A mix of business, pleasure

Bay Theatre fundraiser gives patrons a peek at 2006-2007 season


It's been a great month so far for party-going performing arts devotees with gala fundraisers for Ballet Theatre of Maryland that took place June 7 and another for Bay Theatre Company on June 10. Annapolis might now qualify as a cultural center on the basis of about 100 different arts supporters attending each event last week where both parties offered their own distinctive flavor.

The Bay Theatre folks know how to throw a great party to announce their coming season and celebrate their past. The company's co-founders, Janet Luby and Lucinda Merry Browne, welcomed guests, leading them to the rear hall where a buffet awaited, accompanied by the piano artistry of Anita O'Connor.

The event included a silent auction where attendees could bid on theater and restaurant tickets and sports events or enjoy being pampered at participating spas. Art and jewelry were included in another category to be bid on to raise funds for Bay Theatre Company.

Bay's event also raised an estimated $6,000, adding to the $4,000 for its previous Gin Game fundraiser.

The major highlight of the evening was a preview of the 2006-2007 season with Anita and Maurie O'Connor, guest artist Mark Elliott Wilson and Bay Theatre's Janet Luby and Allyson Tierney in on-stage performances.

Veteran stage and film actor Wilson, currently based in New York, where he was recently in Oliver Stone's World Trade Center and Noise with Tim Robbins, has been Janet Luby's friend since they toured together in Barefoot in the Park, playing newlyweds Corie and Paul Bratter.

Wilson did an excerpt that previewed Ira Levin's Deathtrap, portraying a playwright who has suffered a long dry period without a hit and now has received a fabulous script submitted by his former student. He discusses with his wife (played by Allyson Tierney) how to make this script his own.

This season opener scheduled for Sept. 29 through Nov. 4 seems an ideal choice for Bay Theatre, with its small number of required sets and small cast.

Anita and Maurie O'Connor previewed the season's musical, A Man of No Importance, based on a 1994 Albert Finney film, with music by Stephen Flaherty and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens. The story tells of Alfie Byrne, a Dublin bus driver in the 1960s who wants to do a stage version of Salome at his church.

This play confronts deeper issues than usually found in musicals. A Man of No Importance is slated at Bay for Dec. 1 of this year, through Jan. 13, 2007.

The third and most exciting work previewed was The Norman Conquests: Table Manners, the first of a trilogy by Alan Ayckbourn, which received a magnificent reading by Luby and Wilson who captured nuances found in a long-lasting marriage. This play is slated from April 27 to June 2 and will close next season.

In Bay Theatre's first four-play season, the classic William Inge play Picnic will be presented Feb. 23 to March 31, 2007. Based on the previews presented at Saturday's gala, the fifth year should prove another winner.

Season brochures and subscription forms may be obtained by calling Bay Theatre at 410-268-1333 or at www.baytheatre.org.

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