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May 16, 2003

Washington DC Spotlight: Who, What, Where

by Gregory Gorton

While the national and global economy continue to threaten the arts both artistically and financially, the Washington/Baltimore/Northern Virginia area remains a vital and exciting community. There are more fully operational theaters now and more actors working than ever before.

For many years, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has featured outstanding works by world-renown playwrights, artists, composers and musicians. Last summer The Kennedy Center presented the critically acclaimed and frequently sold out "Sondheim Festival." While the names above the title were often nationally known performers, a great many of the supporting and chorus roles were played by our fellow local actors. The Kennedy Center is also the permanent home of one of the longest running shows in D.C. history. SHEAR MADNESS continues to play after thirteen successful years, employing dozens of actors.

Currently, there are two sets of actors who split the performance schedule of SHEAR MADNESS. Neal Casey, Josh Thelin, Mark Brutsche, Margot Moreland, Aaron Fields and Francie Glick perform selected show days. Faith Potts, Brigid Cleary, Jim Breen, Marcus Kyd, Patrick Noonan and Dawn Ursula perform on the remaining days and times. This group also includes the director of SHEAR MADNESS, Bob Lohrmann, as Tony Whitcomb. Faith Potts was recently seen at Wayside Theatre in WUTHERING HEIGHTS and FOXFIRE.

Wayside Theatre was also home for several of Washington's Equity actors in other shows. COTTON PATCH GOSPEL featured Ray Ficca and Richard Follett in performance with David Elias as the Stage Manager. Ficca again wowed Winchester in THE ODD COUPLE by Neil Simon. Joining Ray were Tony Gudell and Thomasin Savaiano.

Studio Theatre is presenting Edward Albee's THE PLAY ABOUT THE BABY, directed by Joy Zinnoman. The cast includes Philip Goodwin, Nancy Robinette and Matt Stinton. The Stage Manager is Christine Fisichella.

The Olney Theatre Center, the Washington area's oldest professional theater, is recovering nicely from the damage it sustained in the storms of last April. Currently on stage is Moliere's THE MISER, adapted by Miles Malleson, and directed by one of Washington's finest leading ladies, Halo Wines. The fine Equity cast is Christopher Yates, Jon Cohn, David Marks, Eric Bloom, Carlos Bustamamte, Paula Gruskiewicz, Mary Beth Wise, Robert Lesko, Susan Lynskey and Meg Taintor. Cheryl L. Williams is the Equity Stage Manager.

Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia, has had a busy late winter and early spring. 110 IN THE SHADE featured a cast of local favorites including Dan Manning, Mary Payne, Thomas Adrian Simpson, R. Scott Thompson, Harry Winter and Ilona Dulaski. The production Stage Manager was Ronnie Gunderson.

Ms. Dulaski barely had time for her costume change before taking to Signature's boards once again in their wonderful production of Sondheim's FOLLIES. Director Eric Schaeffer's talented cast includes Dana Krueger, Donna Migliaccio, Tracy Olivera, Joe Peck, Elizabeth Van den Berg, Harry Winter, Deanna Harris and the incomparable Steven Cupo and Judy Simmons.

Signature's Warehouse Theatre has been the site for one of the areas more intriguing pieces of musical theatre. HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH struts its stuff with the remarkable and thoroughly entertaining story of a stitch in time gone wrong. With a book by John Cameron Mitchell and music and lyrics by Stephen Trask, director Eric Schaeffer has brought together a wonderful evening of rock and pop featuring Lynn Filusch and Rick Hammerly in an amazing transformation as Hedwig.

Doug Watson and Ed Johnson appeared as Special Guest Artists in April during Le Neon's farewell production of LA VAGABONDS at the Gunston Arts Center (Theater 2).

Charter Theatre is producing the play WATCHING LEFT, directed by Richard Washer and written by Charter's Artistic Director, Keith Bridges. The terrific cast includes Jim Brady, Rachel Gardner, and Michael Skinner, with the Stage Managing duties performed by Joy Thomas.

Ford's Theater has mounted an exciting and ambitious production of that musical celebration of government in its infancy, 1776. The stellar cast is made up of many local talents , among whom are Bill Largess, Frank Robinson, Tom Simpson, Buzz Mauro, John Leslie Wolfe, Chris Bloch, Stephen Schmidt, Jim Scopelitis and Jim Beard. The Equity Stage Manager is Ford's own redoubtable and ever reliable Roy Meachum.

Roundhouse Theatre recently ended a very successful run of SPEAKING IN TONGUES by Andrew Bovell as directed by Lou Jacob. The outstanding cast included Elizabeth and Andrew Long, Marty Lodge, and the always amazing Jane Beard.

Metro Stage presents David Gow's BEA'S NIECE, directed by Jessica Kubzansky. The cast includes Helen Hedman, Tom Kearney, Michelle Shupe and Susan Ross.

The summer season promises to continue the wonderful range of theatrical experiences that audiences have always supported and delighted in. Though we all say it often enough during the after read-through coffee or the intermission breather, we really are NOTHING without our audiences.

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