Thursday, June 30, 2016

NPR Music Highlights Richmond Bands

Praise for new albums from Miramar and Inter Arma.

Posted By on Thu, Jun 30, 2016 at 1:30 PM

NPR says that the new album from local metal outfit, Inter Arma, "both expands and contracts the realms of extremity."
  • NPR says that the new album from local metal outfit, Inter Arma, "both expands and contracts the realms of extremity."

Richmond bands continue to get regular notice from national media outlets.

Recently, NPR ran this piece, "What's Past is Present on Two New Puerto Rican Albums" that looked at the new album by Miramar, "Dedication to Sylvia Rexach." That release has been garnering widespread praise and was recently the top selling Latin pop album on Amazon. We talked to them for a Style article a few weeks ago.

And today, local metal outfit Inter Arma was streaming it's new album, "Paradise Gallows" at NPR Music, which gave the release a glowing review.

From the review:

"This is a huge record in scope and sound, with instrumental passages that take their time even as they destroy. With Paradise Gallows, Inter Arma both expands and contracts the realms of extremity."

Neither band has any local shows scheduled but both have been busy hitting the road on tour.

Inter Arma heads out next week with Withered. Here are those dates:

Jul 5 Washington, DC DC9

Jul 6 Philadelphia, PA Boot & Saddle

Jul 8 NYC/Brooklyn, NY St Vitus

Jul 9 Boston, MA Great Scott

Jul 10 Buffalo, NY Waiting room

Jul 11 Cleveland, OH Grog Shop

Jul 12 Detroit, MI Pike Room

Jul 13 Chicago, IL Empty Bottle

Jul 14 Milwaukee, WI Cactus Club

Jul 15 Minneapolis, MN 7th Street Entry

Jul 16 Fargo, ND The Aquarium

Jul 19 Seattle, WA Barboza

Jul 20 Portland, OR Dour Fir

Jul 22 San Francisco, CA Thee Parkside

Jul 23 Glendale, CA Complex

Jul 24 San Diego, CA Soda Bar

Jul 25 Phoenix, AZ Rebel Lounge

Jul 28 San Antonio, TX Limelight

Jul 29 Austin, TX Sidewinder

Jul 30 Dallas, TX Three Links

Jul 31 New Orleans, LA Gasa Gasa

Aug 1 Birmingham, AL Spring Street Firehouse

Aug 2 Atlanta, GA The Earl

Aug 3 Asheville, NC Mothlight

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

5th Wall Announces New Season

Includes "M*A*S*H," "Toxic Avenger" and 20th anniversary of "The Pumpkin Show."

Posted By on Wed, Jun 29, 2016 at 1:00 PM

Still from last season's performance of Thomas Gibbons’ “Uncanny Valley,” featuring Jacqueline Jones as Claire and Alexander Sapp as Julian, an inquisitive head slowly acquiring a body.
  • Still from last season's performance of Thomas Gibbons’ “Uncanny Valley,” featuring Jacqueline Jones as Claire and Alexander Sapp as Julian, an inquisitive head slowly acquiring a body.

From the press release desk:

5th Wall Theatre, the award-winning professional theatre dedicated to breaking through boundaries, will open its third season this fall with a comedic examination of gender politics. “Rapture, Blister, Burn,” by Gina Gionfriddo, which was hailed as “one of the top 10 plays of 2012,” kicks off a three-show subscription season in September.

“We are excited to be presenting works by two outstanding female playwrights, as well as a hilarious environmental musical, and to be partnering with the Modlin Center to bring you native son Clay Chapman’s 20th Anniversary Pumpkin Pie Show,” said founder and Artistic Director, Carol Piersol.

In addition to its subscription series, 5th Wall Theatre will partner with The Mighty Pen Project and Richmond Triangle Players to produce seven evenings of M*A*S*H, a benefit for all three non-profit organizations.

