Thursday, October 28, 2021

A Halloween treat at Alexandria's 'Wait until Dark'


Brendan Chaney (Carlino) and Mel Gumina (Susy) in Wait Until Dark at The Little Theatre of Alexandria//Photo by Matthew Randall

In Susy's world, it's always dark. Susy is blind.

Mel Gumina's portrayal of a blind woman sucked up in a web of crime in Wait Until Dark at the Little Theatre of Alexander is so believable that it wasn't until the end of the show when the cast came out on stage to receive applause that I knew for certain she was not handicapped.

Just call me sucked in by her performance!

For those who have a vague recollection of Audrey Hepburn in the 1967 movie classic of the same name, Ms. Gumina's performance is spot on.

At LTA Susy stumbles from overturned chair to table and back again trying to outwit three con men who have tracked a drug-filled doll to her apartment and have come calling for the goods.
Mel Gumina (Susy) and Julia Stimson (Gloria) in Wait Until Dark at The Little Theatre of Alexandria/Photo by Matthew Randall

The bad guys are able to hoodwink Susy and play coy, but her acute hearing, aided by the ploys of a young teen neighbor, Gloria (who knows a thing or two about dolls) upset the drug dealers. Their game culminates in what seems like an interminable finale (and one labeled by Bravo as one of the 100 Scariest Movie Moments).

Gloria is played alternately by Juliet Strom and Julia Stimson whose soft voice and fastspeak were hard at times to understand. Although little in size compared to the adults, she stands tall against the pack, full of confidence and fearless against the evildoers.

With his heft, Yankee accent, and mannerisms reminiscent of Joe Pesci, Brendan Chaney, one of the bad guys, convincingly brings his nefarious ways to the stage.

Outstanding sound (by Janice Rivera) and a detailed set (Julie Fischer) combine to immediately engage the audience from the get-go.

And when it comes to windows, nobody beats LTA's. In this show, two of them are built high on a wall to let in the lamp lights from the street and more. Gloria will show 'em.

Before the show starts, 1960s music sets the tempo, but appliances say it's the 1940s which may be only a reflection of what Susy and her husband (Ryan Washington) can afford.

The females wear current fashion while costumers Jean Schlichting and Kit Sibley dress the males in coats and ties to belie their occupations and appear in total contrast to today's criminals who dress like everyone else. (Seconds and thirds are all right!)

Director Heather Benjamin guides the cast in fast action in this Greenwich Village romp.

Lee Remick was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actress when she was Susy on Broadway and Robert Duvall played one of the con men. Others who acted in later productions were Marisa Tomei and Quentin Tarantino, but the show is best remembered as the movie which earned Ms. Hepburn an Oscar nomination.

Frederick Knott's play was such a compelling story in 1966, the movie rights were immediately sold to become one of the American Film Institute's 100 most exciting movies, says Wikipedia.

Other LTA cast members are Brendan Quinn and Adam R. Adkins as more bad guys; Bill Gery and Michael Townsend, policemen.

More members of the creative team are Michael J. Fisher, assistant director; Alicia Goodman and Margaret "MEJ" Evans-Joyce, producers; Nick Friedlander and Lauren Markovich, stage managers; Stefan Sittig, fight and intimacy choreographer; Mona Wargo, set painting; Allison Gray-Mendes, set dressing and properties; JK Lighting Design; Margaret Snow, wardrobe; Chanel Lancaster, makeup and hair. 

What: Wait Until Dark

When: Now through November 6, 2021, Wednesdays through Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sunday, 3 p.m.

Where: The Little Theatre of Alexandria, 600 Wolfe Street, Alexandria, VA 22314.

Tickets: $21, weekdays; $24, weekends.

Duration: About 2 hours with one 10 minute intermission.

Adult language
: None, but there is some cigarette smoking.

Masks and vaccine cards
or proof of a negative covid test within 72 hours of show time are required. No exceptions.

Public transportation: Check the Metro and Dash bus websites. (Dash is now free to ride and several routes come within steps of LTA.)

Parking: On the streets and in many garages nearby with free parking during performances at Capital One Bank at Wilkes and Washington streets.

For more information
: Box Office: 703-683-0496; Business: 703-683-5778. or

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Gen. Colin Powell at the Kennedy Center last month

General Colin Powell at the Kennedy Center, Sept. 10, 2021/Photo by Patricia Leslie
General Colin Powell at the Kennedy Center, Sept. 10, 2021/Photo by Patricia Leslie

He was one of the special guests who welcomed the "sold-out" audience to the Kennedy Center in a concert to honor first responders of the September 11 and covid tragedies, the victims and their families. 

If General Powell were sick or ailing then, he covered his illness well. He paid respects to the evening's honorees and  spoke briefly about his upbringing in the Bronx, saying his greatest thrill was having 13 American elementary schools named after him.  That number will most assuredly grow.  

Thank you, General Powell, for your service to the United States and for your stable control and guidance during periods of national tragedy.  

Who can match him now?

See more of the September 10 evening here.

General Colin Powell at the Kennedy Center, Sept. 10, 2021/Photo by Patricia Leslie

The National Symphony Orchestra and "The President's Own" U.S. Marine Band performed at the Kennedy Center, Sept. 10, 2021/Photo by Patricia Leslie