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By Mary Johnson and Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | June 6, 2002
Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre opened its 37th season last weekend with a rollicking outdoor rock 'n' roll festival near City Dock. Rock Around the Dock is a unique tribute to a genuine American art form, performed at an outdoor setting that seemed perfect for a rock show. Which raised the question: Why did it take 36 years for this great idea to germinate? The production, conceived and directed by Jeff Hitaffer and Kevin Wheatley, features a cast of eight dancers and nine singers who join a five-piece band on stage.
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NEWS
By Mary Johnson, For The Baltimore Sun | August 14, 2014
Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre is capping its season with "Monty Python's Spamalot" an irreverent retelling of the quest for the Holy Grail. The silliness of "Spamalot" is totally at home in Summer Garden's outdoor theater, where a lively cast delivers a production of zesty dancing guys and girls, lusty choruses and zany comedians. The 2005 musical, with book and lyrics by Eric Idle, who also composed the music with John Du Prez, is based on the 1975 movie "Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
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NEWS
By Mary Johnson and Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | May 20, 1999
The Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre opens its 34th season under the stars Saturday, bringing Leonard Bernstein's "West Side Story" to the theater's historic location on Compromise Street across from City Dock.The show will be presented Thursdays through Sundays until June 26. The 1957 retelling of "Romeo and Juliet" remains a masterpiece, thanks in large part to Bernstein's incomparable score. Classic songs from the show include "Maria," "Tonight," "America," "I Feel Pretty" and "Somewhere."
NEWS
By Mary Johnson, For The Baltimore Sun | July 2, 2014
Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre's "Shout! The Mod Musical" is a star-studded show that rates a hearty shout of approval. After success with the 1950s-style jukebox musical "The Marvelous Wonderettes" in 2011 and the nostalgic song-and-dance musical "Swing" in 2013, Annapolis' "theater under the stars" has established a winning formula that relies on a strong ensemble to deliver chart-topping favorites from the past. First produced in 2006, "Shout!" was created by Phillip George and David Lowenstein.  Set in London in the 1960s, the show features about two dozen songs that were hits for female singers, including Petula Clark's "Downtown," Dusty Springfield's "Son of a Preacher Man," Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots are Made for Walkin'" and other hits.
NEWS
By MARY JOHNSON and MARY JOHNSON,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | June 1, 2007
Godspell is an inspired opener for Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre's season. It is the most joyously energetic and reverent production of this show I've yet seen. Since it first appeared in 1971, John-Michael Tebelak's show with music by Stephen Schwartz has offered freedom and flexibility of interpretation for directors and actors. ASGT Director/choreographer Doug Kotula sets the action in a contemporary New York City subway car adorned with graffiti proclaiming Jesus as Savior. "It made sense that Jesus could appear in such a familiar subway setting among stereotypical New Yorkers," said Kotula, a former New York University student.
NEWS
By Mary Johnson and Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | June 10, 2004
Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre's Gypsy is a strong season opener. Based on the early life of stripper Gypsy Rose Lee and her formidable stage mother, Mama Rose, Gypsy is set in the final days of vaudeville. Debuting in 1957, the only collaboration between Stephen Sondheim and Jule Styne boasts a great score filled with songs such as "Small World," "Let Me Entertain You," "All I Need Is the Girl" and "Everything's Coming up Roses." Making his Annapolis Summer Garden Theater directing debut, veteran actor, director and playwright Alan Kootsher moves the action along swiftly through a variety of scene changes.
NEWS
By Mary Johnson and Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | September 19, 2002
Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre has extended its season through Sunday, ending the way it began in May, by rocking the dock with high-voltage talent. "Rock Around the Dock - Take II" is a bolder, brassier show with a dazzling set constructed of yards-high wedges of vibrant color that makes a great backdrop for a dynamic ensemble of singers and dancers. Directors Jeff Hitaffer and Kevin Wheatley, who conceived the idea of opening the company's current season with a rock show, are back directing this latest incarnation.
NEWS
By Phil Greenfield and Phil Greenfield,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | July 16, 1998
I saw Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" last Thursday night and, true to the theme of Shakespeare's comedy of mortals and fairies, I came away enchanted.Not only was the production well-done (more on that in a moment), but the theater was packed, the audience had a marvelous time, and among those laughing loudest were many youngsters getting perhaps their first whiff of the Bard in all his glory.The play itself is the thing, of course, so how doth it fare? In most respects, forsooth, it's terrific.
NEWS
By Mary Johnson and Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | May 27, 1999
After learning of the inexperience of the director and cast, I wasn't optimistic about Sunday's performance of "West Side Story" at the Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre.How could "West Side Story," the masterpiece born of the collaborative efforts of three theater geniuses -- composer Leonard Bernstein, lyricist Stephen Sondheim and choreographer Jerome Robbins -- be turned over to novices?"West Side Story" looms large, with its brilliant Bernstein score, perfectly wedded lyrics penned by a 27-year-old Sondheim, and the exuberance expressed by pre-eminent choreographer Robbins.
NEWS
By Mary Johnson and Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | August 10, 2000
Rain may benefit ordinary gardens, but not the Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre, where rainy weekends continue to dampen a stellar season. The final production in this summer's trio -- the Mary Rodgers-Marshall Barer musical comedy "Once Upon a Mattress" -- had only one performance last weekend, with no full on-set rehearsal. Luckily, I was among Saturday's capacity audience for the uproarious show -- one so good that its cast and crew should join in an incantation for no more rain upon their mattress.
