Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Kensington Arts Theatre 110 in the Shade

By • Oct 2nd, 2008 • Category: Reviews

Listen to our review of Kensington Arts Theatre’s production of 110 in the Shade [MP3 3:41 3.4MB].

110 in the Shade
Kensington Arts Theatre
Kensington Town Center/Armory, Kensington, MD
Through October 12th

This is the ShowBizRadio review of 110 in the Shade, performed by Kensington Arts Theatre in Kensington, Maryland. We saw the performance on Sunday evening, September 28, 2008.

110 in the Shade is a musical with book by N. Richard Nash, music by Harvey Schmidt and lyrics by Tom Jones. Set in a drought-stricken community in the 1920’s American West, 110 in the Shade is the story of finding our own truth and beauty by overcoming the fears and perceptions we have about ourselves and others. The ranch owning Curry family are concerned that their daughter/sister Lizzie will remain unmarried. Enter Bill Starbuck, a traveling rainmaker who promises to relieve the drought and win over the skeptical Lizzie. Throughout, an ensemble of townspeople evoke our vulnerability; discard how others see us; and discover our own strength and character.

This rarely performed show features upbeat music, great singing, intense drama, and a great special effect, which made for a solid performance. The choreography was fairly simple, but is noteworthy because the raked floor made dancing tricky. All of the cast could be heard and their voices blended well together to make for an entertaining production.

Katie McManus played the “old maid” Lizzie. McManus had a real intensity about her character that she used effectively to push people away. She had a strong voice, and was expressive during “Love, Don’t Turn Away.” She also had a sensitive side that came out (eventually) when she met Starbuck. She wasn’t quite “plain” enough for the part though; perhaps she could be meeker in her opening scenes to allow for greater growth in her character by the end of the show.

Starbuck was a traveling conman played by Patrick McMahan. McMahan had a bold presence on stage and a charisma that drew people to him. He saw through Lizzie’s facade to her beauty. Whenever McMahan appeared on stage, he captured most of the attention of the audience.

Sheriff File, played by Harv Lester, also had a wall around him that took a while to break down. Lester made File very sympathetic, but brought humor to the character. Lester and McManus had a great song together in the first act, “A Man and A Woman,” in which they both had a longing for a happier life.

Noah and Jim were Lizzie’s two brothers who also gave meaningful performances. Jim Curry, the younger brother, was played by Ryan Manning. Manning had an innocence about him that made him immediately likable. His older brother Noah, played by Brandon Mitchell, always seemed to be angry and weighed down by worries over the farm.

110 in the Shade used a raked stage successfully. The sets were easily movable and creative; the cast handled scene changes quickly. There were two cabinets that when opened were the sheriff’s office on the right and H.C’s house on the left. The Rainmaker’s wagon and the picnic pavilion were especially well designed for the space. The Set Designer was John Decker.

There was a great special effect used late in the show that was very realistic, and very well executed. Special effects were designed by John Decker. The costumes also were very appropriate and colorful, and were designed by Tina Weich.

110 in the Shade ran two hours and fifteen minutes with one intermission. It is playing through Sunday October 12, Thursday through Saturdays at 8 and Sunday matinees at 3 pm at the Kensington Town Center in Kensington, Maryland.

Once you’ve seen the show, please feel free to leave a comment here on our website at ShowBiz We’d also like to invite you to join our free mailing list so you can stay informed with theater events in the DC Region.

And now, on with the show.

Director’s Notes

Written in 1963 based on a 1954 play, 110 in the Shade may appear at first to be dated with it’s plot of a woman unfulfilled because of impending spinsterhood. Yet N. Richard Nash’s story – imbued with Jones’ and Schmidt’s moving score – resonates because of the timeless theme that the perceptions that we have of ourselves and others belies true beauty and by overcoming our fears and perceptions, we become truly fulfilled. In our contemporary era, the Internet and web sites like facebook can make up entire personas in an instant. The simple message of 110 in the Shade is to the time to see your self and others real. On stage, we have sought to realize that what you initially perceive may not be its actual appearance. So, 110 in the shade may help us discover that our true selves can do us our whole life long. This production would not be possible without the inspiration of a gifted cast to whom I am forever thankful – Brandon, Cathy, Celia, Harv, Jacki, Jessica, Katie, Mark, Patrick, Paul, Ryan M., Ryan R., Sam, Steve, and Sydney – for making wonderful music together. I am deeply grateful to KAT, Craig Pettinati and the board for entrusting me to direct my first musical, Valerie for her beautiful and passionate music direction, Robin for her inventive choreography, Bridget for her invaluable guidance and friendship, John for his exceptional set design and imagination, Chris and Kevin for illuminating and enriching our eyes and ears, Tina and Sonya for the color an creativity of their costumes and props, Clare for always being the sauciest with hair, Tom for stepping in with the punch, Phyllis for her gracious and generous musical arrangements and especially Eric for his support, enthusiasm and generosity with his talent.

