Review: Avenue Q at Cockpit in Court

By Jason Crawford Samios-Uy

Running Time: Approx. 2 hours and 15 minutes with a 15-minute intermission

If you’re looking for some good old fashioned educational television that teaches kids how to count to 12 or has a word of the day presented by a green frog… you won’t find any of that here at Cockpit in Court Summer Theatre’s first offering of the season, Avenue Q by Jeff Whitty and Music and Lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, Directed by Todd Starkey with Music Direction by R. Chris Rose and Choreography by Elise Starkey. This is a stretch for Cockpit in Court, compared to their previous showings and I, for one, am glad they took the leap. It’s a funny, in-your-face show that leans more toward adult humor that will have you laughing and nodding your head about things you often think of but don’t say because you’re too courteous to do so.

The Cast of Avenue Q at Cockpit in Court Summer Theatre. Credit: Cockpit in Court

Avenue Q tells a tale about a college graduate, Princeton, trying to find his “purpose” in life. It is set in NYC, all the way out on Avenue Q (because Princeton couldn’t afford anything more). While he is struggling to find his purpose, he meets friends, finds love, loses love, and finds it again. Loosely inspired by the famous Sesame Street, this puppet-filled world reflects the crazy, sometimes filthy, adult realities of the world around us. We learn that real life isn’t really as simple as we dreamed it would be when we were kids, but this show hints that, even though it’s not like the dreams we had, life is still colorful and worthwhile.

Bob Denton’s Set Design is simple, yet superb. His design treats us to a set of detailed row homes and shop fronts that have been seemingly turned into apartments and his choice of drab, dull colors and use of second story levels adds a distinct realism to the piece. His attention to detail is fantastic and he uses his space wisely, creating a unit set with set pieces that enter and exit to express more specific spaces. Overall, Denton is to be applauded for his work.

Costume Design by Eva Grove is spot on as the characters come to life in their individual attire. Though most of the puppets probably came in their own garb, Grove’s work is still evident in the “human” characters in this piece and her choice of costumes enhanced the characters. For instance, the unkempt look of Brian, the slacker, and the more put together but traditional Asian fashions for Christmas Eve really took these characters to the next level. Kudos to Grove for a job well done.

Elise Starkey took on the task of Choreographing this piece and creates engaging movement that is a delight to watch. She seems to know and understand her cast and their abilities and her choreography enhances their abilities and makes for fun, upbeat numbers that the cast obviously enjoys performing. This production doesn’t require huge dance numbers but Starkey has created choreography that is simple enough to fit perfectly into the production but intricate enough to stay interesting and entertaining.

Veteran Music Director R. Chris Rose has guided this ensemble beautifully keeping them in harmony and on key. Many of the ensemble members are singing in character voices, but Rose has not skipped the musicality in spite of that challenge. He has a tight grasp on this material and it’s apparent through the performances of the apt ensemble. It’s absolutely worth mentioning the stellar and on point pit orchestra he’s assembled though it is unfortunate that the program (both hard copy and online) does not list the players as it wouldn’t be a musical without music and this pit orchestra should be applauded for their efforts.

The Cast of Avenue Q at Cockpit in Court Summer Theatre. Credit: Cockpit in Court

Todd Starkey takes the helm of this production and is no-holds-barred, which is just the kind of kick in the rear that Cockpit in Court needs. He takes the script, in full, and presents it with a clear vision and fearless attitude. Now, this type of show could be considered tame in some theatres in town, but this is actually a big step for Cockpit in Court and I’m very excited they’re taking it. Starkey’s casting is superb and it’s clear he has a great comprehension of the text and the message that being an adult just plain sucks sometimes, but life goes on and we figure things out as we go. Kudos to Mr. Starkey for a job very well done on this production.

Moving on to the performance aspect of this production of Avenue Q, I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention the hard work this ensemble put into the performance of this production. It must be a major challenge working with puppets but these actors seem to have mastered this task. In some cases, two people are needed to operate one puppet and those teams are flawless. The audience may even forget these characters are puppets because the actors are doing such a great job in their operation and portrayals.

