Woman Around Town’s Editor Charlene Giannetti and writers for the website talk with the women and men making news in New York, Washington, D.C., and other cities around the world. Thanks to Ian Herman for his wonderful piano introduction.
In a perfect world, Jason A. Ellis, the founder and current Executive Director of Momentum Collective, Inc., would take the production of Not My Baby to other countries. “If I had money, I [would] take it overseas,” said Ellis. For now, however, he is putting his energy towards promoting the show in Alexandria. The show opened on March 17 and continues this weekend at the Richard Kauffman Auditorium.
Utilizing Hip Hop and R&B, this original musical set in the D.C. metro area, deals with social issues, including adoption. “I want to shine a light on topics that aren’t talked about and encourage discourse,” said Ellis. “I’m from Jamaica and I like to bring in references to my country – for example, I referred to ‘20 Jacky Pad’ in the show. This was my address in Kingstown.”
The multi-talented Ellis not only performs in the musical, he wrote the musical’s book as well as 10 original songs. The storyline and the music takes the audience through a whirlwind of emotions. Even limited by using temporary space and an imperfect sound system, Not My Baby soars, with strong voices and a team of very talented dancers.
Tamieka Jones (Wednesday), Nyeta Videl (June), Mary Ayala-Bush (Ruby), Jason Ellis (LaDarius, writer, director, etc)
Ellis has established himself as a recognized playwright, having written, directed, choreographed, and produced several original musicals. He has also performed in several productions at his Alfred Street Baptist Church, as well as with theater companies in the DMV area, in productions such as Hoodoo Love, A Soldier’s Play, Seven Guitars, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Company, Disney Dazzle, Dreamgirls, and Radio Golf.
Theodore Sapp (Patrick), Terry Spann (Pastor Joe), Alani Mason-Calloway (Yvonne)
Since 2009, Ellis has been employed with the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority (ARHA) in the Residents and Community Services Department. His work with ARHA has provided him a tremendous platform to interface with a cross-section of youth in Alexandria and build strong partnerships with a host of community stakeholders, particularly those focused on serving youth.
Terrance McLeod, Darnell Eaton (Emmanuel), Virginia Raye (TaSchica)
In 2010 he created, and still is managing, a leadership development program for low income youth in the city of Alexandria. This program has seen 100 percent of its participants graduate high school and over 80 percent of participants furthering their education at a tertiary institution or gain meaningful employment. This leadership program served as the catalyst for the creation of MC Inc., now with the inclusion of performing arts and technology-based skills development.
Mia Amado (Dominique), Jamir Miller (Craig), Eboni Jones, Celena Noel, Summer Mayes, Janiya Hooks, Kasey Murphy (Anika)
In Not My Baby, Ellis utilizes a talented complement of local actors and performers. “Half the cast is from Alfred Street Baptist Church,” said Ellis. “I don’t do a lot of open casting because I want to make sure we are family and get along. I tell the cast – ‘each one reach one’ -so the rest of the cast are referrals. Everybody in the show fits the character.”
Nyeta Videl, an Alexandria native,playsJune inNot My Baby. Because June was so dysfunctional, playing her was difficult, Videl said.“But I did not look at June in a negative way,” she said. “Don’t judge June, but love her story.” Video has been a regular in Ellis’ plays, portraying the fun and quirky Esther in his 2016 production of U-Street. She is also known for her roles as Bernadette in Ellis’ 2015 production of Senior Moments, Hattie Mae Bemry in Angels and Winnie Mandela in The Nelson Mandela Tribute.
Terry Spann (Pastor Joe) said that he was thrilled to be a part of another Jason Ellis production and working with this fantastic cast and crew. “My father was a preacher but I didn’t have any interest in becoming one,” said Spann.
Not My Baby is at the Richard Kauffman Auditorium, 1108 Jefferson Street,Alexandria, VA. on Friday, March 24 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, March 25 at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Photos by Gale Curcio Top: Members of the dance team
The definition of a British farce is “a comedy that aims at entertaining the audience through situations that are highly exaggerated, extravagant, and thus improbable.”
Those parameters perfectly fit Key for Two, the latest show at the Little Theater of Alexandria.
