Merely Players ready to stage classic American musical


May 12, 2002|By Christina Bittner | Christina Bittner,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

THE MERELY PLAYERS will bring the classic American musical Oklahoma! to the stage of the Chesapeake Center for the Creative Arts on Friday through May 26.

The Rogers and Hammerstein play takes place in 1907 Oklahoma Territory. Memorable songs include "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning," "The Surrey With the Fringe on Top" and, of course, "Oklahoma."

Director Eloise Ullman said the performers in this production are some of the best that she has worked with.

"This is a great cast. We have a combination of very experienced performers in the lead roles, along with others that are new to the theater," she says. "What I love about community theater is that people do it for the love of the theater, not for remuneration. This is a wonderful cast and they work well together."

Ullman is well-known in local theater circles. She has been a performer for 30 years -- as a member of Colonial Players as well as in area dinner theaters. She first worked with the Merely Players in 1999, when she directed Oliver. She says directing allows her to use a wider range of skills than does performing.

"The director has a vision of the show, and it's her job to express that vision to the others in the show and make that vision come to life," she says. "When directing, I get to use more of my administration skills, keeping everyone organized and delegating responsibility. With acting, it's more focused on the performance: learn the lines, learn the songs and blocking."

Anita O'Connor is the musical director, and Vicki Smith is the choreographer.

"Anita is a performer. She's appeared in theater and cabaret," Ullman says. "She's the best musical director in the area and is a joy to work with. Vicki has worked with the Talent Machine of Annapolis and Stageworkz in Severna Park. She has put together magnificent choreography, and the dancers have risen to her challenges."

Oklahoma! is Ullman's first encounter with the Chesapeake Center.

"It's fabulous, terrific," she says. "The technical side is not my strong point, and I am grateful to the technicians there. Wayne Shipley, the director of the center, has been a tremendous help."

Performances will begin at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and May 24 and 25, and at 3 p.m. May 19 and 26. Tickets are $12. For members of the Chesapeake Center, tickets are $8. Reservations: 410-636-6597 or

Community meeting

Brooklyn Heights Improvement Association will meet at 7 p.m. tomorrow at the Brooklyn Park Library, 1 E. 11th Ave.

At the meeting last month, Mike Connell, chairman of the association's bylaws committee, discussed the revised bylaws. Any member who did not receive a copy should call 410-636-9611.

Pumphrey Day slated

Each year, the residents of Pumphrey set aside time to celebrate their community. This year's Pumphrey Day will be held from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. May 19 at the Lloyd Keaser Center, 5757 Belle Grove Road.

Residents and former residents are invited to celebrate Hawaiian-style with the music of the Harambee Choir and Steel Band.

A $5 donation is requested. Children under age 7 will be admitted free. Refreshments will be served.

Church flea market

It's time to gather your surplus treasures for the annual St. Athanasius Men's Club Mammoth Spring Flea Market. The market will be held from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 23 on the church parking lot, 4708 Prudence St.

Tables may be rented for $10, and donated items may be dropped off at the church. In the event of rain, the market will be held in the church hall. Information: 410-636-6496 or 410-792-2481.

Alumni to meet

Brooklyn Park High School Alumni Association will hold nominations and election of officers at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Brooklyn Park Library, 1 E. 11th Ave.

All members are encouraged to attend. If you're not a member, here's your chance to join alumni to keep the school's memory alive. Refreshments will be served. Information: 410-636-3269 or 410-789-7214.

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