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 Richard Anderson

It's Thursday on Midday, and that means theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins us with her take on thespian offerings in the Baltimore-DC region. This week, she's here with her review of Twisted Melodiesthe one-man musical show at Baltimore's Center Stage about Donny Hathaway, a successful singer-songwriter of the 1970s best known for his duets with Roberta Flack. 

Written and performed by Kelvin Roston, Jr., and directed by Derrick Sanders, Twisted Melodies is an intense, emotionally charged play about Hathaway's brilliant but tragically short career.  Inspired by artistic genius but tormented by mental illness, Hathaway's poignant struggles are compellingly interpreted by the multi-talented Roston. 

Twisted Melodies' run at Baltimore Center Stage has been extended thru Sunday, April 23.

Photo by Shealyn Jae

It's Thursday and that means it's time for Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck to join us with a review. This week, she joins guest host Rob Sivak to talk about "Trust," the new production now on stage at Fells Point Corner Theater in Baltimore until Sunday, March 19th.

Here's how Fells Point Corner Theatre describes this off-beat play by Steven Deitz -- one of the country's most prolific regional-theater playwrights:

"A rising star and a faded one. A radio DJ. A Bohemian. Guitar picks, pick-ups and wedding dresses waiting to be worn. In a fast-paced, grungy grind, how can anyone be trusted when temptation trumps all?  From the creative team who brought us previous year's productions of Other Desert Cities and Detroit, Director Michael Byrne Zemarel combines with the talents of Valerie Dowdle, Cassandra Dutt, Laura Malkus, Rachel Roth, David Shoemaker and Mark Scharf to bring you a play about rock'n'roll -- and the ones it leaves behind."

"Trust," by Steven Deitz,  is on stage at the Fells Point Corner Theatre in Baltimore until Sunday, March 19th.

Photo by Richard Anderson

Midday's theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom in the studio -- as she does most Thursdays -- with her review this week of The White Snake, on stage in the renovated Head Theater at the newly named Baltimore Center Stage.

Based on an ancient Chinese fable, The White Snake uses mystery and magic to tell a fantastical tale that's staged in grand-spectacle style, intertwining traditional and modern storytelling techniques.  

Two animal spirits -- White Snake and Green Snake, played by Aime Donna Kelly and Eileen Rivera, have taken human form as a beautiful woman and her sly servant. White Snake falls in love with a poor pharmacist’s assistant (played by Joe Ngo), but their relationship is condemned by a conservative monk (played by Peter Van Wagner), and their newfound happiness is threatened by tragedy. 

The White Snake was written-adapted by Mary Zimmerman, and directed by Natsu Onoda Power.  Nicole Wee is the costume designer,  Hana S. Kim is the scenic and projection designer, and  Jeff Song is music director.

The White Snake is at Baltimore Center Stage until March 26th.  Ticket and showtime information is available here.

Photo by Joan Marcus

Theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom in the studio, as she does each Thursday, with a review today of  the Broadway touring company production of The Bodyguard, on stage through Sunday (March 5) at the Hippodrome Theatre in Baltimore.  

Based on the 1992 hit film of the same name starring Kevin Costner and the late Whitney Houston, the award-winning musical showcases the extraordinary talents of the Grammy-nominated R&B superstar, Deborah Cox

Most audiences will likely recall The Bodyguard storyline: former Secret Service agent-turned-bodyguard, Frank Farmer, played by Judson Mills, is hired to protect superstar Rachel Marron, played by Cox, from an unknown stalker. Each is strong-willed and used to being in control, but in spite of themselves, they fall in love.  The Bodyguard features a playlist of popular classics, including "Queen of the Night," "So Emotional," "One Moment in Time," "Saving All My Love," "Run to You," "I Have Nothing," "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" and one of the biggest-selling songs of all time – "I Will Always Love You."

The Bodyguard was adapted from the Lawrence Kasdan screenplay with a book by Alexander Dinelaris.  The Broadway touring production is directed by Thea Sharrock, choreographed by Karen Bruce, with set and costume designs by Tim Hatley.  

