“Pippin” Coming to Church Hill Theatre

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With a magical story and glorious music, audiences are entranced as Pippin searches for the meaning of life. This multiple Tony Award winner, set in the Age of Chivalry, has been winning hearts since its Broadway debut in 1973. The Church Hill Theatre revival, directed by Sylvia Maloney, will run for nine performances from June 8-24. CHT’s summer musicals are always the highlight of the theatrical season and Pippin will appeal to audiences of all ages.

Ms. Maloney is proud to announce her cast for Pippin. Mackenzie Campbell will portray the Leading Player, the head of a mysterious performance troupe that recounts Prince Pippin’s quest.  Mark Wiening, who has starred in many CHT musicals, will play Pippin.  Bob Chauncy takes the role of Charlemagne, Pippin’s father; Becca Van Aken plays Pippin’s love interest, Catherine; and Debra Ebersole will be his grandmother, Berthe. These three experienced actors will be familiar to CHT regulars. Relative newcomers will portray other family members: Bryce Sullivan will play Pippin’s half-brother Lewis, Lori Armstrong will play his stepmother Fastrada, and Cullen Williams will play Catherine’s son Theo.

Pippin Casting: The Leading Player (Mackenzie Campbell) gloats as Charlemagne (Bob Chauncey) studies his two sons, Louis (Bryce Sullivan) and Pippin (Mark Wiening) as possible heirs to the throne.

The ensemble, portraying the performance troupe and other characters, consists of Delaney McCreary, Grace McCreary, Maya McGrory, Ellie Merton, Katie Staley, Erin Tomassoni, Quenton Bergenholtz, Max Brennan, John Crook, Elliott Morotti, and James Turner.  Ray Remesch is the Musical Director and Cavin Moore is the Choreographer.

Pippin’s music and lyrics were written by Stephen Schwartz, with a book by Roger O. Hirson. Bob Fossse, who directed the original Broadway production, also contributed to the libretto. Pippin’s enduring popularity is a result of its superb combination of carefree abandon, serious reflection, ruthless candor, and a tender love story.

Pippin opens on Friday, June 8, and will run through Sunday, June 24, with Friday and Saturday performances at 8 pm and Sunday matinees at 2 pm. Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for member, and $10 for students. Reservations (strongly advised well in advance) can be made by calling the box office at 410-556-6003 or online at www.churchhilltheatre.org

CHT’s Green Room Gang Theatre Camp Opens Registration

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Registration for Church Hill Theatre’s 20th consecutive year of the Green Room Gang youth theatre program is officially open! The GRG Program has provided opportunities for young people of the Eastern Shore to experience true live theatre, from auditions to curtain call, for two decades. CHT offers a standing ovation to our entire community for supporting arts education for our children throughout the years. Bravo!

Begun in 1999, this exciting summer program of theatre games and training culminates in two fully staged musicals adapted for young performers. The Green Room Gang Senior Program, for young people entering grades 6 through 12, begins on Monday, June 18th, 2018 and runs Mondays through Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Students will take a magical journey through the world of a play by means of dance, music, improvisation, theatre games, acting, staging and artistic interpretation to conceive a role from start to finish – this year’s show is Shrek the Musical, Jr. Kyle Lindenberger, who served as a Green Room Gang intern for two years and is a graduate of Washington College planning to attend graduate school for education this fall, will be instructing the Senior camp. Full tuition for the five-week GRG Sr. program is $550.00, with a 10% discount for CHT Members.

The participants and instructors of Church Hill Theatre’s 2017 Green Room Gang. Photo by SG Atkinson

Green Room Gang Junior participants, students entering grades 1 through 5, will do theatre games, learn basic acting skills, and explore singing and dancing while they create a musical especially written for young performers — this year’s play is Winnie the Pooh, Kids! GRG Jr. begins on Wednesday, June 20, 2018, and runs Mondays through Thursdays from 9 a.m. to Noon. Becca Van Aken returns for her 13th year as GRG Junior instructor. Full tuition for the four-week GRG Jr. program is $330.00, with a 10% discount for CHT Members. Scholarships are available for both Sr. and Jr. camps. Previous GRG Intern Iz Clemens will be assisting both instructors as 2018 Interns.

