Linger ● Premiere Stages ● July 2018

NJ Arts Maven

Review: Linger at Premiere Stages Will Linger In Your Mind Long After Stage Lights Come Down

"Productions at Premiere Stages, in residence at Kean University, are consistently timely and thought-provoking. As their inaugural production of the 2018 season, Craig Garcia’s riveting drama, Linger, the winner of the 2018 Premiere Play Festival, raises the bar to a new level. Tautly plotted and superbly acted by a group of actors fully invested in their characters, the play’s themes and thorny questions will keep you on the edge of your seat and linger in conversation and thought long after the stage lights go down."

". . . John J. Wooten directs this edgy play. He’s cast actors who literally “become” their characters."

"In the role of Summer, Sarah Kathryn Makl  uses the mannerisms, voice and intonation to capture a middle schooler to a T; she sounded just like my 13-year-old granddaughter! Summer, of course, is the most vulnerable in the family; trolled on Instagram and Snapchat for defending her brother, she’s placed in a precarious emotional situation."

"Linger is one of the finest things I’ve seen in the more than two decades I’ve reviewed theater. Don’t miss it."

New Jersey Stage

REVIEW: Linger at Premiere Stages at Kean

"Craig Garcia’s new play, Linger, gives new meaning to the term 'nuclear family' and offers a powerful story, terrific performances, and fine direction by John J. Wooten."

"The play takes part in two acts.  The first act is so powerful, so draining, one wonders how it can keep up the pace in the second act, but it does.  It benefits from some truly remarkable performances led by Danielle Skraastad whose gut wrenching primal scream will haunt you as you leave the theatre; Robby Haltiwanger’s nuanced portrayal of Bobby; Michael Frederic as the father who wants to help his son so badly that he ignores everything else; and Sarah Kathryn Makl whose character grows more complex as the play moves on."

Tap Into Union

Linger Explores Teenage Bullying

"Craig Garcia’s stirring, heartbreaking play Linger opened at Premiere Stages this past weekend. The playwright struck a nerve with this intense family drama, the incalculable damage done in this day of cyber bullying and how lives are destroyed. . . . What matters here are the secrets that everyone is keeping from everyone else and how the truth is twisted and turned. The cast delivers in spades, with searing emotions and accusations. . . . Summer, is played by Sarah Kathryn Makl. She is susceptible to all the cyber bullying that the incident has aroused and how those accusations never go away. . . . Linger is the 20018 Premier Play Festival Winner, which received 572 submissions. It will linger in your memory because of its bold, raw indictment of the way families are torn apart.

The Star Ledger

Linger Cast Impresses as It Occupies Uncertain Terrain at Premiere Stages: Review

"Linger examines how the shockwave of one event can emanate and wreak havoc on life after life. Unrelenting in its probe of a world steadily crumbling, the play is grippingly and unapologetically bleak, refusing to offer trite resolution. Instead, Garcia shows the courage to pile on, to suggest that our desire for resolution is at odds with the messy reality of trauma. It is a bold move that results in an exciting and challenging play."

"Linger is at its best when certainty is most fragile. This charged condition demands a response, but Garcia's characters are most compelling when standing on the shakiest ground.  Under the direction of John J. Wooten, the cast at Premiere Stages impresses with their ability to occupy that uncertain terrain."

Let's Go To The Theater

Linger Looks at Social Issues

"A strong cast gives Linger a forcefulness that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats during the production. The parents are played by Jonathan C. Kaplan as Gerald, Danielle Skraastad, as Maryanne, and Michael Frederic as James. Playing the roles of the children are Robby Haltiwanger as Mike, Sarah Kathryn Makl as Summer, and Will Ehren as Bobby."

"Linger is well written with dialogue that flows easily. The characters are well developed allowing the story to enter new territory that society is going to have to learn to deal with. Craig Garcia’s play is one that has come at the right time. Not only is it a dynamic piece of theater, but it also is a social study of the world we are developing and living in today."

The Westfield Leader

Linger is a Haunting Contemporary Tale of Family

"Linger is a haunting, contemporary tale that could take place in 'Anytown, USA'."

"The play rings true on many levels because of believable relationships presented by a stellar cast."

Broadway World

BWW Review: LINGER at Premiere Stages is a Gripping Family Drama that Addresses Current Issues

“The outstanding cast of Linger captures the drama and tension of this distinctive new play. They include Jonathan C. Kaplan as Gerald; Danielle Skraastad as Maryanne; Michael Frederic as James; Robby Haltiwanger as Mike; Sarah Kathryn Makl as Summer and Will Ehren as Bobby.”

Linger is a powerful show that smacks of reality. It is a production that should be seen and will provoke essential conversations about relationships, honesty, respect for others, and the use of social media.”

The Theatre Times

Linger Brings Dark Subject Matter into the Light

"Linger is an uncomfortable play that brings up difficult subjects that many don’t discuss with their loved ones, which is what makes it successful."

