Violet starts its 2014 comeback with likeable production at Ford’s

Our ArtHouse group was fortunate to be at the opening performance of Violet last night at Ford’s Theatre. Director Jeff Calhoun, who was nominated for a Tony in 2012 for Newsies, has pulled together a coherent, lush and moving production featuring lots of local talent.  Great to see Erin Driscoll and James Gardiner in something so high-quality, and Kevin McAllister is a revelation as the third lead. It will be interesting to see the New York production in the spring starring the amazing Sutton Foster. Seeing this production, I wouldn’t call her role a star turn, so I’m anxious to see what she does with it.

If you have never been to Ford’s, you should go. It’s an intimate theater with good acoustics and just one bad seat – (Mr. Lincoln’s, of course). I got a ticket through Ticketplace, but my friends just got theirs at the box office. They sell side seats for just $17 – for the previews – which is a great deal. The balcony is also pretty close to the stage, so just take the best deal.

Jeanne Tesori is the composer. Since writing the music for Violet about 15 years ago, she has composed wonderful scores for Thoroughly Modern Millie (thus the Sutton Foster connection), Caroline or Change (with Tony Kushner’s story) and more recently, the widely acclaimed Fun Home which just finished a run at New York’s Public Theater. Violet has a beautiful score; it may lack a signature number – especially in the second act – but it is consistently good and the variety – blues, rock, gospel – quite amazing.

It will be interesting to see how the play develops in the next month. Try to go see it.

About Ronn Levine

Ronn blogged before the term existed - as the arts editor and pro basketball writer (The Court Jester) for the Rutgers Daily Targum. I reviewed the original Dreamgirls and interviewed the lead, Sheryl Lee Ralph, who was from Rutgers. From there I went to The Washington Post covering duckpin bowling, preseason football, tennis and a baseball oldtimers game with Joe Dimaggio. Next I collected a couple Super Bowl rings with the Washington Redskins, wrote for radio, wrote cover stories for the Post's Weekend section (started ushering after my story on it), covered diversity in the newspaper world and then started going to film festivals and conducting interviews - Sarah Polley, Julie Delpy and Kristin Scott-Thomas among others. Now I blog daily for the Software & Information Industry Association and run The ArtHouse Meetiup.

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