The second week of the Capital Fringe Festival brought ten musical performances that I enjoyed immensely. Many were by local artists who I have never seen or heard before. I am hoping that many of our directors and casting directors will audition these incredible actors/singers. I look forward to seeing them in future performances.
Randall Holloway singing “Oh I Remember” in When ET Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.
There’s a moment in When ET Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest – my favorite musical so far in The Fringe Festival – where spaced-out Randall Holloway really lets us know what he thinks and what he’s been through, and it’s powerful and frightening. His performance of “Oh I Remember” scared the hell out of me, and introduced me to a new young, talented, and passionate performer. It made me cuckoo!
Randall: I portray the character Tracy/James, who I feel is three characters in one. Tracy is the crazy, out of his mind patient that I portray throughout the majority of the show. James is Tracy’s alter ego that he has artificially produced to cope with his inner demons while he has been committed all these years in the mental asylum. The twist is James is the name of his twin brother that passed many years ago, but he doesn’t remember that he is dead.
The song “I Remember” Tracy is at his climatic break and he is actually remembering every detail of how his twin brother passed away. The song means a lot to me because it reminds me of a harsh time in my life where I witnessed a close friend of mine that tried to commit suicide. Even though he lived through that experience, it is something that I witnessed and have tried to block out; however, it is something that I will always remember years from now.
After the Fringe I plan on going to New York for a lot more auditions, and if all turns out right – then you will be seeing me on the Broadway stage. I am also the lead singer for a new band that goes by the name of “Blaq Orpheus”, and we plan on gigging around the DMV area by mid August. With that being said – because I am so passionate about singing – I am in the beginning stages on working on my solo album, which hopefully this time next year will be completed. As a working artist I feel that it is imperative that even during your down time you find something to do to enhance your craft whether it is learning a new song, monologue, or even looking for auditions. I truly hope that I will come face to face with my destiny, and that I can express my craft as a success.
Alfred Lawson singing “The nightingale” in H.M.S. Pinafore.
With his first aria, “The nightingale”, the beautiful voice of young tenor Alfred Lawson – playing Ralph – filled the Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church with heavenly notes, and with his gorgeous smile – Alfred wrapped his arms around the appreciative audience and won their hearts, as well as the heart of Josephine, the Captain’s daughter.
Alfred: In “The Nightingale,” my character (Ralph) is introduced to the audience and it is apparent that he is completely lovesick. The song expresses, in deeply romantic metaphors, how unattainable the object of his desire seems to be. I think anyone who’s ever been hopelessly in love or in desperate longing can relate to this song.
I don’t have any theatre work lined up, but I will keep auditioning and see what opportunities arrive. That said, I’m pretty determined to audition for Glee even if I have to go all the way out to LA!
Sam Ludwig singing “Player #2” in Super Claudio Brothers: The New Video Game Musical
After his lovable performance as Jeff the composer and lyricist in Signature Theatre’s [title of show], Sam Ludwig gets to play the second banana brother Luis (at least second banana for part of the time). Before he has to battle a haughty and spiky platypus named Bruiser, and save an older princess and fall in love with a younger princess, Sam introduces us to his plight in life (up to then) and with his sweet tenor – and this revealing song – he immediately becomes the audience’s favorite brother.
Sam: “Player #2” is actually one of my favorite kinds of musical numbers. It’s what I’d call part of a shock opening, where the very first number is bombastic and huge and makes you think the story is gonna be about one person or idea, and then all of a sudden the focus shifts and you realize that it’s gonna be someone else’s story. Basically, at the beginning of the show, the “Super Claudio Bros” have won the game again and the eggplant people are celebrating. Claudio (being player 1) is getting all of the credit as always and my character, Luis, feels a pang of jealousy. His song is a very conflicted number as he struggles with his sense of duty and love for his brother and tries to reconcile them with his ambitions to be “Player #1”. The song sets up everything you need to know about my character early on and also helps you to understand how the show is going to subvert the video game conventions-and it’s catchy as all get out! Of course it’s also all very relatable; I think everyone has the experience of being in awe of someone you love and wishing you were them but also being happy for them and proud of their accomplishments.