Final performances for GRG are Thursday and Friday, July 19 and 20 at 7:00 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, July 21 at 2:00 p.m.

For more information, call the Church Hill Theatre business office at 410-556-6003, or email us at office@churchhilltheatre.org. The enrollment period runs from April 3rd through June 1st; be sure to fill out your child’s registration forms with haste – GRG is first come, first served and fills up quickly! See you in the theatre!

On Golden Pond Closes April 22 at Church Hill Theatre

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On Golden Pond, is a “a production any theater-lover will want to see”, says Peter Heck in his review.  The classic play from Ernest Thompson, brings a glow to the Church Hill Theatre this spring. Bonnie Hill directs this “warm, nostalgic play” that is an exploration of marriage, mortality, and cross-generational relationships.  The play, written by Ernest Thompson, was a critical success on the New York stage and a blockbuster hit in the film adaptation.  Hill has assembled a fine cast of area residents, including both newcomers and experienced actors with credits at CHT and other theaters.

Ethel (Nita Wieczoreck) and Norman (Brian McGunigle) Thayer stand on their porch at Golden Pond trying to spy the first loons of the season.

On Golden Pond is as simple—and complex—as life itself. Norman Thayer, a sharp-witted and tart-tongued professor, along with his intelligent and nurturing wife Ethel, return to their summer home in Maine for the 48th year.  Brian McGunigle takes on the role of Norman, making him “sympathetic” and also bringing out his “biting wit”.  Nita Wieczoreck is “warm and outgoing in the role of Ethel, a good choice for the role” according to Heck.  The couple are soon joined by their daughter, her boyfriend, and his son.  These roles are taken on by Heather Oland as Chelsea Thayer Wayne, Jeff Daly as Bill Ray, and John Crook as Billy Ray, Jr.  Charlie, the local postman and a family friend, is played by Paul Briggs.  Oland’s performance stands out, and although the role is not as central as that of her parents, Heck states that it is a, “strong performance [that] makes the emotional connections [amongst the family] clear”.  John Crook in the role of Billy Ray, a veteran of CHT’s Green Room Gang summer theater camp “captures the young boy’s varying moods…in a solid performance”.

In his review, Peter Heck made particular note of the “appealing” set designed by Earl Lewin, with construction undertaken by Carmen Grasso and Tom Rhodes.  Lighting and sound are designed and operated by Doug Kaufmann and Patrick Fee respectively.  Meg Lenher and Cynthia Fields assembled the props, while Nita Wiezcoreck takes on double duty procuring costumes as well as acting.  Assisting the director is Kathy Jones, Liz Clarke produces, and Steve Atkinson is the stage manager.

On Golden Pond continues at Church Hill Theatre through April 22, with weekend performances at 8 pm on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 pm on Sundays.  Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for members, and $10 for students.  Special pricing is available for groups of ten or more. Reservations can be made by calling the box office at 410-556-6003 or online at www.churchhilltheatre.org

On Golden Pond Opens at Church Hill Theatre

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On Golden Pond, the classic play from Ernest Thompson, brings some warmth to the Church Hill Theatre this spring, opening on April 6, and running for three weekends.  Director Bonnie Hill was drawn to this play because of the perceptive and profound explorations of marriage, mortality, and cross-generational relationships.  The play, written by Ernest Thompson, was a critical success on the New York stage and a blockbuster hit in the film adaptation.  Hill has assembled a fine cast of area residents, including both newcomers and experienced actors with credits at CHT and other theaters. Hill herself, a proud graduate of Washington College’s drama department, is a veteran Church Hill Theatre director who most recently directed Wait Until Dark at CHT and A Delicate Balance and Sylvia at the Garfield.

Norman Thayer (Brian McGunigle) and his wife Ethel (Nita Wieczoreck) share a tender moment in the Church Hill Theatre production of On Golden Pond.

