Review: Love is a Blue Tick Hound by Rapid Lemon Productions at Baltimore Theatre Project

By Jason Crawford Samios-Uy
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Running Time: Approx. 2 hours one 10-minute intermission
There comes a time when we all question our lives. Some do it once in awhile, some do it when things are going crazy, and some do it daily… well, most of us do it daily, and Rapid Lemon Productions‘ latest offering, Love is a Blue Tick Hound by Audrey Cefaly, Directed by Donna Ibale, Lee Conderacci, Betse Lyons, and Lauren Erica Jackson, and Set Design by Reese Siedlecki tries to answer some of those questions through four two-person shorts exposing the lives of folks from different walks of life with very different questions and problems.
In a nutshell, Love is a Blue Tick Hound is a delving introspective on relationships and ask the serious questions of life. The entire production is made up of four short two-person plays that ask life’s questions such as “are we happy or are we settling?” or “am I afraid to be alone or am I okay with that?” with a blend of poignancy and comedy that gives the audience emotional peaks and valleys that make for good theatre.
Set Design by Reese Siedlecki is semi-minimal but quite appropriate to make it easy to present four different stories. Set pieces are brought on and off stage to set the scenes and this design does its job superbly. With the use of lawn chairs, a cafe table, willow weeds, and a living room set transports the audience into the scenes easily. Transitions are a bit lengthy and clunky, but not enough to deter the flow of the piece and the cast is well-rehearsed and precise in the changes.
Light and Sound Design by Allan Sean Weeks and Max Garner, respectively, add great value to this production while Weeks sets the scene and times of day brilliantly with subtle light changes and accents while Garner produces a flawless sound design that puts the audience smack dab in the scene with a well thought-out design that doesn’t hinder, but helps the setting and adds that extra authenticity. Also, I found myself Shazam-ing the transition tunes that were used because, well, they were not only fitting but pretty awesome tunes!

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Lauren Erica Jackson as Euba and Carolyn Koch as Fin. Credit: Rapid Lemon Productions

Moving on to the shorts themselves, we are first presented with Fin and Euba, Directed by Donna Ibale, featuring Carolyn Koch as Fin and Lauren Erica Jackson as Euba. This short concerns best friends Fin and Euba (of course) as they complain about their current situation and dream about changing it but don’t do much to do so, as if they are settling for what they go or are afraid to move forward. Director Donna Ibale has a great comprehension of this text and presents the piece in an authentic, down-home way that works nicely. Koch understands her character and portrays her fittingly as someone who wants so much more but can’t seem to figure out how to get it while Jackson, as Euba, portrays her character beautifully as someone who doesn’t dare to want more. Both actresses have a good chemistry and work well off each other to present a deep connection and dependency upon each other.
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Beste Lyons as Lina and Justin Johnson as Roberto. Credit: Rapid Lemon Productions

Second we are presented with Clean, Directed by Lee Conderacci, featuring Betse Lyons as Lina and Justin Johnson as Roberto. In this piece, food service two co-workers discuss relationships and wants before opening and make certain discoveries about each other that were right in front of them the entire time. Director Lee Conderacci’s casting is spot on and she presents this piece in a minimally, but effectively. Lyons embodies her character and connects with the audience making you empathize with her character’s turmoil and her confidence and onstage presence makes one take notice. Johnson gives a superb performance as the immigrant dish-washer with a secret yearning and common sense way of looking at things. His performance is spot-on making him and this piece a highlight of this production.
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Donna Ibale as Kendra and Aladrian C. Wetzel as Betty. Credit: Rapid Lemon Productions

