Cast Chosen for Church Hill Theatre Production of Biloxi Blues

Director Michael Whitehill has announced the cast for Neil Simon’s Biloxi Blues, the lead off production in Church Hill Theatre’s 2018 season. The Tony Award winning play is set at boot camp in Biloxi, Mississippi during World War II. Loosely autobiographical, the comedy pits the cruel and caustic Sgt. Toomey against the draftees, especially the sensitive Arnold Epstein. His friend Eugene Morris Jerome channels Simon’s own memories of military service as a fledgling author. This classic coming-of-age tale includes danger, sex, love, prejudice, bravery and some pretty salty army talk.

Fresh recruits on their bunks in Church Hill Theatre’s production of Neil Simon’s Biloxi Blues. Clockwise from the top left: Robbie Spray, Jeff Rank, Troy Strootman, Morgan Jung, Timothy Daly, Anthony Daly.

Arnold Epstein will be played by Robbie Spray and Eugene Morris Jerome by Troy Strootman. Other draftees are Anthony Daly as Roy Selridge, Timothy Daly as Joseph Wykowski, Morgan Jung as Don Carney, and Jeff Rank as James Hennesey. John Haas takes the role of their nemesis, Sgt. Merwin J. Toomey. Kendall Irene Davis is the sweet Daisy Hannigan and Christine Kinlock is the not-so-sweet Rowena. Scarlett Chappell completes the cast, playing a USO dancer.

Whitehill, one of Church Hill Theatre’s most experienced directors, most recently directed the thought-provoking Doubt: A Parable.  His production team for Biloxi Blues includes Sylvia Maloney, Laura Crabtree, Steve Atkinson, Katie Sardo, Douglas Kaufmann and Brian Draper.

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, $15 for members, 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

“Carrie: The Musical” Final Weekend at Church Hill Theatre

“Carrie the Musical is getting a bloody good fun production by Chesapeake College’s Peake Players and Church Hill Theatre,” says Maryland Theatre Guide’s Mark Beachy.  It offers supernatural thrills to a classic rock genre score; with blood, fire and her telekinetic powers audiences are gasping as the naïve and innocent Carrie takes on the high school mean girls. Bullied by both her classmates and her fanatically religious mother, Carrie finds some support from her gym teacher and a sympathetic classmate. But in this musical version of Stephen King’s psycho-horror novel, we know Carrie will find her own solution as the torments continue. Prom night will never be the same.

Carrie (Shannon Whitaker) finally gets to go to Prom.

Rob Thompson and William Thomas, both Chesapeake College professors are director and music director, respectively. Shannon Whittaker is an “outstanding” Carrie and Maureen Curtain “gives a strong interpretation” as her mother, according to Pete Heck, writing for the Chestertown Spy.

Carrie’s classmates Sue, Tommy, Chris, and Billy are played by Reilly Claxton, Jacob Wheatley, Olivia Litteral and Brandon Walls. The sympathetic teacher, Miss Gardner, is Samantha Smith. Other featured characters are played by James Kaplanges, Kiya Cohen, Shannon Landers, Catherine Jacobs, Morgan Jung, Sean Priest and Albert Conteh. Students, dancers, telekinetic spirits, police officers and others include Anna Terry, Savannah Bixler, Briana Litteral, Gracie Jordan, Megan Kaley, and Alyson Farnell.

Musical Director William Thomas will conduct from the piano. His musicians are Gary Caffrey, on guitar, Tom Anthony on bass, and Ray Anthony on drums.  The backstage and production team includes a set by Richard Peterson and Carmelo Grasso, with lights by Nic Carter, costumes by Miranda Fister and Jennifer Houghton, Maddie Baynard is acting as stage manager, and Jacob Blades is assistant stage manager.  Shelagh Grasso is producing Carrie with Sylvia Maloney as associate producer.