Director Eleanore Tapscott (Caught in the Net, Noises Off and I’m Not Rappaport at LTA) said, “Those folks who know me well, and in fact, strangers who have just met me, will quickly learn that I love theater. I am particularly enamored of farce. I totally buy into regular folks who get caught in outrageous situations as the mistaken identities multiply, the lies spill and the doors slam with merry abandon.”
Elizabeth Replogle (Magda) and Charlene Sloan (Harriet)
Written by John Chapman and Dave Freeman, the script incorporates the best elements of British sketch comedy and music hall routines. Chapman also wrote British sketch comedies with Ray Cooney.
The show opens with successful adman Gordon (Peter Harrold) getting dressed in Harriet’s (Charlene Sloan) bedroom. He is more interested in getting Harriet back into the bedroom, while Harriet is focused on getting money for ‘housekeeping.’ It is quickly apparent that Gordon and Harriet are not married when Gordon complains that he has to support his wife as well.
Cal Whitehurst (Alec) and Charlene Sloan (Harriet)
In the next scene, we meet ship owner Alec (Cal Whitehorse), Harriet’s other lover who also gives her ‘housekeeping’ money. When her best friend, Anne (Dana Gattuso), asks why she is mistress to two married men, Harriet responds, “How else can I keep up this place?”
The fun begins when Anne shows up unexpectedly. Recently separated from husband Richard (Justin Latus), a veterinarian, she provides comic relief and somehow helps to keep straight all the misinterpretations, misidentities and mistakes.
When Gordon, Alec, and Richard all appear, Anne and Harriet start the charade. Gordon becomes Anne’s husband while Harriet pretends to be married to Anne’s real husband, Richard.
Liz LeBoo (Mildred), Charlene Sloan (Harriet), Dana Gattuso (Anne) and Cal Whitehurst (Alec)
When Gordon’s wife, Magda (Elizabeth Replogle), and Alec’s wife, Mildred (Liz LeBoo) show up, too, Harriet and Anne have to do some quick maneuvering. They turn Harriet’s house into a ‘nursing home’ providing cover for why Gordon is staying there with a broken leg. Harriet becomes ‘Madame’ and Anne become ‘Nurse.’ Alec becomes a ‘patient with polygamist palsy” who thinks that he is married to Harriet.
Richard is too drunk to know better and when not trying to woo Harriet, his former girlfriend, he amuses himself with Magda’s fox stole, thinking it is just a sick fox that he has to bring back to life.
It is all quite fun and keeps the audience guessing to the bitter end.
Photos by Keith Waters for Kx Photography Top Photo: Dana Gattuso (Anne), Elizabeth Replogle (Magda) and Charlene Sloan (Harriet)
“Key for Two” runs through March 18, 2017 at the Little Theatre of Alecandria, 600 Wolfe Street, Alecandria, VA 22314. For more information, visit www.littletheatre.com or call the Box Office at 703-683-0496.
Pink was the color of the day at the Women’s March on D.C. However, there was also purple, and rainbow, and red and white, and black and white. Organizers were expecting 250,000; it is estimated that a million people showed up for the march.
Women made up the majority of the audience, but there were a lot more men than expected. And tons of kids. There were people in wheelchairs, pregnant women, and people of all color and nationalities.
According to the organizers, the march “held on the first day of the new presidential administration, the Women’s March on Washington aims to send a message to all levels of government and the incoming administration: that we stand together in solidarity and expect elected leaders to act to protect the rights of women, their families and their communities.”
Ridership on Metro exceeded expectations with trains running frequently and with few glitches. Trains were crowded, but the majority of riders made it to the march on time and there was a feeling of euphoria and good will. Riders cheered as they got on the train and as they got off. People who heeded the advice to purchase their Metro cards ahead of time were rewarded as they missed the long lines to purchase cards.
The station manager at L’Enfant Plaza even got into the act as he directed riders with a megaphone to go to the left or the right – and even did a little dance.
Crowds poured out of the metro station onto the streets of D.C. While there were no signs or people directing traffic, people just went with the flow – and stopped when they could go no further.
By 10 a.m., the crowds were well past Sixth Street, NW and Independence Avenue. Jumbotrons were located at the corners at Fourth and Independence and at other locations. It was standing room only.
