J. Wynn Rousuck | WYPR

J. Wynn Rousuck

Maryland Morning Theater Critic

J. Wynn Rousuck has been reviewing theater for Maryland Morning with Sheilah Kast since 2007. Prior to that, she was the theater critic of The Baltimore Sun, where she reviewed more than 3,000 plays over the course of 23 years. Her feature coverage for The Sun included a comprehensive series chronicling the development of the Tony Award-winning musical, “Hairspray.” Judy got her start at The Cleveland Press and at Cleveland’s fine arts radio station, WCLV. Her broadcasting experience also includes a year as an on-air theater critic for Maryland Public Television.

A member of the Artistic Advisory Committee of Young Audiences of Maryland, Judy is also a freelance teacher for the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth and the Hippodrome Foundation, Inc. (the Hippodrome’s non-profit partner, which focuses on education and outreach). She was a faculty member at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s Critics Institute in Waterford, CT, for two decades; she is a former National Endowment for Humanities Journalism Fellow; and she was a visiting student at Brown University (2007-2008), under the mentorship of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, Paula Vogel. Judy and her husband, Alan Fink, share their home with two dogs, who enjoy hearing their “Master’s Voice” on WYPR.

Photo by A. Mains

Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom for her weekly review of one of the region's thespian offerings.  

Today, she spotlights Fallout, the play by Laura King that's being staged by Baltimore's Vagabond Players as part of the Baltimore Playwrights Festival.  It's directed by Audra Mains Mullen, and stars Gareth Kelly as David and Ryan Gunning as Anna, two strangers with issues, who seek refuge from an unknown menace in a fallout shelter, a relic of the nuclear holocaust paranoia that raged during the Cold War.  In the tight confines of the shelter, Anna and David wrestle with their inner demons, even as they deal with their terror of what lurks outside.

The Vagabond Players' production of Fallout -- one of just two plays to be fully-staged in this year's Baltimore Playwrights Festival -- runs through Sunday, July 30.  Special Thursday show July 27, 8 pm; Friday and Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 2 pm.

The Vagabond Players is located at 806 South Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21231.
Tickets can be purchased here.

Spotlighters Theatre / Shealyn Jae Photography

Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Senior Producer Rob Sivak in the studio today with her review of the musical Spring Awakening, produced by the Spotlighters Theatre.   It tells the story of a group of 19th century German teenagers trying to discover more about one another and themselves, under the intense scrutiny and repressive control of the adults in their lives.

Seth Freeman

Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom in Studio A with her review of the six plays being presented this year at the annual Contemporary American Theater Festival (CATF), now underway on the campus of Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.  The plays' settings range widely - from Amish Country to Nazi Germany - but their stories share common and emotionally  powerful  themes.

Photo by Robert Neal Marshall

Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom in the studio each Thursday with her weekly reviews of the region's thespian offerings.  This week, she critiques the new production of The Tempest from the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company

Photo by Britt Olson-Ecker

Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom for our regular Thursday focus on the region's thespian happenings. Today, she reviews the Single Carrot Theatre and STEREO Akt world premiere production of Promenade: Baltimore.

Not your conventional stage production, Promenade: Baltimore invites its audience to board an actual bus and travel around the city, passing through neighborhoods familiar to some, and unknown to others. Audience members watch from their bus as actors on the street perform scenes portraying various aspects of life in Baltimore, accompanied by a live-mixed soundtrack of music, narration, and stories inspired by and, in some cases told by, neighborhood residents.  

Know Your Neighbors: A Promenade Post-Show Roundtable, Thursday, June 22, following the 6:30pm performance.  See the Single Carrot Theatre website for details on this and other post-show events.

Promenade: Baltimore continues at Single Carrot Theatre through Sunday, July 2nd.

Photo by ClintonBPhotography

It's Thursday, and that means theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom in the studio with her weekly review of the region's thespian offerings.  This week, she's here to tell us about Noises Off, the British farce now playing at Baltimore's Everyman Theatre. 

Everyman’s Resident Company of actors collectively plays a British company of hapless actors in this broad comedy. With their opening night on London’s West End imminent, the company's actors blunder through their rehearsals, and things get worse as the actual play begins.  The cast struggles to control the chaos of lost lines and crossed lovers, and to pull their act together -- for the audience and for themselves.

