Providence Receives Rave Reviews for “Playing Juliet” and “Casting Othello”

DC Theater Arts Critic Bob Ashby and Playwright Caleen Sinnette Jennings give rave reviews of Providence Players’ production of Playing Juliet and Casting Othello.

“I was blown away by your production of my play.”  ~Caleen Sinnette Jennings, Playwright.

“The acting is uniformly first-rate…Beyond consistently good pacing, Eleanore Tapscott’s direction maintains the feel of a rehearsal process…in a way that theater people will recognize as real…”  ~Bob Ashby, DC Theater Arts Critic.

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Playwright praises production of “Playing Juliet” and “Casting Othello”

Following is an open letter from playwright Caleen Sinnette Jennings to the board, cast and crew of Providence Players’ current production of her play, Playing Juliet and Casting Othello.

 

Caleen Sinnette Jennings. Photo Courtesy of American University.

Thank you. I was blown away by your production of my play.

One can tell when a theatre is run by serious people with professional standards.  Everyone involved with PPF has day jobs, including jobs in the performing and visual arts. Most members have families and community responsibilities.  To do the labor-intensive work of theatre, in addition to coping with the ordinary day-to-day challenges of living, requires heart, stamina, passion and commitment.  It’s obvious that PPF members have all the above.  From the efficient way my ticket change was handled, to the moment I was greeted warmly in the lobby with high quality production photos on display, I knew I was in capable hands. Awaiting curtain rise, I overheard the long-time patrons seated around me talking about how much they love to attend PPF shows and how many of them are involved in the company.

Playing Juliet/Casting Othello is a difficult play.  Although written in the mid-90’s, the issues are even more sensitive now.  I was moved by the fact that PPF was courageous enough to step up and produce it.  The direction was meticulous, nuanced, and professional, as were the production values and running of cues.  The actors were superb not only as contemporary characters but as Shakespeare’s characters. It’s astonishing that they are new to your company and, in some cases, relatively new to acting in straight plays.   Perhaps most impressive was the fact that the entire company beautifully realized the intent of the play — that the Shakespeare stories illuminate and reflect the contemporary story — and that, no matter how sensitive the issues, it is theatre’s mission to bring them into the public arena. Read more

Sneak Peek of “Playing Juliet” and “Casting Othello”

It’s two weeks until opening, and the Romeo and Juliet cast is stressed!  A balcony and flats to build, lines to learn, construction pieces to navigate around as the director works to get the best out of her actors, adjust blocking and keep an entire cast speaking to each other!

Enjoy these photos of  a rehearsal of a rehearsal!  All photos by Chip Gertzog.

Casting Announcement: Playing Juliet and Casting Othello

On behalf of Providence Players of Fairfax, Director Eleanore Tapscott is pleased to announce the cast of Playing Juliet and Casting Othello, by Caleen Sinnette Jennings.

The New Vistas Theatre Company sets out to put on Romeo and Juliet and Othello using a multi-racial cast. Wendy, the determined white director, has cast her long-time black friend, Georgia, in the role of Juliet. Tempers flare and friendships are strained when Jimmy, Georgia’s maintenance-man boyfriend, tries to prevent her from playing the role.  In a later production of Othello, Jimmy, now married to the pregnant Georgia, has grown accustomed to being a stand-in for the lead in rehearsals. Despite his lack of training, Wendy thinks Jimmy could perform the role of Othello in front of an audience.  The atmosphere is charged as Georgia vigorously opposes this casting. In these companion one-acts, issues of race, class, gender, politics and nontraditional casting emerge as the Bard brings out surprising fears, animosities, love and laughter in this company of players.  Tickets on sale now!

CAST
(* denotes Providence Players debut)

Georgia – Aja Goode*
Jimmy – Mack Leamon*
Wendy – Dana Gattuso*
Dave – Bruce Alan Rauscher*
Chris – Ali Cheraghpour*
Lorraine – Nina-Sophia Pacheco*
Lorraine/Understudy – Tiffany Morina*

(L-R) Aja Goode as Georgia, Ali Cheraghpour as Chris, Nina-Sophia Pacheco as Lorraine, Mack Leamon as Jimmy and Bruce Alan Rauscher as Dave in Playing Juliet and Casting Othello. Photo by Beth Whitehead.

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Scholarship Applications Now Being Accepted for College-Bound Seniors!

Providence Players of Fairfax Scholarship Program
Deadline Extended:  May 15, 2022!

Board Member Janet Bartelmay presents scholarships to two deserving college-bound seniors in 2019. Photo by Chip Gertzog.

As a way of nurturing future theater artists and recognizing the contribution graduating high school seniors have made to the arts community in our region, Providence Players of Fairfax has established a scholarship program that provides scholarships to college-bound students from area high schools. Scholarships are limited each year. This year, we anticipate awarding two scholarships, each of $2,000, to 2022 graduating seniors with a demonstrated commitment to theater arts who have been accepted to a U.S. accredited college or university or conservatory program with an intent to further contribute to theater arts.

