Christ Church to Host Annapolis Chamber Ensemble and Two World-Class Pianists

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The Christ Church Concert Series in Easton continues its 2017-18 season this Sunday afternoon at 4 pm featuring the Annapolis Chamber Players.  The ensemble whose members have been collaborating for more than fifteen years is composed of some of the finest musicians in the Baltimore-Washington DC area.  Known for their eclectic programs with repertoire ranging from the eighteenth through the twenty-first centuries, the ensemble specializes in mixed chamber music for winds, strings, and piano. Unlike homogeneous chamber groups, such as a string quartet or woodwind quintet, the Annapolis Chamber Players’ diverse instrumental colors and flexible instrumentation offers a variety of musical colors and styles.

Woobin Park and Stefan Petrov

While all six of the ensemble’s members unite to amass a most impressive cache of honors and distinctions, its two pianists, each a world-class talent, will perform on Sunday’s concert. Dr. Woobin Park made her Carnegie Hall debut in 2010 to critical acclaim. The New York Concert Review raved“…Park gave a brilliant performance, handling the virtuosity with beautiful sense of style…” She has appeared throughout the United States and South Korea in solo and chamber recitals as well as solo performances with orchestra. Park has performed in distinguished concert venues including Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Steinway Hall in New York, Strathmore Hall in Washington D.C., Elizabeth Horowitz Performing Arts Center in Maryland, Tedmann Concert Hall in Minneapolis, Auer Concert Hall in Bloomington, Indiana and Preston Bradley Hall of the Chicago Cultural Center. Her live performances have been nationally broadcast on WFMT in Chicago and KSJN in Minneapolis. Woobin has earned prizes in several competitions including the Los Angeles Liszt International Piano Competition, where she was also awarded “Best Performance of the Required Work,” San Nicola di Bari International Piano Competition in Italy, University of Minnesota Concerto Competition, and American Protege International Competition of Romantic Music. On Sunday, Dr. Park will perform Carl Frühling’s Trio for Clarinet, Violoncello and Piano, Op. 40 with clarinetist and ensemble director, Phyllis Richardson and cellist Dorotea Racz.  In addition to her performing career and masterclasses throughout the country, Dr. Park serves on the piano faculty at Washington College.

American-Bulgarian pianist Stefan Petrov, whose arresting interpretations and broad musical versatility has captivated classical music audiences as a soloist and a chamber musician in venues across Europe, North America and the Caribbean, will perform Johannes Brahms’ Trio in E-flat Major for Piano, Violin and French, Op. 40 along with violinist Kristen Bakkegard and hornist, Heidi Brown. Mr. Petrov’s performances have been broadcast on CBC (Canada), WDAV(NC), WFMT (Chicago), WMRA(VA) and Bulgarian National TVand Radio. He has appeared in Steinway Hall (New York, NY), Steinway Series at the Smithsonian Museum (Washington D.C.), the Bulgarian National Palace of Culture, Teatro Nacional (Dominican Republic), Chicago Cultural Institute and others. Equally at home as a collaborative pianist, Stefan partners frequently with Israeli-American cellist Amit Peled in recitals across the U.S., while also serving as head of the collaborative piano department at the prestigious Heifetz International Music

Sunday’s concert is partially funded by a grant from the Talbot County Arts Council and the Maryland State Arts Council.  Doors open at 3:30 pm, and the public is invited.  A freewill offering will be received to support this and upcoming concerts.  Christ Church is located at 111 S. Harrison Street in downtown Easton. For information call 410-822-2677 or visit www.christchurcheaston.org.

Christ Church of Easton Host Annapolis Chamber Ensemble and Two Pianists

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Woobin Park

The Christ Church Concert Series in Easton continues its 2017-18 season Sunday, Nov. 19 4 p.m. featuring the Annapolis Chamber Players.  The ensemble includes some of the finest musicians in the Baltimore-Washington area.  Known for their eclectic programs ranging from the 18th through the 21st centuries, the ensemble specializes in mixed chamber music for winds, strings, and piano, a flexible instrumentation that offers a variety of musical colors and styles.

