Mike Zellhoffer steps onto the stage as the seemingly curmudgeon neighbor, Mr. Laurence, and Patricia Brunker takes on the role of the actual curmudgeon Aunt March. Both Zellhoffer and Brunker give commendable, authentic performances complimenting the story and the other characters while helping move the story forward. Brunker gives a terrific vocal performance and totally embodies the character of Aunt March and all her stuffiness, while Zellhoffer transitions nicely from stern to kind in his wonderful character work.

Grace Dillon, Mea Holloway, Lizzy Jackson, Maggie Flanigan, and J. Purnell Hargrove. Credit: Karen Osborn, House of Bankerd


Purnell Hargrove takes on the role of the amiable Laurie Laurence, quite literally the boy next door and close friend to the March sisters. Hargrove gives a committed and confident performance and has good chemistry with his cast mates. He looks like he’s having a blast up on the stage and, in his featured numbers “Take a Chance on Me” and “Five Forever,” he seems to be pushing his upper range, vocally, but still gives a commendable showing.
Taking on the role of the youngest sister, Amy March, Lizzy Jackson has a good comprehension of this character and plays her well, though, at times, is a bit scripted in her delivery. However, that being said, she nails the demeanor and personality of this character and plays the transition of Amy March beautifully.
Maggie Flanigan tackles the role of the eldest sister, Meg March, and does so with gusto. She works well with her fellow actresses and her portrayal of Meg makes her a likeable character who’s just trying to find her own way in life with Mr. John Brooke, played by Andrew Pedrick. According to his bio, Pedrick is making his way back to the stage after a decade or so and though he’s quite natural, the character gets lost, sometimes, and I see Andrew Pedrick onstage rather than John Brooke. However, as soon as Pedrick opens his mouth to sing as in his featured number “More Than I Am,” a duet with the able Maggie Flanigan, it’s pure art. He has a smooth, resonating tone and I found myself putting down my pen just to listen to him.

Patricia Brunker and Grace Dillon. Credit: Karen Osborn, House of Bankerd


Daniel Plante takes on the role of Professor Bhaer, the serious and stern fellow boarder to Jo March at a New York City boarding house. Plante’s interpretation is spot on and authentic and though he decided not to use an accent (the character is German), it doesn’t hinder his performance in the least. Vocally, Plante has a unique sound and, technically, gives a superb performance of “How I Am” making for a strong performance overall.
Regular, Mea Holloway takes on the role of the gentle Beth March, the other middle sister who has a sweetness and saintliness about her that the other sisters don’t seem to have. Holloway plays this part to the hilt and impressively portrays the sweet nature of this character consistently throughout. She impeccably interprets her featured songs, “Off to Massachusetts” and the poignant “Some Things are Meant to Be” and she embodies this character wholly.

Grace Dillon as Jo March. Credit: Karen Osborn, House of Bankerd


Grace Dillon as Jo March couldn’t have been cast more perfectly. Dillon takes this role and runs with it, making it her own while sticking to the basics of this character of the exuberant, exciting, forward thinking, middle sister, Jo March. With high energy and a seemingly complete grasp of this character and her objectives, Dillon is authentic and confident in this part. She has a great command of the stage and, aside from her acting abilities, gives an outstanding vocal performance as well. As the evening progresses, she seems to pull back, but still gives powerful performances in songs such as “Astonishing” and “The Fire Within Me”. Kudos to Dillon for a job well done.
Final thought… Little Women the Musical at Third Wall Productions is an enjoyable and stimulating piece that this company executes wonderfully. The story is entertaining and relevant, concerning itself with the struggle of woman and the different choices different women make each day, even if they are cut from the same cloth. With strong female characters, the message of finding one’s own way and overcoming any obstacle is clear and apparent. With a fun score and a clever script, the story is easy to understand and the performances are top notch. Whether you’re familiar with the story or seeing it for the first time, Little Women the Musical will delight and entertain and is a production well worth its price of admission.
This is what I thought of Third Wall Productions’ production of Little Women the Musical… What did you think? Please feel free to leave a comment!
Little Women the Musical will play through May 21 at Third Wall Productions, 5801 Harford Road, Baltimore, MD 21206. For tickets, call 443-838-4064 or purchase them online.
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Review: Superior Donuts at Third Wall Productions

