The Red Brick Players organized in February with the backing of the Octorara Community Recreation Commission and decided "let's do a musical," said Jim Norton of Parkesburg, who has been spearheading the effort.
Norton, 60, an actor, director and former adviser to the Coatesville Area High School drama club, drew on his ties in this area's theater and school communities to get the word out about this undertaking. And veterans and newcomers answered the call.
"It's amazing that this cast showed up and fit into the parts we needed," Norton said during a recent rehearsal. The musical required a relatively small cast of 10 but needed folks who could sing and dance, he said.
Jennifer Winand, 37, of Nottingham, a soprano who had been involved in theater in high school, watched one of her daughters on stage last summer as part of the Octorara Community Recreation Commission's production of Annie Jr., and got hooked.
Winand plays Hope, the ingenue and one of several guests who become trapped at the country estate of Lord Rancour after a violent storm hits, closing off the bridge and any chance of escape as, one by one, the guests end up dead.
With the success of the recreation commission's Theater Project 2002 for area youth, Norton said, community members started asking, "What are you going to do for adults? That question kept coming up."
So Norton, who is retired from Coatesville High but still acts and directs, called a meeting and the community theater was born.
Tony Blaha, 49, of Atglen said, "My kids have all been on stage. I wanted to see what it was like. I thought it would be neat to be in a show with my son."
His oldest son, Anthony, 18, a senior at Octorara High School, won the role of Geoffrey, a college student. The younger Blaha said, "I've done other productions with Mr. Norton. He's an excellent director. I had to jump on the opportunity."
Tony Blaha, a physical education teacher at Wayne Elementary School, said learning the timing and body language had been a challenge. Norton offered him some direction during the rehearsal as his character, a retired Army colonel, met his demise on stage.
Leading the cast is a veteran in community theater, Irene Meredith, who plays Miss Tweed, the amateur detective and busybody.
Meredith, who teaches French at Kennett High School, where she also directs the drama club, directed her first play at age 18 at Kennett and has performed with some of the area's established theater groups.
"This is very different," she said. "You have to go from scratch."
That means hunting for costumes and props and setting up the stage. The new group has its performance space guaranteed at the community center, but it shares the stage with many users, so the set had to be dismantled for a recent dance recital.
Paul Kabakjian, 40, of Parkesburg, who says he has been "doing plays forever" and has designed sets at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, does most of the set design and construction.
"I had to die first because I have so much to do behind the scenes," joked Kabakjian, who plays Clive, the butler. After he is murdered, he will help with the special effects. "Someone gets electrocuted, a pole kills someone else," he said.
And the musical would not have been possible without musical director Pat Wiggins of Parkesburg, who usually works with children's choirs; pianist Julia Farber of Oxford; and choreographer Nora Fitzgerald of West Chester, Norton said.
Jennifer Moore, 36, of Parkesburg, who plays the grande dame, Lady Manley-Prowe, said she was recruited by Norton while eating dinner at a relative's delicatessen. He said, "Do you sing? Do you dance?" she recalled. So she auditioned, and "I'm having the most fun. I've always been a ham."
Pat Gerlach, 50, of Parkesburg, a sales manager who plays the lecherous caretaker, said, "It's been a collective, creative experience."
Abbey Williams, 31, of Coatesville, who plays the saucy maid, said, "This area of Chester County has been neglected" as far as theater opportunities. "This is the middle of nowhere," Williams said on a recent night as moonlight shone on vast stretches of farmland near the center.
"It's nice to have this. . . . There's a lot of talent here."
Send Arts news to Mary Anne Janco, The Inquirer, 800 River Road, Conshohocken, Pa., 19428; e-mail it to PAarts@phillynews.com; or fax to 610-313-8243. Contact Suburban Staff Writer Mary Anne Janco at 610-313-8217 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Octorara Red Brick Players' Something's Afoot, will be performed at 7:30 p.m. June 6,
7 and 8 at the West Fallowfield Community Center, Route 10,
just south of Route 41. Tickets are $10 for adults; $7 for students.
