Daughter Gives Mother New Role

Upon Urging, Frederick Housewife, Volunteer Becomes Busy Actress

March 13, 1991|By Tim Weinfeld | Tim Weinfeld,Contributing theater critic

FREDERICK — It's a familiar saying, "Like father, like son." And our society haschanged such that it's no surprise to hear, "Like mother, like daughter."

But Carroll resident Joan Crooks has flipped that latter adage on its ear.

"Like daughter, like mother," resulted a couple of years ago whenher daughter, Brenda, talked Crooks into accompanying her to tryoutsfor a play.

Local audiences may remember the Carroll Players' production of "Harvey," which featured this mother-daughter team.

Since that time the theater has been an important part of Joan Crook's life. Daughter Brenda is now at college studying theater, but Crooks continues her life as housewife, literacy council volunteer and busy actress.

In addition to "Harvey," Crooks has appeared in productions of "Bell, Book and Candle," "Arsenic and Old Lace," and "Steel Magnolias."

Last Friday she opened in the Fredericktowne Players' production of Arthur Miller's "The Crucible" at the Weinberg Center in Frederick.

The Fredericktowne Players has rich production history, stretching across 20 years. It has a large and active board of directors, a comfortable balance in the bank account and the use of a large,convenient and well-equipped facility.

"I feel I'm part of a realtheater," Crooks said.

This reviewer was fortunate to see the first four scenes of "The Crucible" in dress rehearsal last Thursday. This is a handsome production of the well-known and oft-produced play. And Crooks' contribution to its success is obvious, even without seeing her very important final scene.

With her first entrance as the aged but strong matriarch Rebecca Nurse, it's clear that the actress not only understands her role in the drama but also knows how to use her craft to achieve that role.

In acting terms, it would be said Crooks is "centered," and has invested all her energies into the portrayal of one of Miller's most interesting characters.

Crooks has had no formal theater or acting training -- she has learned simply by doing. Her performance in "Crucible" shows she has learned well.

Most of the other performers in the production share Crooks' ability to maintain the "unbroken line of the role," including Mount Airy resident Steve Lloyd, who plays the pivotal role of Danforth.

Lloyd has been on stage in many of the Fredericktowne plays in the recent past and has served as the very industrious publicity chairman for the troupe.

Does the 45-minute commute to rehearsal become difficult for Crooks? No, she says.

"It's enjoyable working with wonderful people who are friendly, enthusiastic and professional," she said, adding praise for "Crucible" director Sharon Kaye Smith.

Civic leaders in Frederick have done a splendid job rejuvenating the city's downtown, and the Weinberg Center is very much at the center of this lovely area.

A terrific day trip would include a tour of the city's historical district, dinner at one of the many fine downtown restaurants and seeing Crooks and her colleagues in a solid production of a great play in a fascinating theater.

"The Crucible" continues Friday andSaturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m.

For ticket information, call the Weinberg Center box office at (301) 694-8585.

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