Carrie’s Mother (Maureen Curtin) warns her daughter (Shannon Whitaker) about the dangers of the outside world

Based on the King novel, Carrie the Musical was adapted by Lawrence D. Cohen, with lyrics by Dean Pitchford and music by Michael Gore.  Steve Atkinson of the Chesa Del Crier posits, “I would suggest you see it more than once.  The first time to sit back, enjoy the show…return a second time to see all the detail.”

Carrie the Musical will run through November 12th with Friday and Saturday performances at 8 pm, and Sunday matinees at 2 pm

Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for students and $15 for members at Church Hill Theatre.  Tickets can be reserved by calling the box office at 410-556-6003 or online at www.churchhilltheatre.org

Auditions for “Biloxi Blues” at Church Hill Theatre

Neil Simon’s Biloxi Blues is a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age comedy about Army basic training during World War II. The play won multiple Tony Awards and the 1988 movie adaptation is still a fan favorite. Biloxi Blues will lead off Church Hill Theatre’s 2018 season, with performances from January 19 – February 4. The rehearsal schedule will take into account holiday periods.

Biloxi Blues has excellent roles for young men (the draftees), a few older men, and two women (one playing a student, one an experienced woman of the world). There are also a number of non-speaking parts that would be a great introduction for first-time actors.

Auditions, on the Church Hill Theatre main stage, will be held on:
Monday, November 6 at 6:30 pm
Wednesday, November 8 at 6:30 pm
Saturday, November 11 at 12:30 pm

Biloxi Blues is directed by Michael Whitehill, who most recently directed Doubt: A Parable.  Auditions will include cold readings from the script and some voice and movement exercises (an a capella piece for the role of Carney and a “special audition surprise” for everyone). As always, CHT invites both experienced and new actors to audition and welcomes volunteers interested in production and back-stage positions.

Michael Whitehill can be reached at 443-988-1947 or kayak@atlanticbb.net for any questions about the play or audition process.

“Carrie: The Musical” at Chesapeake College and Church Hill Theatre

Carrie the Musical, playing at both the Cadby Theater and Church Hill Theatre during the Halloween season, offers supernatural thrills to a classic rock genre score.  Blood, fire and telekinetic powers will have audiences gasping as the naïve and innocent Carrie takes on the high school mean girls. Bullied by both her classmates and her fanatically religious mother, Carrie finds some support from her gym teacher and a sympathetic classmate. But in this musical version of Stephen King’s psycho-horror novel, we know Carrie will find her own solution as the torments continue. Prom night will never be the same.

The kids sitting in class. From L-R, Morgan Jung, Shannon Landers, Brandon Walls, Olivia Litteral, Jacob Wheatley, Shannon Whitaker, Albert Conteh, Reilly Claxton, Catharine Jacobs, Sean Priest, and Briana Litteral.

Rob Thompson, a Chesapeake College professor, directs this joint Chesapeake College-Church Hill Theatre production. Shannon Whittaker will play Carrie; Maureen Curtin will portray her mother, Margaret.  Carrie’s classmates Sue, Tommy, Chris, and Billy are played by Reilly Claxton, Jacob Wheatley, Olivia Litteral and Brandon Walls. The sympathetic teacher, Miss Gardner, is Samantha Smith. Other featured characters are played by James Kaplanges, Kiya Cohen, Shannon Landers, Catherine Jacobs, Morgan Jung, Sean Priest and Albert Conteh. Students, dancers, telekinetic spirits, police officers and others include Anna Terry, Savannah Bixler, Briana Litteral, Gracie Jordan, Megan Kaley, Alyson Farnell and Morgan Jung.

Musical Director William Thomas will conduct from the piano. His musician are Gary Caffrey, on guitar, Tom Anthony on bass, and Ray Anthony on drums.  The backstage and production team includes a set by Richard Peterson and Carmelo Grasso, with lights by Nic Carter, costumes by Miranda Fister and Jennifer Houghton, Maddie Baynard is acting as stage manager, and Jacob Blades is assistant stage manager.  Shelagh Grasso is producing Carrie with Sylvia Maloney as associate producer.