As the human characters, Tigga Smaller as Gary Coleman, Stanton Zacker as Brian, and Suzanne Zacker as Christmas Eve give terrific performances and hold their own against the novelty of puppet characters. Smaller, though a bit scripted and stiff in her dialogue is a powerhouse when it comes to vocal stylings and Stanton Zacker and Suzanne Stacker’s characters are spot on with great chemistry and timing that is necessary for this piece.

Lauren Stuart, who is no stranger to the Baltimore stages, takes on the character of Lucy, the promiscuous and slutty puppet and she pulls off this character near flawlessly. Her featured number, “Special” is impressive and she certainly makes a splash.

Josh Schoff as Princeton. Credit: Cockpit in Court

Josh Schoff takes on Princeton, our “hero” and his character work is notable had one really feels for this character throughout the show. Vocally, he pulls off his numbers nicely, but his strengths lie in the character which he portrays authentically and with confidence giving a great showing.

Will Meister as Trekkie Monster (with Tate Erickson) may be one of my favorite characters as it seems Trekkie Monster has lost all give-a-f***. Meister’s portrayal, with the help Erickson (he’s a big monster so, he needs two puppeteers to manage), makes this character both crude and lovable. His featured number “The Internet is for Porn” is definitely funny and the tinge of truth it has makes on think. The teamwork between Meister and Erickson is top-notch and they are to be commended for their portrayal as Meister is to be commended for the character study he’s put into it.

A highlight in this piece is Clare Kneebone as Kate Monster, the sweet “girl-next-door” who, like Princeton, has aspirations but doesn’t quite know how to achieve them. Kneebone plays her sweetl,y but real and rough around the edges, which makes this character so authentic. She understands this character and the material and even though she is using a character voice, the realism comes through because of that comprehension. Vocally, Kneebone does not disappoint with a clear, booming voice that resonates throughout the theatre as it does in her featured, poignant number, “There’s a Fine, Fine Line.” She’s certainly one to watch.

Amanda Poxon and Will Poxon as Nicky and Josh Starkey as Rod. Credit: Cockpit in Court

Definite standouts in this production are Josh Starkey as Rod and Will Poxon (with Amanda Poxon) as Nicky. These actors take their performances to the hilt and completely embody these characters. Starkey, as Rod, skillfully uses a character voice that fits perfectly (and is reminiscent of Bert from Sesame Street fame) and an uptight attitude to match. He brings this character to life easily and through the character voice, vocally, he is spot on, especially in his cute and tender featured number, “Fantasies Come True.” A perfect match for Starkey’s Rod is Will Poxon’s Nicky, who he operates with Amanda Poxon). If any of these characters are perfect, it would be Nicky. Will Poxon’s character voice couldn’t be more perfect (which, of course, is an homage to Ernie from Sesame Street) and it takes his performance to the next level. It’s worth mentioning, too, that Amanda Poxon, though silent, gives a stellar performance with just her face and gestures that help this performance rise to the top. In his featured and hilarious number, “If You Were Gay” will have you in stitches and he doesn’t falter once, vocally. Kudos and congratulations to Starkey and Poxon for impeccable performances.

Final thought…Avenue Q is a fun and quirky look at the adult side of puppetry and no-holds-barred look at life from the point of view of someone just starting out in the real world. The production value is phenomenal, the performances are top-notch, the puppetry and character work are stellar, and the story/script, though not suited for all, is engaging and good in the way that it is not trying to be more than what it is… a comedy that makes people laugh (sometimes nervously) and says the things we are all sometimes thinking but are too polite to say. The music is modern with some catchy tune and makes for a delightful evening well spent. Don’t let this one pass you by this season. Get your tickets!

This is what I thought of Cockpit in Court Summer Theatre’s production of Avenue Q… What did you think? Please feel free to leave a comment!