Here is the season schedule:

"M*A*S*H" (special performance, staged reading)

August 4 – 13, 2016

Directed by David L. Robbins

One of television’s most memorable hit series is coming back to life, on stage in Richmond. The Mighty Pen Project, in partnership with Carol Piersol of 5th Wall Theatre and Phil Crosby of Richmond Triangle Players, is producing seven evenings of M*A*S*H as a benefit for all three non-profit organizations. The performances will be staged readings of the series’ pilot plus two episodes from the first season. The readings will feature many of Richmond’s best-known actors.

Performances for M*A*S*H are at Richmond Triangle Players, 1300 Altamont Avenue in RVA’s Scott’s Addition. Talkbacks will follow select performances. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased by contacting Richmond Triangle Players at 804-346-8113.

"Rapture, Blister, Burn" by Gina Gionfriddo

September 15 – October 8, 2016

After grad school, Catherine and Gwen chose polar opposite paths. Catherine built a career as a rock-star academic, while Gwen built a home with her husband and children. Decades later, unfulfilled in completely opposite ways, each woman covets the other’s life, commencing a dangerous game of musical chairs—the prize being Gwen’s husband. With searing insight and trademark wit, this comedy is an unflinching look at gender politics in the wake of 20th-century feminist ideals. “Thoughtful, funny…One of the top ten plays of 2012.” - Entertainment Weekly

Performances for Rapture, Blister, Burn are at HATTheatre, 1124 Westbriar Drive in RVA’s West End. Talkbacks will follow select performances. Tickets are $28 (Students - $15; group rates available) and can be purchased by visiting www.5thWallTheatre.org.

"Luna Gale" by Rebecca Gilman

January 12 – February 4, 2017

Caroline, a veteran social worker, thinks she has a typical case on her hands when she meets Peter and Karlie, two teenage drug addicts accused of neglecting their baby. But when she places their infant daughter in the care of Karlie’s mother, Caroline sparks a family conflict that exposes a shadowy, secretive past—and forces her to make a risky decision with potentially disastrous consequences. Powerful and arresting, Luna Gale is a heartbreaking and unforgettable tale of love and betrayal. “Smart and absorbing.” - The New York Times

Performances for Luna Gale are at RVA Event Space, 7 E. 3rd Street in RVA’s Manchester District. Talkbacks will follow select performances. Tickets are $28 (Students - $15; group rates available) and can be purchased by visiting www.5thWallTheatre.org.

"The Pumpkin Pie Show: 20th Year Anniversary" by Clay McLeod Chapman

February 23 -24, 2017

Co-produced by 5th Wall Theatre and the Modlin Center for the Arts. Celebrating his second decade of spinning macabre yarns, author/performer Clay McLeod Chapman returns to his hometown with The Pumpkin Pie Show – a rigorous storytelling session that Time Out NY guarantees “will send shivers down your spine.” This special anniversary presentation will include a cross-section of personal favorites (and frights) from the last twenty years of haunting audiences across the globe. “[There is] a new generation of theater artists reared on a diet of vampires, zombies, and charming serial killers. Call this movement the Theater of Blood... At the forefront of this movement is Clay McLeod Chapman, whose ‘Pumpkin Pie Show’ channels the spirit of H.P. Lovecraft,” The New York Times.

Performances for The Pumpkin Pie Show at the Gottwald Playhouse, 600 E. Grace Street in RVA’s Downtown. Talkbacks will follow select performances.

Tickets are $20 (5th Wall Season Subscribers - $16) and can be purchased through the Modlin Center at www.modlin.richmond.edu/tickets.

"The Toxic Avenger"

Book & lyrics by Joe DiPietro, Music & lyrics by David Bryan

July 7 – 30, 2017

Based on Lloyd Kaufman’s cult film, "The Toxic Avenger", and winner of the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway Musical, The Toxic Avenger is a charming love story and laugh-out-loud musical that has it all – an unlikely hero, his beautiful girlfriend, a corrupt New Jersey mayor and two guys who play... well, everyone else ... bullies, mobsters, old ladies, and stiletto-wearing back-up singers. With book and lyrics by Joe DiPietro and music and lyrics by David Bryan, the show also features the most memorable and unbelievable duet you’ll ever see on any stage. It’s a toxic love story with an environmental twist! The Toxic Avenger will leave audiences laughing in the aisles as it rocks the house. Featuring a wailin’ rock score, this comical musical has something for everyone to enjoy.

