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: The Graduate at Dundalk Community Theatre

By Jason Crawford Samios-Uy
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Running Time: Approx. 2 hours a 15-minute intermission

DCT Pic The Graduate. Poster

Dyana Neal as Mrs. Robinson and Stephen Edwards as Benjamin Braddock. Credit: Dundalk Community Theatre


“Plastics.” If you are familiar with this one-word movie quote, you are familiar with one of the American Film Institute’s 100 Greatest Movie Quotes of All Time (#42), and the 1967 film The Graduate. It’s a classic film with big name stars such as Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft and gave us the musical styling of the impeccable Simon and Garfunkle, including the well-known “Sound of Silence.” In 2002, The Graduate was taken from the screen and transferred to the stage starring Kathleen Turner, Jason Biggs, and Alicia Silverstone, who were all on their games at the time and it was a critical and commercial hit during its year-long, 380 performance run. The Graduate is now Dundalk Community Theatre’s latest offering, Directed by Todd Starkey, and presents this 1960’s coming-of-age and still-relevant piece to a new generation, some of whom may be dealing with similar personal problems as the complex characters in the story.
DCT Pics The Graduate 2

Stephen Edwards Rachel Verhaaren, and Elisabeth Johnson. Credit: Dundalk Community Theatre


Scenic Design by Marc W. Smith (who also wears the hats of Lighting and Sound Design, as well as Technical Director, in general) is, to say the least, exquisite. Smith, being the resident Scenic Designer for Dundalk Community Theatre, knows his space and is wise in his choice of a clean, minimal unit set utilizing set pieces to present various locations. Though the set is minimal, Smith has a great attention to detail with his choice of pieces adding a realistic, but non-hindering value to the production as a whole. With the amount of locations written in the script, the pieces are many and cause for a few lengthy transitions, but the design is superb, as a whole.
Costume Design by Eva Grove, who also graces the stage in a few supporting roles, is spot on and absolutely appropriate for the 1960s setting. Being a unique and eclectic time for fashion, Grove has managed to represent it flawlessly with loud colorful patterns, as well as subdued conservative looks that help, not distract from the action and setting. Her well thought-out, detailed design adds great value to the entire production.
Todd Starkey takes the helm of this production and, directing an adaption of an already well-known piece is always a challenge, but Starkey seems to have stepped up to that challenge. There are definite minor issues with the script, the main problem being missing information. If you’re familiar with the film, you’ll be okay, but if you are not, you might get confused as to how the relationship between the younger characters blossom and why but, taking it at face value, the gist is still intact. Starkey has cast his show well and has a good comprehension of the material and, aside from a few aforementioned lengthy transitions (the production could have done without a few of the blackouts, which broke up the momentum a bit), the pace is appropriate and consistent. Overall, Starkey should be applauded for his efforts in bringing this relevant and relatable story to the stage.
DCT Pics The Graduate2

Dyana Neal and Mrs. Robinson and Stephen Edwards as Benjamin Braddock. Credit: Dundalk Community Theatre


Moving on to the performance aspect of this piece, it’s worth stating that the entire ensemble is dedicated and gives 100% effort to this production and each player works hard to bring this material together to tell this multifaceted story.
Alice Scanlon and Thomas “Toby” Hessenauer take on the roles of the caring, but somewhat oblivious Mr. and Mrs. Braddock. Though Scanlon is a little stiff and scripted in her performance, she clearly understands the character of the hapless, naïve mother who is a woman of a different time and is content being a housewife and letting the males in her life take the lead. She pulls off the role nicely and compliments the superb performance from Hessenauer, who is a highlight of this production and who completely embodies the character of the financially and, some would consider, personally successful Mr. Braddock. He emotes the confidence and strong will of a 1960s head-of-household. He works well with and off of his fellow cast mates that makes for a brilliant and believable performance.
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Stephen Edwards as Benjamin Braddock and Elisabeth Johnson as Elaine Robinson. Credit: Dundalk Community Theatre


