Sign of season: Annapolis troupe opens for summer

Schedule: This year's three productions include modern musicals and a Shakespeare classic near the City Dock.

Theater preview

May 18, 2000|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

In Annapolis, summer begins at Commissioning Week, with commencement at the Naval Academy on Wednesday, and with the season opening two days later of the Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre.

Appropriate for this colonial town, ASGT's 200-seat courtyard theater is on the site of the city's old blacksmith shop at 143 Compromise St., across from City Dock.

On weekends from May 26 through Labor Day, ASGT will offer a theatrical garden of delights in celebration of its 35th season, opening with Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Jesus Christ Superstar" through June 24.

William Shakespeare's "The Comedy of Errors" is scheduled from June 30 through July 29, and the season ends with the 1959 musical "Once Upon A Mattress," by Mary Rodgers, from Aug. 4 through Sept. 2."Jesus Christ Superstar," the 1971 work of Webber when he was age 23 and lyricist Tim Rice when he was age 26, began life as a hit record album and evolved into a rock opera that attracted Broadway producer Robert Stigwood.

It opened on Broadway in October 1971 to opposition from religious groups and others who objected to the retelling of the last seven days of Christ, recast as a hip Jesus. The resulting publicity and media hype made the show a box-office hit.

Objecting to its rock-opera description, Webber's famous 1971 quote -- "It's no more rock than Stravinsky" -- might have validity. But he could not quibble with the opera designation, if opera is defined as high drama set to music that never stops, with all dialogue sung to move the plot forward.

ASGT's production will feature a strong cast headed by two brothers, Joe and John Rose, as Jesus and Judas in what promises to be a spectacular pairing.

John Rose gave a memorable portrayal of Jesus in Pasadena Theatre Company's 1999 "Godspell," and Joe Rose played the dual roles of John the Baptist and Judas in Pasadena Theatre Company's second "Godspell" in March.

Both brothers appeared in Chesapeake Music Hall's 1998 show "42nd Street."

Jeff Miller will play Caiaphas, Terri Madden will be Mary Magdalene and Chuck Babiera will be Pontius Pilate. Michael Gilles is directing, Glennette Schumacher is music director, and Michael Quinn is choreographer.

The July offering, "The Comedy of Errors," marks ASGT's third season of staging Shakespeare.

In his early and shortest play, Shakespeare deals with illusion as he follows twin brothers, separated in infancy by a shipwreck, who meet 25 years later in the town of Ephesus. The brothers are mistaken for each other, although one is generous and happy, the other shrewd and cynical. Carole Youmans will direct.

In August, music joins comedy in "Once Upon a Mattress." It updates the fairy tale "The Princess and the Pea," telling of Princess Winnifred's hopes to marry Prince Dauntless the Drab.

The prince's mother, Queen Agravan, wants to keep her son for herself and decrees that he will marry a true princess of royal blood.

Queen Agravan tests the royalty of Winnifred by determining her sensibility at detecting the presence of a pea on the bottom of a pile of mattresses.

The show will be directed and choreographed by Michael Quinn, with musical director Ceil Ambrosetti.

Shows run Thursdays through Sundays, beginning about 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for senior citizens, students and groups of 20. Season tickets are available for $21.

Call 410-268-9212and leave a message to order tickets.

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