Performances for Toxic Avenger are at The Basement, 300 E. Broad Street in RVA’s Downtown. Talkbacks will follow select performances. Tickets are $32 (Students - $15; group rates available) and can be purchased by visiting www.5thWallTheatre.org.

The price of a 3 show subscription, Rapture, Bister Burn, Luna Gale, and Toxic Avenger is $77. Add $16 for tickets to Pumpkin Pie.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Specialty Retailer 2nd and Charles Opening in July

Tuckernuck Square Location To Hire 50 Employees.

Posted By on Tue, Jun 28, 2016 at 2:45 PM

Image from the company's website.
  • Image from the company's website.

Eclectic retailer 2nd & Charles, which specializes in trading books, video games, vinyl records and collectibles, announced it will be opening a 36,000 square foot space in Tuckernuck Square shopping center at 9004 W. Broad St. in late July.

The motto on their website is: "It's not used, it's pre-loved."

This will be the national company's third Virginia store -- the other two are in Midlothian and Woodbridge, Va.

According to a press release:

In preparation for the opening, management is set to hire more than 50 employees in the coming weeks. Interested candidates are encouraged to visit the new 2nd & Charles store location to participate in an interview or learn more about open positions with the company.

“Richmond is the perfect place for us to further expand our presence in Virginia,” said Scott Kappler, vice president of marketing for 2nd & Charles. “With an incredible assortment of new and used items, 2nd & Charles is all about discovering unusual finds. We look forward to providing the community with this very different kind of shopping and trading experience.”

2nd & Charles buys and sells new and used books, CDs, DVDs and Blu-Ray, video games, game systems, vinyl records, comic books, electronics, toys, collectibles and more. Customers wishing to sell their own used items can check them upon arrival and redeem for cash or store credit.

The used-bookshop-meets-modern-marketplace concept, which draws a diverse audience of gamer fanatics, pop culture junkies, movie buffs, bookworms and much more, offers over 300,000 items in more than three miles of stocked shelf space. Store inventory is replenished daily, resulting in an ever-changing treasure trove of both novel and vintage books, accessories and games galore.

Additional details regarding grand opening festivities will be announced soon. For more information about 2nd & Charles, visit 2ndandcharles.com.

Here is a list from their website of things they buy:


CDs in original cases.

DVDs & BLU-RAY movies & TV boxed sets.

VIDEO GAMES past and present, from the Playstation 3, Wii U, and Xbox 360 to the NES, Sega Genesis, and Atari.

GAME SYSTEMS & ACCESSORIES old and new, with all necessary cords and at least one controller. We also buy extra controllers.

COMICS preferably bagged and boarded, but definitely in good shape. We also buy graphic novels and manga.

iPADS and other tablets (USB cord required).

iPODS with their USB cord (please leave at least one song on the player for testing).

eREADERS like NOOK and Kindle, with all necessary cables.

VINYL RECORDS with original cover art.


DMX, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Juvenile to Play VSU

Show at the Multi-Purpose Center to be held on Sept. 9.

Posted By on Tue, Jun 28, 2016 at 1:30 PM

Rapper DMX
  • Rapper DMX

From the press release desk:

DMX and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, both Grammy® Award-winning hip-hop moguls, will co-headline The Kings and Queens of Hip Hop Tour at the VSU Multi-Purpose Center Friday, September 9 at 7:30 p.m. Other artists include Trina, Scarface, Juvenile, Ying Yang Twins and Dukwon.

Tickets at $30, $55, $70, $88, and $99 go on sale Friday, July 1 at 10 a.m. at www.Ticketmaster.com, charge by phone at 1-800-745-3000 and Ticketmaster outlets. The $99 ticket includes a VIP Meet and Greet with artists.