Carrie’s shadowy telekinetic spirits threaten to enter the auditorium.

Based on the King novel, Carrie the Musical was adapted by Lawrence D. Cohen, with lyrics by Dean Pitchford and music by Michael Gore. It opened on Broadway in 1988 and enjoyed a successful revival in 2012.  While some critics panned Carrie, it has become a cult favorite, with many unofficial spoofs and campy tributes. It’s not for the squeamish or small children but if you enjoyed CHT’s Rocky Horror Picture Show, you’ll certainly appreciate Carrie.

Carrie the Musical opens on Friday, October 27, 2017, and runs through Sunday, November 12. Because this is a joint production, with performances at two locations, please note the theaters and times carefully.

CHESAPEAKE COLLEGE: Friday, October 27, Saturday, October 28, and Sunday, October 29 at the Cadby Theater.  Shows are at 8 pm on Friday and Saturday with a Sunday matinee at 2 pm.

CHURCH HILL THEATRE: Fridays, November 3 & 10, Saturdays, November 4 & 11, and Sundays, November 5 & 12 at Church Hill Theatre, with evening shows at 8 pm and matinees at 2 pm.

At Chesapeake College, tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students, with special prices for groups of ten or more. Reservations for Cadby Theatre can be made by calling 410-827-5867 or by visiting www.chesapeake.edu/tpac

At Church Hill Theatre, tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for students and $15 for members.  Tickets can be reserved by calling the box office at 410-556-6003 or online at www.churchhilltheatre.org.

Church Hill Theatre and The Peake Players Production of “Carrie The Musical”

Shannon Whitaker as Carrie with members of the company.

In a unique collaboration, Chesapeake College’s drama department and Church Hill Theatre will team up for a community presentation of Carrie the Musical from October 27 – November 12, 2017. Combining the college’s young actors eager to experiment with a challenging musical and CHT’s long-standing reputation for professional production values, Carrie promises to be an exceptional experience. Productions will be held on both the Church Hill stage and at the college’s Cadby Theater.

Based on a novel by best-selling author Stephen King, Carrie tells the story of a high school prom gone horribly wrong. Mistreated by her domineering mother and bullied by cruel classmates, Carrie discovers supernatural powers—and uses them in a destructive finale. The music is full of catchy and vibrant tunes, and while perhaps too violent for very young children, Carrie is a must-see addition to the Halloween season.

Director Rob Thompson, a Chesapeake College professor, has assembled an outstanding cast, with many talented new comers to the Church Hill stage. Shannon Whitaker will play Carrie; Maureen Curtin will portray her mother, Margaret.  Carrie’s classmates Sue, Tommy, Chris, and Billy are played by Reilly Claxton, Jacob Wheatley, Olivia Litterall and Brandon Walls. The sympathetic Miss Gardner is Samantha Smith. Other featured characters are played by James Kaplanges, Kiya Cohen, Shannon Landers, Catherine Jacobs, Morgan Jung, Sean Priest and Albert Conteh. Students, dancers, telekinetic spirits, police officers and others include Anna Terry, Savannah Bixler, Briana Litteral, Gracie Jordan, Megan Kaley, Alyson Farnell and Morgan Jung.

Carrie the Musical, by Lawrence D. Cohen, Dean Pitchford and Michael Gore will open on Friday, October 27, 2017, and run through Sunday, November 12. Because this is a joint production, Carrie the Musical will spend its opening weekend at Chesapeake College’s Cadby Theatre, and the subsequent two at Church Hill Theatre.  Subscription tickets and membership discounts for Church Hill Theatre will be honored at Church Hill only.

Please note the following performance sites and times carefully:

Chesapeake College, Cadby Theater: October 27, 28 and 29, Friday and Saturday at 8, Sunday at 2.

Church Hill Theatre: November 3 – 12 Fridays and Saturdays at 8, Sundays at 2.

Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students, with special prices for groups of ten or more. Reservations for Cadby Theatre can be made by calling 410-827-5867 or visiting www.chesapeake.edu/tpac and for Church Hill at 410-556-6003 or online at www.churchhilltheatre.org

“Doubt, A Parable” Final Weekend at Church Hill Theatre

“This production of Doubt is a must-see for anyone who enjoys serious, thought-provoking drama.” says local reviewer, Peter Heck.  Doubt, A Parable, the Tony and Pulitzer prize-winning drama by John Patrick Shanley, has one final weekend at Church Hill Theatre.

Sister Aloysius (Kathy Jones) listens as Sister James (Kendall Davis) voices concerns about the students in their school.

Since the play runs without an intermission, the director, Michael Whitehill, offers audiences the unusual opportunity to linger after each performance in order to discuss the production with the cast and crew. These sessions have been lively and well attended so far, with at least half the audience remaining at each performance.  Dramaturges Christopher Wallace and Patrick Fee have assembled a great deal of information that can be viewed at http://doubt.churchhilltheatre.org/ before the performance.

At its core, Doubt asks audiences to ponder the many meanings of truth: factual, moral, situational, cultural and generational. The immediate question is whether a Catholic priest acted inappropriately toward a child in his care, but the drama digs deeper, investigating issues of race and class and asking how far a person may go to achieve justice.

Barbi Bedell plays Mrs. Muller in Church Hill Theatre’s production of Doubt, A Parable.

The story takes place in a Bronx parochial school in the 1960s. John Haas plays Father Brendan Flynn, a progressive parish priest who favors racial integration and more liberal social attitudes. The school’s principal, Sister Aloysius (Kathy Jones) is rigid, conservative and deeply mistrustful of her colleagues, her students and the whole of modern society. A young nun, Sister James (Kendall Davis) is caught in the middle when she observes – or misinterprets – an interaction between Father Flynn and the school’s first African-American student. While the boy’s mother, Mrs. Muller (Barbi Bedell) sees nothing wrong with the alleged contact, Sister Aloysius confronts the priest and escalates the conflict. The audience is left swinging from argument to argument, debating each character’s motivation, searching for the truth, but encountering only more doubt. Heck noted that director Michael Whitehill, “has assembled a strong cast, and they make the most of the challenging script.”

Doubt, A Parable will run through September 24th, 2017 with performances at 8 pm on Friday and Saturday, and 2 pm on Sunday. 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.

“Doubt, A Parable” Next Up at Church Hill Theatre

Doubt, A Parable, the prize-winning drama by John Patrick Shanley, opens at Church Hill Theatre on September 8 and will run for three weekends.  Since the play runs without an intermission, the director, Michael Whitehill, offers audiences the unusual opportunity to linger after each performance in order to discuss the production with the cast and crew. And because Doubt ends ambiguously, with more questions than answers, CHT hopes for lively arguments and spirited discussions.

In the Church Hill Theatre production of Doubt, a Parable, Mrs. Muller (Barbara Bedell) fuels Sister Aloysius’s doubts further during a private meeting.

At its core, Doubt asks audiences to ponder the many meanings of truth: factual, moral, situational, cultural and generational. The immediate question is whether a Catholic priest acted inappropriately toward a child in his care, but the drama digs deeper, investigating issues of race and class and asking how far a person may go to achieve justice.  A favorite with the critics, Doubt, A Parable won multiple Tony Awards in 2005, including Best Play. In addition, it received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and numerous other best play awards. Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Viola Davis and Amy Adams all were nominated for Oscars for their work in the 2008 film adaptation.