Eligible graduating seniors must (1) reside within the school boundaries of Annandale, Fairfax, Falls Church, Meridian, Justice, Marshall, Bishop O’Connell, Trinity Meadow View, Woodson or Yorktown high schools OR (2) have been a member of PPF for at least one year. It is not required that applicants commit to a theater arts major in college, only that they plan on continuing their involvement and contribution to theater arts in the future. Download the 2022 Scholarship Application Form (in Word or .pdf formats)

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“‘Enchanted April’ Trips From Gloom to Bloom.”

A rave review from DC Metro Theater Arts’ Terry Byrne and opening weekend audiences.

“Primed for spring? Ready to remove the scales from your eyes to replace them with therapeutic petals? Through the Enchanted April portal, however you enter before, you’ll surely feel renewed after.”

“The cast’s acting chops are universally sharp…”

“Ranowsky [director] conducts [the show] in toccata and fugue, with lyricism and narrative intelligence, pinging on all the correct words. “

(Read the full review by clicking the banner below)

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“Enchanted April” Opens Tomorrow, Friday!

Ready to Take a Trip and Recharge?

Move Away from Pandemic Isolation And Get Energized?

Time to be Captivated, Fascinated and Charmed?

Time to Be Enchanted?

Enchanted April

Against the backdrop of a country still reeling from World War I, the women join together under the Mediterranean sun, seeking a necessary balm of sunshine and renewal.  Sound familiar?  In a post pandemic world, we all could use a little April awakening!

Enjoy these Sneak Peek photos from the recent dress rehearsal.  All photos by Chip Gertzog.

Auditions: “Playing Juliet, Casting Othello”

by Caleen Sinnette Jennings
Directed by Eleanore Tapscott

The New Vistas Theatre Company sets out to put on Romeo and Juliet and Othello using a multi-racial cast. Wendy, the determined white director, has cast her long-time black friend, Georgia, in the role of Juliet. Tempers flare and friendships are strained when Jimmy, Georgia’s maintenance-man boyfriend, tries to prevent her from playing the role.  In a later production of Othello, Jimmy, now married to the pregnant Georgia, has grown accustomed to being a stand-in for the lead in rehearsals. Despite his lack of training, Wendy thinks Jimmy could perform the role of Othello in front of an audience.  The atmosphere is charged as Georgia vigorously opposes this casting.  In these companion one-acts, issues of race, class, gender, politics and nontraditional casting emerge as the Bard brings out surprising fears, animosities, love and laughter in this company of players.

Providence Players of Fairfax is:

  • A non-profit community theater troupe. All participation is on a volunteer basis. No members of the cast or crew are compensated.
  • A membership organization. Membership is not required to audition. If cast, all actors (and in fact, all volunteers), are required to become members of Providence Players of Fairfax ($25 per individual or $60 per family – three or more) for the season (if not already a member).

Urgent Casting Announcement

Providence Players is still seeking one male actor, African American, that can play a role in his 30s.  Providence Players is looking for one actor to play the role of “Jimmy” in its spring production of Playing Juliet and Casting Othello, by Caleen Sinnette Jennings.  If interested in the role, please send an email to info@providenceplayers.org to schedule an audition.

Download all three documents: Audition AnnouncementForm (in word and pdf) and Playing Juliet, Casting Othello Rehearsal Conflict Schedule.Auditions will take place in groups in one-hour increments.  Please RSVP to info@providenceplayers.org and indicate the date and time (just one slot, please) you wish to audition. Groups are filled on a first come first serve basis. QUESTIONS?  Email us at info@providenceplayers.org.

The Director reserves the right to extend the audition period pending initial audition response.

Performance Dates and Times

Preview:   Thursday, June 9, 2022; 7:00 pm
Evening Performances:    Thursday, Friday, Saturday; June 10 – 25, 7:30 pm
Matinees:   Sundays, June 12  & 19, 2:00 pm

About the Director: Eleanore Tapscott

Eleanore Tapscott (Director) is a classically trained actress and director who has worked with various metro-DC theatres. She is also the executive director of the Actors Center, a nonprofit service organization created by and for actors in Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Previous productions include Radio Golf for Peace Mountain Theatre, The Fantasticks and Fences for Little Theatre of Alexandria, The Bluest Eye for Dominion Stage, and By the Way, Meet Vera Stark for Colonial Players, Leading Ladies for Vienna Theatre Company, Bus Stop and The Count of Monte Cristo for ACCT.

From the Director, Eleanore Tapscott

This play reminds me of my early days as young actress auditioning and trying to get cast in classical plays not only because it was my training but because I loved the language of Shakespeare, Moliere, Shaw, et al. I found and appreciated those directors who were open to what was then called nontraditional casting and also ran into more than a few directors who kindly told me my acting was fine but I was not your typical ingenue and that roles for me in classical theatre would be those of maids and servants. I find this play extremely relevant today as theatres consider how to incorporate diversity and inclusion initiatives in front of and behind the curtain.  Playing Juliet/Casting Othello runs the gamut of emotions as the multi-ethnic company of New Vistas Theater deal with race and relationships while rehearsing two of the Bard’s most famous works. In Playing Juliet (PJ), the cast finds itself at odds with their leading lady, who can’t quite reconcile Shakespeare’s ideal of beauty with her own dark skin. Seven months later, issues of race and troubled love threaten to halt production while they’re casting Othello.