Up next for me is Glimpses of the Moon at MetroStage with…largely the same cast as Super Claudio Bros. It’s a jazzin’ boozin’ good time in the Roarin’ 20’s. Should be fun!
Joani Maher singing “Surely Shirley” in Shirley Dreaming.
In the middle of piles of strewn paper, a screaming boss and her loud and mean assistant, and a shirtless wannabe boyfriend on the prowl – there is a rare quiet moment in Shirley Dreaming where disheveled Shirley just lets it out in a simple moment of reflection. Joani Maher’s heartfelt singing of the song was just what the show and the audience needed – a chance to refocus quietly on this poor woman who has had one hell of a day. It was a wonderful moment in the paper-filled sweltering Apothecary – like a refreshing scoop of ice cream on a humid DC summer day.
Joan: Shirley Childs is the new employee of Smiles and Fate Children’s Books and in this moment she has just been physically and emotionally crushed by her would-be new boss. After being immediately fired from her new job, she finds herself unable to leave the building due to broken elevator and flooded stairs – the epitome of a bad day. In the first 20 minutes of the show Shirley goes from hopeful and confident for her first day in the real world to worn down and unsure of herself. ‘Surely Shirley” is the moment when she succumbs to this feeling of defeat in a daydream.
It tracks back to her time in middle school of feeling just like everyone else, and now, at 22, she has been lumped into another pile of resumes; just a number. As a recent college graduate and ‘new employee’, this song is extremely relatable. The excitement of being on your own and starting a new job is quickly crushed by the reality that not everyone is as optimistic about their lives and that you have deal with the negative as well as the positive. I think of this song as Shirley’s breaking point, she lets the frustration sink in and after fighting to keep her job and allowing the workers to maim her, she just can’t take it. It is easy to fall onto the conveyor belt and let the world shape you to be what it wants, and in this song Shirley feels that she needs to just give up and give in. The end line ‘I got to sing me off the page’ is a glimmer of hope that she knows that she has to take do something and not allow it to just happen to her. Luckily for her, the audience and myself – she picks herself up and realizes that she has the ability to truck through and pave her own path, it just might take a little time.
After our final Fringe performance of Shirley Dreaming on July 24th at the Apothecary, The Apron Theatre Company will be bringing the show to Providence, RI at the Perishable Theatre for a weekend run. It is close to home so it will be fun getting a little hometown support for our show. The company (formed by mostly American University graduates) is already in the works on a few more original pieces, including a cabaret that myself and fellow company member, Caroline Mahoney, are putting together. We hope to get it up and running by the end of the summer with location and times still to be determined, but the creating is happening! Our upcoming projects can be found here.
Kelsey McDonnell singing “The Hours Creep on a Pace” in H.M.S. Pinafore.
When I heard Kelsey sing the role of Mabel in The Pirate of Penzance last year at the Fringe, I was floored! And this year, as her voice has matured, Kelsey sang the heck out of the role of Josephine in H.M.S. Pinafore. Gliding up and down the scales with such ease, this soprano extraordinaire showed me what an amazing singer and actress she is. Her rendition of “The Hours Creep on a Pace” was simply stunning!
Kelsey: “The Hours Creep on a Pace” is an aria that expresses Josephine’s anguish as she is torn between her love of Ralph and the arranged marriage with Sir Joseph. While she is deeply in love with Ralph, she longs for the approval of her father and the ability to keep her high position in society. I relate to this song because in the college search, it is difficult to decide whether I should follow my dream of becoming a professional opera singer or take a more stable path. Hopefully, it will all work out for me in the end as it did for Josephine.
