Thanks to vaccines and safety protocols, theater is coming back in a big way and so is our “Top 5 Shows of the Week!”1. ‘Blood at the Root’ at Towson University“…deftly directed…performances…first-rate.” – Max Garner
Synopsis: “Blood at the Root” is based on true events that took place in 2006 at a high school in Jena, Louisiana. This story reminds us of the inequities that still exist in America and we hope that our production brings awareness to our varied experiences when confronted with hate. With a collective awareness let’s plant a new seed and begin again. Can we agree that when one suffers, we all suffer?
Dersha Horrey, Danielle Kellner. Photo by Katie Simmons-Barth.
2. ‘A Chorus Within Her’ at Theater Alliance“This is a beautiful and precious experience…This is theatre for all of us.” – Mary Ann Johnson
Synopsis: The first live production of Theater Alliance’s 2021-2022 season, “A Chorus Within Her” uses the lens of women’s experience to interrogate and explore the experiences of the pandemic year. Poets, choreographers, and actors have spent months conducting Zoom interviews, issuing social media surveys, mining their own identities and experiences to create one unified, experiential evening of theater.
Ezinne Elele, Anna Shafer, Elizabeth Ung, Kathleen Akerley, Siani Nicole, and Jasmine Brooks in “A Chorus Within Her.” Photo courtesy of Theater Alliance.
3. ‘N’ at The Keegan Theatre“Thorne as Gilpin is…like watching Icarus challenge the sun.” – Mary Ann Johnson
Synopsis: Eugene O’Neill’s groundbreaking 1921 play, The Emperor Jones, was the first American play that featured an African-American actor in the lead role on Broadway. Charles S. Gilpin’s portrayal of Emperor Brutus Jones was hailed as “revelatory,” and he was named the finest actor of the age. The opening of The Emperor Jones made stars of both men; it was O’Neill’s first commercial success, and Gilpin became the toast of the theater world. But by 1926, O’Neill was a legend and Gilpin was lost to history. Adrienne Pender’s N explores the challenging relationship between Gilpin and O’Neill and how it ultimately hinged on one word — a word that lifted one of them to the heights of American theater and destroyed the other.
4. ‘Five Women Wearing the Same Dress’ at Dominion Stage
“Come see this show for the really funny script and stay for the splendid acting and story arc.“– Mary Ann Johnson
Synopsis: During an ostentatious wedding reception at a Knoxville, Tennessee, estate, five reluctant, identically clad bridesmaids hide out in an upstairs bedroom, each with her own reason to avoid the proceedings below. They are Frances, a painfully sweet but sheltered fundamentalist; Mindy, the cheerful, wise-cracking lesbian sister of the groom; Georgeanne, whose heartbreak over her own failed marriage triggers outrageous behavior; Meredith, the bride’s younger sister, whose precocious rebelliousness masks a dark secret; and Trisha, a jaded beauty whose die-hard cynicism about men is called into question when she meets Tripp, a charming bad-boy usher to whom there is more than meets the eye. As the afternoon wears on, these five very different women joyously discover a common bond in this wickedly funny, irreverent, and touching celebration of the women’s spirit.
L to R: Gabby Carter, Melanie Kurstin, Rebecca Cooley, and Brittany Washington. Photo by Matthew Randall.
5.‘Waitress’ at the Hippodrome Theatre at the France-Merrick Performing Arts Center“…incredible talent and a great score. It is a perfect show for the Hippodrome to bring Broadway back to Baltimore.” – Lynne Menefee
Synopsis: Meet Jenna, a waitress and expert pie-maker who dreams of a way out of her small town and rocky marriage. Pouring her heart into her pies, she crafts desserts that mirror her topsy-turvy life such as “The Key (Lime) to Happiness Pie” and “Betrayed By My Eggs Pie.” When a baking contest in a nearby county and a satisfying run-in with someone new show Jenna a chance at a fresh start, she must find the courage to seize it. Change is on the menu, as long as Jenna can write her own perfectly personal recipe for happiness.
Kennedy Salters, Jisel Soleil Ayon and Gabriella Marzetta in “Waitress.” Photo Credit: Jeremy Daniel.
Lynne Menefee started reviewing for MD Theatre Guide in 2013 and also wrote reviews and interviews for the publication of sister site, NY Theatre Guide. Lynne is a professional graphic designer and artist. After earning her degree from MICA, she moved to California where she worked at the Museum of Man and volunteered at San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre. In Los Angeles, she worked for CBS in Studio City.
After returning to Baltimore, she started her own freelance graphic design business with clients that include arts organizations, musicians, nonprofits, and educational institutions (behance.net/menefeecreative). She has also designed (and assisted with writing and editing) several books about local history. She is a member of the Memorial Players, the theater outreach of Memorial Episcopal Church in Bolton Hill.