On Golden Pond is as simple—and complex—as life itself. Norman Thayer, a sharp-witted and tart-tongued professor, along with his intelligent and nurturing wife Ethel, return to their summer home in Maine for the 48th year.  The couple is deftly portrayed by Brian McGunigle and Nita Wieczoreck; McGunigle is an experienced actor on the shore, and makes his CHT debut with this role, Wiezcoreck is familiar to Church Hill audiences with roles in musicals, comedies, and dramas.  Ethel and Norman are soon joined by their daughter, her boyfriend, and his son.  These roles are taken on by Heather Oland as Chelsea Thayer Wayne, Jeff Daly as Bill Ray, and John Crook as Billy Ray, Jr.  Charlie, the local postman and a family friend, is played by Paul Briggs.  Oland, Daly, and Briggs have had roles in numerous shows at Church Hill Theatre and bring great skill to their roles.  John Crook is a young actor who has participated in multiple years of CHT’s Green Room Gang summer camp, and also in a production of local playwright Earl Lewin’s recent staging of a new play.

Hill has assembled a skilled production team to undertake bringing Golden Pond to Church Hill.   Set design is by Earl Lewin, with construction undertaken by Carmen Grasso and Tom Rhodes.  Lighting and sound are designed and operated by Doug Kaufmann and Patrick Fee repectively.  Meg Lenher and Cynthia Fields have done a fine job finding many props, while Nita Wiezcoreck takes on double duty procuring costumes as well as acting.  Assisting the director is Kathy Jones, Liz Clarke produces, and Steve Atkinson is the stage manager.

On Golden Pond opens at Church Hill Theatre on April 6 and runs through April 22, with weekend performances at 8 pm on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 pm on Sundays.  Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for members, and $10 for students.  Special pricing is available for groups of ten or more. CHT offers 2 for the price of 1 tickets on opening night, Friday, April 6, to those who reserve by phone. Reservations can be made by calling the box office at 410-556-6003 or online at www.churchhilltheatre.org

Church Hill Theatre Announces Audition Dates for Pippin

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Auditions for Pippin, the Tony Award-winning musical, will be held at Church Hill Theatre on Saturday, March 3, 2018 at 1:30 pm and Monday and Wednesday, March 5 & 7, 2018 at 6:30 pm. Sylvia Maloney will direct this production with Ray Remesch as music director and choreography by Cavin Moore.

This remarkable musical, which is a fictional account of the life of Pippin, son of King Charlemagne, opened on Broadway in October, 1972 with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and book by Roger O. Hirson.  It was recently revived on Broadway in 2013.

This allegory requires 24 actors to bring it to life. The principal and supporting roles are as follows:
Leading Player: (male or female, age 20’s through 40’s) acts as narrator, leader of the players’ troupe, strong singer, dancer and actor.
Pippin: (male 20’s to 30”s tenor/baritone) strong singer and actor, son of Charlemagne, longing for a purpose in life, naïve and discontent.
Charlemagne (Charles): (male 40’s to 60’s, baritone) King of Holy Roman Empire, warrior, strong, prideful ruler.
Lewis: (male, 20’s to 30’s, baritone) stepbrother to Pippin, proud, egotistical, great physique.
Fastrada: (female, 40’s to late 50’s, soprano) Pippin’s conniving stepmother, mother of Lewis, sexy, smart and deceitful.
Berthe: (female, age 50’s to 70’s, alto) Pippin’s saucy grandmother; brassy, wise, energetic and comedic.
Catherine: (female, age 20’s to 30’s, mezzo soprano) Widow, mother of Theo, lovely, romantic, graceful, Pippin’s love interest.
Theo: (male, age 10 to 15, tenor) young son of Catherine, playful, innocent.
Ensemble: (8 male, 8 female, all ages, all voice ranges) must be able to sing, dance and play a variety of roles throughout the play.

For the vocal audition, please prepare 45 second to 1 minute long excerpts of two (2) contrasting songs to be sung a cappella to demonstrate the range of your voice and the variety of your singing style. Auditioners should be prepared to read from the script and to learn a brief dance routine.  Technicians are also needed and are encouraged to attend auditions.

Pippin performance dates run from Friday, June 8th through Sunday, June 24th, 2018. For more information, call Sylvia Maloney at 410-778-3783 or email ssmaloney@verizon.net.