After the Fringe, I will be preparing for auditions to study vocal performance in college. As a senior at Wootton High School, I will be taking Honors Chambers Choir, AP Music Theory, and Theater – and I am so excited to participate in the performances at school. Last year I founded and became president of the Opera Club at Wootton, and I am looking forward to a new year of encouraging other students to share an interest in opera. I will also be in operas put on by the American Center for Puccini Studies. For the humanities program at Wootton, I will be using opera as the central focus of my senior independent project, which consists of an extended research essay and a creative project about how Beverly Sills influenced American opera as a soprano. Performing is my passion and I hope to be involved in many upcoming productions.
Katie Nigsch Fairfax and Chip Hewitt singing “You Foolish Woman” in Lysistrata… the musical!
In this hilarious number at the end of the very funny Lysistrata… the musical, Katie and Chip “cha-cha-cha-d” their way into my heart with their uproariously hysterical song-and-dance “You Foolish Woman”. There was steam rising from the stage when Katie and Chip performed the song. I just loved it and laughed myself silly. It was the most Athenian and Spartan fun I had at a musical at the Fringe.
Katie: “You Foolish Woman” is perhaps one of the most heightened points of conflict in our show, a show that throws the audience right into the 20 year war of Athens and Sparta at the top of the show! It is literally the face off between the Commissioner and Lysistrata where they both defend their sides on why the war must go on/end. It is one of our more ‘serious’ songs in our show (and one of my favorites), where you get to hear the real reasons why each character stands their ground; i.e. Commissioner: “We fight for your protection, it’s the sacrifice we make.” Lysistrata: “No one wants to fight anymore, don’t you understand?”
I love performing this song in the show – it is sort of like a tango, but with a rival partner! When Chip and I learned it, we both knew in the first five minutes that it was a powerful and well written song, AND that we loved to sing it together! (thank you, Jeremy King!) I relate to the song, not only from a woman’s point of view, but also as a wife – and there is absolutely nothing more important than standing up for something you believe in for love – whether it be for your city, friends, or family. The song and scene are relatable to the audience, because it also parallels people’s beliefs today with war and our loved ones involved. I hope you enjoy the song as much as Chip and I enjoy performing it every time! (Joel: I loved it. It was so much fun watching both of you ham it up!)
Chip: “You Foolish Woman” is a duet that sets up the climax of an argument between the rebellious Lysistrata and the devilish Commissioner of the Athens army. Though it is not common knowledge until the end of the play, the Commissioner is hard-pressed on the battles between Sparta and Athens simply for personal satisfaction. Lysistrata, meanwhile, is determined to end the war and bring peace (and her men) back home. This duet between Lysistrata and the Commissioner is crucial for establishing both points of view for the conflict at hand. The song keeps the primary humor element from the show subdued with dramatic lyrics and an ominous tango melody.
Katie: What’s next?? Auditioning, auditioning, and auditioning! I am going to co-produce a cabaret this fall with some of my fellow cast members, and friends – details are still T.B.A. Hope to snag a show soon!!! Thank you, Joel, for the shout-out!
Chip: Well, for the most part, AUDITIONS! I truly hope that I have gained enough experience and outreach connections from Fringe Fest. I have, without a doubt, made some awesome friends, and completely intend on doing Fringe Fest again next year. It’s such a thrill to be back in the acting scene, especially here in D.C.
Alissa Roca singing “A Many Years Ago” in H.M.S. Pinafore.
From the moment she introduced the audience to her character and sang “I’m Called Little Buttercup”, I knew that Alissa Roca was one tough cookie and an amazing singer. When Alissa performed “A Many Years Ago” at the end of the second act you could hear a pin drop in the house. With her beautiful and emotional contralto and perfect diction, we understood every word as she helped us figure out what the heck was happening during this crazy comic opera. When she sang it – you could see how much Alissa loved singing her role, and it was infectious!
Alissa: The song “A Many Years Ago” is Little Buttercup’s confession of her crime of switching Ralph and Corcoran in early childhood. It is the song that resolves the plot of the entire show, yet it seems to be the most overlooked song in the show.