All kinds of signs dotted the landscape. Some were familiar, like ‘Feminists Fight Back,’ ‘I’m with her’ and ‘Protect our Future-Climate Change is real.’ Others were more off-color, such as, ‘My Pussy Isn’t Up for Grabs,’ ‘There You Have It Folks, an Actual Croc of Shit.’
And then some signs were just downright clever, like ‘You Can’t Comb Over Sexism.’ Children lent their own voices with signs saying, ‘You Break my Heart’ and ‘Though She May be Little, She is Fierce.’
People came from all over the world. Two women from Alabama were staying in Alexandria, and said that there was a school group staying in the same hotel who had been there for the inauguration, having booked it a year ago. “I think that if it wasn’t for the buses, there would have been even fewer people at the inauguration,” she said.
A group of grammar school friends from Connecticut came together to participate in the historic event. Berkeley students cheered when Sen. Kamala Harris, D-CA, mentioned the university in her comments. Most of the states designated meeting places for their constituents to come together at the beginning of the march. Others held receptions at the Capitol after the rally.
The crowd welcomed well-known speakers, such as Angela Davis, Gloria Steinem, Ashley Judd, Scarlett Johansson, Melissa Harris-Perry, Michael Moore, Amanda Nguyen and Van Jones. Performers included Janelle Monae Maxwell, Angelique Kidjo, Mary Chapin Carpenter, The Indigo Girls, MC Lyte, Samantha Ronson, Toshi Reagon, Emily Wells, DJ Rekha, St. Beauty, Beverly Bond, Alia Sharif, DJ Remarkable, Amber Coffman, and Climbing PoeTree. Madonna and Ashley Keyes were last-minute performers. A group of largely female senators and other politicians took the stage. Among them were Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY; Senator Claire McCaskill, D-MO.; newly elected senators Kamala Harris, D-CA; Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.; and Rep. Maxine Waters, D-CA. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla. was also there but did not speak.
In order to satisfy the many competing coalitions, the speaker list included over 40 speakers, causing the rally to go on way too long.Instead of the march starting at 1:15 p.m., as originally planned, the rally continued until past 2:30 p.m. Crowds were packed… so tightly that one woman had a panic attack and had to hold onto a wall at the American Air and Space Museum. A pregnant woman tried to move through the crowd to get to the bathroom. While there were tons of porta potties along the mall and on Independence Street, most of the crowd couldn’t get to them. The American Air and Space Museum had plenty of bathrooms, but they required visitors to go through security, which made the wait at least an hour long.
Nancy Iovino, Gale Curcio, Carol Martens Price, Jody Zeman, Susan Richards and Lindsay Richards
The March was originally planned to proceed west on Independence Avenue SW from Third Street SW, to Fourteenth Street SW, then turn north on Fourteenth Street SW to Constitution Avenue NW, continue west on Constitution Avenue NW to Seventeenth Street NW, and conclude near the Ellipse and Washington Monument. There were so many people, however, that actually marching proved to be impossible. Finally, around 2:30, one of the organizers said, “Go North!” And with that, the crowd started moving towards the mall towards the Washington Monument. The mall, which had been reserved for other protests, was half empty, making it easy for marchers to proceed.
Barricades along the mall, supposedly left over from the inauguration, occasionally tripped people up, but spirits remained high with chants of “Hell No, We Won’t Go” and “Say it loud, say it clear, migrants are welcome here.”
The group tried to get to the White House, but they were prevented to from getting near the premises. Metro continued to work well, getting people home until late in the evening. Some vandalism was reported, but it appears that they were caused by protests that were occurring concurrently with the women’s march.
It’s a great time for a feel good musical so The Little Theatre of Alexandria’s production of Anything Goes opened on January 14 to a full house and an enthusiastic audience. The talented cast made the most of Cole Porter’s “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “Let’s Misbehave,” and, of course, “Anything Goes,” songs that are almost a hundred years old but remain timeless.
Mara Stewart and James Maxted
With songs this good, the story takes a back seat. The original book was a collaborative effort by Guy Bolton and P.G. Wodehouse, heavily revised by the team of Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse. Billy Crocker, a young Wall Street broker, is a stowaway aboard an ocean liner bound from New York to London. He’s in love with heiress Hope Harcourt (Tori Garcia), who is engaged to the stuffy British Evelyn Oakleigh. Billy is aided in his quest to win Hope by Reno Sweeney, a nightclub singer, and Moonface Martin, otherwise known as Public Enemy #13. There are high jinks on the high sea including mistaken identities, a con bilking passengers out of money, and, for Billy, time in the brig.
