REALIZING A longtime dream, Clarksville resident Mirta de la Torre Mulhare recently staged her original musical "O.T.," a retelling of Shakespeare's "Othello."
Mulhare composed the music, lyrics and libretto for the production, staged last weekend at Wesley United Methodist Church in Washington.
"I started writing music when I was 6," Mulhare said. "Music has always been a part of my life."
Music has not been everything in Mulhare's life.
After studying music for years as a child, she married young and decided to pursue biomedical sciences as a more profitable way to earn a living. But she remained involved in music, writing jingles for Campbell's soup and Alka-Seltzer.
As a young woman, Mulhare studied at the University of Pittsburgh. She painted and sold her artwork, had a radio talk show on an ABC-affiliated station and a television talk show on KDKA-TV. But when her husband suffered a stroke, the family moved to Philadelphia, and Mulhare left her much of her old life behind.
In Philadelphia, she worked for Thomas Jefferson University and took care of her four children and her husband. Although she wrote the first song for "O.T." while pregnant with her second child, Joanna, Mulhare was too busy raising her kids and earning a living to pursue her project.
It wasn't until years later that Mulhare composed the main solo for Mona, her modern version of Othello's wife, Desdemona. She began working on the musical again in the late 1980s and finished it in three months.
"I really had no idea that it was going to develop into what it did," she said.
In "O.T.," Owen Theodore Hulligan, a modern-day Othello, is a state senator running for governor. Mona is a beautiful reporter who interviews him as his campaign begins. John (Othello's treacherous friend, Iago) is O.T.'s childhood friend and political supporter. He is bypassed for the lieutenant governor nomination in favor of Charlie Thompson (Cassio), a district attorney believed to be a better running mate. John vows to avenge the slight.
"I am very interested in different ethnic groups," Mulhare said. But she said she did not want the play to reiterate stereotypes, and thought it would be interesting to create an Irish-American Othello. She imagined Mona as African-American, Hispanic or Asian.
Mulhare spent the past 15 years at State University of New York teaching and doing research. With her children now in their late 20s and 30s, she retired and came to this area a year ago to join her second daughter, Joanna Boales, who lives in Clarksville.
"As soon as I could retire ... I wanted to work at [the play] again," Mulhare said. "I have been waiting for a long time to get back to this."
Boales, who shares her mother's love for music, played Dora (O.T.'s assistant and Mona's best friend) in the musical.
Mulhare produced a compact disc of the music last summer and then began the stage production. She advertised in newspapers and trade journals for actors. Several Howard County residents answered the ads.
Clarksville resident Jackie Brown played a cheerleader and dance captain. Brown also choreographed the production. Darrell Stevens, Phil Stevens and Lisa Leak, all from Columbia, also performed.
A local Howard County musical group, the Raphael Trio, played as part of the seven-piece orchestra. Elaine Newhall was on flute, with Cathy Ferguson on violin and Fay Rosinsky on cello. Dennis Taylor played piano.
Mulhare said the production has been well received. "People really love it," she said. Now she is working on marketing the play.
"Hopefully, one day it will go to Broadway," Mulhare said.
Science talent search
Ashish Patel, a senior at River Hill High School, is a semifinalist in the 2001 Intel Science Talent Search (STS), formerly sponsored by Westinghouse. This is America's oldest and most prestigious precollege science competition.
Ashish was among 300 semi- finalists chosen from the 1,592 students who applied to the STS. Forty finalists will be chosen to attend the Science Talent Institute in Washington, where they will compete for a $100,000 scholarship.
As a semifinalist, Ashish will receive a $1,000 scholarship, and the school will receive $1,000 to support excellence in science, math or engineering education. River Hill science instructional leader and chemistry teacher Barb Jewett sponsored Ashish. His biochemistry project is "Cross-Reactivity of Monoclonal Anti-Squalene Antibodies with Lipid Antigens."
Serving our community
Boy Scout Troop 737 continues to help our community by cleaning up Schooley Mill Park in Highland, in association with the Adopt-A-Park program. Last month, members of the troop and several Webelos Scouts from Troop 793 met on a cold, sunny day. With 3 inches of snow on the ground, they removed fallen branches and picked up debris along the trails.
The Howard County Recreation and Parks Department provided the Scouts with maps of the park, including a layout of the trails. The troop had to split into three groups to cover all the trails.
Thanks to Scouts David Burgy, Chris Black, Dave Borys, Jeremy Kraeuter, Brian McFee, Paul Marcotte, Randall Mazzarino, Chris Sherren, Marty Winters, Grant Waldron, Adam Yozwiak, William Mettle and Brandon Kitchelt.
Parents Lenny Black, Walter Borys, Joe Mettle, Frank Marcotte, T.J. McFee, Pat Winters and Ron Yozwiak also participated.