Next is The Gulf, Directed by Betse Lyons, featuring Donna Ibale as Kendra and Aladrian C. Wetzel as Betty. This short begins with what simply looks like two people on a fishing excursion in a deep southern watering hole. However, we discover Betty, played flawlessly by Wetzel, is trying to better herself with plans of schooling and moving out of wherever they currently are and Kendra, played by an able and intense Ibale, is content to stay right where she is. Director Betse Lyons seems to have a tight grasp on this material and presents it simply and concisely with her choice of setting and casting. Wetzel, gives a glimmer of grace and elegance just under the surface of her character and it works beautifully for the scene. The despair and want this actress exudes makes one want to just take her, hug her, and tell her everything’s going to be okay. Ibale, too, portrays her rough around the edges character impeccably with a smidgen of vulnerability that she tries to hide but can’t help but let show every now and then. This piece and its actresses are certainly standouts in this production with spot on performances.
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Mike Smith as Bob and Lee Conderacci as Maggie. Credit: Rapid Lemon Productions

Finally, the production rounds out with Stuck, Directed by Lauren Erica Jackson, featuring Mike Smith as Rob and Lee Conderacci as Maggie. This short deals with a second date between two people who might not know exactly what they’re looking for and trying very hard to impress others. Director Lauren Erica Jackson gives a good showing in her presentation and her understanding of the material is evident. Conderacci gets the fundamentals of her character, a strong woman who has a definite individuality but still wants to “fit in,” and she portrays this nicely but her delivery gets a little scripted at times, but her energy and confident stage presence makes for a lovely performance. Her partner, Mike Smith is the stronger of the duet and is, hands down, another standout in this production. His portrayal of his character, a nervous young man going into a second date and just wants to make a good impression, is on point and natural. He has a strong stage presence with a good comedic timing making for a performance that is a joy to watch.
Final thought… Love is a Blue Tick Hound from Rapid Lemon Production is a perfect fit for Women’s Voice Theatre Festival and the tries to answer some of life’s questions through a series of four short plays directed by a different director (all of whom are women and double as actors in one of the other plays) and allows for various visions of a main theme and each play is cast nicely with actors who work well together. Presenting this piece in a minimalist fashion is a wise choice as is forces concentration on the text and performances making the scenes uncluttered and more meaningful. Overall, this production is well through-out and well-presented and is worth checking out if your wandering around looking for good live theatre in the Baltimore-Washington corridor.
This is what I thought of Rapid Lemon Productions’ production of Love is a Blue Tick Hound… What did you think? Please feel free to leave a comment!
Love is a Blue Tick Hound will play through January 21 at Baltimore Theatre Project, 45 W. Preston Street, Baltimore, MD and February 9-17 at Logan Fringe Art Space: Trinidad Theatre, 1358 Florida Avenue, NE Washington, DC. For tickets, you can purchase them online.
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PRESS RELEASE: Rapid Lemon Production presents the Regional Premiere of Love is a Blue Tick Hound

Rapid Lemon Press Release
For Immediate Release:
Regional Premiere of Love is a Blue Tick Hound

  • A new collection of four one-act plays by local author Audrey Cefaly
  • January 12-21 in Baltimore and February 9-17 in Washington, DC

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND December 4, 2017 — Rapid Lemon Productions will present the regional premiere of Audrey Cefaly’s Love is a Blue Tick Hound this winter as part of the Women’s Voices Theater Festival. The production is a collection of four 20-minute plays, three of which have received New York premieres and all of which have won multiple festivals throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Love is a Blue Tick Hound Title
Performances January 12-21 at Baltimore Theatre Project, 45 W. Preston St., Baltimore, MD 21201. Phone (410) 752-8558. Online
Performances February 9-17 at the Trinidad Theatre, Logan Fringe Arts Space, 1358 Florida Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002. Phone (866) 811-4111. Online
Love is a Blue Tick Hound is presented by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc.
About the Company. Rapid Lemon Productions is a not-for-profit ensemble company whose mission is to encourage growth in the performing arts by developing and presenting new work by local playwrights.
For more information:
Max Garner, Managing Director
(443) 832-8178

Review: Cabaret Macabre: The Return Visit from Happenstance Theatre at Baltimore Theatre Project

By Jason Crawford Samios-Uy
Running Time: 1 hour and 10 minutes with no intermission
The autumn brings out crazy things in people. Harvest moons, Halloween, a chill in the air – it all leads to a certain, feeling. Some would say “macabre,” which is defined by Merriam-Webster as “involving death or violence in a way that is strange, frightening, or unpleasant.” The latest offering from Happenstance Theatre at Baltimore Theatre Project, Cabaret Macabre: The Revisit, is just that… so much so it’s in the name! There’s just something off-kilter about this spooky, but clever cabaret that you have to see to understand completely.

