Lewin’s “Orlando Rising” Debuts at Church Hill Theatre

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BC Productions proudly announces the premiere of Orlando Rising, the latest script by Chestertown playwright Earl Lewin. Set in November 1963 on the heels of the Kennedy assassination, this drama in two acts will have its premiere at Church Hill Theatre Friday, July 28.

Wally (Chris Rogers) and Ruth Kristine Kinlock ruminate over Wally’s grandmother’s visit and the memories created by Orlando Rising. (Photo by Jane Jewell)

The script conveys the contorted journey of Wally, a college professor, and his wife Ruth as they play temporary host to the family matriarch, Nana. This high tension drama unravels when events surrounding the Kennedy assassination open a festering family secret that has lurked in Wally’s subconscious since childhood.

Wally teaches literature with a current focus on the plays of Henrick Ibsen. As he prepares his lectures through study of Ibsen’s dark and disturbing themes, something unspoken begins tugging at his childhood memories and his image of his Uncle Orlando. Can Wally find a way to confront Nana and to obtain the truth about Orlando? Is Orlando really secure in the mental hospital that he walked away from so many times in the past, or is he going to suddenly appear and cause havoc in their lives?

Nana, a product of the Victorian Age, has hidden these events for three generations. Why is Orlando kept in a mental hospital? Why does no one ever discuss it or visit him? Wally remembers visits to the hospital with his mother and Nana when he was very little. He remembers Orlando’s uncontrollable rage about the government and his anger with Nana; his threats to kill her.

Wally harbors a disquieting memory of Orlando rising like a specter in the darkened living room of his childhood home following an escape from the hospital. Wally lives with the suppressed fear that one day Orlando will once again appear to threaten their lives.

The cast includes Chris Rogers as Wally. Rogers is a well-known, local actor and cofounder of the Shore Shakespeare Company. He recently made his directorial debut with the Company’s summer production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. 

Portraying his wife Ruth is Christine Kinlock who was recently seen in Shore Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Church Hill Theatre’s Jake’s Women. Nana, Wally’s grandmother, is played by Kathy Jones who is a familiar talent on stages at Chesapeake College, Church Hill Theatre, and Colonial Players in Annapolis.

Howard Mesick portrays Wally’s father Jack. Mesick is both a playwright and a familiar face on local stages playing lead roles at both the Garfield Center for the Arts and Church Hill Theatre.

Jean Leverage, who plays Alyson, Wally’s mother, has appeared in several musical productions atChurch Hill Theater. Childhood Wally is played by Aaron Sensnsig, and his childhood friend Dick is portrayed by John Crook. Orlando is portrayed by local actor Tom Dorman who has played a wide range of roles at Church Hill Theatre. Eddie Dorman and Jan Eliassen round out the cast playing police officers.

Assisting Lewin with the production is an equally experienced and accomplished crew: Eliasson (Stage Manager and Copper); Eddie Dorman (Stage Crew); Lewin (Set Design/Construction); Patrick Fee (Sound Design); Doug Kaufmann (Lighting Design/Operation); and Barbi Bedell (Costumes).

Most recently, BC Productions collaborated with Church Hill Theatre to present Lewin’s dramatic comedy, Saint Georges Blues in 2016, the dark comedy Accidentally Wealthy in 2015, and the romantic comedy, Visiting Sam in 2014. Orlando Rising marks Lewin’s fourth production to be staged at Church Hill Theatre in as many years.

Lewin, a published playwright, having had two one act plays published by Baker’s Plays, brings his extensive experience to directing his own script. Church Hill Theatre has a collaborative history with Lewin having provided a venue for original scripts including two musicals She Stoops to Conquer, The Musical and Celluloid, both featuring musical scores by Dick Durham. Celluloid played Off Broadway in 2010. His murder-musical The Burgundy Wine Mob also debuted at CHT to go on to an Off-Off Broadway production in 2012. Lewin’s short script entitled Not Responsible was also featured in the Short Play Lab’s MidTown Festival in New York City in 2013.

Please plan to join Lewin and his accomplished cast and crew as they unveil the layers of Wally’s memory to reveal Orlando Rising. Performances of Orlando Rising will be held at Church Hill Theatre from  Friday, July 28 to Sunday, August 6. Friday and Saturday performances begin at 8 p.m., and Sunday matinees begin at 2 p.m.

All tickets are $15 (cash or check only) and may be picked up prior to performance at the box office. Reservations are suggested. Call Church Hill Theatre at 410.556.6003.

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