(Puppets Constructed by Character Translations, Inc. for Music Theatre International. Avenue Q has not been authorized or approved by the Jim Henson Company or Sesame Workshop, which have no responsibility for its content.)

Avenue Q will run through July 1 at Cockpit in Court Summer Theatre, CCBC Essex, Robert and Eleanor Romadka College Center, F. Scott Black Theatre. For tickets call the box office at 443-840-ARTS (2787) or purchase them online.

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Review: Das Barbecu at Spotlighters

By Jason Crawford Samios-Uy

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Running Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes with one 15-minute intermission.

A series of Wagner operas and the great state of Texas?! Can the two mix? Sounds crazy, right? Well, Spotlighters Theatre‘s latest contribution to Baltimore theatre, Das Barbecu, with Book & Lyrics by Jim Luigs and Music by Scott Warrender, proves that it can be so. Directed by Greg Bell, with Music Direction by Michael Tan and Choreography by Jillian Bauersfeld and Greg Bell, Das Barbecu manages to take Wagner‘s complex four-part Ring Cycle opera and make it just a little more accessible and (some would argue) more interesting and fun for audiences not so versed with the classics. Now, this isn’t to say that Das Barbecu is a dumbed-down version of the Ring Cycle, but more contemporary and in-tune with today’s audiences. The story, characters, and message is still in tacked, only now it has a charming Texas drawl.

Rob Wall and Clare Kneebone. Credit: Spotlighters Theatre /  Shealyn Jae Photography  / Shealynjaephotography.com

Rob Wall and Clare Kneebone. Credit: Spotlighters Theatre / Shealyn Jae Photography / Shealynjaephotography.com

The intimate, in-the-round space at Spotlighters would usually be a challenge for a show like this with its multiple locations and, well, they say everything is bigger in Texas, but Spotlighters has a lot of experience putting big shows up in this small space and Set Designer Alan Zemba used his space very wisely. With simple yet creative set pieces, Zemba manages to take the audience from the garden of a palatial mansion to a vast ranch, to bedrooms, then to a bar, then to the top of a mountain, then to a barbecue (whew!), all with minimal set pieces. Not only was the set creative, but it is easy and practical enough for the stage crew to get on and off quickly. I will say, however, there were a few scene changes that seemed a bit longer than usual, but all in all, the stage crew had razor sharp, rehearsed precision and the set worked beautifully with the piece and certainly helped tell the story.

The cast of Das Barbecue. Credit: Spotlighters Theatre /  Shealyn Jae Photography  / Shealynjaephotography.com

The cast of Das Barbecue. Credit: Spotlighters Theatre / Shealyn Jae Photography / Shealynjaephotography.com

Adding great value to this production is Costume Design by Andrew Malone. There are so many characters in this piece played by only five actors, Malone does an impeccable job making each character absolutely individual and memorable with simple, yet noticeable wardrobe changes. An actor can play up to five characters, but, because of the character costumes, it is easy to distinguish each character, which is invaluable with this involved, twisting story. Major kudos to Andrew Malone for his creative and flawless design.

With the space being as intimate as it is, Light Design by Al Ramer is simple, yet very befitting to this production and did not impede but enhance the action onstage. The lighting is well thought-out and sets the proper mood for each scene helping move the story along.

Moving into the production aspect of this piece. Choreography by Jillian Bauersfeld and Greg Bell is fun and very appropriate for this piece and the space in which it is performed. The dancing is tight and entertaining and adds to the production rather than takes away from this piece. Also, the actors are comfortable with the choreography and perform it confidently and with high energy making it enjoyable to watch.

Allison Comotto and Clare Kneebone. Credit: Spotlighters Theatre /  Shealyn Jae Photography  / Shealynjaephotography.com

Allison Comotto and Clare Kneebone. Credit: Spotlighters Theatre / Shealyn Jae Photography / Shealynjaephotography.com

Baltimore theatre veteran Music Director Michael Tan does not disappoint in this production. He manages to take his small cast and have them harmonizing and blending beautifully to bring this story to life. Some songs are funny and some poignant, but whichever mood, under the direction of Tan, the actors seem to understand what these songs are about and perform them accordingly. It helps that the most of the ensemble is already strong, vocally, and Tan uses this to his advantage making for a very impressive showing.