The story takes place in a Bronx parochial school in the 1960s. John Haas plays Father Brendan Flynn, a progressive parish priest who favors racial integration and more liberal social attitudes. The school’s principal, Sister Aloysius (Kathy Jones) is rigid, conservative and deeply mistrustful of her colleagues, her students and the whole of modern society. A young nun, Sister James (Kendall Davis) is caught in the middle when she observes – or misinterprets – an interaction between Father Flynn and the school’s first African-American student. While the boy’s mother, Mrs. Muller (Barbi Bedell) sees nothing wrong with the alleged contact, Sister Aloysius confronts the priest and escalates the conflict. The audience is left swinging from argument to argument, debating each character’s motivation, searching for the truth, but encountering only more doubt.

Sister James (Kendall Davis, left) and Sister Aloysius (Kathy Jones, right) weigh the values of faith and trust in a world of uncertainty.

The production team includes Producer Sylvia Maloney, Assistant to the Director Mary Zober, Stage Manager/Photographer Steve Atkinson, Scenarist Brian Draper, Light Designer Doug Kaufmann, Light & Sound crew members Laura Crabtree and Matt Grande, and Dramaturges Christopher Wallace and Patrick Fee.

Doubt, A Parable opens at Church Hill Theatre on September 8, 2017, and runs through September 24, with performances on Friday and Saturday nights at 8 pm and Sunday afternoons at 2 pm.  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, September 8, 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.

Open Auditions for “Carrie the Musical” at Church Hill Theatre and Chesapeake College

Calling all performers, no experience necessary! Carrie the Musical, a musical based on the unforgettable Stephen King novel with book by Lawrence D. Cohen, music by Michael Gore, and lyrics by Dean Pitchford, will be coming to the Church Hill Theatre and Chesapeake College’s Cadby Theatre stages. This collaborative production will be directed by Dr. Robert Thompson, instructor of theatre at Chesapeake College, and will run October 27th through November 12th, 2017—just in time for Halloween! Performances will play opening weekend at the Cadby Theatre at Chesapeake College, then travel to the CHT stage for the remaining two weekends.

This chilling musical tells the story of outcast Carrie White and the bullying she faces not only with her high school peers, but also from her unstable mother. Catchy and sometimes haunting music and an unsettling story make Carrie the Musical a Halloween treat. When a young woman confronted with social pressures discovers hidden powers fueled by her emotions, her senior prom is bound to be “A Night We’ll Never Forget!”

Open auditions for Carrie the Musical will be held at Church Hill Theatre on Saturday, August 19th at 12:30 p.m. and at Cadby Theatre at Chesapeake College on Wednesday, August 23rd at 6:00 p.m.

Casting needs will include 2 female leads, 4 supporting roles (2F/2M), 2 male feature roles, along with at least 3 male and 3 female parts in the ensemble. Please note that the script does involve mature themes and some language, and parents should consult with the director prior to auditions to discern if their child should audition.

Please come with sixteen bars of a prepared song and sheet music if possible (two copies). Sides from the script will be available for cold readings—no audition monologue required. Technicians for the production are also needed and should attend auditions to submit their interest.

Carrie the Musical will play weekends from Friday October 27th through Sunday November 12th, 2017. For more information, email the director Rob Thompson at rthompson@chesapeake.edu. For more information on auditions, performances, and membership opportunities, please contact the Church Hill Theatre office at 410-556-6003, via e-mail at office@churchhilltheatre.org, or visit the  Church Hill Theatre Facebook Page.

New Executive Manager at Church Hill Theatre

The Church Hill Theatre Board of Directors proudly announces that Hester Sachse will become the Executive Manager of Church Hill Theatre, a non-profit arts and education organization, on August 18, 2017.  She will replace Nina Sharp, who will be pursuing other theatrical opportunities in the Baltimore area.

Hester Sachse (center), incoming Executive Manager for Church Hill Theatre, stands with outgoing Executive Manager Nina Sharp (right) and current Administrative Assistant Liz Clarke (left).