Noises Off continues at Everyman Theatre through June 18.

Tom previewed Noises Off with Everyman's founding artistic chief and the play's director, Vicent Lancisi, and with Deborah Hazlett, who stars in the role of Dotty Otley...on the May 19 Midday.  To listen to that conversation, click here.

Photo by Dave Iden

Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom for her weekly review of thespian doings.  This week, it's the final production of Baltimore Annex Theater's 2016-17 season: The King of Howard Street is an original play based on the life of the formerly homeless Baltimore writer and housing rights advocate, Anthony Williams, who's portrayed in this production by Joshua Dixon.

For more than two decades, Williams lived in abandoned buildings up and down Howard Street. Several years ago, he began to chronicle his life story and the stories of his friends and family. Last year, Williams approached Annex Theater's Artistic Director, Evan Moritz, outside of the theater and handed him three spiral-bound notebooks filled with drawings and writings, including a draft of his autobiographical play.  Inspired by Williams' story, Moritz commissioned playwright Ren Pepitone and director Roz Cauthen to bring this story to a wider audience, and they've done so with a compelling mix of dance, music, and theater.

The King of Howard Street also features performances by Nathan Couser (Insurrection: Holding History) as Saint Lewis, William's right-hand man; Desirae Butler (The Tempest) as McFly; and Jonathan Jacobs  (Tempest, Master and Margarita) as Randall.  The cast also includes Malcolm Anomanchi, Kristina Szilagyi, Christian Harris, Mary Travis, David Crandall (Annex Company Member), and Elaine Foster. Costumes are by Stylz, Set by Bernard Dred, Lighting by Rick Gerriets (Annex Company Member), Sound by David Crandall, and Video by Rachel Dwiggins (Cook, Thief, Wife, Lover and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman)

Felicia Chapple

It's Thursday, and that means theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck is here with her weekly review of the region's thespian offerings. She joins Tom with a review of Arena Player's Crowns: A Gospel Musical

After 17-year -old Yolanda's brother is shot and killed in Chicago, she's sent down south to live with her grandmother, who is an active and respected member of her church community. Crowns is a show that focuses on African-American church women and as the title suggests, big, stylish, hats play a major role in the musical. The hats are used to convey history, tell the women's stories and to impart social rules.

TiaJuana Rountree gives a standout performance as Grandma Shaw and Khadijah Hameen's singing is nearly show stopping. Crowns, which is inspired by a portrait book of the same name, has been performed all over the country, this is first time it's being performed in Baltimore. 

Photos by Teresa Castracane

It's Thursday, and that means theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck is here with her weekly review of the region's thespian offerings.  Today, she joins guest host and Midday senior producer Rob Sivak with a review of the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company's revival of the 1960 classic musical, The Fantasticks.

The longest-running musical in Broadway history -- and still a perennial favorite of theater companies across the country and around the world -- has a simple, Shakespeare-inspired storyline, at whose heart is a 19 year-old boy and the 16 year-old girl next door. Their controlling fathers scheme to lead the unwitting pair into romance, but the matchmaking goes terribly wrong. The lyrical and sentimental musical, with book and lyrics by Tom Jones and music by Harvey Schmidt, is filled with memorable songs.  The Fantasticks is Chesapeake Shakespeare Company's first musical.  Directed by Curt L. Tofteland.

The Fantasticks continues at the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company through Sunday, May 21st.

Photography by Katie Simmons-Barth

Theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck stops by each Thursday with her latest review of a major stage production. This week, it's "Dorian's Closet," at Rep Stage in Columbia, Maryland.

“Dorian’s Closet” is a new musical getting its world premier at the Rep Stage, that's loosely based on the life of Dorian Corey.  She was a legendary female impersonator who yearned for fame, but who also gained notoriety for a startling discovery made after her death.

The musical chronicles Dorian’s rise in the underground club scene in New York City in the 1980s through her death in 1993. “Dorian’s Closet” is a sobering and inspirational odyssey about the drive to turn dreams into reality. Directed by Joseph Ritsch.  Book & lyrics by Richard Mailman and music by Ryan Haase; choreographed by Rachel Dolan, with Musical Direction by Stacey Antoine.

Dorian's Closet continues at Rep Stage through Sunday, May 14.

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