REHEARSALS:  Download a copy of the Theater Access Schedule for this show.  This is NOT the specific rehearsal schedule (which will be supplied by the Stage Manager), but it will give you an idea for the commitment you are making – rehearsal space and performance – and how to identify conflicts.

A copy of the preliminary stage rehearsal schedule is included with this announcement and will be available online and at auditions. First read-thru will be scheduled the week of April 11 and will be in-person. In addition to the stage rehearsal schedule, additional full cast readings/text work of the play will take place, via Zoom, evenings the weeks of April 18 and 25.  Additional in-person rehearsals will be held the week of May 2. Unless indicated otherwise, all other rehearsals will happen at the James Lee Community Center. Rehearsals will be held in the evenings roughly from 6:30/6:45 to 9:45pm. and on Saturdays and Sundays as indicated.

Please come to auditions prepared to list any availability conflicts with rehearsal or the performance schedule.  Space is provided on the audition form for this purpose.

About the Play

PLACE

New Vistas, a tiny theatre outside of a major U.S. city.

Time

The present

Characters

Notes on character ages:  Actors should be able to believably play people in the listed age ranges.PJ = Playing Juliet (first act of the show); CO = Casting Othello (second act of the show).

  • LORRAINE: Female, light-skinned African American, plays NURSE (PJ) and BIANCA and Production Stage Manager (CO), 20’s-30’s
  • CHRIS: Male, Caucasian, plays ROMEO (PJ) and CASSIO and Director (CO), 20’s-30’s. Eager to prove himself after a disappointing sojourn in Hollywood.
  • WENDY: Caucasian, plays Director (PJ) and DESDEMONA (CO), Early 30’s. Overly anxious to make a statement with her production of Romeo and Juliet.
  • GEORGIA: Female, dark-skinned African-American, plays JULIET (PJ) and EMILIA (CO), 20’s-30’s. Seriously concerned about her acting career and playing Juliet because her boyfriend does not support her interest in theatre and because she does not fit the ‘traditional’ image of an ingenue.
  • DAVID: Male, Caucasian, plays CAPULET and Production Stage Manager (PJ) and IAGO (CO), experienced classical actor and director. 40’s. Has serious concerns with Wendy’s direction of Romeo and Juliet.
  • JIMMY: Male, African-American, Georgia’s boyfriend, smart, working class non-actor, 30’s. Has no tolerance for theatre until he is bitten by the bug while standing in for Othello.

Additional Audition Information/Instructions:

  • HOW WE WORK: Most Providence auditions have actors up and down to read multiple times in multiple combinations and scenes. Most actors find this fun. As space allows, you will be able to watch the auditions. You may be asked to go outside with audition partners and work a bit on a scene. We will do our best to get you up multiple times reading for parts you are interested in. You will also be asked to read for other parts you may not be auditioning for. The Providence Players strives to make our productions open to interested and engaged actors & actresses, regardless of their level of experience. We try and make our auditions as relaxing and fun as possible.
  • AUDITION PROCESS & SIDES: Auditions will consist of readings from the script. No monologue required. Sides for the audition process will be supplied at auditions. There will be a brief movement/improv exercise.
  • AUDITION FORM: Please ALSO COMPLETE the attached Providence Audition Form and bring it with you to the audition. Resumes and headshots will be accepted but are not required. We may ask to take a picture of you, but this is for internal use only and will not be shared.

We look forward to seeing you at Auditions!

Casting Announcement: “Enchanted April”

On behalf of Providence Players of Fairfax, Director Amanda Rankowsky is pleased to announce the cast of Enchanted April, by Matthew Barber.

In this gentle and romantic comedy, two London housewives pool their savings to rent a villa in Italy for a ladies-only holiday away, reluctantly recruiting a pair of difficult upper-class women to share the cost and the experience. Against the backdrop of a country still reeling from World War I, the women join together under the Mediterranean sun, seeking a necessary balm of sunshine and renewal. Soon joined by the villa owner, husbands and lovers, the four women clash — and then begin to bond and bloom. Enchanted April won the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New American Play in 2003, along with numerous Tony Award nominations. Tickets on sale now!

CAST
(* denotes Providence Players debut)

Lotty Wilton – Jessa Whitley-Hill*
Mellersh Wilton – Christopher Crockett
Rose Arnott – Andra Whitt
Frederick Arnott – Chris Persil
Caroline Bramble – Lindsey June
Antony Wilding – Chuck O’Toole
Mrs. Graves – Beth Gilles-Whitehead
Constanza – Eleanor Tyler*

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“Junie B. in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells” opens Friday!

Remember what the holidays were like when you were a kid?  The magic, the awe, the anticipation!  Come rediscover your inner first-grader with Junie B. Jones in our holiday production of “Junie B. in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells.”  And bring the kids!  You both will love this bit of nostalgia based on the popular book series.  Opens December 10!  Enjoy these photos from our recent dress rehearsal.

All photos by of Melissa Robison.