For information, call 610-593-5963.
West Chester Rrailroad Market St Station, West Chester; 610-430-2233. www.westchesterrr.net. Memorial Day Special & Family Fun Day. Sun. Summer Sunday Picnic Specials. Suns 6/1-8/31. Flea markets with antiques & collectibles. Last Sun of month. Call for times, prices.
Vassar Show House & Gardens Showcases interior & exterior designers' work on historic home; benefits area scholarships for Vassar College. Ivy Cottage, 225 Lincoln Hwy, Exton; 610-527-9717. $20. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Mons-Fris; 6-8:30 p.m. Tues-Fris; noon-4 p.m. Sats & Suns. Closes 5/26. Antique Show American & English furniture, glass metalware, ceramics, folk art, quilts, porcelain, collectibles. Brandywine River Museum, Rte 1, Chadds Ford; 610-388-2700. www.brandywinemuseum.org. $7. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 5/25 & 5/26.
Brandywine River Blues Festival Live music, wine tastings, picknicking, souvenir wine glass. Chaddsford Winery, Rte 1, Chadds Ford; 610-388-6221. www.chaddsford.com. $16. Noon-6 p.m. 5/25 & 5/26.
*FREE* Car Show More than 400 antique & classic cars, street rods, trucks, motorcycles. Kimberton Fairgrounds, Rte 113, Phoenixville; 610-269-2833. $2 parking donation. Free admission. 9 a.m.-3 p.m. 5/25.
Auction & Appraisals Wine, hors d'oeuvres, bid & buy auction, antique appraisals; Chadds Ford Business Assn sponsors. William Bunch Auctioneers, 1 Hillman Dr, Chadds Ford; 610-388-7610. www.chaddsford.org. $25 at door; $20 in advance. 6 p.m. 5/29.
Brandywine Strawberry Festival Food, fun, crafts, entertainment, rides, music, petting zoo, fireworks, YMCA Run & Family Walk, used-book sale, many other events & activities. Brandywine Hospital, 201 Reeceville Rd, Coatesville; 610-380-9080, ext 102. www.brandywinestrawberryfestival.com. Fri-6/1.
*FREE* Heritage Weekend Pony rides, music, entertainment, sidewalk sales. Burke Park, Warren Ave & Roberts St, Malvern; 610-296-9096. Free admission. 7-8:30 p.m. 5/30, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. 5/31, 1:30 p.m. 6/1 (Memorial Parade).
Craft Shows, Sales & Bazaars
Flea Market St Peter United Church of Christ, Rte 23, Knauertown; 610-286-7827. 8 a.m.-1 p.m. 3d Sat of month.
Coatesville Area Senior Center 22 N 5th Ave, Coatesville; 610-383-6900. Luncheon Cruise on Potomac with National Museum of American History. $80. 6/18. Finger Lakes. $230-$269 8/6-7.
Malvern AARP Chapter #5091 , Malvern; 610-644-1122 or 610-644-7615. Branson, MO. $929. Sept
Schoolhouse Senior Center 600 Swarthmore Ave, Folsom; 610-237-8100 ext 21. Vanity Fair Outlets in Reading. $6. 6/12. Trump Plaza Casino. $15. 6/19.
Senior Circle Brandywine Hospoital, 201 Reeceville Rd, Coatesville; 610-383-8171. Mansions on the Delaware River. $58. 6/3. Sight & Sound Theatre in Lancaster for show Daniel. $63. 7/16.
West Chester Recreation Dept 401 E Gay St, West Chester; 610-436-9010. www.west-chester.com. Broadway show: "Momma Mia." $140. 5/31. Broadway show: "Lion King." $140. 7/26.
Barnes Foundation 300 N Latches Ln (2 blocks N of 54th St & City Ave), Merion; 610-667-0290. www.barnesfoundation.org. Work by Monet, Renoir, Cezanne, Rousseau, Matisse, Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, other impressionists & post-impressionists, African art & PA Dutch functional pieces. $5. 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Fris-Suns. 400 people allowed entry per day. Reservations required: 610-667-0290 option 5.