For the past 30 years DMX, a native of Yonkers, New York, has been a rap icon known for his hits like "Ruff Ryders Anthem" and "Stop Being Greedy." Along with their sometimes sung and sometimes fast paced rap style, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony have graced past and present generations with classic hits such as "1st of Tha Month" and "Tha Crossroads." Their high energy and lyrics of fury is sure to turn the arena all the way up.

The tour also features Scarface who, in 2012, was named one of the top 50 lyricists of all time. Trina, known as the "baddest" female rapper, began with Slip-N-Slide records and released her debut in 2000. The Ying Yang Twins and Juvenile both prominent rappers from the south with hit songs like "The Whisper Song" and "Slow Motion."

Richmond Symphony to Perform Music of David Bowie

Tickets for the Bowie performance and a Whitney Houston tribute go on sale July 11.

Posted By on Tue, Jun 28, 2016 at 1:00 AM

David Bowie passed away on Jan. 10 of this year.
  • David Bowie passed away on Jan. 10 of this year.

The Richmond Symphony announced today that it would be performing the music of departed rock icon David Bowie on Feb. 25, 2017 at Altria Theatre. They will be backed by a full rock band.

Tickets go on sale Monday, July 11 at 10 a.m. The Symphony will also be performing the music of Whitney Houston on Saturday, Oct. 29, and those tickets also go on sale on July 11.

Here's more from the release:

June 27, 2016 – Richmond, Virginia The genius of David Bowie’s innovative and unique, one-of-a-kind sound influenced generations of great music. Hear his music like never before when the Richmond Symphony, backed by a full rock band, performs Windborne’s “Music of David Bowie” on Saturday, February 25, 2017 at 8pm at the Altria Theater. Experience the incredible range of David Bowie's unforgettable body of work with hits including “Space Oddity,” “Changes,” “Under Pressure,” “Heroes,” “Fame,” “China Girl” and many more! Joining the Symphony onstage will be guest conductor Brent Havens and vocalist Tony Vincent. In describing the concert, conductor Havens says:

“My concept for 'The Music of David Bowie' was to take the music as close to the originals as we could and then add some colors to enhance what Bowie had done,” says Havens. “The wonderful thing with an orchestra is that you have an entire palette to call upon. The band is reproducing what Bowie did on the albums, verbatim, and then having an orchestra behind the band gives the music a richness, a whole different feel, a whole different sense of power.”

Single tickets go on sale to the general public on Monday, July 11 at 10am. Current 2016-17 Richmond Symphony Season subscribers can purchase tickets early during a special, three day pre-sale beginning on Wednesday, July 6 at 10am and running through Friday, July 8 at 5pm.

Buy tickets to hear the music of two pop icons! Single tickets for the Symphony Pops concert Windborne’s “Music of Whitney Houston” will also go on sale Monday, July 11 at 10am. She is the most-awarded female musical performer of all time with a powerful voice that touched our hearts and souls. Join the Richmond Symphony and special guest vocalist Rashidra Scott on Saturday, October 29, 2016 at 8pm at the Altria Theater for an evening of Whitney’s greatest hits such as “How Will I Know,” “Where Do Broken Hearts Go?,” and “I Will Always Love You.”

Tickets for Windborne’s “Music of David Bowie” start at $20. Tickets for Symphony Pops concerts including Windborne’s “Music of Whitney Houston” start at $10 and are available online at richmondsymphony.com or by calling 1.800.514 ETIX. Brent Havens, guest conductor bio Tony Vincent, vocalist bio Rashidra Scott, vocalist bio.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Footlights: Illuminating the Richmond Stage Scene

This Week: The Origins of "Sadie"

Posted By on Sun, Jun 26, 2016 at 7:00 AM

Powerhouse productions dominate the summer stage, and the titles are familiar because the shows originally debuted years ago.

The enchanting “Dreamgirls,” currently lighting up Virginia Repertory Theatre’s stage, was the first musical I ever saw on Broadway, back in 1981. The bio-musical that Triangle Players has running, “The Boy from Oz,” established Hugh Jackman’s song-and-dance bona fides when it debuted in 1998. Even the raucous “American Idiot,” now shaking the walls of the Firehouse Theatre, has been around a while, premiering in 2010.