Church Hill Theatre Announces Workshop in Basic Acting Skills for Kids

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It’s still too cold to play outside, the Christmas toys have lost their appeal, and active kids are itching to do something creative, constructive—and fun.  Building on its celebrated Green Room Gang summer theatre camps, Church Hill Theatre is offering students a chance to B.A.S.K in the glow of the footlights in a series of Saturday workshops. Basic Acting Skills for Kids has expanded this year, and allows 1st through 8th graders to use games and exercises to learn about character development and scene preparation. Taught by experienced Green Room Gang instructors Becca Van Aken and Liz Clarke, the group will meet from 9 am – noon on Saturdays February 24, March 3, 10, 17, and 24. The students’ exploration of poetry, storytelling, and movement will conclude with a performance for family and friends at the end of the final class.  The cost for the five sessions is $100 which includes a BASK t-shirt. Contact Church Hill Theater to register or ask questions about the program at 410-556-6003 or by email at office@churchhilltheatre.org.

Biloxi Blues Closing Weekend at Church Hill Theatre

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Chase away the winter doldrums for one more weekend with the heat and hilarity of Biloxi Blues, one of Neil Simon’s funniest comedies.  Reviewer Peter Heck calls it, “a boot camp hoot!”  Based on Simon’s own memories of boot camp in Mississippi during World War II, the play finds humor in the coming of age experiences of young draftees way outside their comfort zones. Michael Whitehill deftly directs the fast paced verbal exchanges and physical humor that make Biloxi Blues so much fun. His cast has obviously enjoyed the chance to inhabit Simon’s memorable characters.  Heck notes that the opening night performance was, “up to the high standards local audiences have come to expect.”

These soldiers do curse and engage in activities not included in letters home to their mothers. Older teens might learn some useful lessons about the transition to adulthood but this show is not recommended for elementary and middle school students.

James Hennesey (Jeff Rank) explains the joys of Army chow time to the newest recruits. From the left they are Timothy Daly as Joseph Wykowski, Troy Strootman as Eugene Jerome, and Robert Spray as Arnold Epstein. Photo by Steve Atkinson.

John Haas is “well cast” as Sgt. Merwin J. Toomey, and “convincing as the hard-nosed drillmaster” according to Heck.  Troy Strootman as Eugene Morris Jerome, “effectively strikes the balance between the character’s youthful naivete and his innate intelligence and insight into his fellow recruits.” Robbie Spray portrays Arnold Epstein, a draftee who is Toomey’s mentally tough nemesis.  The other soldiers in the barracks are Anthony Daly as Roy Selridge, Timothy Daly as Joseph Wykowski, Morgan Jung as Don Carney, and Jeff Rank as James Hennesey.  Since soldiers spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about women, Biloxi Blues gives us a couple of archetypes. Kendell Irene Davis plays Daisy Hannigan, with, “a very warm performance, given an extra dimension by Davis’s dancing.”  Christine Kinlock plays Rowena, a woman with no last name but quite a past.  The cast is rounded out with Scarlett Chappell, playing a guest at a USO dance.

Michael Whitehill has assembled an experienced and creative production team for Biloxi Blues.  Sylvia Maloney pulls together the before-the-show-opens details as Producer and Steve Atkinson wrangles the behind-the-scenes details as Stage Manager. Working with Designer Brian Draper, Whitehill designed and constructed the set. Douglas Kaufmann put together the lighting plot. Laura Crabtree, Katie Sardo, Wendy Sardo and Janice Selby complete the back stage team.

Biloxi Blues continues at Church Hill Theatre through February 4, 2018 and runs with weekend performances at 8 pm on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 pm on Sundays.  Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students, with special prices for groups of ten or more. Reservations can be made by calling the box office at 410-556-6003 or online at www.churchhilltheatre.org

Biloxi Blues Opens at Church Hill Theatre on January 19

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Nothing chases away the winter doldrums like the heat and hilarity of Biloxi Blues, one of Neil Simon’s funniest comedies.  Based on Simon’s own memories of boot camp in Mississippi during World War II, the play finds humor in the coming of age experiences of young draftees way outside their comfort zones. As members of the Greatest Generation rapidly leave us, it’s good to remember that our fathers and grandfathers probably were once just as rowdy, randy and rambunctious as the guys Simon served with. Michael Whitehill, who directed last season’s most serious drama (Doubt), shows he’s equally adept with the fast paced verbal exchanges and physical humor that make Biloxi Blues so much fun. His cast has obviously enjoyed the chance to inhabit Simon’s memorable characters.

