Theme drives season's selections

Shows: Colonial Players will explore identity and acceptance issues through plays and a musical.

Arundel Live

September 02, 2004|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Colonial Players starts its 55th season with a newly renovated lobby and a themed season for the first time in its history, along with a restructured board that has created an artistic director and directors of production positions, human resources and marketing and community relations.

Predicting that renovations will enhance the theater-going experience, past Colonial Players President Joan Hamilton says that the theater company "has a new feel in its first season woven around a theme. The theme deals with identity and the search for acceptance."

The identity theme will be explored through mostly recent works in settings from academia to the boxing ring and from the Deep South to New York City, including a musical about how assassins have changed our national history.

"These are all American plays that deal with identity issues," says Colonial's first artistic director, Darice Clewell. "Most important, each is an example of fine literature that will be thought-provoking, educational and entertaining."

Clewell says the selection committee wanted to make sure that the plays "were on the cutting edge to entertain and educate our audience and to challenge ourselves. With 54 years under our belt, we can do what other theaters are not able to do, having the luxury of doing shows that take risks."

Colonial opens this season with a family drama with humorous elements rather than its usual comedy opener. David Auburn's Proof, directed by Rick Wade, won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize and Tony award for best play.

Proof centers on a troubled young woman who has spent years caring for her brilliant but unstable mathematician father. It is set at the family's Chicago home on a single weekend during which the woman confronts her estranged sister and one of her father's former students. She considers how much of her father's genius or madness she has inherited. Proof runs tomorrow to Oct. 2.

Donald Wollner's Kid Purple, directed by Mickey Handwerger, is slated for Oct. 22 to Nov. 20.

Benjamin Schwartz was born with a pigmentation abnormality that made him purple from the neck up. Taunted by other kids, he fights back and wins every fight, leading him to a boxing career.

"This play hasn't been done much because nobody has heard of it, but our great play selection committee asked `if not us, then who' will do this?" Clewell says.

Douglas Carter Beane's As Bees In Honey Drown, directed by Carol Youmans, will be presented Jan. 14 to Feb. 12.

Winner of the 1997 Drama Critics Circle and Obie awards, this fast-tempo urban comedy deals with one character's quest for celebrity and another's search for identity, examining the role of media in how the woman's desire for fame threatens to rob the writer of his identity.

Stephen Sondheim's and John Weidman's Assassins - a musical that tells the stories of nine actual or would-be presidential assassins - will be directed by Craig Allen Mummey.

Running March 4 to April 9, Assassins looks at how society's disaffected twist reason to extremes.

April 29 to May 28, Colonial's season closes with Alfred Uhry's The Last Night of Ballyhoo, directed by Jean Hamilton.

Winner of the 1997 Tony for best play, the uplifting family comedy is set in 1939 Atlanta and tells the story of a mother who wants her daughter to marry a socially acceptable husband.

To help cover renovation costs, a fund-raiser will be held at St. Johns College Key Auditorium on Sept. 19, when stage, screen and television star Robert Prosky will speak about his 46-year career. Tickets are $35. Call Beth Whaley at 410-266-5183 or order online at

Season subscriptions are available for $70, or $45 for seniors and students. Single tickets are $15 for adults, and $10 for seniors and students. 410-268-7373.

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