While all six of the ensemble’s members have gathered an impressive cache of honors and distinctions, its two pianists, each a world-class talent, will perform on Sunday’s concert. Woobin Park made her Carnegie Hall debut in 2010 to critical acclaim. The New York Concert Review raved, “Park gave a brilliant performance, handling the virtuosity with beautiful sense of style…” She has appeared throughout the United States and South Korea in solo and chamber recitals as well as solo performances with orchestra. Park has performed in venues including Carnegie Hall and Steinway Hall in New York, Strathmore Hall in Washington, and Elizabeth Horowitz Performing Arts Center in Maryland. Her live performances have been nationally broadcast. Woobin has earned prizes in several competitions including the Los Angeles Liszt International Piano Competition, where she was also awarded “Best Performance of the Required Work.” On Sunday, Park will perform Carl Frühling’s Trio for Clarinet, Violoncello and Piano, Op. 40 with clarinetist and ensemble director, Phyllis Richardson and cellist Dorotea Racz.  In addition to her performing career and masterclasses throughout the country, Park serves on the piano faculty at Washington College.

Stefan Petrov

American-Bulgarian pianist Stefan Petrov, whose arresting interpretations and broad musical versatility have captivated audiences across Europe, North America and the Caribbean, will perform Johannes Brahms’ Trio in E-flat Major for Piano, Violin and French, Op. 40 along with violinist Kristen Bakkegard and hornist, Heidi Brown. Petrov has appeared in Steinway Hall (New York, NY), Steinway Series at the Smithsonian Museum, the Bulgarian National Palace of Culture and others. He partners frequently with Israeli-American cellist Amit Peled in recitals across the U.S., while also serving as head of the collaborative piano department at the prestigious Heifetz International Music

Sunday’s concert is partially funded by a grant from the Talbot County Arts Council and the Maryland State Arts Council.  Doors open at 3:30 p.m.  A freewill offering will be received to support this and upcoming concerts.  Christ Church is located at 111 S. Harrison Street in downtown Easton. For information call 410-822-2677 or click here.

The Chester River Chorale Presents: A Chester River Holiday

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The Chester River Chorale and Youth Choir in concert

Alleluias and hand bells will ring out as the 90-voice Chester River Chorale heralds Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanza with their 19th annual presentation of A Chester River Holiday, celebrating the season of jubilation, good will, and awe with songs of reverence, remembrance, and hope for peace.

For the fifth year in a row, the 22 treble voices of the Chester River Youth Choir will join in for the celebration in the beautiful sanctuary of the Presbyterian Church of Chestertown for two performances, the first at 7:30 p.m. Friday, December 1, and the second at 4 p.m. Saturday, December 2.

“There’s something for everybody in this program,” said Douglas Cox, artistic director. “Programming for A Chester River Holiday is one of my favorite things to do because of the many musical possibilities it offers. The holiday season brings out an array of music from many faith traditions, as well as secular favorites that are ever present in the American holiday experience.”

A cascade of bells, strings, and harp will set the holiday mood before the Chorale launches into Exsultate Justi, written 1987 by John Williams for the soundtrack of Empire of the Sun to express the jubilation of prisoners liberated from a Japanese internment camp. The triumphant piece, sung in Latin and reminiscent of centuries- older church music, is associated with the holidays from many holiday performances presented by The Boston Pops during Williams tenure as music director.

Another piece in Latin follows, this one an excerpt from a Vivaldi 18th century Gloria. The Baroque masterpiece will be followed by an excerpt from a 20th century gospel-style Gloria in English.

Lo V’Chayil, sung in Hebrew and English, will call for putting aside the use of might and power in favor of making peace. Another, Cuando El Rey Nimrod, a rousing Sephardic folk song with roots in the Ottoman Empire, tells of the birth of Abraham, who will father the Jewish nation. It is sung entirely in Ladino, the Spanish-Hebrew dialect of Iberian Jews.

Songs of love and Christmas, and yearning for the holiday celebrating the humble nativity in Bethlehem, along with some popular seasonal standards—some of which the audience just might be asked to join in on—pepper the program.

Assistant Director Michelle Sensenig will be singing soprano when she is not directing several of the pieces in the program including a show-stopping arrangement of the traditional spiritual Go! Tell it on the Mountain. Another Chorale soprano, Julie Lawrence, will direct the Youth Choir, which she founded at the Garfield Center for the Arts, in three songs, including a spiritual and a Norwegian folk song. The Youth Choir ranges in age from 8 to 15, meaning that, counting the Chorale as well, the singers will range in age from 8 to 80 plus.

