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CT's fresh take on a Sondheim classic is just what everyone needs

A Review by Anthony Tagliaferro


Five couples, three girlfriends, and a man searching for purpose, George Furth and Stephen Sondheim’s Company is a contemporary musical that delves into the underbelly of marriage, divorce and dating. Though it may be obscure to most, this musical comedy was a groundbreaking hit in 1970, setting the bar with 14 Tony Award nominations; winning six of those awards. Company is a vast undertaking of conceptual theatre, comprised of several vignettes all exposing the raw and unadulterated life as told through the perspective of Robert, a single man living in New York on his 35th birthday.

Juan Danner as Bobby leads the cast in the opening number.

Director Matt Kurzyniec along with Set Designer Rhett Wolford, Lighting Designer Matthew Georgeson and Music Director Mason Griffin honor the late Soundheim with a vibrant revival of this masterwork with a 2022 twist of modern technology. Wolford’s skill set in lighting and projection lend a contemporary perspective to the minimalistic set from the 1970 production, but maintains the aesthetic of focusing on the story, rather than bulky and over-propped set design. Company shattered the stereotypes of modern theatre in 1970 with invigorating perspectives on dating, divorce, sexual curiosity, and marriage. All of these ingeniously developed vignettes transpose beautifully in this local production.


Rhett Wolford as Harry and Samantha Kennedy as Sarah

Juan Danner (Robert) filters in and out of the lives of his closest friends searching for companionship, as well as personal freedom, and he executes it expertly. The stand out performances of Cara Chumbley (Amy), Adam Marino (Paul), Samantha Kennedy (Sarah) and Rhett Wolford (Harry) dish out a fresh and hilarious perspective of marriage from opposite ends of the spectrum. The laugh-out-loud performances by Liz Weber (Joanne) and Shawn Cox (Larry) break up the tension one feels when observing real-life scenarios brought to the stage.


Cara Chumbley as Amy

If you are not familiar with this production, the modernization of the performance to include text messaging, Facebook, Twitter and Tinder lends to the skillful writing of the original work. As an admirer of the original work, I found the modernization puzzling at first, but settled into the dynamic quickly solely on the fact that the cast and crew execute this production with grace and effortless talent.


The Cumberland Theatre’s production of Company is exactly what the theatre community needs to start off the spring/summer season in this area; a fresh and inviting glimpse into the lives of individuals just like you and I.


Company will run at the Cumberland Theatre May 12th - May 22nd 2022. Showtimes are Thursday through Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 2pm. Tickets can be purchased at www.cumberlandtheatre.com

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The Cumberland Theatre continues their 34th Main Stage Season with Stephen Sondheim's COMPANY, which will run May 12th - 22nd. The show is being sponsored by Dawn's Family Practice and Chessie Federal Credit Union.


From musical theatre's most renowned composer, Company is largely regarded as a trailblazer of the dark-comedy, modern-musical genre and the winner of six Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Score, Best Lyrics and Best Book.


On the night of his 35th birthday, confirmed bachelor, Robert, contemplates his unmarried state. Over the course of a series of dinners, drinks and even a wedding, his friends – "those good and crazy people [his] married friends" – explain the pros and cons of taking on a spouse. The habitually single Robert is forced to question his adamant retention of bachelorhood during a hilarious array of interactions.


Heading the cast as Robert will be Juan Danner who was last seen in CT's recent production of Macbeth. He is a graduate of NYU's Tisch School of Arts and currently resides in New York City.


The supporting cast is comprised of both local and visiting actors. Returning to the stage after appearing in last season's Ring of Fire will be Adam Marino, Alexandra Shephard and Shane Lynn. Also returning are Shawn Cox, Bailey Hovermale and Katelyn Shreiner. Cox was last seen as Tim in The Cake. Hovermale last appeared as Helena in last season's A Midsummer Night's Dream and Shreiner was a part of this season's Macbeth. They are joined by local actors Bill Dennison (last seen as Scrooge in A Christmas Carol), Samantha Kennedy (last seen in Boeing, Boeing), Emily Snyder (last seen in The Outsiders) and Rhett Wolford (CT's Co-Artistic Director).