*FREE* Berman Museum of Art Ursinus College, Main St, Collegeville; 610-409-3500. Photographs of birds, mammals of Arctic Natl Wildlife Refuge. Closes 6/1. Permanent: changing shows, 19th & 20th century American sculpture, paintings. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tues-Fris, noon-4:30 p.m. Sats-Suns.
Blue Streak Gallery 1721 Delaware Ave, Wilmington; 302-429-0506. www.bluestreakgallery.com.
*NEW* Brandywine River Museum Rtes 1 & 100, Chadds Ford; 610-388-2700. www.brandywinemuseum.org. NC Wyeth, paintings & drawings of summers in Maine. Opens Sat. Closes 9/1. Antique smoking pipes show. Opens Sat. Closes 7/27. Antique show. Preview ($100) 6-9 p.m. 5/23. $7. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 5/24-26. NC Wyeth house & studio tours. $3 additional; ages 6 & over only. Timed intervals Weds-Suns through 11/23. James Wyeth's Night Vision, commemorates 20th anniv, Vietnam Vets Memorial Fund; print sales benefit Project RENEW mine action program in Vietnam. $6; $3 students, seniors; free ages under 6. 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. daily.
*NEW* Chadds Ford Gallery Rtes 1 & 100 South, Chadds Ford; 610-459-5510. www.awyethgallery.com.
Chester Springs Studio 1671 Art School Rd, Chester Springs; 610-827-7277. Members' show, mixed media. Closes 6/1.
debottis Gallery 113 N High St, West Chester; 610-696-8887. Marilyn Kirsch, gouaches on clayboard & solar etching. Artist opening reception, 5-9 p.m. Fri. Closes 5/31.
Gallery at Cedar Hollow 2447 Yellow Springs Rd, Malvern; 610-640-2787. Craft show: glass, metals, jewelry, apparel, fine & decorative arts. Closes 5/26. Jewish Artist Guild show, mixed media. Closes 5/26.
*NEW* Garrubbo Bazan 16 W Market St, West Chester; 610-696-1266. www.gbgfineart.com. Group show, paintings, photographs, sculptures of horses. Opening reception 5-9 p.m. today. Closes 7/5.
Holland Art House 113 W Market St, West Chester; 610-701-9330. www.hollandarthouse.com. Clemens Briels, pop art paintings, sculpture. Closes 6/4.
*NEW* James A Michener Art Museum 138 S Pine St, Doylestown; 215-340-9800. www.michenerartmuseum.org. Alan Goldstein: 15 abstract expressionist paintings based on nature. Opens Sat. Closes 8/23. Japanese ukiyo-e prints (1600s-1867) from Honolulu Academy of Arts collection. Closes 8/31. 30 international contemporary quilts from Museum of Arts & Design, NYC. $4 additional. Closes 7/6. James Lloyd, 5 outdoor sculptures. Closes 7/20. $6; $5.50 seniors; $3 students; free under age 6. Hours: 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tues-Fris (to 9 p.m. Weds), 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sats, noon-5 p.m. Suns. Joint admission, Mercer Museum: $10, adults only.
Salon des Amis 2321 Yellow Springs Rd, Malvern; 610-647-6010. Stephen Futej, ceramic sculptures. Closes 6/5.
*NEW* Spread Eagle Village Village Hall, Rte 30 & Eagle Rd, Wayne; 215-348-1794.
Stoney Lonesome Collection 7 W King St, Malvern; 610-407-9077. www.stoneylonesomecollection.com.
*NEW* Sunset Hill Fine Arts 23 N High St, West Chester; 610-692-0374. Harry Dunn, paintings & drawings. Opening reception at 5-9 p.m. Fri. Closes 6/28.
Tyme 17 W Eagle Rd, Havertown; 610-853-1215. www.tymegallery.com. Adam & Sandi Lovitz, paintings. Closes 6/10. Joseph Finisdore, sculptures. Permanent.
