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Way Off Broadway Dinner Theatre Sunset Boulevard

By • Sep 27th, 2013 • Category: Reviews
Sunset Boulevard
Way Off Broadway Dinner Theatre: (Info) (Web)
Way Off Broadway Dinner Theatre, Frederick, MD
Through November 9th
2:30 with intermission
$43-$47/$33-$37 Children
Reviewed September 20th, 2013

A recently deceased monkey being laid to rest in a child’s coffin as an aging, silent-film star shakes with sobs of grief. A creepy butler watching it all. The ominous sense that there is no escape. It is clear from the beginning that nothing good is going to come from Joe Gillis (Jordan B. Stockdale) finding himself in the living room of Norma Desmond. The good thing that does come from it is the Way Off Broadway’s production of Sunset Blvd., which culminates in a few outstanding moments in the second act as the tragic tale rushes towards its conclusion.

Bill Kiska and Jordan B. Stocksdale nicely create a simple set that provides the illusion of excess and opulence. There are nice details like the pictures on the wall that actually look like they could be a young Jeanine Collins. The stairs sometimes appeared to not be properly attached to the rest of the set, but it was an overall very nice effect. The scene changes were seamless for the most part, although there was one time when the movement of set pieces behind the curtains was distracting.

The story begins with Joe Gillis, a struggling screen writer. Stocksdale takes a little time to settle into the role, but, by the opening of Act II and the number “Sunset Boulevard,” he truly finds his stride. His power note at the end of the song was striking. Similarly, Collins almost goes a little overboard in the first act, but she finds Norma’s heart beautifully in “As If We Never Said Goodbye” and exquisitely lays open her broken soul in her final monologue.

The leads are evenly matched with the solid supporting performances from Zane L. Oberholzer, Jr. as Max Von Mayerling and Joey Banigan as Betty Schaefer. Oberholzer has a gorgeous voice and there are moments were you can see the intensity of emotion that he keeps restrained. Banigan was a charming ingénue, and she appears to have a lovely voice, although she seemed to be losing it some during this particular performances. You could hear the control that she used to sing through as best as possible.

The only major tweak for this production would be the sound mix. At times, the music swelled over the voices, when the voices should have swelled over the music. Occasionally, the climax of a song was swallowed by the background tracks. The closer an actor was to the front of the stage, the better the mix that was achieved.

Overall, if you travel to Way Off Broadway to see Sunset Blvd, you will not be disappointed. It was an enjoyable evening, and it is especially a treat if you are unfamiliar with the show and get to experience the plot twists and turns for the first time.

Cast

  • Norma Desmond: Jeanine Collins
  • Joe Gillis: Jordan B. Stocksdale
  • Max Von Mayerling: Zane L. Oberholzer, Jr.
  • Betty Schaefer: Joey Banigan
  • Artie Green: Danny Bertaux
  • Cecil B. DeMille: Samn Huffer
  • Sheldrake: Steve Steele
  • Manfred: Ariel Messeca
  • Salesmen: Danny Bertaux, Nate Howard, Steve Steele, Joe Waeyaert
  • Astrologer: Melissa Ann Martin
  • Masseur: Megan West
  • Beautician: Lauren Ebbin
  • Doctor: Jessica Billones
  • Ensemble: Danny Bertaux, Jessica Billones, Lauren Ebbin, Nate Howard, Samn Huffer, Melissa Ann Martin, Ariel Messeca, Steve Steele, Joseph Waeyaert, Megan West

Behind the Scenes

  • Director: Bill Kiska
  • Music Director: Jordan B. Stocksdale
  • Orchestrations and Arrangements: Bill Kiska and Jordan B. Stocksdale
  • Additional and Incidental Orchestra Recording: Joseph Baker
  • Lighting Design: Justin M. Kiska
  • Light Board Operator: Matthew Maestromatteo
  • Sound: Bill Kiska
  • Set Design/Construction: Bill Kiska, Jordan B. Stocksdale
  • Costumes: Bill Kiska
  • Wigs: April Horn of Hair Worx Salon

Disclaimer: Way Off Broadway Dinner Theatre provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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This article can be linked to as: http://maryland.showbizradio.com/goto/641.

has been involved in theatre in the state of Maryland and DC for most of her life. She has acted, directed, choreographed, stage managed, and held a million other odd jobs. She has a B.S. in English from Towson University, and is currently pursuing her Master's Degree to become a Reading Specialist. She is a Maryland State Certified English, Theatre, Elementary, and Mathematics Educator. After teaching English and Drama for many years, she now teaches 6th grade Language Arts at Magnolia Middle School in Harford County, Maryland. She wrote the curriculum currently used in Prince George’s County Public Schools for Drama I and Drama II. She now writes and directs plays and musicals for use in church.

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