John Dignam as Mr. Robinson and Elisabeth Johnson and Elaine Robinson make up 2/3 of the dysfunctional Robinson family and are major players in this tawdry tale. Elisabeth Johnson does well with the role, having a good understanding of her character and the naiveté and sheltered upbringing that makes up Elaine Robinson. She has good chemistry with her cast mates and gives a commendable portrayal, save an over the top, hokey scene where her character gets drunk and Johnson is scripted and unnatural, barely getting her dialogue out, but, overall, she gives a delightful performance.
John Dignam is another highlight of this piece, portraying the at first confident, successful business man to distraught husband near flawlessly. His dramatic turn where his character breaks down and confronts Ben, his unassuming nemesis, is a bit forced and unnatural but, aside from that, his performance is strong, confident, and authentic.
DCT Pic The Graduate Smoking in Bed

Dyana Neal as Mrs. Robinson and Stephen Edwards as Benjamin Braddock. Credit: Dundalk Community Theatre


Last but certainly not least, we have Dyana Neal as the sensual cougar, Mrs. Robinson, and Stephen Edwards as Benjamin Braddock, the young man who is just searching for purpose, like so many so soon after graduating from college. It’s clear that Neal and Edwards have a firm grasp of their characters, but, unfortunately, the chemistry between the two is just not as apparent. Both play their characters well, individually, with Neal being the stronger performer, but are missing the connection and attraction required of these two characters, not to mention the awkward, forced insinuation of sexual acts that are, I assume, supposed to be humorous to downplay the sex, but just end up falling flat. Neal is on point with the sultriness of the bored Mrs. Robinson and keeps her character consistent, as she should be portrayed. It’s also worth mentioning Neal’s velvet voice that is a pleasure to listen to and makes it easy to understand why she is on the radio. Edwards starts off portraying Benjamin Braddock as an awkward, unsure recent graduate, which works perfectly, but as the story moves forward, Benjamin is supposed to find his footing and become surer of himself and comfortable with the world around him, but Edwards can’t seem to find that arc in this character. With that being said, he exudes a certain confidence and authenticity that makes for a charming performance.
Final thought…The Graduate is a coming-of-age story with a good blend of lightheartedness and complexity that keeps this piece interesting. Being a well-known, classic film, there are built-in challenges of transferring to the live stage and for those who are unfamiliar with the film, there may be some missing pieces in the script and it may seem a little jumbled and rushed, but in the end, you get the gist of the story. The performances are commendable and, aside from the numerous blackouts breaking up the flow, the pacing is decent. The story itself is timeless and relatable, so it’s worth checking out this well put-together production.
This is what I thought of Dundalk Community Theatre’s production of The Graduate… What did you think? Please feel free to leave a comment!
The Graduate will run through March 4 at Dundalk Community Theatre, College Community Center, John E. Ravekes Theatre. For tickets call the box office at 443-840-ARTS (2787) or purchase them online.
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Review: I Hate Hamlet at Dundalk Community Theatre

