Fledgling troupe to hold benefit

August 10, 1994|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,Sun Staff Writer

Producer Gary Wheeler promises that the papier-mache figures he's painting will look like rocks by Friday night when his Actors Company Theatre takes to the stage at North County High School to perform the first of four benefit performances of the musical "Man of La Mancha."

The Glen Burnie-based amateur theater company was formed in June 1993 when Mr. Wheeler and two longtime friends, Wayne Shipley and John Strawbridge, decided to combine their talents and interests in local theater.

Mr. Shipley, who is English chairman at North County, has directed some shows. Mr. Strawbridge is a casting agent with Pat Moran, which casts for the television series "Homicide." Mr. Strawbridge helped select actors for "Man of La Mancha," said Mr. Wheeler, who will play Don Quixote.

The theater company has performed three other productions, "Plaza Suite," "The Fantasticks" and "Harvey." But none was a benefit performance.

"And I just thought we'd like to use our talent to do something special for the community," said Mr. Wheeler, who went to the library and combed through a list of charities for ones whose functions did not overlap.

He chose North Arundel Hospital Foundation, Grant-A-Wish Foundation, United Cerebral Palsy and Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Mr. Wheeler said he chose "Man of La Mancha" to perform to benefit them because he believed that some of the themes of the musical, such as fighting seemingly unbeatable odds, were exemplified in the work of the four charitable organizations.

The four performances of "Man of La Mancha" -- Friday and Saturday, and Aug. 19 and Aug. 20 -- will begin at 8 p.m. at North County High School. Tickets are $10.

Mr. Wheeler said it is costing $10,000 to put on "Man of La Mancha." The auditorium at North County High School holds 800 people, he said.

"All proceeds, except for expenses, will go to these organizations," he said.

Bill Homoky, executive director of North Arundel Hospital Foundation, a charitable organization that started operating last fall, said, "We're delighted to have been selected by the theater company. We're so new -- so anybody who looks our way, we feel elated."

The acting company had many charitable organizations to choose from,ld have chosen, Mr. Homoky said. He said the foundation, formed to raise money to improve services and facilities at North Arundel Hospital, may use its share to help fund a new radiology room on which the hospital is working.

,.5l "It's wonderful for us as a nonprofit organization to have someone call and say they want to do something and give us money. We're thrilled," said Ashlyn Sowell, director of development for Grant-A-Wish Foundation, which helps people who have life-threatening and chronic illnesses.

Ms. Sowell said the organization will split proceeds it receives from the musical among Grant-A-Wish Foundation programs and the Children's House at Johns Hopkins, a 1 1/2 -year-old residential facility the foundation sponsors.

"We might be able to send a few families out to see the show, depending on what their weekend schedules are like," Ms. Sowell said.

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