The Youth Choir will also perform an a cappella piece with the Chester Chamber Singers, the auditioned subset of the Chorale.

The Chamber Singers will then perform what Director Cox describes as “a set of ancient carols set to exquisite new music by Minnesota composer, Stephen Paulus, with a harp and oboe accompaniment.”

Sammy Marshall, the Chorale’s accompanist, will play the piano. Other instrumentalists, besides the harp and oboe, include a five-piece string ensemble, flute, organ, and percussion.

Suggested donations at the door are $15. No tickets will be sold. The Chorale has been performing to full houses for the past several years, so patrons are urged to come at least 15 minutes early to be assured of being seated.

Chorale members are amateur singers drawn mainly from Kent and Queen Anne’s counties. If you love to sing, come join us in January for our upcoming 20th anniversary season. No audition is required.

The Chester River Chorale is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization funded in part by the Kent County Arts Council and by an operating grant from the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency dedicated to cultivating a vibrant cultural community where the arts thrive.

The CRC’s mission is to provide opportunity, education, and inspiration for amateur singers to strive for artistic excellence. CRC performances entertain diverse audiences and enrich the cultural life of the community. For more information, click here or call 410–928-5566.

A Soldier’s Return to Civilian Life: Modern Warrior Live to Debut in Easton this Weekend

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When United States Army Veteran Jaymes Poling returned from Afghanistan, he was hit with a difficult decision: share his personal accounts of combat with others and risk a change in their perception of him or internalize everything he’d been through?

“A lot of veterans run into that,” he says. “I didn’t want to become the sum of my stories.”

Dominick Farinacci and Jaymes Poling

So, the finance major decided to do something to change the narrative often told of a veteran’s journey. It’s a theatrical production called Modern Warrior Live and it debuts in Easton before its New York City-run—and inevitable nation-wide distribution—on Saturday, November 18 and Sunday, November 19 at the Avalon Theatre in Easton.

This live experience combines dynamic musical performances, led by renowned jazz musician Dominick Farinacci, and the autobiographical details of Poling’s three years as an infantryman with the 82nd Airborne Division.

“It spans all generations of music,” Farinacci says. “The audience can expect to hear a lot of songs they’ve heard before, but in a completely different context, as well as completely new material.”

It all began over a year ago, when a mutual friend introduced Poling to Farinacci, who was searching for insight from a veteran to help better perform a cover song. That initial meeting lasted several hours, as the two spoke about Poling’s experiences and how they could collaborate on something more than that one piece.

“Everything [Poling] said was running contrary to what I’d heard. And there was so much substance, we kept going back and forth for months until we realized we should create a stage production,” Farinacci says. “And having [Poling] tell his own story just makes it that much more powerful.”

Poling was initially hesitant to participate in the endeavor, however, as he worried he might perpetuate stereotypes, like the wounded or hero veteran. He was well aware that in our current “soundbite culture,” one vet’s story becomes generalized to represent all veterans’ stories and he didn’t want to exacerbate the issue.

But, he eventually realized how the venture could not only benefit himself in a therapeutic sense, but also help the general public gain a better understanding of a veteran’s time in combat and their reintegration as a civilian. And, most importantly, start a dialog between veterans and their local communities.

“I felt like I couldn’t sit here and complain about the narrative and not do anything about it,” Poling says. “What I really like about the stage production is we’re able to share all those [experiences], yet the audience doesn’t walk away seeing somebody as a victim of that one violent experience.”

With Poling on board to write and narrate his own story, Farinacci coordinated with about 10 different musicians, from percussionists to vocalists, to create a soundtrack that portrays the veteran’s psychological experiences.

“This is a universal story. It’s not specific to an American who served,” says Farinacci. “It’s really a story of growth and struggle and adversity and psychological challenges and, ultimately, the positive growth that can come from that.”

Catch Modern Warrior Live at 8 p.m. Saturday, November 18, or 2 p.m. Sunday, November 19, at the Avalon Theatre in Easton. Complimentary tickets are available to all veterans/active military and one additional guest. Jazz on the Chesapeake is a program of Chesapeake Music. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit Jazzonthechesapeake.com or call 410-819-0380.

