- Spectacular Scene Stealers
- By Joel Markowitz
As you know, musicals are my passion and this spring, these were the five musical actors and actresses who stole a scene or two and the hearts of their audiences.
#1) DAVID JAMES, SINGING AND DANCING “IF I ONLY HAD A BRAIN” IN THE WIZARD OF OZ AT TOBY’S DINNER THEATRE OF BALTIMORE.
Not only did he co-direct and co-choreograph this charming, and hilarious production of The Wizard of Oz, (you should have seen the munchkins scenes) but he recreated his 1998 Helen Hayes Award winning performance as Hunk and as the straw-stuffed jitterbugging Scarecrow.
In “If I Only Had A Brain,” not only is David charming and sweet and manic, he also danced up a storm, writhing and sliding and falling across the stage. With most other actors, this scene would have knocked the stuffin’ out of them, but not David. He picked himself off the ground, took a deep breath, and moved on to the next scene with a big grin. Hay! What a performance!
#2) KARISSA SWANIGAN SINGING “GOD MUST LOVE A FOOL” IN DEBBIE DOES DALLAS AT LANDLESS THEATRE COMPANY.
Playing the “If he wants sex – give him sex” boyfriend-stealing Lisa in Debbie Loves Dallas, Karissa Swanigan was hysterical as virginal Debbie’s rival. Kirstin nailed Lisa – every righteous virgin’s nightmare. She was conniving and heartless and generous in sharing her experience, when she volunteers to tutor Debbie’s dodo bird boyfriend Rick, in the twisting art of new positions. When Karissa sings her gorgeous and gloating rendition of “God Loves a Fool, she steals the show.
“Lisa finally succeeds at winning over Debbie’s boyfriend Rick and sings a sweet country style number called “God Must Love a Fool” about how she may have gone about getting what she wanted the wrong way but damn it! She finally on! I absolutely love this song and have a blast shakin’ it out there every night.”
I’ve been a big fan of Karissa’s since I saw her WATCH nominated performance as the Spiderwoman in Kensington Arts Theatre’s (KAT) production of The Kiss of the Spiderwoman and as the adult Elmira in this year’s WATCH award winning Best Musical production of Nevermore, as the Young Elmira at KAT.
Karissa can do it all. She’s a great comedienne, actress and singer. She can play it sweet. She can play it funny, and as Lisa, she proved that she could play it ultra bitchy. You just wanted to slap her and choke her But, what I know of Karissa, you don’t want to mess with her. She’s a feisty one. She’d slap you back.
#3) JOBARI PARKER-NAMDAR SINGING “COLD ENOUGH TO SNOW” IN THE STEPHEN SCHWARTZ PROJECT AT METROSTAGE.
The young and multi-talented cast of was constantly in motion at MetroStage’s ever-moving production of The Stephen Schwartz Project . But there was a moment when a young actor with a voice from heaven, Jobari-Parker-Namdar sat on the stage, and sang a song from Life with Mikey (I never heard of that show, have you?), and drove the audience into sheer bliss. It’s my favorite moment in local musical theatre this year. Jobari sang the song with such beauty and to hear those gorgeous tones still gives me chills as I am writing this. It was one of the few quiet moments of the production where the simple lyrics of Stephen Schwartz were reborn through the sheer beauty and heartfelt rendition by Jobari. You could hear a pin drop while he sang the song, but after the last note was sung, a thunderous applause rang on and on. We all knew that what we had witnessed was something special. I turned around and saw Stephen Schwartz beaming.
#4) LILY GOLBERG SINGING “SO WHAT” AND “WHAT WOULD YOU DO” IN CABARET AT ACT TWO AT THE OLNEY THEATRE CENTER.
She’s 17 and a junior at Gaithersburg High School. She was hilarious Madame Thenardier in last year’s magnificent production of Les Miz also at Act Two (which I named as one of the top ten musical productions in our area).
Two weekends ago, Lily gave a mesmerizing performance as Fraulein Schneider. I’ve seen many actresses play this role – all of them twice or three or four times Lily’s age. Lily’s performance was full of humanity and dignity. As the tough landlady with a heart and the lonely spinster whose engagement to a Jewish fruit dealer turns into a tragedy, Lily’s performance was as good as any of the actresses who I saw perform this role.
How good was this performance? Lily stole two scenes. Her assertive rendition of “So What? followed “Wilkommen,” and that’s not an easy song to follow, but she knocked it out of the Kit Kat Club, establishing quickly that this Fraulein Schneider was a force to be reckoned with. Her powerful rendition of “What Would You Do” sung by the regretful Fraulein Schneider after she must give up the one chance of being with the man who adores her, was sad, pathetic and elicited many tears from the audience. I wiped away several myself.
#5) JUSTIN MARKS SINGING “SPANISH ROSE” AND “ED SULLIVAN” IN BYE BYE BIRDIE AT ACT TWO AT THE OLNEY THEATRE CENTER
Justin Marks is 8 years old and a 3rd grader at Potomac Elementary School. Last Saturday, Director Kevin Kulchar told me at intermission, “You want comedy? You get Justin Marks!” I learned that last year when the 7 year old pint-sized dynamo played Rooster in Act Two’s production of Annie, Jr. When I podcasted him after the show, he showed me that he was a serious actor just trying to give the best performance he could for the ticket-paying audience. He also was hysterical! Before I packed up my recording equipment, I asked Justin what he would do with all the thousands of dollars Rooster would get if he could prove that he was Annie’s father, he said to me, “Hey. I would invest that money now. So call me in 10 years and I’ll tell you how I did.”
So, when I sat down and opened my program and saw that Justin was in the cast playing Randolph, the youngest MacAfee son, I knew I was in for a treat. Justin didn’t disappoint. He got the audience laughing right away with his funny expressions and comic timing. Watching him wearing a large sombrero and dancing in “Spanish Rose” and singing “Ed Sullivan” with the MacAfee family on the Ed Sullivan show just made my heart melt. What else can I say? He stole the show again. Again, high marks for Justin Marx. I love this kid!
#6) KARISSA SWANIGAN SINGING “I AIN’T GOT TIME” IN ZANNA, DON’T! AT KENSINGTON ARTS THEATRE
As the ever-suffering Roberta, whose girlfriend doesn’t know how to say, “No Thank You,” Karissa almost blew the roof off of the Kensington City Hall Arts Theatre with her rendition of “I Aint’ Got Time,” In KAT’s production of Tim Acito’s gay musical, which then becomes a straight musical- Zanna, Don’t!
The audience was screaming “Go Girl!” after Karissa began the song,
- “No, Karla!
- This is the third time you’ve cheated on me since lunch.
- I’m a one-woman woman, and you’re wastin’ my time.
And I ain’t got time for nothin’ but love,
and it’s that time.
- Lord, I know the bible says we should spread our love around.
But my woman was gettin’ biblical with every girl in town.”
“Poor Roberta just found out that her girlfriend Karla has been cheating on her A LOT and Roberta has had enough! Roberta declares that she is a one woman, woman and only has time for one thing, and that’s LOVE! She breaks into this great soulful gospel number that was so fun to do every night! I think it was my favorite show moment to date….”
You had to see it to believe it. It was like an earthquake – a 10 on the Richter Scale.