Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Vpstart Crow Tartuffe

By • Jul 15th, 2009 • Category: Reviews
Vpstart Crow
Cramer Center, Manassas, VA
$20/$15 seniors and students
Through July 26th
Reviewed July 12th

Moliere’s Tartuffe revolves around the antics of the wealthy family of Orgon and their dealings with tatuffe, a man of the cloth aiming to steal the families’ home, money, and women. Despite director Rob Batarla‘s setting the production in the 1980’s New York City, this production never quite grabbed the audience until the second act when Matthew Randall brought much-needed life and energy to the stage.

Many of the actors were rooted to a few positions on stage for all of their scenes, forming an odd set of parallel lines. More movement would have helped make the show more interesting. Dorine (Alexia Poe) was one of the few allowed to bounce around the stage while conversing with Orgon (Michael Donahoe) in the opening scene. Poe’s delivery was matter of fact, yet her exasperation was believable. Donahue’s resolve to place his faith in Tartuffe also resonated, while apparently struggling with his role as patriarch. Randall’s energy while talking his way out of trouble and seducing the elegant Elmire (Erin Steenson) was much needed, and made the show’s longer second act pass by quickly. All of the actors delivered their rhymed couplets well, with no obviously muffed lines.

While this production was set in the 1980’s, beyond the plain costumes, there wasn’t much reference to the 80’s other than the use of a tennis racket. The set (Darrell Poe) was colorful, with attractive minimalist art (Julie Cameron) lining the walls, and an odd ugly sofa used predictably during one of the show’s funnier scenes. There was also a nicely executed elevator on one side of the stage.

After the Sunday, July 19th, matinee perforamnce, the cast and crew will hold a talk-back session with audience members.

Director’s Notes

I knew when I first agreed to direct Tartuffe, there was no way I would do it in the 17th century. And as I dived into the script, I realized that Moliere’s comedy is actually quite absurd; in fact, it felt like a 1980’s soap opera! And thus the vision for my production of Moliere’s Tartuffe was born. Quick head turns, audible gasps, and longing stares in an homage to Linda Evans and Joan Collins (with the shoulder pads) seemed to be much funnier than a period piece.

Drama is serious topics done seriously. Comedy can either be serious topics done in a silly way or something very silly done in a serious way. Tartuffe is a mix of both. We use our “heighten drama” to be funny. If you watch an old episode of “Dynasty” or “Knots Landing,” and you may actually find it humorous, now some 25 years removed. Please enjoy our creation. If you have half as much fun watching the show as we did making it, I am sure you will have a great time.

Rob Batarla

Photo Gallery

Tartuffe (Matthew Randall) and Elmire (Erin Steenson) Cast
Tartuffe (Matthew Randall) and Elmire (Erin Steenson)
Marianne (Ashley Cornett), Dorine (Alexia Poe) and Valere (Will MacLeod) Orgon (Michael Donahue) and Marianne (Ashley Cornett)
Marianne (Ashley Cornett), Dorine (Alexia Poe) and Valere (Will MacLeod)
Orgon (Michael Donahue) and Marianne (Ashley Cornett)


  • Damis: Wesley Allen
  • Orgon: Michael Donahue
  • Madame Pernelle: Ken Clayton
  • Marianne: Ashley Cornett
  • Valere: Will MacLeod
  • Cleante: Gerard Maurer
  • Dorine: Alexia Poe
  • Tartuffe: Mathew Randall
  • Elmire: Erin Steenson
  • Flipote/loyal/Officer: Julie Cameron


  • Artistic Director: Bob Smith
  • Managing Director: Ray Bracken
  • Subscriptions and Hospitality Manager: Clemente Santiago III
  • Company Manager: Darrell Poe
  • Producer: Julie Cameron
  • Director: Rob Batarla
  • Assistant Director: Clemente Santiago III
  • Technical Director: Christy Swaney
  • Set Designer: Darrell Poe
  • Light Designer: Morgan Sexton
  • Sound Designer: Rob Batarla
  • Stage Manager: Darrell Poe
  • Assistant Stage Manager: Christie Swaney
  • Master Electrician: Morgan Sexton
  • Set Construction: Elizabeth Swaney, The Cast and Crew
  • Artwork: Julie Cameron
  • Costumes: The Cast and Crew
  • Costume Mistress: Janet Nicholson
  • Properties: The Cast and Crew
  • House Manager: Clemente Santiago III
  • Publicity: Cory Okouchi
  • Poster Designer: Brett Zinger
  • Program Designer: Bob Smith
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