 

 

 

Celtic Duo Cassie and Maggie at Garfield Center Nov. 12

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Cassie & Maggie, the Nova Scotian sister duo, bring their unique style of Celtic music to the Garfield on Sunday, Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. The Garfield has once again joined forces with Rock Hall’s home for live music, The Mainstay, to bring this incredible group to Chestertown for a one-night only concert performance.

Born to a family with a rich musical heritage and raised in Nova Scotia, a province steeped in musical culture and traditions, the girls have used their unique up bringing as a springboard for their own brand of Celtic Roots music. Equally at home playing tunes passed down through generations of musicians, as seamlessly weaving themes from the Moonlight Sonata into sets of sure fire reels, Cassie and Maggie are turning heads wherever they go.

Their accolades and awards speak of a young duo that will surely continue to do great things; 2016 Live Ireland “Female Singer of the Year”, 2015 Live Ireland Radio “New Group of the Year”, Canadian Folk Music Award nominees for “Young Performers of the Year”, two time East Coast Music Award nominees for Traditional Album and Traditional/Roots group album and double Music Nova Scotia Award nominees for New Artist and Roots Album of the year.

“Of the numerous East Coast artists the club has featured, these two young ladies inhabit the rare air of the greats. At an age (each in their early twenties) where they only have more to achieve and develop as performers and writers, Cassie & Maggie MacDonald gave the sort of performance you’d expect from seasoned veterans of their craft.” -The Calgary Herald

“Cassie & Maggie both play and sing with a wonderful combination of verve and skill on a program of original and traditional songs and tunes. This is traditional music played with a modern edge” –New Classics, UK

“The dynamic duo, two sisters whose deep family musical heritage is the launching pad for the finest Nova Scotia fiddle tunes, vocals and step dancing. They are the ‘real deal’ whose talent is only exceeded by their charm and passion.” – Warren Robinson (Artistic Director Goderich Celtic Roots festival/ past VP of Folk Alliance)

Co-sponsored by The Mainstay and The Garfield Center for the Arts, the concert on November 12th is at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased online, over the phone by calling 410-810-2060, or in person at the Garfield Center box office. The Garfield Center is located at 210 High Street in Chestertown.

Annapolis Winds to Play Resonance Concert Nov. 12

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The Annapolis Symphony Wind Trio

The Annapolis Symphony Wind Trio’s rich blend of oboe, clarinet, and bassoon will fill the parish hall of historic Saint Paul’s Church on the afternoon of Sunday, November 12.  The concert, at 3 pm, is the latest offering of the National Music Festival’s Resonance concert series, which runs from October to April.

Oboist Fatma Daglar, clarinetist Robert DiLutis, and bassoonist Benjamin Greanya are all principal players in the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, and they are passionate performers and teachers. Their program includes works by Jaques Ibert, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Darius Milhaud, among others. One highlight is the “Sequoia Trio” by American composer Jenni Brandon.

In Brandon’s own words, “Each movement of The Sequoia Trio takes a quote about Sequoia trees from John Muir’s book The Yosemite and uses it to inspire the music. The opening waving pattern creates the gentle breeze as the growth of the tree starts in the bassoon, moving through the clarinet and is carried all the way to the top of the tree through the oboe.  Movement two is sassy and jazzy, describing the kind of resilient attitude that young trees must maintain in order to survive. Finally in The Noble Trees the instruments play a hymn-like tribute to the largest living things on earth. The two Tree Interludes represent the individual voice of a tree and its story.”

It’s not too late to purchase an Annual Pass, which gives the bearer access to all Resonance concerts (there are five remaining this season) and the 2018 National Music Festival. At $300, the Annual Pass is the best value for the greatest amount of music! Passes are transferable; if you can’t make it to a concert, loan your Passes to family or friends.

Saint Paul’s is at 7579 Sandy Bottom Road in Chestertown, off Route 20 between Chestertown and Rock Hall.  Single tickets are $20 and can be purchased online or at the door; children and students are $5 at the door. For ticket information click here.

