Actors have the military in common Other Little Theatre at Fort Meade set to perform 'The Fantasticks'

April 16, 1993|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,Contributing Writer

"It's hard to be in the military and be interested in theater," begins the Other Little Theatre's description of itself in its printed program. "Watch schedules, temporary duty assignments and sudden relocations can play havoc with rehearsal schedules."

It's all by way of explaining how four military Thespians who once were stationed at a U.S. Navy base in Rota, Spain, came to form their own theater company in Annapolis.

"We're military. We don't have a year to work our way into a part with a local company," explains Cecilia Young, whose husband is on active duty in the Navy. "As a result, there are talented people who shy away from local theater simply because they're military."

Until two years ago, that is, when the group from Spain was reunited at Fort Meade. They promptly formed a theater troupe which since has been dubbed The Other Little Theatre.

Five productions later, only Lennie and Valerie Stiles of the founding four are still around. Al and Gloria Blevins have moved on. The troupe now is in residence at the Recreation Center Theater at the Naval Station on Greenbury Point, just across the Severn River from the Naval Academy and is poised to present its first musical to the community. The show is the intimate "The Fantasticks." It will be presented Friday and Saturday evenings from April 16th through May 1st.

Ray Girdley, a talented performer who has taken part in every OLT production since the group's inception, is the director and is happy to discuss this small gem of a piece.

" 'The Fantasticks' is almost 'Romeo and Juliet,' " he explains, "except the parents fake the entire feud in the first act. At the beginning, everyone gets what they want. But in Act II, everyone learns that it's very difficult to live happily ever after."

The hauntingly beautiful "Try to Remember" is the show stopper everyone knows.

The romantic leads in "The Fantasticks" will be played by Jim Raistrick who has recently returned from duty in Berlin, Germany, where he performed in such productions as "Oliver" and "Jesus Christ Superstar," and Elizabeth Bennett, a very talented freshman from Arundel High School.

The feuding parents are played by Tim Steele, a Chief Warrant Officer stationed at Fort Meade, and Janet Whalen-Dunning, a veteran of many shows at the Base Theatre in Seoul, South Korea.

The devilish El Gallo will be performed by Hal Slentz-Whalen, a Ship Transfer Officer who served in Desert Storm as operations officer aboard the USS Blue Ridge.

Such talented individuals -- eager to serve their audiences as well as they've been serving their country -- are truly worthy of community support.

Call 757-2743 or 267-3580 for information.

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