Annapolis: a fond look back

History: Production brings songs, oral histories and photos of the city to the stage.

Preview

Arundel Live

October 25, 2001|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The Annapolis I Remember, the theatrical production that has brought songs, oral histories and photographs of 20th-century Annapolis to the stage on several occasions over the past decade will return for one performance this weekend with its original cast intact.

Sunday at 3 p.m., actors Mac Bogert, Carol Cohen, Lois Evans, Richard O. Jackson, Phil Meeder and Vivian Gist-Spencer, and pianist-actor Loraine Shaw will take the Key Auditorium stage on the campus of St. John's College to delve into the mystique that makes Annapolis such a distinctive community.

"It should be fun to watch," says Shari Valerio, the show's director.

"We've all laughed a lot putting it together, and I think the audience will sense our joy," she said. "For the cast, it's been just like old times, except we have five new grandparents in the group and one new great-grandparent since we last did the show back in 1994."

The actors will portray numerous members of the Annapolis citizenry in a series of authentic oral histories compiled by Shari Valerio, photographer and historian Mame Warren, and Beth Whaley, a founder of Remember Inc., a nonprofit organization that has presented several productions dealing with the history of Annapolis.

Recollections of Greek immigrants, black businessmen and workers, and a host of other vintage Annapolitans will fashion this living collage of life as it was in the Capital City from 1900 to 1960.

Annapolis, the script tells us, is many things to many people. To some, it's the ultimate cosmopolitan small town, an Athens on the Severn.

To others, it has been a college town, a Navy town, a government town and, as the script puts it, "a small town USA where anything you do or say could become tomorrow's headline."

Helping to place the songs, conversations and monologues in visual context will be the extraordinary photographs collected in Mame Warren's pictorial history of the city, Then Again ... Annapolis, 1900-1965.

The houses, faces, storefronts and street scenes Warren has compiled bear eloquent witness to the history of this ever-changing city and the wonderfully diverse population that has changed with it over the years.

What was most special about The Annapolis I Remember when I saw it 10 years ago was the audience's response.

As pictures flashed on the screen, giggles and "ahs" of recognition could be heard across the auditorium.

And when onstage characters asked each other, "Do you remember that?" heads all over the house bobbed up and down in unison.

The Annapolis I Remember is entertainment that touches the heart, a home-grown piece of theater that's as genuine, classy and intimately drawn as the city that inspired it.

Tickets to The Annapolis I Remember are being sold for $10 and may be purchased in advance at Art Things, 2 Annapolis St., or at Key Auditorium just before Sunday's performance.

Ticket sales and donations will provide funding to continue the work of Remember Inc.

Information: 410-897-9200.

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