Footloose — Toby’s Baltimore
Today, eight friends, including myself, attended the matinée of the musical Footloose at the new Toby’s Baltimore. The show has been receiving raves from local critics, so we had to go there to see if the critics were right and, most important, we wanted to experience the new venue. The new Toby’s Baltimore is an easy drive-right up 95. You get off at Exit 57, make a turn and you are there -in the Best Western Hotel. You take the elevator up and when the door opens, the Toby’s homey feeling envelopes you. Today, when I was at the box office, Toby Orenstein herself appeared, and we began schmoozing. She told me she liked the interview/podcast I recorded with her last month. I felt a long sigh of relief. I don’t think I could handle that Toby’s face she gives you if she’s not happy. You can listen to my interview with Toby Orenstein
The new space is roomier than Toby’s-The Dinner Theatre of Columbia- the chairs are more comfortable, and there’s more leg space. The food is as good as Columbia-lots of salads, fruit, salmon, roast beef, ham (that great Bar-Mitzvah dish), turkey, and the Toby’s famous Spinach Funque, loaded with lots of melted cheese and Popeye’s favorite entrée, a dish that will clog your arteries within 2 minutes of consuming it-but it’s delicious. There’s a make-your-own-sundae bar for dessert, and what’s better than a sundae on Sunday? That’s the scoop.
Two-time Helen Hayes Winner, David James (for The Wizard of Oz and Godspell at Toby’s) was our server. David told us that he loves being a server because it allows him to greet his audience and hear their comments at intermission and after the show. Do you know any other Helen Hayes Award Winners who would be a server? I don’t know any. You’re an amazing talent David James, one helluva server and a real mensch. Sorry it took so long to podcast Daniel, Kurt and Becca. Can I have a rain check to interview you at a later time, David?
The stage in Toby’s Baltimore is a procenium stage-a picture frame type of stage with a small thrust, and has a small area that revolves a la Les Miserables. This stage will allow a large epic musical like Ragtime to look Broadway-like, and I can’t wait for Toby’s to recreate its 2004 production that garnered 13 Helen Hayes nominations.
Footloose wasn’t a great hit in NYC. It’s score is not memorable-except for a spine tingling song in the first act called Learning To Be Silent, sung beautifully by Kate Briante, Tamarin Ythier and Becca Vourvoulas, (who plays the rebellious Ariel, who falls in love with the rebellious Ren, played by Kurt Boehm.) Well known songs, Almost Paradise, the title song, and Let’s Hear It For The Boys were performed with great energy by the cast and ensemble.
The lighting, set design, and costumes were first class. The choreography was energetically performed by the young cast. There were some problems with microphones not working in the beginning of the show, but were overcome with a quick repair. (Kurt Boehm talks about his microphone problems on the above podcast). The orchestra is on the far right of the stage, and the musicians performed beautifully under the baton of Mike Semancik. They did not drown out the cast, and that alone deserves high praise.
I miss the “in your face” theatre I see at Toby’s-The Dinner Theatre of Columbia, but my neck and back loved the procenium stage at Toby’s Baltimore. I’ll be returning to both Toby’s because both venues present great theatre, and both venues have the nicest servers, actors, directors, tech workers, hostesses in the area-and no one has that Bubbie personality that is Toby Orenstein. G-d bless her! Good luck Toby’s Baltimore. I’ll be back to see Ragtime soon.
I was honored to interview Daniel McDonald, who plays Reverend Moore, Kurt Bohme, who plays Ren McCormick and Becca Vourvoulas, who played Ariel Moore. Kudos to Daniel who performed on a broken foot. Break a leg-I take it back!
Click on the above green arrow button or click on OR Play in Popup to hear the podcasts. I hope you enjoy them.
Footloose plays at Toby’s Baltimore through August 20th. For tickets, go to http://www.tobysdinnertheatre.com/, or call (410) 649-1660.