Eagles Experience brings classic, Cali rock to TPAC

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Celebrate the 70s and the crest of the California rock sound when THE EAGLES EXPERIENCE comes to the Todd Performing Arts Center at Chesapeake College on Saturday, Nov. 18.

The show features the legendary band’s greatest hits including “Hotel California,” “Life in the Fast Lane” and “Take it Easy.”

With a one-to-one lineup that reflects the Eagles during their heyday in the late 1970s, the members of THE EAGLES EXPERIENCE each emulate their respective “Eagle”, playing the correct instrument and singing the songs as sung by their counterpart.  Every member of THE EAGLES EXPERIENCE is dedicated to presenting their part as accurately as possible, and will provide you with an ultimate “Eagles Experience” you will not soon forget.

THE EAGLES EXPERIENCE only plays songs written and recorded by the Eagles as a band, from their biggest hits to hidden gems. While there were many great songs by Don Henley, Glenn Frey, and Joe Walsh as solo artists, the Eagles created more than enough musical material to fill an entire evening, and then some.

The show begins at 8 pm and tickets are $25. For more information or to purchase tickets, please call the TPAC box office at 410-827-5867.

Karen Somerville Sings at The Mainstay, Nov. 11

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Karen Somerville

Vocalist Karen Somerville returns to The Mainstay Saturday, November 11, at 7 p.m with a wide-ranging program featuring songs to honor our veterans and some soulful Motown memories.  Admission is $17 in advance and $20 at the door. Information and advance ticket sales are available at the Mainstay’s website. Reservations to pay at the door can be made by calling 410-639-9133.

Karen Somerville is a favorite on the Eastern Shore for her stylish arrangements, her grace and her ability to interpret a wide variety of material. For this Mainstay program she will be joined by Joe Holt on piano, Jeff Davis on bass and Mike McShane on drums as well as by her special guests (and compatriots in the trio Sombarkin), Lester Barrett, Jr., and Jerome McKinney.

Somerville was born the second oldest of four children in rural Kent County. She speaks proudly of the advantages of being reared in a small town; of close-knit families, and everyone looking out for the other, of church services filled with praise.

Her love for music began at home, and was cultivated in church. She says, “Both of my parents played instruments and sang; that was how we entertained each other at home.  It was our favorite pastime. My Pop Pop Emory played the accordion and harmonica though he called it a mouth-harp. He was awesome.  He would sing and play for us, and make the sound of the train whistle blowing, the dogs barking, and would be telling a story all at the same time.”

“When I was barely in first grade, my Mom taught us to sing harmony; I remember it like yesterday.  She would take us with her when she was asked to sing in churches around the County….  I don’t know how we had the nerve, except she was so confident that we could do it well.”

Somerville’s recordings include “Love Cures” and “The New Gospelites, Every Day Is Sunday.” Last year she was in New York City with the local cast of “Red Devil Moon,” the original musical by Robert Earl Price and Pam Ortiz, for a week’s worth of shows in the FringeNYC off-Broadway Festival.

This will be a special evening indeed. Karen Somerville doesn’t just sing, she inhabits each song, making every nuance and every phrase her own and when she sings with Lester and Jerome, the harmonies are stunning and powerful.

Note the 7 p.m. start time. For the darker, cooler fall and winter months, The Mainstay is experimenting with an earlier start time for their Saturday concerts.

The Mainstay (Home of Musical Magic) is the friendly informal storefront performing arts center on Rock Hall’s old time Main Street. It is committed to presenting local, regional and national level talent, at a reasonable price, in an almost perfect acoustic setting. Wine, beer, sodas, and snacks are available at the bar.

Upcoming Mainstay performances include:

November 12 The Mainstay at The Garfield: Cassie & Maggie

November 13 Joe Holt welcomes Philip Dutton

November 18 Dick Durham’s 75th: A Jazz Jam

November 20 Joe Holt welcomes Steve Abshire

November 27 Joe Holt welcomes Jeff Davis and Ray Anthony

December 2 Philip Dutton and The Alligators

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Carrie – A Halloween Hit!

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Carrie, now playing at Church Hill theatre, is an appropriate show for the Halloween season. Based on the 1976 horror film “Carrie,” which draws its plot from a Stephen King novel of the same name, the story takes place in a high school in Maine – and ends with a thoroughly traditional horror movie amount of blood and gore.

