Sink the Belgrano ! Reviews

August 31, 2010

The reviews for my current theatrical project, Sink the Belgrano!, are starting to come in.  I’ve got to say, it’s gratifying (for once) that critics seem to be seeing the show we’re trying to put on!

Sean Easter in Culture Mob — Take any Saturday Night Live skit about a US president. Replace that president with Margaret Thatcher, and the writers of SNL with a foul-mouthed, British punk rock aesthetic hell bent on skewering war and the British ruling class. That is what Scena Theatre will treat you to for 90 minutes in Sink the Belgrano!…

Ben Demers in DC Theater Scene  

The cynical political undertones of sacrificing Argentine and British lives for control of a tiny, far-flung archipelago were clearly not lost on writer Steven Berkoff. In addressing the actions of the British political machine leading up to the conflict, Berkoff paints a scathing picture of incompetence, deceit, and cavalier disregard for human life. Each character proves him or her self despicable in a unique way, and the key players’ bizarre names, including “Maggot Scratcher”, “Pimp”, and “Nit”, augment their collective aura of depravity. The script’s surreal characterizations, inventive wordplay, and rich historical context provide the talented performers with ample opportunity to flex their dramatic and comedic muscles.

Julie LaPorte in Washington Life —  Sink the Belgrano! is a satirical look at the hazy backroom deals, contradictions, lies and cover-ups that led to the Falklands War. Written by and directed by , Sink the Belgrano! is playing at Scena Theatre through September 12.

I think this is a show worth seeing (and at 80ish minutes is mercifully short).  We have two more weeks, please come see us.  (And still keeping fingers crossed for the City Paper, Blade, and Post)

Chess at Signature

August 31, 2010

Jill Paice and Euan Morton in Chess at Virginia’s Signature Theatre through September 26, 2010. Photo credit Scott Suchman.

I saw Signature Theatre’s handsome production of Chess Sunday afternoon.  When the principals of the new staging were belting out the big numbers of the show, I was  transported to a state of audience bliss. Cabaret Scenes cover-boy Euan Morton gives a rousing first act close with “Anthem.” Jeremey Kushnier’s “Pity the Child” shows how much subtlety can be wrought while still pounding out a rock number. Jill Paice delivers a sequence of showstoppers including a heart-wrenching “Someone Else’s Story,” a plaintive “Heaven Help My Heart,” and a riveting “I Know Him So Well” (in a duet with the always-fascinating Eleasha Gamble).

Unfortunately the other 60% of the show is much more problematic. Although director Eric Schaeffer has worked to tighten the narrative, bring focus to the story, and minimize the gaps between those great moments, the script contains a number of daunting hurdles. The Cold War background of the play, with references to symbols like the Berlin Wall, now sits in a nether zone between immediate concern and nostalgic memory. None of the principals is in any way sympathetic or endearing to the audience. And none of the characters seem to develop as the evening goes on.

The writing is also hugely problematic. Much of it sounds like it was written in another language and simply fed through an online translation program. Many of the expository lyrics sit badly on their melody lines. And the dialogue often sounds like Berlitz English language lessons, rather than capturing the voice of individual characters.

This script is made much more convincing by Signature’s handsome production. And the combination of Signature’s intimate space with the tremendously appealing cast goes a long way to mitigate the weaknesses of much of the material.

Leigh Ann Larkin in

August 30, 2010

The current Diva Talk column interviews Leigh Ann Larkin who is giving a love it/hate it performance as Petra in A Little Night Music.  I LOVED this passage in the interview where she  talks about the show switching leads to Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch:

Question: How do you think the show has changed with them?
Larkin: Dare I say completely? I mean, completely is a pretty absolute word, but I would say, if it was on a scale from 1 to 10, I would say a 7 or an 8. Just because Catherine and Bernadette are so different, and Angela and Elaine are 180 opposites. When you have two people steering a show and they’re replaced with two other people, the show changes. I remember even our first preview, walking on stage and I was like, “What am I doing? Am I in this show? What am I doing?” because it was such an adjustment to where the show was before and what the tone of the show was and the mood of the show was before. And, now it’s become something that’s funnier. I mean, people are flipping out over it. They’re really enjoying it, and enjoying the humor that is brought to it and what Elaine and Bernadette bring. I think the cool part about that is, it’s really reaffirmed for me that it’s okay to be who you are and bring something different than somebody else. It’s okay that [some] people aren’t going to understand what you’re doing, and some people are going to think it’s the best thing they’ve ever experienced in their lives. It’s okay because these people are artists, and they’re true to what they want to bring and to what they do. And look at where they are — above-title, top-of-the-marquee, billboard-in-Times-Square legends. I think that’s what the coolest thing is about me getting to witness the transformation is that you just have to do what you do and what you believe in, and that’s what’s most important. There are a lot of moments in this business where you think, “Oh, gosh. Everybody hates me, I’m terrible. What am I doing? I’m never gonna work again. Where am I going?” And then you see people like that who are pretty much certified Broadway star/legends, who do what they do and do what they believe in doing, and it’s served them just brilliantly. Yeah, but it’s definitely seeing a different show.