The Bodyguard continues at the Hippodrome until Sunday, March 5th.

Primary Stages

Each Thursday, we cover the regional thespian scene with Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck.  Today, Judy brings us her conversation with Baltimore native Susan R. Rose.  She’s a theater and film producer whose Broadway credits include Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Hurlyburly and Bloodknot. She has also produced movies for NBC, CBS, Showtime and Lifetime.

Rose's latest production, Motherhood Out Loud, is a compendium of more than 20 short pieces by more than a dozen playwrights. Motherhood Out Loud has been produced from coast to coast as well as abroad.  Tomorrow, it will make its Baltimore debut at the Vagabond Players, where it runs through March 19.

J. Wynn Rousuck spoke with Susan Rose on February 14th  from Argot Studios in New York , the city to which Rose moved when her production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat arrived there in the 1980s.

ClintonBPhotography

Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom with her regular Thursday review of local and regional stage productions.  Today, she spotlights the ambitious new production of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations, now on stage at Everyman Theatre.

Adapted from the 1860 classic by Gale Childs Daily and directed by Tazewell Thompson, Great Expectations is a faithful condensation of this enduring saga of identity, fate, sacrifice and generosity,  and it draws brilliantly on the multi-role talents of its small cast.

Great Expectations continues at Everyman Theatre through Sunday, March 5.

Photo by Britt Olsen-Ecker

Theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins us every Thursday with her reviews of regional stage productions. Today she's here to talk about Samsara, a new play by Lauren Yee now on stage at the Single Carrot Theatre that explores good intentions and unintended consequences, in a story that takes audiences from Northern California to India.  An American couple hoping to have a child engage a surrogate mother in India, whose pregnancy becomes an unexpectedly cathartic experience for her and the American parents. Their lives, and the life of the unborn child, intertwine in a karmic cycle of life, death and rebirth known to Hindus and Buddhists by the Sanskrit word, samsara.

Samsara continues at the Single Carrot Theatre through Sunday, February 12th.

Rob Clatterbuck

J. Wynn Rousuck  reviews a play based on the 1975 documentary film of the same name, Grey Gardens is a tragic, frequently funny and utterly unforgettable musical about two “staunch” and legendary American women: Edith Bouvier Beale, and her grown daughter, Edie.  With a diverse musical songbook, including Tin Pan Alley jigs and soaring ballads, Grey Gardens is a unique tapestry of lost dream, sacrifice, and unstoppable hope—heartfelt, witty and compassionate. Grey Gardens is  directed by Danielle Robinette and Ryan Haase and it continues at  Stillpointe Theatre through February 4th

Britt Olsen-Ecker

This week J. Wynn Rousuck reviews "Samsara” at Single Carrot Theater through February 12th written by Lauren Yee and directed by Lauren A. Saunders. Katie and Craig want a baby.  Well, Katie wants a baby, and Craig wants what Katie wants. When Craig goes to India to be with their surrogate, Suraiya, flying-phobic Katie is left alone, plagued by visions of all that could go wrong and a mysterious, seductive Frenchman.  Suraiya, an aspiring doctor with secrets of her own, tries to remain cool and aloof while conversing with the life growing inside of her, a curious young man who has named himself Amit. Their lives flow together and intertwine in the cycle of life, death, and rebirth known as samsara.

 

Christine Demuth in Stillpointe Theatre's production of "Grey Gardens"Credit Rob ClatterbuckEdit | Remove

J. Wynn Rousuck  Based on the 1975 documentary film of the same name, Grey Gardens is a tragic, frequently funny, and untterly unforgettable musical about two "staunch" and legendary American women: Edity Bouvier Beale, and her grown daugher, Edie.  With a diverse musical songbook, including Tin Pan Alley jigs and soaring ballads, Grey Gardens is a unique tapestry of lost dreams, sacrifice, and unstoppable hope--heartfelt, witty, and compasionate directed by Danielle Robinette and Ryan Haase at Stillpointe Theatre through February 4th.

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