Last play at site displays talents of all involved

Goodbye: Pending move of Second Stage Playhouse from the St. Martin's in the Field Episcopal Church hall doesn't steal charm from production of `The Wizard of Oz.'

May 13, 1999|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

St. Martin's Players, the Severna Park theater group that took its name from the church that rented it space for its productions, has a new name, Second Stage Playhouse. After this month it will be searching for new space.

St. Martin's in the Field Episcopal Church has decided not to renew the group's lease on the church hall on Benfield Road.

For two more weekends, the theater company will bring us the magic of "The Wizard of Oz" with some 50 children in Munchkin costumes, clever choreography, hilarious character parts and a beautifully played Dorothy, the child from Kansas who follows the yellow brick road.

Sixteen-year-old Kathleen Scott has all the acting ability and charm she needs for the lead, and she has the singing voice to deliver a touching "Over the Rainbow."

She is joined by Eric Bachmann as farm hand Zeke, who becomes a Cowardly Lion with a loud, deep tremolo; Mark Norman as farmhand Hunk, who becomes a rubber-legged and lovable Scarecrow in search of a brain and Daniel Wareham as farmhand Hickory, who becomes the Tin Man perpetually in need of oil and a heart.

Georgeanne Lumpkin is convincing in the dual roles of Aunt Em and Glinda, the good witch. Pat Saila savors her every nasty snarl as mean neighbor Almira Gultch and as the Wicked Witch. Bryant Centofanti plays Uncle Henry and an Oz guard, and Rick Hall is a likable phony Professor Marvel as well as a terrific Wizard.

In a class by herself is Tawanda the terrier mix, who plays Toto with such amazing skill that she should receive a combined Lassie-Rin Tin Tin award.

The set design by producer/director Mary James, Richard Blomquist and Daniel Wareham is imaginative and adapts to speedy scene changes. Panels shift to provide actors easy entrance and exit. The entire house is used to bring sets into the theater; in some cases scenery walks on its own down the center aisle.

Monkeys glide down the aisle on in-line skates and houses walk up the aisle to take their places onstage. They are followed by costumed children with large flat flowers atop their heads, bodies in pots and legs encased in green tights.

Dorothy and her crew walk down a glowing, black-lighted yellow brick road through an apple orchard of motionless teen-agers robed in brown with apples in their leaf-bedecked hands.

The enormous 10-foot Wizard arrives from the rear, emitting loud grunts, spouting steam, and trying to strike terror with lighted electric bulb nostrils.

Choreographer Kim Stevens creates a cyclone with her dancers moving long capes in varied shades of gray.

The children, even preschoolers, are troupers, with nothing scaled down for them.

The orchestra of flute, clarinet, alto sax, trumpet, trombone, keyboard, bass guitar and percussion is under the direction of Marsha Goldsmith and Don Chandler.

I'm sorry this is the last show the company will do at St. Martin's, its home for the past eight years.

This is a loss to the community and especially sad for the young theatergoers who enjoyed "Wizard of Oz." It may be even sadder for those 50 young troupers who no longer have a theater where they can hone their skills.

To order tickets, call 410-647-4369.

Pub Date: 5/13/99

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