Where will tomorrow’s big hits come from? One possible source is a local company called Free Jambalaya, which focuses solely on developing original works. In the midst of the summer blockbusters, it opened a more intimate, personal show this weekend called “Sadie’s Last Painting,” starring McLean Jesse.

The play is set in a post-apocalyptic future in which an artist is holed up in her studio, both desperate for and scared of news from the outside world.

“We often create a show around a specific artist so I’m always approaching artists with ideas,” says Cheryl Fare, one of Free Jambalaya’s founding producers and the director of “Sadie.” “The seeds for this show were planted a couple of years ago with McLean and I talking about creating an original painting onstage during the course of a performance.”

Jesse was a natural fit given her experience both as an accomplished actress and talented visual artist. Fare continued to explore the project with her co-producer, Matt Treacy, and they eventually brought in playwright Alex Mayberry to put meat on the bones of their ideas.

The post-apocalyptic scenario developed fairly early. “I’m kind of the old lady of the group,” Fare says. “But I have young adult kids so I know that this kind of theme is really strong for under-30-year-olds.”

The production is a family affair for Fare, with her daughter, 22, working as a photographer and box office manager and her son, 20, appearing in the show.

Fare started in the local theater world more than 25 years ago. After earning a master’s degree in fine arts from Virginia Tech, she joined Theatre IV, now Virginia Repertory Theatre, as it was expanding from children’s programming into a full slate of productions for adults.

She took a break for about 10 years to focus on the more flexible vocations of songwriter and musician, returning to work for Richmond Shakespeare right when its artistic director, Grant Mudge, was leaving. Three years ago, she joined forces with Treacy.

“I really identify with [Sadie] and the challenge of finding the light in the middle of darkness,” Fare says. “This is really the story of one woman fighting to stay strong, working to see the thread of hope and create a new and better future.”

As to what’s next for her company, Fare says: “We just focus on one project at a time but there’s always stuff on the back burner. After ‘Sadie’ opens, within a week I’ll be having coffee with Matt and talking about next steps.”

Running: The current choices are nearly overwhelming. Quill’s “Twelfth Night” closes tonight, “Sadie’s Last Painting” runs until July 9, “The Boy from Oz” continues until July 16, while “American Idiot” and Swift Creek Mill’s “The Hallelujah Girls” carry on through July 23. The “Dreamgirls” keep dreaming till Aug. 7.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Richmond Native Jai Jamison's Film Opens Tonight

With a Virginia backdrop, story on unlikely triathlete starts week-long run at Criterion Cinemas Movieland.

Posted By on Fri, Jun 24, 2016 at 9:30 AM

Richmond native Jai Jamison behind the camera during filming of "TRI." - RED ZEPPELIN PRODUCTIONS
  • Red Zeppelin Productions
  • Richmond native Jai Jamison behind the camera during filming of "TRI."

Update: The run has been extended to Thursday, July 7, with showings at 12:45, 6:15 and 9 p.m. each day.

Virginia serves as the inspirational backdrop for “Tri,” a film about a medical tech encouraged by a cancer patient to take on the burgeoning and brutally difficult sport of triathlon.

Opening Friday, June 24, at Criterion Cinemas Movieland, “Tri” was directed by Richmond native Jai Jamison and stars Jensen Jacobs as Natalie, an ultrasound tech and unlikely triathlete who hesitantly embarks on her unlikely quest to compete after a surprising conversation with one of her patients. Most of Natalie's friends and colleagues are skeptical, and the film hinges on whether she can endure the grueling conditioning, much less compete in or even finish the race.

Kelly Spitko plays Christy, a seasoned triathlete making her comeback -- with the Luray triathlon as a backdrop. - RED ZEPPELIN PRODUCTIONS
  • Red Zeppelin Productions
  • Kelly Spitko plays Christy, a seasoned triathlete making her comeback -- with the Luray triathlon as a backdrop.

