Plans for a season under the stars

Stage: Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre prepares for `Gypsy,' the first of this year's three outdoor performances.


Arundel Live

May 20, 2004|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The U.S. Naval Academy's Commissioning Week signals the start of summer in Annapolis, with this year's commencement set for May 28 - the same date another harbinger of summer, Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre, begins its season.

Across from City Dock at 143 Compromise St., the 200-seat courtyard theater is on the site of the city's Colonial-era blacksmith shop, where two weeks ago art luminaries gathered to celebrate Summer Garden's 39th season.

On Thursdays through Sundays at 8:30 p.m. from May 28 to Sept. 4, the outdoor theater will offer two musicals and a Shakespeare comedy.

This season opens with Gypsy, a 1959 classic filled with great songs.

William Shakespeare's comedy Taming of the Shrew is scheduled from July 2 to 31. The season closes with Crazy for You, Ken Ludwig's 1992 reworking of a George and Ira Gershwin musical that will run Aug. 6 through Sept. 4.

The Gypsy cast is busy preparing for opening night. When rain arrived Monday evening, director Alan Kootsher moved the rehearsal at Summer Garden to Germantown Elementary School, where he reminded cast members, "We need to make the best of this rehearsal because a week from today the show opens."

Later, Kootsher said, "I have directed in many venues, but this is my first outdoor experience. It is unique and offers many challenges - one major one: rehearsal. Another factor is outside traffic noise, which microphones should help overcome.

"On the positive side, I believe a passer-by will hear [bits] that entice them to want to come see the show," he said.

Gypsy tells the story of Gypsy Rose Lee, who added grace to the striptease and elevated burlesque to popular acceptance. She was a celebrity long before the Broadway musical transformed her into a legend before her death in 1970.

The show concentrates on her early years and the influence of her mother, Mama Rose, an ambitious stage mother who wanted success for her daughters.

In Summer Garden's version, Mama Rose is played by Sue Centerelli, who, in rehearsal, showed an energetic, strong and warm portrayal. Tiffany Shannon is well cast as Louise, who becomes Gypsy.

Noelle Collison plays grown-up June. In rehearsal, Ed Wintermute was believable as Rose's father, and Glenn Singer impressed as a likable Herbie. Youngsters Casey Cronin, as Baby Louise, and Krista Grubb, as Baby June, also showed acting and dancing skills in rehearsal.

Season tickets for the three shows are available for $30, and $20 for seniors and children younger than 12. Single tickets are $12, $10 for seniors and children. Tickets can be purchased at the box office or by calling 410-268-9212.

Vocal society concert

The Arundel Vocal Arts Society will present in concert "Bravo Bernstein" on Saturday at 8 p.m. at Key Auditorium at St. John's College. The program will include Leonard Bernstein's three-movement suite Chichester Psalms, sung in Hebrew, and selections from West Side Story, Candide and his Mass.

After the concert, Glenette Schumacher will have completed 10 years as AVAS music and artistic director. He is planning to take a year's sabbatical to complete graduate studies. Next season, Betty-Ann Lynerd will serve as guest conductor.

For ticket information, call 410-268-3131.

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