By Jason Crawford Samios-Uy
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Running Time: 2 hours with one 15-minute intermission
Some of the Baltimore theatre community are going through “A Year of Shakespeare,” producing the Great Bard’s plays or works based on his writing. Dundalk Community Theatre’s latest piece, I Hate Hamlet by Paul Rudnick, Directed by Tom Colonna, with Set Design by Marc W. Smith, and Costume Design by James J. Fasching and Eva Grove is just right if you’re looking for a piece that’s not too heavy but has enough substance to help you learn a little something about a legendary actor of stage and screen and Hamlet, the play by William Shakespeare.
I Hate Hamlet is set John Barrymore’s actual New York City apartment and focuses on Andrew Rally, a successful television actor who is on the horns of a dilemma as he takes on the dream role of Hamlet. All the while, he’s struggling with a girlfriend who’s not budging on her chastity. The ghost of John Barrymore shows up only to convince Rally he’s good enough for the role of Hamlet and can’t go back to the other side until he does. Just as Barrymore has convinced Andrew he’s worthy of the role, his West Coast director friend shows up offering a role in a television pilot and a hefty salary and guaranteed fame to go along with it. Which will he choose? Shakespeare, which arguably makes him a real actor and a project his girlfriend loves, or TV, where he can have fame and fortune?
This is a bit of a biographical play as it gives you a little insight into the life of actor John Barrymore and how he felt about the role of Hamlet and, as a bonus, it explains the character of Hamlet a little to give us a better understanding of the poor fellow who asks the age old question of “to be or not to be.”
Set Design from Marc W. Smith is, in a word, stunning. Smith, who has been designing for the Dundalk Community Stage for many years, absolutely knows every square inch of his stage like the back of his hand and his designs express his knowledge. The authenticity shines through in this set and his use of levels and matching just the right set piece or piece of furniture to compliment the piece is superb and his attention to detail makes for impressive, thoughtful work.
Costume Design by James J. Fasching and Eva Grove is subtle but appropriate for the “living” cast and each character has his or her own unique look from the flashy New York real estate agent to the quirky girlfriend, to the West Coast director, and even John Barrymore himself, who happens to be in costume for Hamlet. Fasching and Grove do a fantastic job costuming these characters with a well thought-out, unassuming wardrobe that the actors seem to be comfortable wearing.
Director Tom Colonna looks to have taken the traditional route with this production (though there’s not really an alternative to the traditional) and he keeps the story moving along. His vision is a bit dicey as I couldn’t decipher if this show is about Andrew, the rising star or John Barrymore, the legendary star, but either way, the simple message of “believe in yourself” is somewhat clear, if you look close enough. The casting is a bit curious as the balance between Thomas “Toby” Hessenaauer’s confident performance as John Barrymore and Charlie Lidard’s shaky performance as Andrew heavily teeters on the uneven. Just as the pairing of Jennifer Skarzinski’s brilliant and funny portrayal of Felicia to Phil Vannoorbeeck’s inconsistent attempt at Gary. Overall, Colonna does a good job moving the story along, but some of the jokes (or what I think are jokes) are glazed over. For instance, since there’s a supernatural theme to this piece a lot of sound effects were used to portray supernatural happenings, like when a character feels a cold chill that is Barrymore standing behind them waving his hand around the back of their neck. Aside from looking a little corny, the actor’s reactions weren’t big enough and the bit kind of just fell to the wayside. It’s a quirky piece, as it is and a challenge for any director so aside from some minor casting choices, Colonna does admirable job with the piece, in general.
The small ensemble of this piece work very well together and are natural enough to be believable. The characters are individuals and the actors do a great job tackling their roles, overall.
Phil Vannoorbeeck as takes on the role of Gary, the fast talking West Coast director. Now, I think I see what Vannoorbeeck was going for, and he gives 100% to his performance, but it just falls a little flat for me. He seems to overcompensate the carefree personality of his character and comes off as unauthentic. There are times when he keeps the pace up and then he falters and slows down to be not so fast talking. He might want to work on his consistency throughout the piece because he goes from being likable to be a complete ass and I’m not sure whether to grab him by the scruff of the neck and throw him out for being an ass or go and have a beer with him! However, that’s not to say Vannoorbeeck didn’t do a good job because his performance was quite appropriate and like I stated, he gives a great effort and works well with his fellow ensemble members.
Charlie Lidard takes on the role of Andrew, the up and coming television star who, whether he likes it or not, is getting help from the ghost of the legendary John Barrymore. All in all, Lidard does a great job with this role, but he just couldn’t keep my interest for very long. He has a great look for the part but seems scripted and unnatural at times. He works well with his cast mates and his chemistry with them (especially Morgan and Hessenauer) is giving his all, which is absolutely commendable, but perhaps it’s just a weak written character.
Tackling the role of sweet Deidre, the flighty good-natured, naïve girlfriend who holds tightly to her chastity, driving her boyfriend crazy is Emily Morgan. Morgan shines in this role. She plays the role with an authentic sweetness that it almost gives you diabetes and her confidence allows her to make good character choices. She’s comfortable and she gives the character just enough whispiness mixed with compassion to give an authentic, entertaining performance.
Regina Rose as Lillian, the elderly, wise agent to Andrew plays this character very well. Rose’s accent is spot on and fits the character perfectly and she understands the comedy of this piece and her character, not taking it too seriously. She gives a strong, confident performance with a good command of the stage and it’s a joy to watch.
As Felicia, the New York real estate agent, Jennifer Skarzinski is an absolute and undoubted highlight in this piece. She has a fantastic sense of comedy and her timing is on point, every time! Even though a couple of her great one-liners fell on deaf audience ears, she kept it going strong and didn’t falter once. Her stereotypical “New York” accent was spot on and worked well for the character add to the authenticity. Skarzinski gives a natural and comfortable performance giving 110% effort making for an absolutely superb performance.
Thomas “Toby” Hessenauer as the late, great John Barrymore is a standout in this production. He has a great command of the stage, a great comedic timing, and has a clear and bold voice adding to his near flawless performance. Tackling a biographical role has its own set of challenges but Hessenauer, a Baltimore theatre veteran, seems to really understand John Barrymore and is comfortable in this role, giving an excellent performance.
Final thought…I Hate Hamlet at Dundalk Community Theatre is a light, fluffy piece that doesn’t seem to have much of a message (that I took away) other than, perhaps, the cliché of “have faith in yourself and you can do things beyond what you think you can do” but it is a well-presented and, for the most part, well performed piece that has some great one-liners and moves along nicely. Whether you’re unfamiliar with John Barrymore and the work of William Shakespeare or a fan, you’ll enjoy this piece as touches on not only Barrymore’s professional life, but his private, personal side, also, and gives a little insight to this legendary actor, as well as enlightening the audience on the character Hamlet and the play in general.
This is what I thought of Dundalk Community Theatre’s production of I Hate Hamlet… What did you think? Please feel free to leave a comment!
I Hate Hamlet will play through March 5 at Dundalk Community Theatre, 7200 Sollers Point Road, Baltimore, MD. For Tickets, call the box office at 410-840-ARTS (2787) or purchase them online.
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Review: The Gazebo at Cockpit in Court Summer Theatre

