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| Guest Columnist | Harry M. Covert | Hayden Duke | Jason Miller | Ken Kellar | Patricia A. Kelly | Edward Lulie III | Cindy A. Rose | Richard B. Weldon Jr. | Brooke Winn |


Advertise on the Tentacle

April 23, 2012

Saving the Players

Richard B. Weldon Jr.

Frequent readers will understand the passion for The FrederickTowne Players, a local community theater group. Between politics and local theater, my little universe has expanded far beyond anything I could ever imagine.


Theater was always my escape, a getaway from the votes, the quotes and the controversy. The interest started back in high school, with a lead role in a comedy and a turn as the stage manager for a large-scale production of the beloved Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific.


I was just as interested in lighting, sound and set construction as I was in character, memorization and movement.


Years passed and life, as it always does, intervened. It's tough to juggle work, travel, and parenting with the demands of a theatrical production.


In addition to the rigors of the actual performance, any good actor understands that the quality of the live production will be directly related to the hours spent in rehearsal.


The first experience with the Players, known all over as FtP, came about by accident. Having performed onstage in Brunswick, Charles Town WV, and Leesburg, VA, I was well aware of FtP's outstanding reputation and talented ensemble of performers.


I was invited to an audition of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, and found myself faced with a huge hurdle. I had never sung in front of an audience, and now I had to sing 16 bars of prepared music. I didn't have any music with me, as I showed up to try to win a non-singing part.


I ended up playing Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd, the lead male role with several solo songs and hundreds of lines of dialogue. Still my favorite role, I loved actually be able to do something I didn't think I was capable of.


And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the basis of this article. Theater is a path to personal and civic enrichment, a crucial component of the measurable health of a positive community.


FtP has been helping Frederick actors, audiences and support personnel enjoy the performing arts for decades. Young people, who started on an FtP stage, have gone on to success in movies, television and on Broadway.


I watched and worked with some of the most talented young people I've ever met in FtP productions. Singers, dancers, prop masters, lighting techs and producers spend hundreds of hours on each show, months spent fine-tuning a show for 5 or 6 live performances.


Now it's all at risk. Rising production costs (stage rental, script/music rental, advertising rates) and smaller audiences suffering under a lagging local and regional economy have placed the future of this group in dire jeopardy.


The FrederickTowne Players are on the verge of closing the doors for good.


The situation is so dire that the planned summer musical, another classic by Rodgers and Hammerstein, Carousel, is in jeopardy.


It would be a tragic failure to allow this to happen. As far as this writer is concerned, there are not enough venues for the arts as it is.


If you've been to an FtP production, or if you wish you had, now is the time to step up and make a donation to keep high-quality, affordable community theater a vital part of our arts continuum.


All it takes is a few mouse clicks. No memorization, no rehearsal, and no stomach butterflies before the curtain rises.


You, yourself, can play a role by visiting and following the secure on-line donation link.


Who knows, you might be helping start the acting career of future Emmy, Oscar or Tony award-winning performer! Once you've done your part, and assuming that FtP, with your help, can produce Carousel at Frederick Community College later this summer, please consider going to the show.


It's a magical story of romance based around a fair, with all of the conflict, joy and excitement we've grown to expect from two of our nation's most prolific musical creators.


In the hands of the skilled craftspeople of FtP, Carousel will bring the stage alive with sound, song and dance.


It will be the summer event you won't want to miss, enhanced by the fact that you helped to make it possible with your contribution!


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