By Jason Crawford Samios-Uy
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Running Time: 1 hour and 40 minutes with one 10 minute intermission

Ed Higgins and Isaiah Evans. Credit: Stasia Steuart Photography

Ed Higgins and Isaiah Evans. Credit: Stasia Steuart Photography


In these crazy times since the election and recent swearing in of the new President of the United States, whether we want to admit it or not, there are definite divisions between races, political though, and fundamental beliefs. That being said, Third Wall Productions latest offer, Superior Donuts by Tracy Letts, Directed by Grant Myers with Set Design by Jordan Hollett, Light and Sound Design by Jim Shomo, and Costume Design by Grant Myers, gives us a story of how people from different walks of life and beliefs can actually grow to understand each other and get along even though those differences are still present.
Michael Zollhofer, J. Purnell Hargrove, and Tracy Grimes. Stasia Steuart Photography

Michael Zollhofer, J. Purnell Hargrove, and Tracy Grimes. Stasia Steuart Photography


Superior Donuts, a local donut shop in downtown Chicago, isn’t much to look at but it is a respectable business owned by Arthur Przybyszewski (played by Ed Higgins) and is frequented by two beat cops (Tracy Grimes and J. Purnell Hargrove), a bag lady (Emma Hawthorn), and the Russian businessman, Max) who runs the DVD shop next door (Michael Zellhofer). These characters, all from different walks of life, make up a delightful and diverse group of people who seem to care about Superior Donuts more than its proprietor until Franco Wicks (played by Isaiah Evans) enters, looking for a job. The older, white Arthur and younger African-American Franco have their differences, of course, but find common ground with the donut shop and actually grow to care about each other. The subplot of Franco’s past is intriguing and puts Arthur’s friendship to the test, which he passes with flying colors. The show doesn’t provide a lot of laughs or the happiest of endings (but I wouldn’t say it was a sad ending either), but it tells an important story.
Bill Brisbee and Isaiah Evans. Credit: Stasia Steuart Photography

Bill Brisbee and Isaiah Evans. Credit: Stasia Steuart Photography


Among the talented ensemble, there are a few standout performances such as Isaiah Evans, as Franco, who gives a confident, authentic performance that makes his character very likable. His moves about with purpose and connects with his fellow actors and the audience making for a stellar performance.
Adding the only comedy to the piece are Michael Zellhofer and Emma Hawthorn who play their characters to the hilt. Zellhofer’s performance as Max Tarasov is commanding and believable and his skill in playing the character straight without working to hard for the laughs his character garners is brilliant. Emma Hawthorn as Lady, the friendly neighborhood bag lady, is outstanding in her role playing it with both humor and a touch of poignancy that really makes you feel for her.
Emma Hawthorn and Ed Higgins. Credit: Stasia Steuart Photography

Emma Hawthorn and Ed Higgins. Credit: Stasia Steuart Photography


Ed Higgins tackles the role of Superior Donuts sole proprietor Arthur Pryzbyszewski and through he gives an admirable performance, it’s a bit shaky and unsure, at times. He has great chemistry with the rest of the ensemble, especially Isaiah Evans, and he carries the character well, albeit a bit monotone, notably during the out-of-nowhere monologues directed toward the audience. Aside from those minor observations, overall, he gives a commendable performance.
Emma Hawthorn as Lady. Credit: Stasia Steuart Photography