Perry-Mansfield in the Press

August 27, 2010

Pianist Shelly Markham accompanies Valerie Swift while rehearsing a piece Wednesday at Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp.It’s Photo detailPerry-Mansfield week, a time of year when my heart goes back to Steamboat Springs, Colorado.  Article about the program in the local paper.  (And, needless to say, pay attention to Marcovicci’s stunning interpretation of “mountain chic,” particularly the anklets.)

Sink the Belgrano ! Press Night

August 26, 2010

We had the press night for Sink the Belgrano !  last night.  It was great to do the show with a full house of people (perhaps for the last time).

Here’s  the press shots that I’m in…

Me with Nanna Ingvarsson and John Geoffrian

This Weekend at Germano’s

August 26, 2010

What you’ll find at Baltimore’s favorite cabaret…

Gia Mora in “LAUGH IT UP, FUNNY GIRL” — Aug 27, 2010 at 7:30 pm

Actor-vocalist Gia Mora returns to Germano’s with her cabaret, LAUGH IT UP, FUNNY GIRL. Digital surveillance, online dating, and an iPod shuffle of American songs come together in an outrageous evening of music and storytelling about love and life in the age of the Internet.

Russ Margo in “Schizophrenic Music Epidemic” Aug 28, 2010 at 7:30 pm

The marvelous Russ Margo accompanies himself on the baby grand in a cabaret of classics from George Gershwin, Cole Porter and Russ Margo (we love “You Bother Me”)–with a few surprises!

The Jazztet Returns! Aug 29, 2010 at 7:30 pm

The Jazztet returns with its fabulous repertoire of music from the swing and bop eras.

Co-leaders, Vince DiLeonardi and Jim Lockard,are joined by pianist Tim Murphy, saxophonist Paul Hanna, and bassist Steve Novasel, who has been with the group from its inception.

A real reason to look forward to spring !

August 26, 2010

Bernadette PetersIt’s just been announced that Bernadette Peters will be playing Sally Durant Plummer when the Kennedy Center does Follies this spring.  Woo-hoo!!!!

Sink the Belgrano !

August 24, 2010

I’ve been a little hectic of late since I’ve been in rehearsals for the play, Sink the Belgrano !  It’s nice to finally be in previews for the piece.

The show is a dark AGIT(ation)PROP(aganda) comedy about the Faulkland conflict and features several standout performances, the most notable being our brilliant leading lady, Nanna Ingvasson’s formidible portrayal of the steely Margaret Thatcher-based character, Maggot Scratcher. 

We’re in repertoire with the cross-dressed Importance of Being Ernest for the rest of the week and then are on a Wed – Sun schedule the next two weeks.  For more info, visit the Scena Theatre site.


Matt Howe on the Movie in Your Mind

August 23, 2010

Matt Howe’s time at Yale must really have been invigorating !  Not only did he do a terrific piece about his experiences for this blog, he’s got a great essay on the Songspeak site about the notion of having a “movie in your mind” when you sing: “By creating the specifics and drawing deeply from your own experiences, you start building a movie inside your head that you “run” when you sing the song.  And, yes, by being that specific it really comes across! As long as you are truthful and not “schmacting” (i.e. hammy acting), the audience will respond.”

DC Cabaret Network August Open Mic

August 22, 2010

I hated having to miss last Monday’s DCCN Open Mic.  Terri Allen was kind enough to send a list of who sang what. 

Joanne Schmoll
Day In, Day Out
My Favorite Year
Can This Be Love?

Vicki Ryan
Corner of the Sky
Look at that Face
What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life? 

Far Away Places
I’m Old Fashioned

Matt Howe
Gentle Rain
By the Way
It’s A New World

Lorraine Scott
Orange-Colored Sky
Summer Me, Winter me

Kathy Reilly
Take Your Shoes Off, Baby
I Got Lost in His Arms

Ron Squeri
Perhaps Love
Leaving on A Jet Plane

Terri Allen
I’m Coming Home Again
My Father

Musical Director:  Mary Sugar
Sound:  Jeff Tucker