Although it seems as if Buttercup is telling of an actual event from the past, I like to play it more like she has come up with a crazy story that could change circumstances to please everyone, and since everyone wants to be happy no one questions the absurdity. It’s a fun piece to perform because you have to convince the characters of her sincerity but still let the audience see that she has been contriving this story throughout the entire show.
I’m headed for the University of Miami! I will be a freshman in their Frost school of Music with a major in Classical Voice Performance (Opera basically) and a minor in Physics. I hope to someday have a career as a professional opera performer.
Autumn Seavey singing, “It Sucks To Be a Chick In Athens” in Lysistrata… the musical!
When I was introduced to Autumn Seavey, she was playing Maureen and Violet in Kensington Arts Theatre’s productions of RENT and Violet and I fell in love with her powerful voice and her energy-filled performances. Here at Lysistrata… the musical!, it was so nice watching Autumn having a blast playing the comedic role of the “always horny” Myrrhina, and especially enjoying herself singing the silly “It Sucks To Be a Chick in Athens”, which she delivered in her usual spit-fire way.
Autumn: “It Sucks to be a Chick in Athens” is the breaking point for my character, Myrrhina, as she realizes she is the only one suffering during the “sex strike” that’s supposed to ultimately bring peace and end the war between Athens and Sparta. Apparently, abstinence is “business as usual” for the other women since their husbands have been away at war, but Myrrhina and her husband, Cinesias, have kept a healthy physical relationship going regardless, leaving Myrrhina the only woman feeling the pain of, essentially, not getting any. This is a great song for a woman because we don’t usually get to sing about such topics as… not getting laid. That’s usually reserved for the men.
Coming up next, I will be doing Annie at the Olney Theatre Center as the “Star to Be” and the performing female swing. So, grab the nearest child and check it out, running November through January!
Lonny Smith and Maris Wicker singing “Lonely House” and “Lonely Town” in Love Noir – the Music of Lenny, Kurt and Harold.
I love Bernstein and Weill and when Lonny and Maris combined their two songs of “Lonely House” and “Lonely Town” into a stunning duet in Love Noir…, I was in cabaret-and-Lenny-and-Kurt-heaven. Lonny’s lush baritone and Maris’ powerful soprano blended so well and together they created a performance I will never forget.
Lonny: There is a sad, endless variety to loneliness. Pairing these songs illustrates both private and public despair – one song takes place in a house, the other is on the street. Lonely Town, the “street song,” doesn’t hint at the agony or despair of Lonely House – it’s a completely different brand of sadness. Lonely Town is about the feeling when you find yourself suddenly separated from the crowd – the moments of bliss replaced by the aloneness you thought you had escaped. The people will always disappear and the empty street will always be there. It can happen with the suddenness of a punch in the gut – that jolt is essentially the cue to the song. I actually love to wander around cities by myself, so crowds of unfamiliar faces passing by is not quite the depressing experience that Comden, Green, and Bernstein wrote about. So for me, the key to the song is that shock of being left alone.
Maris: Lyrics always are what draw me to a song first, and in “Lonely House” (from the musical Street Scene), Langston’s Hughes’ lyrics, set to Kurt Weill’s music, are truly amazing. I couldn’t resist. The song, which is akin to an operatic aria, first sets a scene that is easily imaginable – a woman alone at night in her old house, where every sound she hears seems to magnify her solitude. Then the song hits us with the impact on her of being surrounded by lots of people in the neighborhood; being in the midst of people doesn’t diminish her loneliness. Finally, the song goes to her anguish in not being able to escape that loneliness. Not exactly a joy ride, but so satisfying to sing because it takes me so quickly to a scary place – a place very different from my own life. Also, this song requires a fairly wide vocal range, so I have the chance to stretch out vocally. But for me the best part of singing “Lonely House” in this show is in pairing it with “Lonely Town,” which Lonny sings so beautifully. That song also speaks to the experience of loneliness in the midst of people, but, in contrast to my song, it offers the hope that love leads the way out of loneliness. So, the two songs together seem to shed light on each other and become a whole, which is what we are looking for in this show.