Much of "Tri" was filmed in the scenic Shenandoah Valley during the Luray Triathlon in August. “Tri” also stars Virginian Tim Reid, a mentor to director Jamison. Springfield native Ted Adams III produced "Tri" through Red Zeppelin Productions. The movie took home the Indie Spirit best story line award at the Boston International Film Festival in late April.

Actor Tim Reid of Richmond plays Miles, and served as a mentor to Jamison. - RED ZEPPELIN PRODUCTIONS
  • Red Zeppelin Productions
  • Actor Tim Reid of Richmond plays Miles, and served as a mentor to Jamison.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Bluegrass Legend Ralph Stanley Has Died at 89

Posted By on Thu, Jun 23, 2016 at 10:00 PM

Ralph Stanley in Richmond. - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • Ralph Stanley in Richmond.

Last time I spoke with Ralph Stanley, he was signing a photo for me that I gave to some friends in California. This was during a benefit concert at the Canal Club that Stanley played for Senator Mark Warner years back, during which Warner danced a jig onstage.

Stanley was elderly but still sharp in person and a mesmerizing presence onstage. His voice high and clear, certain like a weathered stone.

One of the founders of bluegrass and one of the last of the true old-time mountain musician greats of Virginia, he died today (June 23) of complications from skin cancer at the age of 89. He was born in Big Spraddle, Virginia and died at his home in Sandy Ridge, Virginia.

We wrote a brief preview when Stanley performed at the 2012 Richmond Folk Fest, during which he wowed huge crowds, escorted to and from the stage by a golf kart to adoring applause.

For more insight on his legacy, check out this piece by Charles McGrath for the New York Times in 2009. You can also learn more at the Ralph Stanley Museum in Clintwood, Va.

Another true legend of music has passed. Thanks to the Coen Brothers for reintroducing his music to the masses in their 2008 film, "O' Brother Where Are Thou?"

Here is Stanley at the Richmond Folk Fest.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Review: Jason Isbell at Altria Theatre on June 21

Posted By on Wed, Jun 22, 2016 at 1:45 AM

Jason Isbell in a publicity shot.
  • Jason Isbell in a publicity shot.

Jason Isbell's Alabama, dirt-rusted vocals poured into Richmond's Altria Theatre on Tuesday night, with lyrics ranging from buried lovers to sins committed, atrocities best kept to song over sonnet, stage over reality.

But those in attendance were left to wonder: What has he omitted?

The opening song, an uplifting, optimistic "If It Takes A Lifetime," ironically underscored his rapid ascension to the goals professed therein: hard work, overcoming technology's negativity, and accepting the influence of his greatly talented violinist and wife, Amanda Shires.

The bright lights of the mosque illuminated the dark corners of an unknowing audience when "Decoration Day," the disturbing tale of backwoods banality, rang from his amplified, haunting electric chords.

Four and a half years sober -- an accomplishment, or perhaps a punishment, for which he credits Shires -- drew wild applause from an audience that seemed modestly intoxicated. Richmond being the locale of his swearing off alcohol, it was a touching duet when he and Shires delivered together, "Cover Me Up," which includes the evident lyric of his final days of drunkenness: "When I tore off your dress / In Richmond all high / I sobered up / I swore off that stuff / Forever this time."

This irony was a reminder of the personal nature of Isbell's work: It clings to the soul of struggling man. May it be alcoholism, addiction or old fashioned stupidity, he has a song you'll relate to and a story of addiction that principles its own success in our beloved city.

Behind the stage was a trilogy of symmetric religious mosaics, busted to pieces by such lyrics as "[God] is something like a pipe bomb ready to blow." Nonetheless, it appears that Isbell's southern roots include an earnest Christian faith.

Shires, whose talent eclipses that of her husband, subtly played the role of gris eminance, dominating both the man, his sobriety and the background lights of creamy green, blue, purple and orange -- bright escapades toward sober atonement.

"I've got green and I've got blue" -- subtle recognitions of on-again, off-again pot and prescription drug habits -- was a nod to the past Shires has, by all appearances, put to bed at the tip of her fiddle's bow. Uniquely, these came together in an aqua backdrop that peaked with a seven-spotlight brightness upon the recovering alcoholic.