Hester Sachse holds a BA in Drama from Washington College, where she concentrated on all aspects of stage production. For her senior thesis, Sachse directed William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.  After graduation, she was active as a counselor and Assistant Director of the Playmakers’ Camp at the Garfield Center for the Arts at the Prince Theatre. This experience will be particularly valuable in organizing and running CHT’s annual Green Room Gang summer program for children and teens. Sachse also served as a programming assistant for the Prince Theatre Foundation, gaining expertise in program development, running workshops, coordination with other institutions and the day to day management of a non-profit arts organization.

Church Hill Theatre’s final productions of the 2017 season will be the drama Doubt: a Parable, running from September 8 – 24 and Carrie the Musical, a collaborative show with Chesapeake College running from October 27 – November 12.  As always, these productions will require actors, musicians, stage crew and front of the house volunteers. Hester invites CHT members and potential volunteers to stop by the office, located across the street from the theatre, meet her, and learn more about CHT’s ongoing activities.  The office is open Tuesday through Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Please feel free to call the office at 410-556-6003 or visit the website www.churchhilltheatre.org for additional information.

See the Magic of Willy Wonka and Dr. Seuss at Church Hill Theatre

Talented local youngsters will entertain audiences of all ages in performances of Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka KIDS and Seussical JR. at Church Hill Theatre from Thursday, July 20 through Sunday, July 23. For almost 20 years, Green Room Gang campers have honed their acting, singing and dancing skills to produce fully staged musical productions.

Mischievous Oompa Loompas put naughty children in sticky situations in CHT’s Green Room Gang Junior production of Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka KIDS.

Mischievous Oompa Loompas put naughty children in sticky situations in CHT’s Green Room Gang Junior production of Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka KIDS.

Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka KIDS is a colorful musical adapted for children from Roald Dahl’s unforgettable book “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” as well as the 1971 film “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” starring Gene Wilder.

The cast of CHT’s Green Room Gang Senior production of Seussical JR. welcomes audiences to the wonderful world of Dr. Seuss.

Seussical JR. is a fantastical musical adventure co-conceived by Eric Idle (of “Monty Python” fame) that transports audiences to the wonderful world of Dr. Seuss and includes such memorable characters as the Cat in the Hat, Horton the Elephant, and the tiny Whos of Whoville.

The colorful characters of Dr. Seuss come to life in the CHT’s Green Room

Becca Van Aken served as director to younger performers in Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka KIDS and Shannon Whitaker directed the middle and high schoolers in Seussical JR. Interns Georgia Rickloff and Iz Clemens ably assisted the directors with instruction and production. Shelagh Grasso and Sylvia Maloney, retired educators and avid CHT volunteers, served as producers for the camp. A small staff provided overall technical support for the productions, including Carmen Grasso and Brian Whitaker who designed and built the set, Tina and Erma Johnson who created the costumes, and Nic Carter who was responsible for the light design.  S.G. Atkinson was the photographer. Several past GRG students volunteered as camp helpers, and many parents and other volunteers helped with costumes, sets, props, and backstage responsibilities, making this annual production a true community effort. 

Looks like somebody found a Golden Ticket! Join Green Room Gang Junior as they journey into Willy Wonka’s magical factory in Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka KIDS.

Horton the Elephant searches frantically for a very special clover in the CHT’s Green Room Gang Senior production of Seussical JR.

Shows will be on the evenings of Thursday, July 20 and Friday, July 21 at 7 pm and there will be matinee performances on Saturday, July 22 and Sunday, July 23 at 2 pm. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students; only cash or check will be accepted for this production. At these shows, audiences will also have the opportunity to participate in Church Hill Theatre’s “Sweets for Stucco” fundraiser to support their historic exterior stucco restoration, which is a $19,000 project.

The theatre is located at 103 Walnut St. in Church Hill, MD, 21623

Reservations for CHT’s Green Room Gang 2017 performances can be made by calling the Church Hill Theatre office at (410) 556-6003. 

For more information, visit the theatre website, contact theatre manager Nina Sharp by email at execmanager@churchhilltheatre.org or call the Church Hill Theatre Office 410-556-6003