Wharton Esherick Museum Horseshoe Trail & Diamond Rock Hill Rd (off Yellow Springs Rd), Malvern; 610-644-5822. Call for tours.
International Dance Music Jams Open to musicians, singers. Upper Merion Middle School, 435 Crossfield Rd, King of Prussia; 610-688-3284. $3. 8-9:30 p.m. 3d Mons.
Professional & Community Theater
The Little Prince From the Saint-Exupery classic. People's Light & Theatre Company, 39 Conestoga Rd, Malvern; 610-644-3500. $20; $12 ages under 16. Thus-Suns. Closes 5/25.
*NEW* Once In A Lifetime Comedy. People's Light & Theatre Company, 39 Conestoga Rd, Malvern; 610-644-3500. $25-$38. Tues-Suns. Opens Wed. Closes 6/15.
Royal Family Comedy. Hedgerow Theater, 64 Rose Valley Rd, Rose Valley; 610-565-4211. www.hedgerowtheatre.org. $19 & $22; $17 & $20 seniors; $10 students. Thus, Sats-Suns. Closes 6/1.
Auditions & Rehearsals
Barnstormers Theater Ward & Tome Sts, Ridley Park; 610-769-3905. www.ridleypark.net/Barnstormers. Play Sumissions: submit plays for direction to The Barnstormers, PO Box 12, Ridley Park, PA. Attn: Play Selection. Or email email@example.com.
Chester County Youth Orchestra Lionville Middle School, 550 W Uwchlan Ave, Exton; 610-524-0943. www.ccyo.org.
Lansdowne Symphony Orchestra 28 N Lansdowne Ave, Suite 1, Lansdowne; 610-284-3719. www.lansdowneso.org. Ongoing auditions. Call for appt.
Valley Forge Chorus of Sweet Adelines Main Line Martial Arts Center, Old Lancaster Rd, Berwyn; 610-284-7150. www.valleyforgechorus.com. Rehearsals. 7:30 p.m. Tues.
West Chester Band Pierce Middle School, Burke Rd, West Chester; 610-793-4654. Needed: percussionist, trumpet players. 7-9 p.m Weds.
Museums & Attractions
American Helicopter Museum & Education Center 1220 American Blvd, West Chester; 610-436-9600. www.helicoptermuseum.org. Shows, demonstrations on helicopter history & technology. . $6; $5 seniors, $4 students; free ages under 2. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Weds-Sats, noon-5 p.m. Suns.
Brandywine River Museum Rtes 1 & 100, Chadds Ford; 610-388-2700. www.brandywinemuseum.org. $6, $3 seniors, students with I.D. & ages 6-12, free ages under 6. 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. daily.
Wharton Esherick Museum Horseshoe Trail & Diamond Rock Hill Rd (off Yellow Springs Rd), Malvern; 610-644-5822. Studio home of sculptor/furniture-maker. $9; $4 ages 12 & under. Reservations required. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sats, 1-5 p.m. Suns.
For Kids & Teens
Practice SAT Exams Complete exam with score analyis; sponsored by Knights of Columbus Post #3858. 610-869-4926. $10. All 8:30 a.m.-noon.
Tyler Arboretum 515 Painter Rd, Media; 610-566-9134. Garden Sprouts; ages 4-5. $8 per day. 1:30-2:30 p.m. Tues. Registration required.
Area Library Programs
Events free unless noted.
Pre-registration required for most programs.
Chester County Library 450 Exton Square Parkway, Exton; 610-280-2630. www.ccls.org. In-person registration required.
Parkesburg Library 105 West St, Parkesburg; 610-857-5165. Storytimes; ages 3-5. 1:30-2 p.m. Tues, Thus & Fris. Nursery Rhyme Time; 2-year-olds. 12:30-1:15 p.m. 2d & 4th Weds of month.
Parents Without Partners Chester Co Chapter. Meets 7 p.m. 2d & 4th Tues. Exton Community Baptist Church, Swedesford Rd & Rte 100, Exton; 610-383-9830.
Professional & Business Singles Network 800-537-3859. www.pbsninfo.com.