Directing 5 actors to play 26 characters can be quite a challenge for any director, experienced or otherwise, but Greg Bell takes on this challenge and executes his impeccable skill. It is important for whomever takes the reigns of this piece to completely understand the story of Wagner’s complicated Ring Cycle and Bell seems to have a tight grasp and his vision for this piece is apparent and well put together. He excels in blocking his actors to keep the story moving smoothly and at a near perfect pace. Though, as an audience member, I did have to do my part by paying attention, but the story was presented to me clearly and I wasn’t scratching my head or asking questions during intermission or after the performance. Das Barbecü is another well-done project from Greg Bell.

Jim Gross. Credit: Spotlighters Theatre /  Shealyn Jae Photography  / Shealynjaephotography.com

Jim Gross. Credit: Spotlighters Theatre / Shealyn Jae Photography / Shealynjaephotography.com

Jim Gross, a.k.a. Actor 4, takes on the role of Woton, Gunther, Hagen, a Texas Ranger, and a Giant and, according to his bio, is back after a year hiatus from the stage. He gives an admirable performance having to take on so many characters and keeping each an individual through not only costumes, but mannerisms and physicality, as well. His Texan/Southern accent could use a bit more work as I don’t hear much of one throughout and his solo number “River of Fire” does fall a bit flat for being so early in the second act. However, he does hold his own commendably against the other strong actors in the ensemble and his performance is to be applauded.

Clare Kneebone. Credit: Spotlighters Theatre /  Shealyn Jae Photography  / Shealynjaephotography.com

Clare Kneebone. Credit: Spotlighters Theatre / Shealyn Jae Photography / Shealynjaephotography.com

Clare Kneebone was last seen at Spotlighters in Tick, Tick… Boom! and, in this production, she is known as Actor 3, taking on the roles of Brünnhilde, a Norn Triplet, a Texas Ranger, and a Rivermaiden. Kneebone is comfortable on this stage and takes strong command when she appears. Though this is a complete ensemble piece, she takes on what’s closest to the female lead in this piece and she gives a confident, natural performance. Her beautiful, strong vocals b
lend very nicely with the ensemble and shine through in her solo number “County Fair.” Kneebone is a joy to watch and I look forward to experiencing her future work.

Rob Wall. Credit: Spotlighters Theatre /  Shealyn Jae Photography  / Shealynjaephotography.com

Rob Wall. Credit: Spotlighters Theatre / Shealyn Jae Photography / Shealynjaephotography.com

Rob Wall is no stranger to the Spotlighters stage, also having been last seen in Tick, Tick… Boom! Wall takes on the responsibilities of Actor 5, performing the roles of Siegfried, a Norn Triplet, Milam Lamar, Alberich, and a Giant. Taking on what could be considered the lead male role, Wall gives a very enjoyable, strong performance. His gorgeous, booming voice resonates throughout the theatre but he blends well with the ensemble, filling out the sound beautifully. He is able to separate each character he plays and give them each their own respective lives. He understands his characters and works hard to bring them to life. He has a great command of the stage and seems quite comfortable and natural in his roles and this is another great performance from Rob Wall.

Allison Comotto is Actor 1 and takes on the roles of Gutrune, a Norn Triplet, Freia, Y-Vonne Duvall, a Rivermaiden, and a Valkyrie. She, too, is a veteran of the Spotlighters stage having been last seen in Zombie Prom.

