Capital Fringe Review: ‘The Outcasts of Poker Flat’ by Joel Markowitz

At last year’s Page-To-Stage I was introduced to some of the songs/arias that composer/librettist Dr. Andrew Earle Simpson had composed for his adaptation of Bret Harte’s 1869 short story The Outcasts of Poker Flat. I have known Dr. Simpson’s work composing theatre scores for silent films and by his work at Catholic University where he teaches, butthis was the first time I had heard an opera composed by him. I instantly fell in love with the score from The Outcasts of Poker Flat.

So you can imagine how excited I was to have another opportunity to hear his fabulous cast of singers perform this beautiful score, including “The Wings of a Dove” and ‘The Tiny Mountain Chickadee” – my two favorites – and to see how the work had changed since I saw it last. And how lucky DC Fringe audiences will be when they visit The Mt. Vernon Square United Methodist Church to see and hear it.

The Outcasts of Poker Flat is 70 miutes of glorious singing by baritone James Rogers, soprano Rachel Evangeline Barham, mezzo-soprano Jessi Baden-Campbell, soprano Deborah Sternberg, tenor Noah Mlotek and bass-baritone Mike Baden-Campbell, with Dr. Simpson accompanying the singers on piano.

Suffice to say I am highly recommending The Outcasts of Poker Flat. I am going to refer you to Dr. Simpson’s excellent Fringe Preview where you can learn more about the journey of writing this wonderful new chamber opera, listen to audio clips, and where you can purchase tickets.

Don’t miss the chance to see and hear something new and exciting!



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Joel Markowitz
Joel Markowitz is the Publisher and Editor of DCMetroTheaterArts. He founded the site with his brother Bruce to help promote the vast riches of theatre and the arts in the DC Metro area that includes Maryland, Virginia, and DC theater and music venues, universities, schools, Children's theaters, professional, and community theatres. Joel is an advocate for promoting the 'stars of the future' in his popular 'Scene Stealers' articles. He wrote a column for 5 years called ‘Theatre Schmooze’ and recorded podcast interviews for DC Theatre Scene. His work can also be seen and read on BroadwayStars. Joel also wrote a monthly preview of what was about to open in DC area theatres for BroadwayWorld. He is an avid film and theater goer, and a suffering Buffalo Bills and Sabres fan. Joel was a regular guest on 'The Lunch and Judy Show' radio program starring Judy Stadt in NYC. Joel founded The Ushers Theatre Going Group in the DC area in 1990, which had a 25-year run when it took its final curtain call last year. Joel is a proud member of The American Critics Association.


  1. I agree! I read the Harte story three times before seeing the Dr. Simpson’s work. The work itself is haunting. Simpson’s is no less haunting, but he has added a number of interpretations that make it more accessible, more human, more understandable. It was as if he understood the work better than Harte himself! I highly recommend this work!


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