by Jason Crawford Samios-Uy
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Running Time: 2 hours and 20 minutes with one 15-minute intermission
Murder mysteries are a staple of community theatre, especially summer community theatre and and one can always count on Cockpit in Court Summer Theatre to successfully present at least one, if not more each summer. C&Cs latest offering, The Gazebo by Alec Coppel, based on a story by Myra Coppel and Alec Coppel and Directed by Baltimore theatre veteran Linda Chambers is a little different, but in a good way.
The Gazebo isn’t your run of the mill “whodunit” but a farcical display where the TV-writer-husband is trying to secretly get rid of a house in the suburbs to move back to the city and the soap-opera-actress wife falls in love with a European gazebo that she has delivered to N.Y. piece by piece, as a present for her husband, and the audience already knows who the killer is but the question is… who’s the victim? The script moves along nicely and the characters are likeable and the twist toward the end makes it a very enjoyable production.
At first glance, I could tell this was a top notch production as the set, which is in a round, is absolutely beautiful. The stage is just about on the same level as the audience, but Set Designer Moe Conn does a brilliant job expressing the elegance of an early 60s Long Island, N.Y. home from the gold wall art to the intricate fireplace and bookshelf display. Conn does a great job of matching the room with appropriate furniture and everything blended very well together.
Conn also took on the duties of Light Designer and though with a straight play lighting is minimal, but Conn does a very nice job setting the mood and contrasting between bright scenes and dark scenes very appropriately. Though the dark scenes are supposed to be… well… dark, it may have been a tad too dark, but it was still appropriate and set the mood nicely.

(l-r back) Albert J. Boeren, Richard Ahlstrom, Tom Wyatt, Christopher D. Cahill, Anna Steuerman (l-r front) Regina Rose, Thom Peters, Liz Boyer Hunnicutt. Photo Credit: Cockpit in Court Summer Theatre

(l-r back) Albert J. Boeren, Richard Ahlstrom, Tom Wyatt, Christopher D. Cahill, Anna Steuerman (l-r front) Regina Rose, Thom Peters, Liz Boyer Hunnicutt. Photo Credit: Cockpit in Court Summer Theatre


The show actually starts with a bang and you’ve now been warned! A real stage gun is used, so… be aware! Thank goodness the audience is warned ahead of time or I would have probably been hanging from the rafters! However, I like the “go big or go home” attitude and Director Linda Chambers did a fantastic job moving the story of The Gazebo along. I’ve stated before and I’ll state it again, directing in the round is difficult work, but Chambers does it flawlessly. She moves her actors around the stage fluidly and naturally and gives attention to all four sides of the audience and she uses her space very wisely. The pacing is a bit slower than it should be for a comical farce, but still moves along nicely (though the blackouts between scenes could pick up the pace a bit, as well). Chambers vision is apparent and her casting is on point.
According to the program, the time of this piece was the “Early 60s” and Costume Designer Eva Grove does a fine job costuming the cast in the garb reminiscent of that ear. I say reminiscent because I wouldn’t say the look was exactly from the 60s but with the loud prints and saddle shoes, it had hints of the ear. That being said, the costumes were absolutely wonderful and appropriate. Grove’s actors were comfortable, which is very important, and were dressed as I imagined their characters would be dressed being from upper class Long Island.
Thom Peters and Liz Boyer Hunnicutt as Elliott and Nell Nash. Photo Credit: Cockpit in Court Summer Theatre

