By Brendan Raleigh
With a thunderous “Quiet on the Set!” actor Jack Evans kicked off the Maryland Ensemble Theatre’s preview of their 2013-2014 Mainstage Season. Evans and his fellow thespians gave Frederick a taste of their upcoming season on Tuesday, May 21, on VOLT’s patio, as they performed excerpts from each of the theatre’s six mainstage plays.
Following a lead-in from Artistic Director Tad Janes, Evans and two others emerged from the back of the patio, spouting the flamboyant, theatrical language of Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor’s Completely Hollywood (Abridged). The crowd exploded with laughter as the three actors tossed out examples of ridiculous movie combinations — such as “My Left Footloose” and “Doctor Dolittle Women” — which serve as one of the main comedic premises throughout the play.
Suzanne Beal, the president of the MET’s Board of Trustees, preceded this colorful scene with exceedingly high praise for the troupe. “The range and diversity of their work is really just incredible, and their last season epitomizes that,” she said. Beal spared no compliment for the ensemble, describing them as a “talented, well-trained, fabulous, fabulous, and above all, generous” group of people.
The ensemble’s ensuing repertoire drew scenes from a diverse pool of comedic plays, ranging from Oscar Wilde’s classical farce, The Importance of Being Earnest, to more lesser-known, contemporary works such as Martin McDonagh’s black comedy, The Lieutenant of Inishmore, and David Sedaris’ Santaland Diaries. The MET concluded their preview with a rendition of Sarah Ruhl’s uproarious and not-so-covertly lascivious play, In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play).
Janes said that Frederick’s theatre crowd can expect much from the MET this season. “There’s just a huge volume of pieces that we either want to develop and produce and bring here, some of which are new and interesting different, some are more classical pieces, because we’re trying to appeal to the Frederick audience and bring them a professional theatre perspective.” He continued, “I think each season is different in that we’re trying to select really interesting new plays or plays that just really fuel our passion.”
One striking difference between the ensemble’s current catalog is the fact that the MET’s upcoming season will not feature a play written by one of its own members. Its actors, writers and directors have opted instead to perform 16 already-published plays.
Janes explained that this shift in focus will give the group more time to brainstorm and develop ideas for the period following the 2013-2014 season. Although he was proud of the reception received by the two original plays (one of which is still in production), he said the decision was made “basically to let us spend a little more time to develop for the next season.”
In addition to the six mainstage shows, each of which will be performed six times, the MET will also be hosting The Comedy Pigs, an improv/sketch comedy troupe; Fun Company Family Theatre and the episodic comedies presented by The Laugh Station.
The Maryland Ensemble Theatre will continue to perform its last play of this season, an original comedy entitled Pickle My Money, until June 9. Its 2013-2014 season will pick up on September 5 with a rendition of Completely Hollywood.
By Lloyd Thompson Taylor
Sights, songs, and spaghetti, the flavors and highlights of Italy make their way to Frederick in a new and exciting way.
Homemade Italian favorites like lasagna, tiramisu, sausages, ices, and beverages along with the traditional and contemporary musical stylings of Sergio Fresco, a musician well known in the greater metropolitan area for his performances and his love of Italian culture await the Frederick community at Crumland Farms, the event site on May 25, 2013 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Habitat for Humanity, with the thought of the greater Frederick family community in mind, has sponsored “Festa Italiana Frederick,” the first of many such events to come. Tuscany, Florence, and Rome are coming to Frederick and invite every member of the community to stop by and take a walk on La Riviera Italienne
Ron Cramer, executive director of the Frederick Habitat for Humanity, is an advocate for involvement and outreach, to those in need as well as the families of Frederick.
“Our organization is excited to produce this event; a first event of its kind in Frederick,” Cramer shared. “At the Frederick Habitat, we are all about supporting families, so this family-friendly activity is right in line with our mission.”
Admission to Festa Italiana Frederick is $5 plus the price of the Italiana cuisine presented. All proceeds go to Habitat for Humanity and their initiatives. Children under the age of 2 are free.
Artistry, celebrity, soccer, and a Spaghetti Sauce Cook-Off all invite the public to take an active role in the Italian culture and cuisine presented for them. Events for children include small craft making, fun games, and a chance to create their own dish. “Top your Own Spaghetti Tent” offers pasta kids of all ages will love with chocolate, gummy bears, and more.
Father Leo Patalinghug, a parish priest with a surprising past, will also be a fixture at the Festa. Father Leo, as a famous cooking show host and founder of a meal-based religious initiative, will publicly prepare an Italian favorite of his and then sign copies of his book, Recipes for Joy.
“Attendees can expect the ambiance of Italy at this unforgettable event. Our goal is to create a true Italian experience filled with the music, smells and sounds that take you from Frederick to Italy in your wildest imagination,” Cramer said.
Questions and additional information can be asked and answered at www.festaItalianafrederick.com.
By Lloyd Thompson Taylor
“We’re powerless to change what we won’t acknowledge.”
These were the words at the very heart of the message given by Sil Lai Abrams, a nationally recognized speaker, writer and domestic violence awareness activist, to the crowd gathered for the Affair of the Heart event at the Holly Hills Country Club on May 14.
Abrams was invited to Frederick to share her story and what programs like the Heartly House mean to her. She was only able to move forward with her life and heal due to the aid of a New York-based program similar to the Heartly House, she stated in her keynote address at the event.
“This is hard work; it’s not sexy,” she said in reference to supporting the programs that help battered women, men and children. There is a great need for assistance in this area, but unlike the arts and other initiatives, domestic violence support is something that no one likes to talk about, she observed.
In addition, backing for such programs has declined over the years, while the downturn of the economy and cuts in government spending have left the Heartly House with less funds available to help a growing population in need of its services.
Board members of the Heartly House joined Abrams in sharing their own stories of working with those affected by domestic violence and the gripping statistics of domestic abuse. The board noted that in the Frederick County area alone, with its population of 230,000, a real need exists for the Heartly House. The organization fields thousands of calls to its hotline and houses hundreds of victims who need shelter and the resources to break free from their abusers.
Olivia White, Affair of the Heart committee member and co-chair of this year’s event, discussed the importance of giving back to the community through time and donations to programs like the Heartly House. She also took the time to acknowledge all of the effort by community leaders and corporations who came together to sponsor the event this year.
Affair of the Heart is an annual fundraising event sponsored by the Heartly House of Frederick, Maryland. The event regularly brings together donors, supporters, and friends of the Heartly House from across Frederick County in order to thank everyone involved in their mission and touch on the importance of such programs in the county and across the country.
”Those who support this cause, do it from the heart,” Abrams said.
For more information on the Heartly House and how to get involved, go to www.heartlyhouse.org.