A joint production of Chesapeake College and Church Hill Theatre, the play ran three performances at the college’s Cadby Theater, and opens at Church Hill for two more weekends beginning Friday, Nov. 3. Many of the cast members are members of the Peake Players, made up of current or recent students at the college. This works well, considering that a large number of the characters are high school seniors. And, as director Robert Thompson notes, this gives them an immediate sympathy with the feelings and problems of their characters.

King’s 1974 novel, his first to be published, was set in the near future, 1979, in a fictional small town. It used letters, fictional newspaper and magazine stories, and excerpts from Carrie’s own journal and poems to give the story an air of reality. Probably because of its use of a high school setting to generate a terrifying, blood-thirsty plot, it is one of the most frequently banned books in high schools around the country. The film, starring Cissy Spacek in the title role and Piper Laurie as her mother, appeared two years after the book.

Carrie – Queen of the Prom    Photo by Jane Jewell

Carrie happy dancing with Tommy – her first date!      Photo by Jane Jewell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The play debuted in 1984, with Lawrence D. Cohen reworking the screenplay he wrote for the film version which became a big hit.  It was more the movie than the book that made King a best-seller and jump-started his writing career.  In contrast, the first version of the musical stage play did not do so well. Michael Gore wrote the music and Dean Pitchford the lyrics – the two had made their mark with the music for “Fame.” Cohen was reportedly inspired by a performance of Alban Berg’s atonal modernist opera “Lulu.”  The original production was panned by critics, and despite sold-out houses, closed after only five official performances. It was revived in 2012 with the new script and several new songs, and while it too closed after only 48 performances, the authors said it had accomplished their goal of giving the play new life. More recent revivals, including one in Los Angeles in 2015, have received good reviews.

The plot revolves around Carrie White, a shy teenage girl who has become the target of the pranks and insults of her schoolmates. When she experiences her first period in the shower during gym class, she panics – having made it to age 17 without learning the facts of life from her mother, a religious fanatic who thinks menstruation is the result of wicked thoughts. This home life clearly gives Carrie little guidance in dealing with her life at school.

Teens prepare to torment Carrie with a bucket of fake blood.     Photo by Jane Jewell

The teachers make attempts to help Carrie, and another girl, Sue, arranges for her boyfriend Tommy, a popular athlete, to take Carrie to the prom. Carrie at first refuses, but convinced Tommy really wants her as his date, accepts the invitation. Her mother is furious – but Carrie stands up to her and goes anyway.

Carrie wreaks her revenge. Photo by Steve Atkinson

The twist in this otherwise fairly typical story of the teen misfit at the prom is that Carrie has telekinetic powers – the ability to affect and move objects by sheer mind power. When the stress reaches a peak, her psychic powers cause havoc – with the climax coming at the prom, when several of the mean students play a final trick on her.

Carrie The Musical is more than just a teen story or a horror movie transferred to the stage.  It is that.  And Halloween is exactly the right season for it. Horror movie fans will love it.  But it is also a close-up look at what can happen when idle pranks go too far and become cruel; when a lonely teen is seduced years ago and ends up a lonely single mother, embittered and hiding behind extreme religiosity.

Two of the guys dance around as the decoration committee gets the gym ready for prom.  

But don’t worry, it’s neither all horror nor all deep insight.  There are also light moments, poignant moments when a young teen watches her boyfriend ring the doorbell to pick up another girl for the prom. Even humorous moments as when the English teacher confiscates a joint from a student then takes a toke himself as soon as the student’s gone.

Shannon Whittaker, who has numerous CHT credits and who served as director of the CHT Green Room Gang this last summer, plays Carrie. With strong acting chops and a good singing voice, she makes the character both believable and sympathetic. Whittaker gives an excellent portrayal of a shy but sweet teen who finds her strength too late.  Her performance is outstanding.

Maureen Currin plays Carrie’s mother.    Photo by Steve Atkinson

Maureen Currin plays Margaret, Carrie’s mother. The character is possibly the least sympathetic character in the play, but Curris, who has appeared in a number of productions with the Tred Avon Players, gives it a strong interpretation.  Her aria, sung alone in her kitchen after Carrie defies her to go to the prom, is especially poignant, showing both insight into her own fallibility while clinging to her own religious mania.