Thom Peters and Liz Boyer Hunnicutt as Elliott and Nell Nash. Photo Credit: Cockpit in Court Summer Theatre


Heading up the small cast of The Gazebo, Thom Peters takes on the role of Elliott Nash, the TV writer who is stuck in the suburbs of Long Island because his wife loves the house they live in but longs to be back in the New York City, living in the Algonquin Hotel with their outstanding room service. Peters does outstanding work portraying this role when things are going well for Elliott Nash but when things start getting a little frantic, Peters seems to have a hard time keeping up. A farce is very fast-paced with many things happening at the same time and when the pacing in the script picked up, Peters performance became exasperated facial expressions, a high-pitched voice, and flailing arms. However, that’s not to say his performance wasn’t good, just a bit much and a drastic change from when things were running more smoothly in the script. Overall, his performance is very good, indeed, and he is comfortable and confident on stage and seems to understand his character and the troubles his character has to endure.
Tom Wyatt, known in Baltimore theatre, takes on the role of Harlow Edison, the next-door neighbor and friend who happens to be a District Attorney, is a highlight in this production. From his first appearance on stage, his has a very good command of the stage and has a great presence. He’s very natural and comfortable and glides effortlessly through his performance. He’s a joy to watch in this production.
Tom Wyatt and Liz Boyer Hunnicutt as Harlow Edison and Nell Nash.

Tom Wyatt and Liz Boyer Hunnicutt as Harlow Edison and Nell Nash.


As the leading lady in this production, Liz Boyer Hunnicutt, a Baltimore theatre regular, is the standout as Nell Nash. She really seems to know her character and couldn’t be more natural in this role and she is quite comfortable and confident on stage with a commanding presence that doesn’t overpower but makes one take note. Her comedic timing is spot on and she really seemed to get the nuances of her character, the actress-wife who only wants her husband to be happy and will stick by him through thick and thin, whatever that may be. Hunnicutt’s performance alone is worth the price of admission.
In a more minor but very important role, Christopher D. Cahill tackles the character of Charlie Thorpe, the contractor who lays the foundation for the titular gazebo (of which he humorously pronounces “Gaze-boh”). Cahill’s character acting hits the nail on the head and is a highlight in this production making Charlie Thorpe a very likable character who reminds me of that favorite uncle with the down-to-earth charm that makes you smile when he comes around. Cahill also takes on the role of a British tough-guy called The Dook, which is a complete flip from the down-to-earth Charlie Thorpe and he pulls this role off brilliantly, as well. Two completely different characters performed flawlessly by one actor.
Tom Wyatt, Anna Steuerman, and Thom Peters as Harlow Edison, Matilda, and Elliott Nash. Photo Credit: Cockpit in Court Summer Theatre

Tom Wyatt, Anna Steuerman, and Thom Peters as Harlow Edison, Matilda, and Elliott Nash. Photo Credit: Cockpit in Court Summer Theatre


Rounding out the cast are Regina Rose as Mrs. Chandler, the motivated real estate agent secretly working with Elliott Nash, Anna Steuerman as Matilda, the unimpressed maid of the Nashes, Richard Ahlstrom as Louie, the bumbling assistant thug to The Dook, and Albert J. Boeren as Detective Jenkins, the no-nonsense officer of the law just trying to get down to the bottom of things.
Final thought… The Gazebo is a light mystery-farce that moves along quickly and has some magnificent performances. Not the usual “whodunit” but very enjoyable and is appropriate for the space and all audiences. If you’re looking for something fun to do the next couple of weekends, check out this show! Bring your friends and see if you can figure out who the victim might be!
This is what I thought of this production of The Gazebo.… what do you think?
The Gazebo will play through July 31, Friday-Saturday at 8pm, Sundays at 3pm at CCBC, Essex Campus, Community Center. For tickets, call 443-840-ARTS (2787) or purchase them online.