2nd Star's opener is `London Suite'

August 29, 2002|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The folks at 2nd Star Productions start their new season with added luster gained from last season's Guys and Dolls - winner of a Ruby Griffith award in July for outstanding achievement in a musical.

"It's a significant accomplishment ... for a musical in this highly competitive area encompassing Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., where 30 competitors submitted entries," 2nd Star founder and frequent director/producer Jane B. Wingard said on receiving the Griffith award, which is sponsored by the British Embassy.

"Now we're into a new season that will include Music Man with the same Guys and Dolls production team and directing by Jim Reiter, our Benny Southstreet, assisted by Nori Morton, our Adelaide," she said.

Strong cast

"We have a strong cast for Curious Savage that is filled with experienced directors who have directors' insight, and we're lucky to have Charles Maloney directing London Suite. So for the coming season we continue to set the bar very high," Wingard said.

The season opens tomorrow with Neil Simon's 1995 comedy London Suite, a collection of four small plays set at various times in the same London hotel suite where we meet four different occupants.

Here, the most prolific American playwright has created a comedy full of memorable characters such as a burned-out writer and his costly accountant, an American widow in London shopping with her matchmaker daughter and sports fan tourists on their way to Wimbledon.

Simon also revisits two characters he introduced in California Suite, an aging actress and her estranged husband. Continuing through Sept. 21, London Suite is typical of Simon's later works in its mix of taut drama laced with one-liners, hilarious comedy and the unexpected bittersweet poignancy of withered love.

Scheduled Nov. 8 through Dec. 7 is Meredith Willson's The Music Man, boasting a score of Americana tunes such as the rousing march "76 Trombones," the barbershop harmonies of "Pick-a-little" and "Lida Rose," and old-fashioned love songs like "Til There Was You."

Wingard will direct a seldom-done gentle comedy with strong philosophic elements, John Patrick's Curious Savage, which opens March 14 and runs through April 5.

In the play, the protagonist - the recently widowed Mrs. Savage - wants to distribute her inherited millions to philanthropic causes while her greedy adult stepchildren have other ideas. They commit the widow to a sanatorium, where they expect she'll "come to her senses" and where instead she finds allies.

From May 30 through June 28, the 1937 British musical Me and My Girl, by Arthur Rose, Douglas Furrier and Noel Gay, will take the stage.

Revived in London and New York in the 1980s, this 2nd Star favorite tells the story of Bill Smiths, a poor Cockney boy who finds he can inherit the title and estate of the Viscount Hereford if he can convince snobbish executors of his suitability to be his father's heir.

Although Bill is pursued by his newfound aristocratic cousin, he remains true to his Cockney girlfriend Sally.

Modern playhouse

All performances take place at Bowie Playhouse, a state-of-the-art theater that seats 153.

It boasts ceilings high enough to accommodate scenery drops that minimize dark time for changing sets and maximize enjoyment. Performances are further enhanced by a pit that can accommodate a full orchestra.

Bowie Playhouse is nestled in Whitemarsh Park less than a mile from Anne Arundel County.

Sharing this wonderful theater on an alternating basis is the Bowie Community Theatre, which opens its 2002-2003 season Oct. 11-26 with The Octette Bridge Club and continues with You Know I Can't Hear You When the Water's Running, to be presented Feb. 14 through March 1.

The Bowie Community Theatre troupe closes its season with Dial M for Murder, which runs April 25 through May 20.

To order 2nd Star subscriptions or buy individual tickets, call the box office at 410-757-5700 or 301-858-7245.

For additional information, visit the Web site at http:// 2ndstarproductions.com.

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