NEWS
By Mary Johnson, For The Baltimore Sun | May 30, 2014
For many people, summer officially arrives in Annapolis with the opening of Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre - which usually coincides with the U.S. Naval Academy's Commissioning Week. That tradition continued May 22, as the troupe debuted its 49th season under the stars with the Broadway musical "42nd Street. " Based on the groundbreaking 1933 movie-musical, the show reveals the difficulties of backstage life for hardworking dancers during the Depression. The movie featured young singer Dick Powell along with relatively unknown Ginger Rodgers and Ruby Keeler.
NEWS
By Mary Johnson, For The Baltimore Sun | August 15, 2013
An enchanted evening can be found by entering Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre to go "Into the Woods" — where nothing is quite what it seems, and fairy-tale characters interact in unexpected ways. This groundbreaking 1987 musical was written by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, and Annapolis Summer Garden offered a magical outdoor production in 2001. The sardonic, sophisticated tale is even better this time around for the troupe. Music is paramount in this show, and the score for "Into the Woods" is well interpreted by music director Trent Goldsmith, who leads the ensemble in a near-flawless delivery of Sondheim's challenging work.
NEWS
By Katie V. Jones, Baltimore Sun Media Group | August 12, 2013
As a song from of "Bye Bye Birdie" filled the auditorium at Severn School's Chesapeake campus on Wednesday, two voices were called in to assist. Drama director Harrison Smith and counselor Brian Shatt willingly added their voices to the all-female cast. "It's an odd year," acknowledged Sharon Stevens-Cimaglia, vice president of Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre and executive director of the camp. "Typically we have five to 10 boys. " The Annapolis company's Performing Arts Camp for teens has performed a musical revue since its beginnings 14 years ago. While many theater camps focus on producing a "book" show - a show that follows a story and features several leads and a chorus - a revue gives the staff an opportunity to tailor the show to the campers' talents.
NEWS
By Mary Johnson, For The Baltimore Sun | July 3, 2013
For two evenings last week, heavy rains delayed the scheduled opening of Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre's current show, which seemed appropriate for a musical titled "[title of show] (clean version)" and about the obstacle-laden process of creating a musical. That odd title refers to the first question that must be answered on a form required to enter the New York Musical Theatre Festival competition. In the show, characters Jeff and Hunter submit the form and accept the challenge of creating a show in three weeks.
NEWS
By Mary Johnson, Special to The Baltimore Sun | June 10, 2012
Setting a new high with Cole Porter's "Anything Goes," director Jerry Vess marks his seventh Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre directorial assignment by adding sparkle to the opening of the outdoor theater's 47th season under the stars. Not only has Vess gathered a stellar cast to lend extra zest to Porter's timeless classic, but as set designer he has also created a fabulous tri-level cruise ship SS America complete with realistic smokestacks and portholes. A construction crew of four along with several artist-painters helped Vess.
NEWS
By Mary Johnson, Special to The Baltimore Sun | August 11, 2011
Annapolis Summer Garden caps a strong season with "Hairspray," John Waters' nostalgic tribute to 1960s Baltimore that is a perfect fit for outdoor August evenings at City Dock. Based on Waters' 1988 film, the musical has won eight Tony awards, including Best Musical and Best Original Score. At a 2003 Broadway visit to a session of the American Theatre Critics Association mini-conference, Waters stressed the importance of the authenticity of every aspect of the Baltimore rowhouse set seen in the Broadway production.
NEWS
By Mary Johnson and Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN | May 30, 2002
If summer in Annapolis began Friday with the Naval Academy's commencement, tomorrow evening it will be in full swing when the Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre opens its 37th season with Rock Around the Dock, an original music and dance revue, playing Thursdays through Sundays until June 28. Later in the summer, the outdoor stage is set for classic Shakespeare and Broadway offerings, including Twelfth Night on July weekends and the Neil Simon-Burt Bacharach...
NEWS
June 19, 1995
One surely cannot get through spring -- with a weekly column -- without commenting on the garden and its lessons.This year's learning involves mustard greens.A seed packet that would do for a 50-foot row went into a 5-foot space, and we have dense mustard, enthusiastic mustard, HOT mustard.I loved the little leaves in salads and in rice, but the big guys are being passed on to the third friend, who suggested we plant them in the first place. He apparently does wonderful things with a marinade for chicken, and we're happy to indulge him.Next year, the same space goes to more of the makings for Herbs de Provence.
NEWS
By Mary Johnson, Special to The Baltimore Sun | June 5, 2011
Annapolis Summer Garden's season opener, "Chicago," gets just about everything so right that it would please the ghost of choreographer Bob Fosse, to whose memory debuting director and choreographer Taavon Gamble dedicates this production. The production's success is largely attributable to Gamble's smart sense of style, evident in the stark black background set and simple black costumes that enhance his dynamic choreography. Also evident in every scene is the meticulous care Gamble gives all aspects of this Kander and Ebb musical that reveals the corruption of 1920s Chicago's criminal justice system through its heroines, who are based on actual women reported on in Chicago newspapers.
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