Director John J. Wooten and the cast of Linger

Brighton Beach Memoirs ● Theater J ● April/May 2017

DC Metro Theater Arts

Review: "Brighton Beach Memoirs" at Theater J

"Lucky for DC theatergoers, Theater J is currently headlining the Tony Award-winning production, which features four extraordinarily-talented local teen actors, under Matt Torney’s keen direction...Deeply-moving and hilariously-entertaining, Theater J’s production of 'Brighton Beach Memoirs' is truly top-rate with a tremendously electrifying ensemble who strike a splendid balance of delivering riveting scenes interspersed with liberating laugh out loud clashes."

Broadway World

BWW Review: Coming of Age with Heart and Humor in BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS at Theater J

"Featuring a cast of seasoned veteran actors working beside some of the DC-area's most gifted young performers, Theater J offers a sublime take on Neil Simon's semi-autobiographical look at growing up poor and horny in Depression era Brooklyn."

"As Eugene's female cousins, Nora and Laurie, Marie-Josee Bourelly and Sarah Kathryn Makl fit their roles and make them their own. . . . As the sicklier and younger cousin Laurie, Makl makes the character's needy whining memorable without stepping over into annoying."

MD Theater Guide

Theatre Review: “Brighton Beach Memoirs” at Theater J

"Shows with such a young cast (more than half the characters are under the age of 19) run the risk of hiring people either too old or too inexperienced to effectively convey the feelings of the characters. This is not the case with Theater J’s production–in fact, one of the highlights is Cole Sitilides’ absolute embodiment of Eugene’s naivety and brilliant sense of humor. He lands every joke, his delivery note perfect, right down to the heavy Brooklyn accent. . . . The other young actors are equally adept.  . . .  Makl, who plays her younger sister, has a good sense of comedic timing, and a really difficult character to play, as Laurie is fairly strange, unfiltered, opinionated, and extremely sheltered."

DC Theater Scene

Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs at Theater J (review)

"Theater J’s fine production, directed by Matt Torney, has its bounce and serve down pat. There isn’t a joke wasted, nor a line without its undertow. It’s helped by a well chosen ensemble . . . Even with the genius of Neil Simon, this is an easy play to get wrong. Characters can easily turn into stereotypes, and laughs can obliterate the serious message he wove into the piece. But Torney times things just right: there are hills and valleys in this production, and not a moment misplaced or strung along."

The Washington Post

Young Local Actors Impress in ‘Brighton Beach Memoirs’ at Theater


Broadway World

Neil Simon's Brighton Beach Memoirs to Play Theatre J This Spring

"Adding to the appeal, four local teen actors will play the major roles of Eugene, his brother Stanley, and their two cousins, Laurie and Nora. Those teens are, respectively, Cole Sitilides, Eli Pendry, Sarah Kathryn Makl, and Marie-Josée Bourelly. The adult professionals joining them in the cast are Lise Bruneau, Michael Glenn and Susan Rome."

"[Theatre J Artistic Director, Adam] Immerwahr says that 'Director Matt Torney and I are seeking to capture the authenticity, innocence, and hope of actual age-appropriate actors. So we undertook a broad community outreach initiative at synagogues, schools, and acting programs throughout the DC metropolitan area. In addition to finding our cast, we had the opportunity to engage artistically with young actors throughout our region through free workshops on acting and audition technique.'"

The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd ● Compass Rose Theater ● May 2016

The Baltimore Sun

Compass Rose Polishes A Rare Gem
In Roar of the Greasepaint, . . .

"Merry-Browne showcases young teen girls' talents in the trio of urchins who brighten this production from the opening scene — where they scale the heights to deliver a choral interlude from the balcony and later descend by swinging on a rope to the lower stage. It's a fabulous spectacle."

DC Metro Theatre Arts

Review: The Roar of the Greaspaint, The Smell of the Crowd at Compass Rose Theater

"The Roar of the Greasepaint, The Smell of the Crowd – A Musical, is so spectacular that when it was over…I wanted more."

"Kay (Sarah Kathryn Makl) is adorable with her bright smile and pigtails as she dances along with her urchin gal pals. At the end of the show, she joins forces with the other urchins, encouraging Cocky and Sir into a 'Sweet Beginning.'"

Gypsy ● Reston Community Players ● October 2017 

DC Metro Theatre Arts

Review: Gypsy at Reston Community Players

"The show opens with a group of children auditioning for a talent show, and the kids in this performance: Kylee Hope Geraci (Baby June) and Sarah Makl as Baby Louise, were very cute."

"Director Paul Tonden and Producers Chris Dore and Cara Giambrone have created a production of Gypsy that RCP can be very proud of. It’s a great evening of theatre to open their 50th season!"

Washington Area Theatre Community Honors

Announcement of Nominations 16th
Annual Washington Area Theatre Community Honors - THE WATCH AWARDS

Nominations Announced January 15, 2016 at 7:30 pm at The Birchmere, Alexandria, VA

Award Ceremony Sunday, March 5, 2016 at 7:00 pm at The Birchmere, Alexandria, VA

103 productions (34 musicals, 69 plays) were adjudicated in 2016. Twenty-seven community theater companies participated in WATCH adjudication.

Reston Community Players' Gypsy received 17 nominations!