Second Stage opens `South Pacific' tomorrow

Its name has changed, but troupe still displays talent and altruism

Arundel Live

October 04, 2001|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Second Stage Playhouse might have changed its name and its venue, but the troupe still showcases a unique blend of talents.

And it still gives to the community.

Second Stage, which will perform South Pacific starting tomorrow at the Chesapeake Center for the Creative Arts, is the new name for the St. Martin's Players. That company performed at St. Martin's in the Field Episcopal Church for eight years.

It was a treasured asset to Severna Park, contributing its profits to such charities as ASPIRE, Noah's Ark, Hospice of the Chesapeake, ASPCA, Habitat for Humanity, AIDS House, the playground at Folger McKinsey Elementary School, Earleigh Heights Volunteer Fire Department and Caroline Center in Baltimore.

Severna Park entrepreneur and Second Stage president Mary James promises to continue the theater company's tradition of charitable giving. For this season, James said, the money will go to the Hospice of Howard County, "which has a beautiful facility" in Columbia.

James said that after her father's three-day stay at the facility she was motivated to help the hospice accommodate out-of-town relatives.

Through its decade-long history, the theater company has also provided opportunities to participate in its shows. Second Stage offers educational and theatrical experiences as players to community members.

A recent visit to a rehearsal convinced me that cast members are relishing the experience of singing the tunes from Richard Rodgers' and Oscar Hammerstein's 1949 musical South Pacific on Chesapeake Center's main stage in Brooklyn Park.

Based on James Michener's Tales of the South Pacific, the musical's plot comes alive through songs like "Younger Than Springtime" and "Bali Hai," which the cast delivered with verve in rehearsal.

The story focuses on the relationship of wealthy French planter Emile de Becque, father of two half-Polynesian children, and naive Navy nurse Nellie Forbush, who must deal with her prejudices. A subplot concerns Lt. Joe Cable's romance with a Polynesian girl that is also tinged with racial prejudice. This issue inspired "You've Got to be Carefully Taught" and "Happy Talk," a song expressing an American sailor's feelings for a Polynesian girl.

Second Stage's production is directed by Mary James, with Bill Shappell serving as music director and Elaine Bachman as choreographer. Mark Loepker is cast as de Becque and LaDon Hall will play Forbush. Sharon Ingoe is cast as Bloody Mary, and Patrick Nolan will play Cable. Other cast members include Sandy Loepker, Pat Sana, Dan Wareham, Kerry Deitrick, Tom Wilbur and Alex Wong.

Second Stage's production of South Pacific is at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays through Oct. 20 and 3 p.m. Sundays through Oct. 14. All performances are at Chesapeake Center's main theater, at 194 Hammonds Lane in Brooklyn Park. Call the center at 410-636-6597 for tickets, or 410-647-4360 for information.

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