Troupe going `Into the Woods'

Season: Summer Garden Theatre tackling Sondheim and Shakespeare in 2001.

Arundel Live

April 19, 2001|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Fairy tales and football mixed with the comic genius of William Shakespeare will take center stage at the Summer Garden Theatre's lovely outdoor facility in downtown Annapolis in the coming months.

The theater will open its 2001 season May 5 with Stephen Sondheim's Tony Award-winning musical "Into the Woods," a breathtakingly clever piece of theater that melds several fairy tales as the inimitable Sondheim has us pondering what happens after their "happily ever after" conclusions are reached.

As Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Jack of "Beanstalk" fame, a pair of handsome Prince Charmings, Cinderella, and the Baker and his Wife all set out into the woods to find their hearts' desire, conflicts are aired, ironies revealed and, finally, the grand spirit of resolution is in the air.

But even as the strains of "Ever After" are echoing in the theater after the first act, trouble is brewing as the deceitful methods employed by the characters to achieve temporary happiness wind up unleashing a malevolent force out for revenge. Survival and the need for community become paramount as the old individual quests for happiness seem trivial in light of the new reality.

In the end, even as danger and sadness become all too real, affirming wisdom is dispensed with the playwright's message that when true needs are expressed openly and honestly, none of us is truly alone.

"Into the Woods" is co-directed by Peter O'Malley and Glenn Singer, while music director Anne Rottenborn has been entrusted with the Herculean task of bringing to life the rhythmic complexities of Sondheim's estimable score. The show will run through June 23.

For its second production, Summer Garden Theatre has chosen Shakespeare's comedy "Much Ado About Nothing." A delightful tale of mistaken identity and feigned death, with a host of twists, turns and complications, "Much Ado" will be directed by Peter Kaiser, one of the area's finest comic actors. It opens June 29 and runs through July 28.

Closing out the season will be "Good News!" One of the big hits of the Roaring '20s that has made it to a new century, its story takes place on a small college campus where students are enjoying the fads of the era - swallowing goldfish, stuffing themselves into phone booths, the Charleston and, of course, college football.

For all its frothiness, the show reads like a history of one of America's most tumultuous decades. Women had won the right to vote, short skirts and short hair were "in," and a "flapper" could assert her independence in ways guaranteed to perplex many a conservative fellow.

"Good News!" also is noteworthy for its musical score full of zippy hits like "Button Up Your Overcoat," "You're the Cream in My Coffee" and "Keep Your Sunny Side Up."

Directed by Debbie Barber, "Good News!" will open Aug. 1 and play through Sept. 1.

Of the three shows, only "Into the Woods" is already cast and in rehearsal.

Summer Garden has scheduled auditions next week for "Much Ado About Nothing" - at 1 p.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Monday at Germantown Elementary School in Annapolis.

Auditions for "Good News!" will be held at Germantown at 1 p.m. April 28 and 7 p.m. April 30.

The company also is teaming with the St. Mary's Performing Arts Camp to present a summer camp/workshop for teens. This new camp will be in session at St. Mary's School in Annapolis from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 23-Aug. 3. Aspects of theater that will be explored include music, acting, dance and auditioning, with a final performance on the Summer Garden Theatre stage.

Young thespians seeking information should call Sharon Cimaglia at 800-222-6177, Ext. 5026, or Ceil Ambrosetti at 410-974-9204.

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