The role of Reno Sweeney always attracts singers with big voices (Patti LuPone, Sutton Foster, and Stephanie J. Block, on Broadway, for example). Mara Stewart, appearing at LTA for the first time, makes the kind of impression that will certainly lead to future roles. Her performance raises the bar and the rest of the cast is quick to respond, including Marshall Cesena (Billy Crocker), Ken Kemp (Moonface Martin) and James Maxted (Sir Evelyn Oakleigh). Cesna and Kemp have a great rapport. Their banter while slap-stick is believable, appropriate for this age-old show. As Moon Face’s girlfriend, Bonnie, Jacqueline Salvador adds comic relief. Reno’s angels, providing excellent backup singing, include Caitlyn Goerner, Ashley Kaplan, Katie Mallory and Elizabeth Spilsbury.
The cast performs “Let’s Step Out.”
Tap dancing fans get their fix with the lively performance of “Let’s Step Out,” featuring the Angels and the sailors played by Michael Gale, Ricardo Coleman, Kurtis Carter and Andrew Sese.
LTA continues to pull out all the stops with its sets, this one depicting the cruise liner, SS American, as well as perfectly detailed state rooms. Bravo to the lighting team for distinguishing day and night. The seven-piece orchestra hits all the right notes without overshadowing the performances.
Photos by Keith Waters for Kx Photography Top photo: Ken Kemp (Moonface Martin), Mara Stewart (Reno Sweeney), Marshall Cesena (Billy Crocker).
“Anything Goes” runs through February 4, 2016 at The Little Theatre of Alexandria, 600 Wolfe Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. For more information, visit www.littletheatre.com or call the Box Office at 703-683-0496.
Gregory Peck would be proud of Atticus, Scout, and the rest of the cast in Little Theatre of Alexandria’s recent production of To Kill a Mockingbird. This classic tale never gets old, and is very timely considering the recent passing of author Harper Lee. And the struggle between black and white, while tempered, still exists in modern society, and there are lessons to be learned in this timeless piece.
Producers Rachel Alberts, Bobbie Herbst and Robert Kraus have nailed it, not an easy feat with those who still fondly remember the black and white film. The two scenes – Finch’s street in Maycomb, Alabama to the courthouse where the trial is held – benefit from terrific staging.
Atticus’s daughter, Jean Louise Finch, nicknamed Scout, is played by two actresses who turn in winning performances. Olivia McMahon portrays the young Scout who lived through what transpired in 1935 when Atticus defended a black man who was tried for raping a white woman. The adult Jean Louise, played by Melissa Dunlap, takes on the role of narrator.
Richard Fiske (Atticus) and Olivia McMahon (Scout)
Finch, played by Richard Fiske, describes himself as a ‘recovering attorney,’ although one with much yet to prove. Whether at home with Scout and Jem, or in the courtroom, Fiske’s Finch is believable, a loving father and a skilled lawyer.
Horace Gilmer (Cal Whitehorse), is a worthy adversary for Atticus. As Judge Taylor, Tony Gilbert rules over his courtroom, keeping everybody in check, especially Bob Ewell (Paul Donahoe), a loose cannon as a witness.
Brenda Parker (Calpurnia), Olivia McMahon (Scout), and Frank Riley III (Rev. Sykes)
The younger actors, McMahon, Jack Kearney(Jem Finch) and Nathaniel Burkhead (Dill), exhibit impressive onstage presence. Brenda Parker, who plays Calpurnia, the Finch’s housekeeper, is tasked with keeping the children in line and does it with love and humor.
The cast numbers more than 30 actors giving a touch of realism to the scenes where the courtroom’s seats would be filled with townspeople caught up in a case that both captivated and polarized a community.
Photos by Matt Liptak
Opening: Courtroom scene with cast.
To Kill a Mockingbird runs through May 14, 2016 at the Little Theatre of Alexandria, 600 Wolfe Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. For more information, visit www.littletheatre.com or call the Box Office at 703-683-0496.