Allison Comotto. Credit: Spotlighters Theatre /  Shealyn Jae Photography  / Shealynjaephotography.com

Allison Comotto. Credit: Spotlighters Theatre / Shealyn Jae Photography / Shealynjaephotography.com

Comotto is a busy bee in this production but she is certainly a highlight with her spot-on comedic timing and natural acting chops that make her characters very enjoyable to watch. Vocally, she’s strong and is able to hold her own in the harmonies and blends well. Not to beat a dead horse, but her comedic timing is absolutely flawless. Her character, Y-Vonne Duval (actually pronounced WHY-vonne), a high society Texas wife who knows all the gossip in town, is just plain hysterical. She’s comfortable on stage and has a very strong presence that makes one take notice. Her natural talents are a joy to watch and I’m looking forward to seeing more from Ms. Comotto in the future.

Andrea Bush. Credit: Spotlighters Theatre /  Shealyn Jae Photography  / Shealynjaephotography.com

Andrea Bush. Credit: Spotlighters Theatre / Shealyn Jae Photography / Shealynjaephotography.com

Lastly, but certainly not least, Andrea Bush, who is most decidedly another standout of this production. Bush is an absolute pleasure to watch as she navigates through her characters as Actor 2, taking on the roles of Narrator, Fricka, Erda, Needa Troutt, Back-Up Singer, Katsy Snapp, a Rivermaiden, and a Valkyrie. For as many characters as Bush had to play, she transitioned seamlessly and gave each character an individual personality, displaying her on-point acting skills. Vocally, this woman has some strong pipes and her booming voice is an asset to this piece. In both her comedic and more serious numbers, she gave a strong vocal showing and found the feeling in every song through her performance. Her comedic timing is outstanding and she seems to understand all her characters and the story, allowing her to give an assured performance that adds value to this production. She’s defintiely one to watch.

Andrea Bush and Allison Comotto. Credit: Spotlighters Theatre /  Shealyn Jae Photography  / Shealynjaephotography.com

Andrea Bush and Allison Comotto. Credit: Spotlighters Theatre / Shealyn Jae Photography / Shealynjaephotography.com

Final thought… much like the Looney Tunes made Wagner much easier to swallow (and introduced children and a lot of adults to the opera genre), Spotlighters production of Das Barbecu takes a complex, classic piece and makes it more accessible and funny. Wagner’s Ring Cycle is not a piece I am entirely familiar with, but now, should I delve into a performance of it somewhere in my journeys, I’ll have a better understanding of the story and will probably appreciate more than I would have going in blind. Who knew Texas and a Wagner series of operas would mesh so well together?

Want another point of view? Check out what The Bad Oracle had to say!

Das Barbecu will play through October 30 at Spotlighters Theatre, 817 St. Paul Street, Baltimore, MD. For tickets, call the box office at 410-752-1225 or purchase them online.

 

 

 

 

 

Review: Tick, Tick… Boom! at Audrey Herman Spotlighters Theatre

by Jason Crawford Samios-Uy

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Running Time: 90 minutes with no intermission

Most theater folk know or at least have heard of the recent Broadway sensation called Hamilton. Now, about 20 years ago, there was another Broadway sensation that caused the same kind of ruckus (whether warranted or unwarranted, depending on who you talk to) written by a Lyricist/Composer/Author named Jonathan Larson called RENT. Well, let’s go back a few years before that and this same Lyricist/Composer/Author wrote a small, three person musical called Tick, Tick… Boom!, an autobiographical account of what he called his failure and frustrations up till that time.

Tick, Tick… Boom! with Book, Music, & Lyrics by Jonathan Larson and Vocal Arrangements and Orchestrations by Stephen Oremus is the latest offering from Audrey Herman Spotlighters Theatre and is Directed and Choreographed by Jillian Locklear Bauersfeld with Music Direction by Michael W. Tan.

I’m going to admit, I’ve never been a RENT fan by any stretch of the imagination, but… I was pleasantly surprised and quite entertained by this production of Tick, Tick… Boom! and I just might have to give RENT another more comprehensive listen!

