Sunday, June 30, 2024

Nothing Bad About "Something Rotten" in Garnet Valley

By JessAnn Coder
Jessica Ann Coder can insert musical theatre lyrics into any conversation without even trying.

Garnet Valley Performing Arts Association’s production of Something Rotten follows the Bottom brothers as they try to find theatrical success while competing with the wildly popular William Shakespeare.

Something Rotten is a musical comedy full of laughs, love, and more than a few references to other theatrical productions. The fast-paced lyrics of Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick throw several jokes at you throughout the two-and-a-half-hour show, leaving you smiling as we roll from one scene to another.

Keian Hagstrom’s smug portrayal of the celebrity William Shakespeare was wonderful, with this tap battle with rival Nick Bottom, portrayed by John Dingle, being a highlight of both men’s performances.  

The stand-out song from the production was A Musical, led by Aubrey Murphey’s Nostradamus.  A large, over-the-top number complete with tapping and high kicks covered several popular musical theatre styles and was an absolute joy to watch.  Murphey’s performance was an absolute standout for this performance, perfectly handling the comedic timing required of her character.

Max Hunter’s performance as the younger Bottom brother, Nigel, was stunning.  He brought sweetness to the naive character who claims to be Shakespeare’s biggest fan and was excellent from his first step onto the stage to his last.

Vicki Coleman as Portia, a daughter of the theatre-hating Puritan, shone anytime she was on stage.  Coleman’s smile and charm brought extra energy to her duet with Nigel Bottom in Act One, I Love The Way.  She was an absolute joy and I found my eye drawn to her every time she was onstage.  

The ensemble did a lot of the heavy lifting for Something Rotten, filling the stage for nearly every number and bringing choreographers Gina Veith and Carli Fruchtl’s wonderful dancing to life while also providing harmonies that truly gave me goosebumps.  Be sure to keep an ear out for the crisp and clean acapella portion of We See the Light where their voices really shine.

Omelette, the musical within a musical, brought some of my favorite costumes of the entire production.  Keri Miller, Jenn Schneider, and Chrissy Stuardi absolutely outdid themselves during the second act.  

Performances of Something Rotten were held at Garnet Valley High School Auditorium in Glen Mills, PA. The next summer production for GVPAA is Kids on Broadway, running June 17-21. For more information about GVPAA, visit or follow them on Facebook @GVPAA!

Monday, June 17, 2024

On the Run with Bonnie & Clyde at Wilmington Drama League

By Hannah Leposa
Theater fan Hannah Leposa is excited to be living in Wilmington where there is a lively theatre community and high quality performances.

Bonnie and Clyde, produced by Wilmington Drama League, follows the lives of the notorious Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow as they navigate love and being on the run in the South during the Depression era. 

Bonnie and Clyde now playing at Wilmington Drama League. 
Photo by Sheena Ahlmer.
Not having any background on the show before attending, I was pleasantly surprised when I walked into a comedy and found myself laughing more times than I could count during the show. The show uses a mix of gospel and blues music, written by Frank Wildhorn, lyrics by Don Black, and a book by Ivan Menchell. This production was directed by Liz Hazlett.

The cast was truly excellent. Standout stars included Stephen Piergrossi as Clyde Barrow and Chiara Robinson as Blanche Barrow.

Stephen Piergrossi’s portrayal of outlaw Clyde Barrow was exceptional. Piegrossi's acting was superb, but it was his storytelling during the musical numbers that made him truly shine. It was well beyond anything I have seen in a community theater production.

Chiara Robbinson was funny, captivating, and vocally excellent from her first moment on stage. Her portrayal of Blanche Barrow had me excited every time I saw her. You Love Who You Love was a standout performance of the show performed by Robinson and Meghan Arters, who portrayed the titular Bonnie Parker.

Meghan Arters as Bonnie Parker was ravishing. Every time she opened her mouth to sing, I knew I was in for something amazing. Her performance of How ‘Bout a Dance was stunning.

Young Bonnie and Clyde, portrayed by Callie Hazlettt and Owen Ahlmer respectively, sounded amazing and showcased voice maturity beyond their young ages. Alex Bock played the older brother of Clyde perfectly, and I would have believed that two actual brothers were on stage during their performance of When I Drive.

I get nervous when I attend productions where the cast is speaking with accents, often people drop the accent or are terrible at it. This cast put in the work. Everyone committed and it added a level of professionalism to the production that heightened the audience's overall experience.

I would be remiss if I did not mention some of the crew. Lighting designer Ryan Philips reminded me how integral lighting can be to elevating a show to the next level with his superb design. The choreographer, Patrick Murray made great use of space and I was impressed with the chair choreography in You’re Goin’ Back to Jail. Costume designer Shelli Ezold transported us back to the 1930s with her attention to detail and design with each character's costumes.

The remaining performances of Bonnie and Clyde are on June 21 and 22 at 8:00pm and June 23 at 2:00pm. All shows are at the Wilmington Drama League. The show runs around 150 minutes with an intermission. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at tickets available now at