Director’s Notes are Copyright 2008 Michael Kharfen for the Kensington Arts Theatre, Reprinted with permission.


  • Lizzie: Katie McManus
  • H.C.: Paul Mattocks
  • Noah: Brandon Mitchell
  • Jim: Ryan Manning
  • File: Harv Lester
  • Starbuck: Patrick MacMahan
  • Snookie: Jacyln Young
  • Belinda: Sydney Maloney
  • Ellie: Catherine Oh
  • George: Sam Nystrom
  • Hannah: Celia Blitzer
  • Mark: Stephen Yednock
  • Martha: Jessica Lynne Ross
  • Toby: Mark Hamberger
  • Wally: Ryan Michael Reynolds


  • Producer: Eric S. Scerbo
  • Director: Michael Kharfen
  • Assistant Director: Eric S. Scerbo
  • Music Director: Valerie A. Higgs
  • Supplemental Musical Arrangement: Phyllis Gerstell
  • Choreographer: Robin Covington
  • Combat choreographer: Tom Witherspoon
  • Stage Manager: Bridget Muehlberger
  • Set Design/Master Carpenter: John Decker
  • Scenic Painting Design: John Decker
  • Construction/Painting Crew: John Decker, Nancy Davis, Joy Wyne, Joel Richon, Jenna Ballard, Joe Maloney, Michael Kharfen, Robin Covington, Eric Scerbo, Kevin Boyce, Doe B. Kim
  • Set Decoration: Sonya Okin, John Decker
  • Properties: Sonya Okin
  • Lighting Design/Execution: Chris Curtis
  • Sound Design: Kevin Garrett
  • Sound Execution: Kevin Garrett, Eric Scerbo
  • Special Effects: John Decker
  • Costume Design: Tina Welch
  • Makeup/Hair Design: Clare Palace
  • Stage Crew: Jenna Ballard, Don McMinn
  • Program Cover Design/Photography: Ernie Achenbach
  • Program Design/House Manager: Doe B. Kim


  • Conductor/Keyboards: Valerie A. Higgs
  • Woodwinds: Eric Abalahin
  • Guitar: Rick Peralta
  • Guitar: Alex Blizniak
  • Bass: Jan Eden
  • Percussion: Arthur Garrison
  • Rehearsal Pianist: Brian Victor
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started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.

3 Responses »

  1. […] ShowBizRadio: Review of Kensington Arts Theatre’s 110 in the Shade […]

  2. I agree with your perfect review. 110 in The Shade is a fabulous production with perfect casting. I have rarely heard this fine score sung so beautifully. I just included the show, and like you, raved about it in my Theatre Schmooze column at DC Theatre I highly recommend that your readers and listeners run and get tickets.

  3. As a longtime lover of this show and its wonderful book and score, I was kind of disappointed that for the performance that my husband and I saw–last Saturday evening, October 4th–one whole number was cut, due to the injury of a prominent cast member, without any announcement being made before the start of the second act. Since I know the show backwards and forwards, having worked on it in Summer Stock, many years ago, I felt puzzled when the two players involved were not even there for the final curtain call, a real pity, because they were both so perfect for their characters–will Snooky and Jimmy (Jaclyn Young and Ryan Manning) please come out and take a bow!

    I also disagree a bit with your review of Katie McManus as Lizzie. I have always thought of Lizzie as a person with her feet solidly on the ground–an extreme realist, versus Starbuck who is the complete opposite of her and I felt that Katie’s interpretation fulfilled this to a tea–it had nothing to do with physical beauty, it had to do with how she acted with other people who were not in her family–how she put up defenses against what she truly wanted, until the end, when she literally, let down her hair. I thought that Katie did a wonderful job with this–she never wavered from her character’s truth.