Clockwise from top right: James Rank, Troy Strootman, Morgan Jung, Anthony Daly, Timothy Daly, Robert Spray. Photo by Steve Atkinson.

While our forebears of course never cursed, these soldiers do! They also engage in activities not included in letters home to their mothers. Older teens might learn some useful lessons about the transition to adulthood but this show is not recommended for elementary and middle school students.

John Haas, often a “good guy” in CHT plays, takes on the role of Sgt. Merwin J. Toomey, the drill instructor who finds sadistic pleasure in breaking young men to mold them into his kind of soldier. Troy Strootman plays Eugene Morris Jerome, a bookish youth based loosely on Simon himself. Robbie Spray, last seen at CHT as the murderous Leonard Vole in Witness for the Prosecution, portrays Arnold Epstein, a draftee who is Toomey’s mentally tough nemesis.  The other soldiers in the barracks are Anthony Daly as Roy Selridge, Timothy Daly as Joseph Wykowski, Morgan Jung as Don Carney, and Jeff Rank as James Hennesey.  Since soldiers spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about women, Biloxi Blues gives us a couple of archetypes. Kendell Irene Davis plays Daisy Hannigan, the sweet young woman every soldier dreams of coming home to and Christine Kinlock plays Rowena, a woman with no last name but quite a past.  Interestingly, both actresses played opposite types in the recent production of Witness for the Prosecution.  The cast is rounded out with Scarlett Chappell, playing a Junior Hostess at a USO dance.

Eugene Jerome (Troy Strootman) enjoys a high-spirited dance with the beautiful Daisy Hannigan (Kendell Irene Davis). Photo by Steve Atkinson.

Michael Whitehill has assembled an experienced and creative production team for Biloxi Blues.  Sylvia Maloney pulls together the before-the-show-opens details as Producer and Steve Atkinson wrangles the behind-the-scenes details as Stage Manager. Working with Designer Brian Draper, Whitehill designed and constructed the set. Once again, Douglas Kaufmann, the master of the light booth, put together the lighting plot. Laura Crabtree, Katie Sardo, Wendy Sardo, and Janice Selby complete the back stage team.

Biloxi Blues will open at Church Hill Theatre on January 19, 2018, and run through February 4, with weekend performances at 8 pm on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 pm on Sundays.  Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students, with special prices for groups of ten or more. CHT offers 2 for the price of 1 tickets on opening night, Friday, January 19, to those who reserve by phone. Reservations can be made by calling the box office at 410-556-6003 or online at www.churchhilltheatre.org.

Auditions for “On Golden Pond” at Church Hill Theatre

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Church Hill Theatre announces auditions for the April production of On Golden Pond. The play is written by Ernest Thompson who won an Academy Award for the screenplay, starring Henry Fonda and Katherine Hepburn. Directed by Bonnie Hill, this classic dramedy is an invitation to experience “a slice of life” with Ethel and Norman Thayer.

Having spent the past 48 summers on Golden Pond in Maine, the Thayers return to their idyllic home. Their tranquility is interrupted by a visit from their divorced daughter and her new fiancé, along with his teenage son.

Auditions at the Church Hill Theatre will be held on Tuesday, January 2 and Thursday, January 4 at 6 pm and on Saturday, January, 6 at 10 am. Production dates are April 6 through April 22, 2018.

On Golden Pond requires 4 men and 2 women, and the characters break down as follows:

Norman Thayer (age Late 60s-80) A cantankerous retired college professor, who is not politically correct. Sharp-tongued, with a dry sense of humor.

Ethel Thayer (age 60-75) Norman’s wife. Loving and cheerful.

Charlie Martin (age 40-50) Mailman, and Chelsea’s former summer boyfriend. Maine accent. Easy-going and laughs a lot.

Chelsea Thayer (age 35-45) Daughter of Ethel and Norman. Tart-tongued and dry humor like her father. High strung.

Bill Ray (age 40-50) Chelsea’s fiancé. Serious, but with a sense of humor.

Billy Ray (age 12-15) Bill Ray’s son. Intelligent, smart-mouthed, somewhat guarded.

Familiarity with the play is beneficial, and actors should be prepared to do cold readings from the script. For additional information, call CHT at (410) 556 -6003 or Bonnie Hill at (410) 348-5181 or email: bonniehill@wildblue.net.