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Theater Review (NYC): ‘Doctor Faustus’ by Christopher Marlowe at the Secret Theatre

By Jon Sobel December 10, 2019

Horror movies with the hoary themes of demon-summoning and deals with the devil proliferate on our screens. Political nightmares dominate the news. And of course we’re deep into the era of Harry Potter. So it’s too bad more people don’t get to see The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus.

One of the precious few dramas left us by Shakespeare’s great contemporary Christopher Marlowe, the play is almost an ur-text for some of our most common pop-culture tropes. And, in the hands of talented theater folk, it remains a rollicking, scary-good time after more than four centuries.

Just in time for the holidays, the Secret Theatre presents a smashing new staging of the classic. As usual, the company’s creative team crafts inviting drama in a small, awkward space. And somehow (a deal with the devil?) they’ve performed the impressive trick of conjuring a wonderful Faustus.

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Groundbreaking ‘Rent,’ up close and personal

by Mark Lord, qboro contributor   Sep 26, 2019

Step inside Long Island City’s Secret Theatre between now and Oct. 6 and you will find yourself completely immersed in the world of Jonathan Larson’s “Rent,” the groundbreaking musical that depicts life in New York City in the early 1990s, when many of the city’s denizens were struggling for their very survival.

Although director Lauren Elder, in a note in the program, describes the show as “a period piece,” in many ways it remains as relevant today as it was when it originally burst upon the theatrical scene nearly a quarter of a century ago.


Under the musical direction of Justin Baldridge, the four-piece band does full justice to Larson’s pulsating score. The overall effectiveness of the show is abetted by Phelan’s choreography, Cesar Renero’s set design, Jonathan Cottle’s evocative lighting and Antonio Consuegra’s costume scheme.

NYMF Review: The Time Machine


Written by Erik Kahn July 17, 2017

"There are no set endings," says Thomas, the hero of David Mauk's and Brenda Mandabach's musical The Time Machine (directed by Justin Baldridge at The Acorn Theatre at Theatre Row). Based on the novel by H. G. Wells (who coined the term "time machine," by the way), this NYMF production is delightfully inventive, whimsical, exciting, and touching. That doesn't mean it's perfect, but it does mean it's a lovely adaptation of Wells's novel - and an enjoyable experience for theatre-goers who like plays with a little sci-fi, a little steampunk, and a little romance.

Broadway World Review: A DOG STORY Captures Hearts and Laughs at The Davenport Theater Loft


by Victoria Ordin Nov. 23, 2016  

A DOG STORY is that rare musical comedy that manages to be sweet but not cloying, accessible but not banal, and light but not unsubstantial. With most of the city still in deep mourning over the election (and facing a logistical nightmare in Midtown for the next four years), this new musical--with a strong book by Eric H. Weinberger and excellent lyrics and music by Gayla D. Morgan--could not come at a better time. The show, directed by Justin Baldridge, was an extended-release happy pill, after which you felt (if only for an hour or two) that everything will somehow be okay.

TheatreMania:  A DOG STORY

A lighthearted musical gives new meaning to the phrase "puppy love."

Pete Hempstead • Off-Broadway • Nov 17, 2016

An opening number in Gayla D. Morgan and Eric H. Weinberger's A Dog Story, playing at the Loft at the Davenport Theatre, has a cynical ring to it. In the song "Get a Dog," one friend advises another to purchase a pooch for the sole purpose of making women fall for him. But it ends up being one of several catchy tunes in this predictable yet charming new musical comedy about finding love in unexpected places.


Scrooge with a Twist at RUHS

By Michael Hixon    Dec 1, 2015

Ebenezer Scrooge and the ghosts that haunt him come to the beach cities, with a twist or two [...]  Theater arts instructor and director Justin Baldridge adapted Charles Dickens’ tale as a play within a play where the audience is watching the final dress rehearsal of a production company putting on a production of “A Christmas Carol.”

“The actors play certain set pieces throughout the show, and they carry on pieces of furniture and put in objects that then take on the shape of a set piece during the production,” Baldridge said. “It’s really an ensemble version of the show where everyone is actively involved for about 90 percent of the show.”


Murder and Marriage at Two Local High Schools – The play’s the thing at Mira Costa and Redondo Union

Bondo Wyszpolski November 6, 2014


"They’re not exactly duking it out in the ring or on the field, but this weekend the drama departments of Mira Costa High School and Redondo Union High School are opening new plays. Both of them begin with the letter “M” but the similarities end there: Mira Costa’s “The Matchmaker” (by Thornton Wilder) is a comedic farce and set in the 1880s, while Redondo Union’s “Macbeth” (William Shakespeare) is a gory tragedy still vaguely set in Scotland but taking place in the aftermath of a global holocaust. In other words, grin and grim..."


Life is a ‘Cabaret’: Acclaimed musical comes to Redondo Union beginning March 14

Michael Hixon   Mar 12, 2014


“Cabaret” has been a hit musical since it opened on Broadway in 1966, a production that spawned an Oscar-winning film in 1972 starring Liza Minnelli, Michael York and Joel Grey. As the musical comes to Broadway later this year for another revival, the Redondo Union Theatre Arts Department will tackle the production beginning Friday, March 14.

Theater arts instructor Justin Baldridge said his students told him they were tired of “goody two-shoes” shows and wanted something with more depth, so “Cabaret” came to mind.

“I like that there is a historical concept to the show that it would make it a good learning experience for the students,” Baldridge said. “Doing a show like ‘Sweeney Todd,’ there’s not a lot of historical stuff in there. It’s someone who wants to get revenge and kill people. As with ‘Cabaret,’ you’re dealing with people and pre-Nazi Germany. It really goes into how the Nazi’s got into power and how it affected … all society.”


RUHS Drama presents ‘The Diviners’

Michael Hixon Nov 6, 2013

“The Diviners,” a play about a former preacher with a past and a mentally-challenged boy that leads to tragic circumstances, will be performed by the Redondo Union High School Drama Department beginning Thursday, Nov. 7.

Set in Depression-era Indiana, “The Diviners” features Buddy Layman (played by Chris Ward) who became brain-damaged when he nearly drowned as a child, an accident that cost his mother’s life and left him with an odd relationship with water. C.C. Showers (Zach Lynch) quit being a preacher in Kentucky and walked into the small town of Zion hit by the Dust Bowl. His refusal to bring religion back to the small town leads to a tragic event.

Theater arts instructor Justin Baldridge said the play’s parallel to a Greek tragedy attracted him to the work by Jim Leonard, Jr.

RUHS Tackles Beloved Musical Grease

Michael Hixon March 13, 2013


"Theater goers are hopelessly devoted to “Grease,” and the Redondo Union High School Drama Department is putting its own spin on the beloved musical for its spring production that opens Friday, March 15.


Danny and Sandy return to Rydell High in 1959, but director and drama teacher Justin Baldridge wanted to give it a bit of a modern edge as well while staying true to the original that made waves on Broadway in 1972 and again in theaters in 1978..."

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