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Stage: theater, music, dance

April 15, 2004

Plenty of Coward

"It was described as vulgar, disgusting, shocking, nauseating, vile, obscene, degenerate, etc., etc." So wrote the late Noel Coward, summing up the critics' reaction to his 1925 comedy, Fallen Angels. The story of two respectable British ladies confronted by past indiscretions may seem considerably less shocking today, but it still brims with Coward's trademark wit. The comedy opens a month-long run at Theatre Hopkins tomorrow.

Under Suzanne Pratt's direction, the cast is headed by Laurel Burggraf and Molly Moores and also features Stephen Gaede, Jonas Grey, Jason Hentrich and Lynda McClary.

Theatre Hopkins performs in the Merrick Barn on the Homewood campus of the Johns Hopkins University. Show times are 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2:15 p.m. Sundays, through May 9. Tickets are $15. Call 410-516-7159.

There's more than a whiff of Coward in the air these days. Audiences at Olney Theatre Center can get a feel for the playwright/song- writer's life and music in Oh, Coward!, Roderick Cook's 1972 revue. The production, directed by Dallett Norris, is a compilation of such Coward musical chestnuts as "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" and "If Love Were All," along with biographical tidbits and sketches.

The three-person cast features Valerie Leonard, Thomas Adrian Simpson and John Leslie Wolf.

Show times at Olney, 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, Olney, are 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays and most Sundays, 8 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays (including tonight's preview), with matinees at 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, through May 16. Tickets are $15-$36. Call 301-924-3400.

-- J. Wynn Rousuck

Beethoven concert

Almost all music is autobiographical to some extent, but Beethoven poured out everything inside him when he wrote his A minor String Quartet, Op. 132. He was interrupted in writing the piece by a severe illness, and when he recovered, he expressed his feelings in the middle movement, "Hymn of thanksgiving to the divinity, from a convalescent." But thoughts of mortality also hover around the edges of the quartet, making it one of his most personal and affecting utterances.

Op. 132 will be performed this weekend by the Borromeo String Quartet, as part of the 30th season finale for Music in the Great Hall. The program would be rich enough with just this item, but there's more -- the brilliant F minor Piano Quintet by Brahms. The Borromeo players will be joined in that piece by Virginia Reinecke, who is stepping down after three decades as founding artistic director of the Great Hall series. The event promises an extra dose of expressiveness.

The Borromeo String Quartet and pianist Virginia Reinecke will perform at 8 p.m. tomorrow and 3 p.m. Sunday at Towson Unitarian Universalist Church, 1710 Dulaney Valley Road. Tickets are $15, $6 for students, available at the door. Call 410-813-4255.

-- Tim Smith

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