Friday, December 17, 2010

Stages of Deja Vu

This was supposed to be a review of an amateur theater production. Things don't always turn out the way we planned them.

My wife and I love amateur and children's theater. I always have. At least, since early adolescence. I have tried my hand and voice at theater, most recently with The Clynmalira Players doing melodrama in their church fundraising program.

I have most vivid memories of beating the drums for A Children's Theater Workshop (I believe) production of "The Importance of Being Ernest" back in the mid-sixties.

Another standout memory is of the Northern High School production of the Christmas classic, "Amahl and the Night Visitors." Who could forget, "This is my box! This is my box! I never travel without my box!" I can hear the music in my head; it would help you if you could, too.

Both of those shows starred the love of my adolescent life, Holly Smith, now Eaton, formerly of Baltimore and now of Sacramento, CA, where she stars as a wife, mother, and grandmother.

Last weekend, we chased another young actress to yet another show. We have followed Kelsey Lake through Elementary, Middle School and High School performances as well as on the children's theater stages around Baltimore. (Full disclosure - My wife was the nurse at Kelsey's elementary and middle school, and our youngest son was a friend to Kelsey's older brother.)

In past years, we had a stretch where we attended six straight productions of "Annie", each performed by a different troupe at a different venue. We have seen a lot of shows.

Kelsey and Holly weren't the only performers we followed. We'll never forget Ann Alexander in her myriad of performances. But we had never seen "Thoroughly Modern Millie" with, or without, the "Jr." appellation. We can scratch that off the list now.

Before I go too far, go see this show! "Thoroughly Modern Millie, Jr.", December 18 and 19 at 1:00 pm in the Administration (J) Building at the Community College of Baltimore County Essex Campus, 7201 Rossville Blvd., Nottingham, MD 21236. $10.00. (443) 840-ARTS or You will want to give them a standing ovation at the end of EVERY song!

Now, I know Kelsey is a teenager. I still have that image in my mind of the little girl playing in the pool at her home. I remember well watching her over the years as Belle, Dorothy, an unforgettable Nancy in "Oliver, now Millie, and many more roles. On the stage, her stature grows with her voice and she becomes the largest presence in the performance, she dominates!

Kelsey Lake, "Millie", with Lorraine Gordon

One more reason to go see this show - It is Kelsey's last show with the Children's Playhouse of Maryland, Inc., a not for profit community theater.

So where is the deja vu, you might be thinking? It's here. I'll explain.

In 1970, I was honored to accompany Holly Smith to her Senior Prom. I asked that her hair, her beautiful, long, blonde hair, be done in ringlets, the kind you see in 19th century photographs, or movies from that period. She and her Mom pulled it off. Holly, with her hair in ringlets, the satin blouse and full, floor length dress is an unforgettable image for me. I don't have a picture of her from that night, but this is reminiscent.
Nicole Smith, "Miss Dorothy"

When Nicole, Miss Dorothy, made her entrance, I had a flash back to 1970. In spite of the difficulty with her microphone, she stood toe-to-toe with Kelsey in the duet, and neither blinked or balked, they kept going to the enjoyment of the audience. When she sang, my flashback was reinforced. Nicole will own the Children's Playhouse of Maryland stage for the next four years. She is talented, beautiful and has those ringlets, at least for this show.

I have been blessed to know many great actresses and singers. Holly was first, a teenager and young woman who could do both. Ann Alexander was incomparable at both, and sang at Lorraine's and my wedding. Kelsey has grown in talent and will build the future that she wants. As I said, Nicole is next. 

For me, it is one of the best experiences, watching these women grow in the performance arts. It is deja vu.

And I look forward to having it again, and again.

Monday, December 6, 2010

April, May, June, July, August Showers, Bring December Flowers

On a beautiful early spring day my wife planted fur Marigold plants in the garden alongside the driveway.

The beautiful spring day turned into a hot spring and summer. The garden alongside the driveway contained a new Clematis, four tomato plants and a green pepper plant.

Each morning, and many evenings, I watered the plants, slowly watering until the ground was saturated. Ninety degree day after ninety degree day, I stood on the driveway and watered the plants.

The tomatoes produced four pieces of fruit throughout the summer. Six scrawny peppers went into salads. And still, I watered. First one, then another Marigold turned from greenish brown leaves to sticks. In late August, I watered no more.

The tomato plants were pulled. The dead leaves stripped from the Clematis. In October, the Marigolds started to look good. In November they were blooming. The big freeze hit in early November, and still the Marigolds bloomed.

This photo was taken yesterday, December in 34 degree temperatures. The wind chill today is in the low teens. I am ready to start a career in gardening instruction.