Dinner theater singer belts it out into baseball's big leagues National anthem was her ticket WEST COLUMBIA

March 24, 1993|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,Contributing Writer

Donna M. Greenwald used to perform in dinner theater musicals to audiences of only a couple hundred people.

Now the Columbia resident is performing the national anthem in baseball stadiums across the country to crowds of more than 40,000. Labeling it her "National Anthem Tour," Ms. Greenwald's objective is to sing the Star Spangled Banner at every ball park in the country.

"Singing at Camden Yards [last summer] was truly the beginning of my National Anthem Tour," said Ms. Greenwald, who described herself as an avid baseball fan in her mid-30s. "I never expected six weeks later to go to a new stadium and sing for the Chicago White Sox.

"And I never thought I would be singing for the champions," said Ms. Greenwald, who is preparing for a July performance at SkyDome in Toronto for the Blue Jays. "I never thought I'd get this far. It's quite a thrill because I'll be representing all the baseball fans I know in the Baltimore and Washington area."

The anthem tour began when a friend from a dinner theater performance suggested she try singing at stadiums, Ms. Greenwald said. On a whim, she sent audition tapes to stadium public affairs departments, including those at Oriole Park at Camden Yards and at SkyDome in Toronto.

"I thought it was a great idea because my family and I are big baseball fans," said Ms. Greenwald, a part-time health technician and appointments secretary for the Columbia Medical Plan. "When [the Orioles] called, I thought 'Oh boy! I am ready and willing.'

"I've never been as excited singing at a dinner theater as I am singing at a stadium," she added. "The amount of people I sing for makes it even more of a thrill."

Last summer, Ms. Greenwald performed for the Frederick Keys -- an Orioles minor league team -- and for the White Sox at Comiskey Park.

Although she does not get paid for her performances, Ms. Greenwald said her family receives tickets to the game and autographs from baseball players.

"I get a different kind of payment," Ms. Greenwald said. "My whole family gets to come with me and we get to meet different ballplayers. I mostly do it for fun, but when I sing at different stadiums, we get the opportunity to get balls signed by ballplayers, too. We've got quite a collection. My family loves it."

Her husband, Gary, 8-year-old son, Danny, and 17-year-old daughter, Jodie, will accompany her to Canada. And Toronto fans might even get the chance to greet the newest member of the family if Ms. Greenwald gets too excited.

By July she'll be eight months' pregnant.

"We're all looking forward to going to Toronto," Ms. Greenwald said. "If I get too excited and the adrenalin starts to pump and the baby wants to come . . . well, I'll just deliver in Canada after my song."

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