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Garrett Zink as Jon. Photo Credit: Spotlighters Theatre

Beginning with the production aspect, Set Designer/Scenic Artist Alan Zemla used the small Spotlighters space very wisely by not cluttering it with frivolous set pieces but with six black boxes that were moved around and acted as all the set pieces including a bed, a BMW, office furniture, and convenience store counter. The moving of the boxes was incorporated into the blocking and with no other clutter on stage, it was easy for the actors to transition from one scene to the next. Also impressive are the theatre walls themselves. Each wall is cleverly painted to represent New York City from New York Subway walls to a representative skyline. Zemla is to be commended for his work in this production.

Costume Design by Andrew Malone was simple and contemporary as this play is pretty much set in modern times, 1990 to be exact, and, though the “skinny jeans” (or what looks like skinny jeans) the character of Jon is wearing throughout the show may be a bit of a stretch, the plaid button-down was a perfect choice, as were the outfits of the other two characters.

The space is very unique and small with pillars on the four corners of the stage and I imagine it’s a bit difficult to light a production but Lighting Designer Fuzz Roark managed very nicely. Though a little dark at times, the production was lit very appropriately and simply with no major bells and whistles, which is not needed in this production, anyway, and Roark’s lighting scheme was spot on.

Again, being a small space, one would think sound wouldn’t be an issue, however, it is quite a feat to launch a full fledged musical in a small space but Sound Designers Lanoree Blake and Fuzz Roark managed to do just that. There is a full, live pit orchestra only inches away from the stage and none of the actors are equipped with a microphone so, there are only a few times when the balance between the orchestra and the actors is a little wonky and if an actor is on the opposite side of the stage from where one is sitting it’s difficult to hear every line, but I lost nothing from the story and was able to keep up. The sound effects used were appropriate and well placed and moved the story along quite nicely.

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Garret Zink as Jon & Rob Wall as Michael. Photo Credit: Spotlighters Theatre

According to the Director’s Note, Director Jillian Locklear Bauersfeld had directed Tick, Tick… Boom! About 10 years ago, while a directing major in college. She states that production was a success and though I can’t speak for her previous attempt, I’m tending to agree with her because this production can be chalked up as a success, as well! Anyone who takes on directing theatre in the round starts off with a challenge, but Bauersfeld pulls this off flawlessly, keeping her actors moving and using her space wisely as to not forget any section of the audience. Her blocking is very fluid and this keeps the pace of the piece moving nicely along, not too fast and not too slow. She seemed to have understood these characters and managed to pull thought-out performances from her cast, and her vision of Jonathan Larson’s life was clear and apparent with minimal sets, costumes, and props.

Garrett Zink as Jon & Clare Kneebone as Karessa. Photo Credit: Spotlighters Theatre

Garrett Zink as Jon & Clare Kneebone as Karessa. Photo Credit: Spotlighters Theatre

Music Direction by Baltimore theatre veteran Michael W. Tan (who also plays the keyboard) is superb as he brings the songs of pre-RENT Jonathan Larson to life. There is a certain modern feeling one must understand when dealing with Jonathan Larson and Tan seemed to understand this perfectly. Not the usual “show tunes,” Tan manages to pull the modern pop-rock style from his actors that fit this show like a glove. The fantastic orchestra he’s pulled together, including Christine MacDonald on guitar (with John Jeffries subbing on guitar on certain shows), Greg Bell on bass, and William Georg on percussion, also help make this production all the more enjoyable.

Garrett Zink as Jon & Rob Wall as Michael. Photo Credit: Spotlighters Theatre

Garrett Zink as Jon & Rob Wall as Michael. Photo Credit: Spotlighters Theatre

The only comment I can make on the music of this show is that it is amazing. It is certainly a Jonathan Larson score but it’s modern and melodic and the upbeat songs are driving and the ballads are poignant. If one is familiar with the more famous show from Larson, one can hear the beginnings of most of those songs in these songs. I enjoyed the variety of the score and the attempt at using different styles such as the country and western inspired “Therapy”, the rocking “No More,” and nostalgic, oldies sound of “Sugar.” These upbeat, fun songs were balanced out nicely with poignant power ballads such as “See Her Smile” and “Real Life” that didn’t slow the show down at all, but moved the story along. Also, among these different styles, these songs have a 90s feel to them and, as a kid of the 90s, I was thoroughly entertained!

