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Metropolitan Performing Arts Theatre Dear Edwina

By • Sep 12th, 2009 • Category: Reviews
Dear Edwina (Music by Zina Goldrich; Book and Lyrics by Marcy Heisler)
Metropolitan Performing Arts Theatre
Mt. Vernon High School, Alexandria, VA
$12/$10 Children
Through September 12th
1:00, with one intermission
Reviewed September 11th, 2009

Dear Edwina, created by Zina Goldrich and Marcy Heisler, is a charming musical that takes a dash of Miss Piggy-Wiggle, a splash of Dear Abby, and a healthy portion of excitement to create a truly enjoyable experience for kids and kids-at-heart.

The story revolves around a girl named Edwina who struggles with feelings of inferiority due to the material accomplishments of her highly talented siblings. Instead of allowing herself to wallow in self-pity, she finds something she excels at and sets a lofty goal for herself. By the end of the story Edwina and her friends learn (and teach) important childhood lessons about life.

The Ensemble was the shining point of this production. The cast covered the spectrum from fourth grade to college sophomore. Directors Stephanie Gaia Chu and Danilo Stapula did a marvelous job preparing their cast as well as bringing them together as a team. Despite a false start, the cast recovered beautifully and the opening number grabbed my attention and held it. Dance sequences, choreographed by Melanie Gibson, were exciting and well-executed. Thoughtful characterization was evident throughout the production. The energy from the Ensemble propelled the musical to its delightful finish.

Claire Gallagher as Edwina Spoonapple gave a decent performance. As a vocalist, she portrayed both the strength and emotion of her character. However, in her speaking role, her timid body language contradicted the willfulness that Edwina seemed to require. All-in-all, I would have to say that Miss Gallagher was very brave to accept such a prominent role and she handled it with great finesse for her age. I look forward to seeing her abilities develop further as her career progresses.

Dan Twomy in the role of Scott Kunkle did a marvelous job with characterization and character development. Though his love-struck character is nerdy, Twomy gave a dynamic performance. He took the character of Scott from a shy boy to a bold young man and contributed greatly to the continuity of the production.

On the technical side of the house, there seemed to be some confusion. The opening light and music cues created some uncertainty among the actors. While the music volume was acceptable for ensemble numbers, soloists were frequently drowned out by the accompaniment tracks and portions of solos were inaudible because the microphone was not cued.

For a comparatively minimalist production that is geared towards kids and only ran about an hour, includingintermission, the tickets seem a little over-priced at $10 for kids and $12 for adults.

This musical is ideal for children of all ages. It is chock full of laughs and smiles for young and old alike. If I had a few extra dollars and an important child in my life, I would take them to see MPAT’s production of Dear Edwina.

Director’s Notes

Dear Edwina is the story of a young girl living in the small town of Paw Paw, Michigan, who is so good at giving advice, that she puts on a show every Sunday, with the help of her friends, of course. Letters come in from kids all over town, as they work together to find a solution!

There’ll be music, there’ll be dancing, there’ll be laughs and more! – Paw Paw Michigan

What an amazing adventure this production has been! I fell in love with this show instantly, after I purchased the soundtrack on a whim. Written by the winning team of Goldrich and Heiser, Dear Edwina has fun catchy music, clever lyrics and script, and a great message. I knew that MPAT had to produce it! After much discussion between the MPAT board, I ventured to direct the company’s first youth musical. However, life is never what you plan for it to be, and surprising amounts of conflicts and different life paths fell into my lap. In an absolutely characteristic move, Danilo stepped in and offered, gladly offered, to co-direct. As always, Dan’s passion for this theater group is unfathomable, and he is the first to start a new theatrical adventure.

But hold on tight to what you are, don’t lose that joy to please the crowd, And if they still don’t understand you’ll have to sing a little louder – Sing Your Own Song

To all of the production team – your support and creativity have been such a blessing. Thank you for sharing all you have with theses students. To the parents, the fact that you encourage these children to do what they love to do every day is absolutely moving (despite all of the late rehearsals and academic workloads and family time that they cut into). Please continue to support them, because they need it more than you know! To all of the shockingly bright, remarkably gifted cast members, who struggled past the Double-G’s to come together and produce a hilariously fun and touching show, thank you for inspiring me and each other. To the audience, please enjoy their creation and continue to recognize the fires that grow in young people.

Thank for coming, it’s really great to see you! Thanks for coming to our little show! – Thank for Coming 1 & 2

Stephanie Gaia Chu, Co-Director

Director’s Notes

The joy of seeing this motley crew of kids work together as an ensemble has truly been inspiring to me! It’s been an honor working with each of them and I hope to see them in our future productions. I’m excited that many of them have joined our newly formed teen ensemble MONSTER which will soon be unleashed on our local area stages. Thanks to all the parents, our terrific production team, Mount Vernon High School and my wife Priscilla!

Danilo Stapula, Co-Director

Cast

  • Aphrodite: Ellen Abood
  • Shelly Mary, Helena, Steel Drum Band: Laura Baker
  • Annie, Frank’s Ma: Courtney Bradshaw
  • Chef Ludmilla, Marie: Elyse Dunstan
  • Bobby, Harry: Anders Eklund
  • Ann, Ensemble: Julia Eklund
  • Suzie: Natalia Eleazer
  • Mary-Sue-Betty-Bob, Auden-Hazel: Brittany Eul
  • Fairy Forkmother, Marigold: Lynne Farinelli
  • Edwina: Claire Gallagher
  • Lacey Vanderploonk, Cordelia Vanderploonk: Emily Haller
  • Ziggy, Frank, Sonoma: Derek Kominars
  • Uncle Vladmir: Jay Lingenfelter
  • Abigail: Marge Lingenfelter
  • Katie, Steel Drum Band: Sydney Maloney
  • Billie Vanderploonk: Elizabeth Mann
  • Periwinkle: Emily Mann
  • Kelli: Allison McAlpine
  • Queen of Boola Boola, Natalie: Laura McCollough
  • Carrie: Brenna McFarland
  • Lola, Nellie: Elizabeth Rader
  • Mia: Alexis Randall
  • Hola Lola Narrator, Sharon: Lizzy Stapula
  • Scott Kunkle, Farmer Jerry: Dan Towmey
  • William: Liam Twomy
  • Becky Del Vecchio: Amanda Wright
  • Jackie: Katie Zweig

Crew

  • Directors: Stephanie Gaia Chu, Danilo Stapula
  • Stage Manager: Amanda Leigh Corbett
  • Music Director: Sara Callanan
  • Choreographer: Melanie Gibson
  • Props Masters: Jim Carr, Valerie McNamara
  • Rehearsal Pianist: Stephanie Jones
  • Lighting Design: Courtney Bradshaw, Emily Witucki
  • Sound Design, Operation: John Knox
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is a student of Speech and Communication at Northern Virginia Community College. She has been involved in the performing arts since the age of five when she debuted as the Little Red Hen on an elementary school stage. Her career includes both national and international ensemble performances with semi-professional choirs, various roles in community and college musicals (both onstage and off), as well as co-directing drama camp for Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, VA.

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