Colonial Players' face-lift Anne Arundel County: Community theater in Annapolis looks grand after renovation.

November 14, 1996

REGULAR PATRONS of the Colonial Players of Annapolis know only too well that this autumn's season premiere, "And a Nightingale Sang," opened somewhat later than originally scheduled.

But the delay was worth it -- not only because of the evocative play about a blue-collar family living in England during World War II, but because a $300,000 face-lift has much improved the ensemble's East Street home.

The upgrades include an enlarged lobby and bar where theater-goers can gather and sip beverages, a more functional box office and $70,000 worth of improvements in lighting and sound equipment. Said Colonial Players stalwart Carol Youmans, "The end result is quite beautiful. It's a tremendous, open, airy space."

The Colonial Players of Annapolis is the oldest continuing community theater group in the area. It got its start 47 years ago, when it performed "The Male Animal," a play scripted by James Thurber and Elliott Nugent that had been hailed as one of the 10 best of the 1939-40 Broadway season. The company became a permanent fixture of the Annapolis scene in 1951, when the group was incorporated as a non-profit organization. Four years later, it moved to its present home in a remodeled garage at 108 East Street, just below State Circle.

Over the years, that building has undergone quite a transformation. So many parts have been replaced or added that, except for some structural elements, hardly anything remains of the original garage. Even the external appearance is wholly different, with the complex today resembling a whimsical, multi-dimensional barn that somehow landed in the heart of the state capital.

More important than outward appearances, however, is the strong record forged by the Colonial Players. The group's range and ambition are evident in the coming programs as well.

Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," a yuletide favorite during this month and next, will be followed by a play set in New York's Central Park ("I'm Not Rappaport"), a historical drama about a British expedition to the North Pole in 1912 ("Terra Nova") and a musical offering ("Closer Than Ever"). The concluding play of the spring season will be Neil Simon's "Rumors." If you have not seen them, the Colonial Players are worth a look.

Pub Date: 11/14/96

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