Credit: Happenstance Theatre

Credit: Happenstance Theater

The space itself has been transformed into a simple dark, black space that reminded me of a  side show tent where you can pay a shiny dime to look at the freaks, except there are no freaks here – just a talented, just left of center acting troupe called Happenstance Theatre. The billowing black curtains complement the high ceiling and blank stage, and the entire set is likened to a Tim Burton movie, dark and creepy but with a hint of anticipation as to what lurked behind those curtains.
Credit: Happenstance Theatre

Credit: Happenstance Theater

Lighting Design by Kris Thompson is spot on and minimal, but superb for this production. Once the house lights go down, the dim lighting throughout the production add to the creepy feeling and the precise lighting design complement the performance rather than inhibit it. Along with the set, the lighting sets the perfect mood for this macabre piece.
Costumes are certainly a highlight of Cabaret Macabre: The Return Visit. Each costume is on point with great attention to detail. Costume Design by Sabrina Mandell is to be commended as the mainly black and white color scheme is consistent throughout and the costumes are well though-out, superbly designed, and quite appropriate. The actors seem to be very comfortable in their many costumes and they certainly add to the creepy theme of this production. Kudos to Mandell on a job well done
Credit: Happenstance Theater

Credit: Happenstance Theater

Music played a major role in this production and the choices made by Composer/Arranger Karen Hansen are outstanding. Her talent is well apparent as, throughout the production, she plays the piano, an organ, a tuba-looking instrument, an upright viola, a double trumpet, and a lyre or something that looked like one. Moving back and forth from one side of the stage to the other, she performed with ease and comfort, displaying her musical prowess. Hands down, she is a brilliant musician and handles her role very well.
Credit: Happenstance Theater

Credit: Happenstance Theater

Being a true ensemble piece, no Director is noted but it seems all the performers – Gwen Grastorf, Karen Hansen, Mark Jaster, Sabrina Mandell, Sarah Olmsted Thomas, and Alex Vernon – has a hand in creating these creepy vignettes. Mostly pantomime with very little dialogue, each act was very well-rehearsed and got the point across through movement, which is quite impressive. All of the actors were very comfortable on the stage and all worked together like a well-oiled machine. Quirky comedy and making light of unfortunate events bring a dark comedy feel to this piece and it fits like a glove. This is truly and ensemble piece and each actor blends in beautifully, knowing his or her role, and performing it flawlessly to create a well put-together piece.
One act worth mentioning is an Apache Dance choreographed by Sarah Olmsted Thomas that portrays a violent encounter between a couple who seem to hate each other but can’t stand to be apart. The elegance and passion in the number is clear and very enjoyable to watch.
Credit: Happenstance Theater

Credit: Happenstance Theater

Another comedic act that is a standout is Rules of Croquet, which is another hilarious pantomime with the unfortunate demise of everyone involved. The physicality, creativity, and discipline in this piece is very impressive and makes it a certain highlight of the entire production.
Final thought… Cabaret Macabre: The Return Visit isn’t just your run of the mill production but a collection of Edward Gorey inspired Victorian nightmares that seem a little off kilter, but you don’t know exactly why. The ensemble performs the work beautifully and the entire experience puts you in the mindset of an old-time cabaret where there is no program to follow and each act is a surprise. Perfect for this time of year, the tragic beauty of this production is worth checking out!
That’s what I thought about Cabaret Macabre: The Return Visit. What did you think? Please feel free to comment below!
Cabaret Macabre: The Return Visit presented by Happenstance Theatre will play through November 13 at Baltimore Theatre Project, 45 W. Preston Street, Baltimore, MD. For tickets, call the Baltimore Theatre Project Box Office at 410-752-8558 or purchase them online.