Making their Cumberland Theatre debuts are Blaire Baker, Cara Chumbley and Liz Weber as Joanne. Baker is a graduate of the University of Arizona and has toured nationally with the companies of Disney's Beauty and the Beast and Bullets Over Broadway. Chumbley is a resident of Chicago. Past roles include the Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Vicky in The Full Monty. Weber hails from Northern VA and has performed throughout the DC area including as Eulalie Shinn in a concert version of The Music Man with Patrick Cassidy and Shirley Jones at the Kennedy Center and as Sally in Me & My Girl for which she received a Helen Hayes Award nomination.


The show's creative team includes Matt Kurzyneic (director/projection designer), Mason Griffin (music director), Kimberli Rowley (choreographer), Rhett Wolford (scenic designer), Jennifer Clark (costume designer), Matthew Georgeson (lighting designer) and Eric Ringler (props designer). The run crew is comprised of Em Uranga (stage manager), Ebony Gennes (assistant stage manager), Kelly Schrecengost (conductor), Thomas Kifer (lighting tech), Elizabeth Mudge (wardrobe assistant, Grace Wilson (deck crew), Hayden Kline (sound tech) and Trevor McCabe (lighting tech).


The show has a running time of approximately two hours and contains mild language and some moments of intimacy. Parental discretion is advised. Thursday, Friday and Saturday shows begin at 8:00 pm and Sunday performances at 2:00 pm. There will be a complimentary wine and cheese reception following the official opening on May 13th. Tickets may be purchased online at cumberlandtheatre.com or by calling the box office at 301.759.4990.

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Popular show based on animated film features youth actors


The Cumberland Theatre Stars of Tomorrow will present Shrek the Musical at the theatre April 14th – 16th. The show will play for four performances. The musical is based on the Dreamworks animated film of the same name and brings all the beloved characters to life on stage.



"Once upon a time, there was a little ogre named Shrek...." And thus begins the tale of an unlikely hero who finds himself on a life-changing journey alongside a wisecracking Donkey and a feisty princess who resists her rescue. Throw in a short-tempered bad guy, a cookie with an attitude and over a dozen other fairy tale misfits, and you've got the kind of mess that calls for a real hero. Luckily, there's one on hand... and his name is Shrek.


The show features John McConnell as Shrek, Emily Snyder as Fiona, Bella McConnell as Donkey and Caleb Friend as Lord Farquaad. Also appearing in supporting roles will be Abby Mclaughlin as the Dragon, Ava Breighner as Gingy, and Sophia Brill as Pinocchio.

The large ensemble cast includes Myla Beacen, Cullen Clark, Jace Courrier, Arianna Fiorentino, Madelyn Hook, Thomas Kifer, Ellie Kneiriem, Lillian McKenzie, Beatrice Nau, Oliver Nau, Liz O’Neal, Lily Riley, Summer Schrecengost, Alice Wecker, Cassidy Witt and Olive Wolford portraying a variety of fairy tale characters, guards and younger versions of the main characters.


The CT Stars of Tomorrow was started in 2019 with a generous grant from the Halmos Foundation of the Community Trust Fund. The program offers young actors 5 – 20 years old the opportunity to produce a full-length Broadway-style musical in a professional setting lead by a professional production staff. It is intended to give them a full picture of working on a main stage show in a regional theatre both on stage and behind the scenes.


Donors for this year’s show include Curtis & Grammy Kind Kids, Dawn’s Family Practice, Texas Grillhouse, and Mise En Place Restaurant.


This year’s creative team includes Kimberli Rowley (co-director/choreographer), Bill Dennison (co-director/stage manager), Kelly Schrecengost (music director), Rhett Wolford (scenic and lighting designer), Jennifer Clark (costume designer), Elizabeth Mudge (assistant costumer), Trevor McCabe (set construction assistant), Brendon McCabe (lighting assistant) and Ebony Gennes (assistant stage manager).


Tickets are available online at cumberlandtheatre.com or by calling the box office at 301.759.4990. A deluxe ticket option including a photo opportunity with the main characters is available for children.

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