The religious undertones, sincere and unapologetic, come off as gently uncertain. While stark, they also depict a Christian apologist in denial.

Closing the double encore with "Ain't never gonna change," it's clear that Isbell's metamorphosis hasn't included a makeover, but a coming of age. His former DBT colleagues must be overflowing with discontent, literally having driven by and driven out from their circle one of the most talented musicians of our generation.

Isbell and Shires certainly have a home in Richmond. I hope they frequent it.

Editor's note: This version corrects the spelling of Amanda Shires' last name.

Sunday, June 19, 2016


Actress Grey Garrett on playing Judy Garland the second time around.

Posted By on Sun, Jun 19, 2016 at 6:00 AM

Back in 2014, actress Grey Garrett sounded eerily like the late, great Judy Garland from her legendary 1961 performance at Carnegie Hall.
  • Back in 2014, actress Grey Garrett sounded eerily like the late, great Judy Garland from her legendary 1961 performance at Carnegie Hall.

Inhabiting Garland

One might assume -- I know I did -- that for an actor, playing a character onstage is something like putting on an outfit, it’s something to easily slip into whether that character’s been hanging in the closet for a day or more than a year.

Grey Garrett assures me this isn’t the case.

In 2014, the actress electrified the Swift Creek Mill stage and earned a best actress in Richmond recognition from Style for playing Judy Garland in the bio-musical “Beyond the Rainbow.” Starting this weekend, she’s portraying the troubled “Wizard of Oz” star again, but in a whole new context -- for Richmond Triangle Players’ “The Boy from Oz.”

“After ‘Rainbow,’ I really had to distance myself from Judy Garland,” Garrett says. “Every time I heard her, I’d hear something that would make me reflect on my performance and I’d think, ‘Why didn’t I do it like that?’”

That Garland was such a complex and ultimately tragic figure also made approaching her as a character difficult. “During ‘Rainbow,’ I had to put a wall up to avoid going too deep and slipping into my own depression,” Garrett recalls. “And that made it hard to delve back into it. At the first rehearsals for ‘Oz,’ I was just reading the lines and playing her as a caricature. Even though it was really funny and I really liked it, eventually I realized I had to make her real.”

Luckily, Garrett knew where to turn, having combed through dozens of audio and video recordings from Garland’s long career to prepare for “Rainbow.”

“I used to watch and listen to at least two hours of her a day,” Garrett says. “Doing the research lets me move freely within her character.”

Garrett isn’t the only actor starring in “Oz” who’s working through that process. Anna Grey Hogan, a rising junior in Virginia Commonwealth University’s theater program, appeared as young Liza Minnelli in Richmond Triangle’s 2014 holiday musical, “We Three Lizas.” Hogan reprises a version of young Liza for “Oz,” with Garrett playing her famous mom.

“Some aspects of the role are the same, like the eyelashes going four feet out from my face,” Hogan jokes. “But other than that, it’s a completely different journey.”

“Lizas” was Hogan’s first professional production, auditioning for the role shortly after arriving in town from Orange, where she regularly starred in high-school musicals.

“I’m proud of the work I did in that show but it was a totally different kind of story,” she says. While “Lizas” was a campy fantastical comedy, “Oz” is based on a true story. “I had a base for the character but now I’m getting to portray her more human side.”

Like Hogan, Garrett welcomes the chance to improve on her previous work. “It’s really lovely to play [Judy] a second time,” she says. “It’s a great challenge to not just sit on my laurels and to see what I can layer in over the foundation I already had.”

Running: The last night to catch Quill Theatre’s “Twelfth Night” will be June 26, “The Boy from Oz” continues until July 16, and Swift Creek Mill’s “The Hallelujah Girls” runs through July 23.

On deck: The expanding summer season explodes this week: “Dreamgirls” at Virginia Repertory Theatre, “American Idiot” at the Firehouse Theatre and “Sadie’s Last Painting” offered by Free Jambalaya at RVA Event Space.

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