Clare Kneebone as Susan. Photo Credit: Spotlighters Theatre

Clare Kneebone as Susan. Photo Credit: Spotlighters Theatre

Moving on to the performance aspect of this production, it’s a very small cast consisting of three actors – a perfect size cast for the space. Included in the cast is Garret Zink as Jon, the hapless lyricist/composer/author who’s about to turn 30 years old and doesn’t think he’s d
one anything with his life, Clare Kneebone as Susan the understanding, but yearning girlfriend of Jon, and Rob Wall as Michael, the forward moving best friend.

Jon is the first character to whom we’re introduced and he serves as the narrator throughout the show. Garret Zink has a very good presence and seems comfortable on stage with perfect articulation even though his Baltimore accent peeks in occasionally. Although his performance seems a little forced at times and his flailing hand gestures sometimes draws attention away from what he’s saying, he still pulls off the role very nicely and you do feel for the character and even relate to him as Zink brings a certain honesty to the character. The Larson score can be challenging (his mentor was Stephen Sondheim for goodness sake!) and aside from struggling a bit in the upper register, Zink was able to make a good showing with appropriate style and presentation.

Garrett Zink as Jon, Clare Kneebone as Susan, and Rob Wall as Michael. Photo Credit: Spotlighters Theatre

Garrett Zink as Jon, Clare Kneebone as Susan, and Rob Wall as Michael. Photo Credit: Spotlighters Theatre

Rob Wall as Michael was an absolute joy to watch. From the moment he steps on stage with his big smile and smooth, friendly voice, Wall makes Michael a character who’s easy to like. He’s very comfortable and confident on stage and he moves easily and with purpose. According to his bio, he sang in the Naval Academy Mens Glee Club and was the announcer for Naval Academy parades and with his velvet, booming voice, I don’t doubt it! He performed his songs flawlessly and not only hit the notes, but had that extra understanding of the songs such as “Johnny Can’t Decide” and “Real Life” where he takes the reigns and that takes his performance to a much deeper level. Wall also gives Michael a certain amount of calm that balances out the agitation that Zink gives the Jon character. Wall is certainly one to watch and you don’t want to miss him in this performance!

Clare Kneebone as Susan. Photo Credit: Spotlighters Theatre

Clare Kneebone as Susan. Photo Credit: Spotlighters Theatre

This leaves us with Clare Kneebone, who takes on the role of Susan, the girlfriend. Kneebone is the standout in this production and not only because she’s the only female but because she plays this role brilliantly, confidently, and flawlessly. As she stepped onto the stage, it was clear she was a powerhouse and very comfortable on stage. Her performance was very natural and purposeful as it was clear she understood her character and what her character was going through. Along with a fantastic acting talent (as she plays various characters, including a theatrical agent and an actress in a workshop of a new show), Kneebone has a very impressive musical talent as well and her big, beautiful voice shines throughout this production, namely in her solo number, “Come to Your Senses,” a true power ballad in which she’s not even playing the role of Susan, but of another character – the actress in the workshop of a new show, Karessa. Her performance alone should be reason enough to see this show!

Final thought… Tick, Tick… Boom! Is a show that shouldn’t be missed! Even if you aren’t a huge RENT fan, that’s OK because this show absoltuely stands on its own. Yes, you will see the beginnings of that more famous show, but it’s to be expected as it’s the same lyricist/composer/author and it’s definitely his unique style. This cast is great, the music is fun, and story is certainly relatable! Go see this show!

This is what I thought of this production of Tick, Tick… Boom!.… what do you think?

Tick, Tick… Boom! will play through July 31, Friday-Saturday at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm with a Ten Spot Thursday on July 14 at 8pm at Audrey Herman Spotlighters Theatre, 817 St. Paul Street, Baltimore, MD. For tickets, call 410-752-1225 or purchase them online.