TowsonTowne presents fine version of 'Torch Song'

May 23, 1991|By Winifred Walsh | Winifred Walsh,Evening Sun Staff

The first play of the new TowsonTowne Theatre in the Round series is a knockout production of Harvey Fierstein's Tony Award-winning comedy-drama "Torch Song Trilogy."

Staged in the TowsonTowne Dinner Theatre in the round below the proscenium stage this show launches the company's new concept of presenting quality cabaret-style, non-musical productions on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. ("The King and I" continues to play Thursdays through Sundays through June 16 on the proscenium stage.)

Directed with exceptional character insight and choreographic skill by Robert Clingan, this admirable version, which runs through Wednesday, deals with various aspects of homosexuality.

The often funny and sometimes moving work is divided into three one-acts and traces the story of Arnold, an endearing drag queen who performs at the International Stud Bar, in his intensive search for love and understanding of the universe.

It is also the story of Ed, Arnold's great love. A troubled bisexual, Ed wants to drop all gay connections, including Arnold, in favor of marriage to sympathetic Laurel. The play is told in incisive dialogue and delightful soul-searching monologues delivered in stream of consciousness fashion by Arnold.

John W. Ford is a superb Arnold, imbuing his role with self-deprecating humor, sensibility and pathos. Joseph Moore is excellent as the earnest but self-serving Ed who wants it all.

Linda Caryl Chambers is first-rate as Ed's loyal wife. Also fine are Craig James-Orefice as a lonely young model and Brian Patrick McCarthy as a fresh street kid adopted by Arnold.

Anne B. Mulligan turns in an outstanding performance as Arnold's mother (but we wish she would have incorporated more of the feisty Jewish matriarch into her characterization).

There are some hilarious and some slow moments in the Vagabond Players' production of Noel Coward's sophisticated, high-comedy classic "Hay Fever," running through June 16.

Carol Mason directs the play somewhat unevenly. The pace, timing and projection of characters in this local show has to be heightened.

Set in the '20s, the play centers on the wacky shenanigans of an upper middle-class English theater family.

Judith is a retired dramatic actress who is "always on as it were." David, her husband, is the author of bad novels, the profits of which support them and their spoiled grown children, Simon and Sorrel, quite well.

Each member invites a guest to the family's country home one weekend without telling the others and bedlam ensues.

Ann Shroads turns in a charming performance as the melodramatic Judith. Stan Weiman is especially delightful as her eccentric husband. William Runnebaum and Craig A. Peddicord are a riot as two of the befuddled guests.

Maria McIntosh is a sweetly confused visitor. Barbara Blair overplays and is too angry as a mercurial opportunist. Amy Whelan is a believable Sorel, but the inexperienced Robert Petr as Simon lacks the slick polish necessary to a Coward play.

Carol McLaughlin is overly nasty in the role of the surly, overburdened maid. Her comedy timing is off and she throws away many of the pungently funny lines.

*

New Stages Inc. deserves credit for attempting to stage the verbose English translation of Ben-Zion Tomer's "Children of the Shadows," playing at Howard Community College through Saturday.

The story tells of Yoram Eyal, a young survivor of the Holocaust coming to grips with the reality of life. Directed by Adrienne Newberg, the intent is sincere but this difficult work has been poorly blocked (making for many inert scenes) without subtle character development and strong interaction.

The one saving grace of this show is the splendid performance of Irving Engleman as an aged former collaborator with the Nazis. Others offering good performances are Steve Collins, Stacey Werling and Denise Finnegan. Michael Brechner as Yoram shows promise as an actor but he is not ready for this overwhelming role. Jessica Matulevich as his wife turns in a one dimensional, rather militant performance.

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