Lonny: Next for me is Mad Men, lots of baking and running and movie-going as post-Fringe therapy, and then a significantly numbered birthday, for which I’ve planned an escape to solitude. Interestingly, in a reversal of Lonely Town – this attempted retreat has turned into a bunch of mini-reunions with people I’ve known since grade school and before. We crave freedom and independence but once we actually achieve it, no one really wants it, right? Then, when I get back, remounting of a few group shows (A Cabaret About Nothing and a non-Fringe version of Run Away with Me) and I’ll start work on a solo show – Art, Sex, and other Dealbreakers.
Maris: Over the past year and a half, I have performed three completely different solo cabaret shows, and two completely different “duet” shows – primarily because the opportunities popped up to do so and because there’s so much great material out there. I have loved the intensity of the work involved, but also realize that part of the process is allowing time for refueling and renewal (not to mention occasional housecleaning). So, that’s what’s in the immediate future – that, and listening up for what’s around the corner!
Emily Webbe singing “Across the Sky” in When ET Flew Over The Cuckoos’s Nest.
I kept asking, “Who is this young incredible singer? Where did she come from, and how come I haven’t heard about her before?” That night, I learned that Emily was a local performer, and after she rocked the Warehouse with her vocals on “Across the Sky”, I knew I was in for a wonderful evening of amazing singing. Every time Emily played her guitar and sang – each note was a revelation. I am looking forward to hearing that fantastic powerful and divine voice on local stages this year. It’s my favorite musical performance of the Fringe Festival. I can’t wait to see and hear Emily again. You rock!
Emily: “Across the Sky” is a ballad sung by my character Joan, the rock star who believes that extra-terrestrial beings (ETs or visitors) will come to Earth, learn about humanity, about who we are, and consequently be appalled by the human race and the destruction of war and poverty. It was difficult at first to identify with the character of Joan because of her passion for Sci-Fi.
I do not harbor any propensity towards the outer space/star trek/X-Files/UFO/Visitor phenomena we hear so much about in pop culture. I mean, sure I’ve wondered if ETs exist. But I have never really thought about whether these other life forms have the capacity to travel to us and take us to their worlds. Until perhaps now. Now, it soothes me to think we are not alone in the vast expanse of space out there. There is so much more to learn and when I think about how small we are, how infinite the universe is, I marvel and I’m in awe. I feel that this ties in with my spiritual beliefs, my spirituality, which involves nature and is built on a foundation that strives for peace and harmony and equality–these characteristics being those which Joan so compassionately adheres to and feels are cavernously lacking in our culture(s) and the current “state of our planet”.
When I look at the stars and moon I feel closer to a Great Spirit, or God, or some form of higher power, some universal spirit–it is this feeling that is refuge in a world so full of hatred and war. The oil spill catastrophe in the Gulf recently has propelled me into a sort of frenzied state of anxiety because I see the state of our world as so fragile; our planet, our “beautiful blue-green Earth” is in jeopardy and it’s scary. So when Joan sings “Across the Sky” and broadcasts it out to America -“to try to REACH America”- I identify with her courageous attempt to go to a very vulnerable place for a cause in which she so deeply believes. She can sort of almost foresee the truth happening before her eyes. Like Joan of Arc she is condemned for this, told she is crazy but then is vindicated and proven to have been right all along. Joan sings to the stars for guidance and finds her answer.
What’s next? I love performing on stage when I can and plan to continue working in the DC theatre scene! For now though, I’m enjoying my freelance vocalist work. I love singing jazz, blues and R&B (and rock too, of course!) Fortunately, I had the opportunity this past year to sing weekly gigs at Columbia Station in Adam’s Morgan as well as Twins Jazz on U Street in DC, while also singing for private parties and weddings. My next gig is in Frederick, MD at the Braddock Heights Inn. I look forward to another year of theatre and music in DC!
Read all the reviews and check out the full Capital Fringe schedule here.
Did you see any of these performers? What did you think?