Emma Hawthorn as Lady. Credit: Stasia Steuart Photography


The rest of the talented ensemble hold their own and add value to this production. Tracy Grimes and J. Purnell Hargrove as Officers Randy Osteen and James Bailey, respectively, are charming as the beat cops and friends of Arthur, adding a bit of romance with Officer Randy and old Arthur. Bill Brisbee as Luther Flynn, the tough bookie could play the part a bit more intimidating but he has Chip Willett as Kevin Magee, Flynn’s goon, to pick up the gruff slack. Even William Zellhofer’s Russian is impressive in his brief appearance.
I was pleasantly surprised by the quaint set that was absolutely stellar and very befitting of this piece. Simple, yet detailed, Jordan Hollet’s design is authentic and well thought-out, putting the audience right smack dab in the middle of an old fashioned donut shop, adding an immersive feel to the entire production. Going along with the Set Design, Jim Shomo’s Light and Sound Design is minimal, at best, but to no real fault of Shomo. There really isn’t a lot going on with lights or sound but, then again, when it comes to plays, sometimes minimal is best. There’s not really a need for any fancy light show or sound so, in a way, it fits nicely. It’s interesting to note that it was decided to not use any music for this production, as well, but the use of music might have set the mood better for the scenes and helped with smoother transitions, which were a bit bungled.
The Cast of Superior Donuts. Credit: Stasia Steuart Photography

The Cast of Superior Donuts. Credit: Stasia Steuart Photography


Director Grant Myers made some curious choices while taking the helm of this production. The transitions were a little unkempt, the frequent breaking of the fourth wall from one of the main characters seemed to come out of nowhere, and a certain fight scene was difficult in such an intimate space, but, overall, despite a some other minor issues, the piece is charming and, as a whole, is very good and well put together. It gets the point across that, with a little trying, anybody can get along, despite their differences. The ensemble gives a commendable performance and they all have great chemistry and work well together.
Final thought…in this time of uncertain race relations and division in current events, Superior Donuts at Third Wall Productions is a light but through-provoking piece expressing how different generations and races can come together in friendship and love. There’s an old adage that “it takes all kinds” and this production demonstrates this very well with its beautifully diverse ensemble who works well together to tell this important story.
This is what I thought of Third Wall Productions’ production of Superior DonutsWhat did you think? Please feel free to leave a comment!
Superior Donuts will play through January 29 at Third Wall Productions, 5801 Harford Road, Baltimore, MD. For Tickets, go to thirdwall.org for information or purchase them online.
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American Theatre Wing's 2016 Tony Awards RECAP

By Jason Crawford Samios-Uy
2016 Tony Shows
Ok, I’m a couple of days late, but I was searching the Interweb for info on all these shows and people so I could give you fine folks some links to click on!
On Sunday night, The 2016 Tony Awards played out at The Beacon Theatre in New York and here’s a recap of the results… Feel free to click on a person’s name or a show for more info! So… now that the results are in… what did YOU think? Agree with all of it? Disagree with all of it? Tell me, tell me, tell me! Leave a reply below!
BEST PLAY

BEST MUSICAL

BEST REVIVAL OF A PLAY

BEST REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL

 
BEST BOOK OF A MUSICAL

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE (MUSIC AND/OR LYRICS) WRITTEN FOR THE THEATRE

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE IN A PLAY

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE IN A PLAY

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE IN A MUSICAL

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE IN A MUSICAL

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A PLAY

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A PLAY

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A MUSICAL

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A FEATURED ROLE IN A MUSICAL

BEST SCENIC DESIGN OF A PLAY

BEST SCENIC DESIGN OF A MUSICAL

BEST COSTUME DESIGN OF A PLAY

BEST COSTUME DESIGN OF A MUSICAL

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN OF A PLAY

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN OF A MUSICAL

BEST DIRECTION OF A PLAY

BEST DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY

BEST ORCHESTRATIONS

SPECIAL TONY AWARD© FOR LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT IN THE THEATRE

SPECIAL TONY AWARD

REGIONAL THEATRE TONY AWARD

ISABELLE STEVENSON TONY AWARD

TONY HONORS FOR EXCELLENCE IN THE THEATRE