Reilly Claxton, a first-year student at Cheaspeake, takes the role of Sue, one of three popular girls who lead the laughter at Carrie.  But as things get out of hand in the locker room, Sue begins to feel guilt and shame at her behavior. She tries to apologize to Carrie but isn’t believed, so Sue makes the ultimate teen sacrifice of getting her boyfriend Tommy to take Carrie to the prom.  Claxton conveys all these emotions beautifully. While this is her first Peake Players appearance, she has many previous credits both at CHT and in TV commercials. Her experience shows – a nice job in an important part.

Sue convinces Tommy to take Carrie to the prom to make up for all the mean tricks.      Photo by Jane Jewell

Jacob Wheatley is well cast as Tommy, the boy who takes Carrie to the prom.  He is a good match for Sue. He’s one of the guys  – yet he, too, balks at the continued, excelerated bullying of Carrie.  Wheatley comes across exactly right as the all-American boy next-door, fun-loving but not really mean. Wheatley, a student at Chesapeake College, has acted in two previous productions there, including the lead in How to Succeed in business Without Really Trying.  Hope to see more of him on stage in future.

Olivia Litteral, a recent Chesapeake College graduate, takes the role of Chris, the “bad girl” who targets Carrie for her practical jokes.  Litteral shows the stubbornness and cockiness of a teen leader who won’t admit things have gone too far. A good job.

Brandon Walls, who has numerous credits both with the Peake Players and at CHT, plays Billy, Chris’s thuggish boyfriend. He does a fine job too, using his physical presence to give the character an air of menace while playing the disruptive class clown.

Among the other cast members, Samantha Smith and James Kaplanger are very good in supporting roles as teachers who try to take Carrie’s side and reign in the bullies.

The music is a challenge, which the cast mostly rises to, especially since much of the dialogue is presented in the form of songs. This requires the singers to enunciate very clearly – a challenge most but not all of them met at the performance I saw. The music as noted is more sung dialog than song, so the emphasis is on the words not pretty melodies – perhaps the influence of the Berg opera. The small band, directed by William Thomas, does a solid job, for which due credit.

Photo by Jane Jewell

The choreography, by Evelyn Paddy, is one of the show’s strong points, especially in the large ensemble scenes where several things can be going on at once. There are several particularly acrobatic performances by some of the cast members, notably James Kaplanges who executes a flawless, exuberant aerial maneuver in one of the dance scenes.

Spirits raised by Carrie’s psychic powers. Photo by Steve Atkinson

The use of masked dancers to represent the telekinetic spirits called up by Carrie lends an air of menace to every scene they appear in, lurking silently in the edges of the scene – and when they do break into action, it is especially powerful. Thoroughly spooky!

Costumes range appropriately from preppy to punk ’80s.  The prom dresses are pretty even on the the punk girls with punk purple hair.

 

“Carrie the Musical” is probably too intense – both in style, subject matter, and strong language – for very young audience members. But for anyone who isn’t put off by horror-movie material, it is worth seeing if only for the fine performances by a large cast of actors, many of them college age – a real testimony to the wealth of talent in the local community. And it’s good to see CHT willing to stretch the boundaries of “safe” community theater fare.  And if you stick around afterward, you can watch the cast and crew rise from the dead – as should happen in all good horror tales – and bring mops & buckets out and wipe up all the “blood” before the next show.

“Carrie” runs through Nov. 12, with Friday and Saturday performances at 8 p.m. and Sunday matinees are at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for students. Groups of 10 or more qualify for special prices. For reservations, call 410-556-5867 or visit the Church Hill Theatre website.

Photo gallery below by Jane Jewell

Teens torment Carrie with a bucket of fake blood.

 

Margaret, Carrie’s mother, faces her own inner demons as she becomes aware of Carrie’s very real demons. 

Carrie’s “spirits” rise as her mother warns her about boys. 

Carrie and her mother just before the prom

 

 

Carrie calls her spirits – her revenge is coming…

Carrie realizes they are mocking her. Her mother was right!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Carrie – Mopping Up Afterward for Next Show!

 

 

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