Local playwright’s ‘Orlando Rising’ playing at CHT
CHURCH HILL — “Orlando Rising,” the latest work by Chestertown playwright Earl Lewin, will premiered Friday, July 28, at Church Hill Theatre.
Set in November 1963 on the heals of the Kennedy assassination, this drama tells the story of Wally, a college professor, and his wife Ruth, who play temporary host to the family matriarch, Nana. Events surrounding the Kennedy assassination open a festering family secret that has lurked in Wally’s subconscious since childhood.
The play, presented by BC Productions, will run through Aug. 6, with performances at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.
Wally teaches literature with a current focus on the plays of Henrick Ibsen. As he prepares his lectures through study of these dark and disturbing Ibsen themes, something unspoken begins tugging at his childhood memories and his image of his uncle, Orlando. Can Wally find a way to confront Nana and to obtain the truth about Orlando? Is Orlando really secure in the facility that he walked away from so many times in the past, or is he going to suddenly appear and cause havoc in their lives?
Nana, a product of the Victorian Age, has hidden these events for three generations. Why is Wally’s Uncle Orlando kept in a mental hospital? Why does no one ever discuss it or visit him? Wally remembers visits to the hospital with his mother and Nana when he was very little. He remembers Orlando’s uncontrollable rage about the government and his anger with Nana, his threats to kill her. Wally harbors a disquieting memory of Orlando rising like a specter in the darkened living room of his childhood home following an escape from the hospital. Wally lives with the suppressed fear that one day Orlando will appear once again to threaten their lives.
The cast includes Chris Rogers as Wally. Rogers is co-founder of the Shore Shakespeare Company and recently made his directorial debut with the company’s summer production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
Christine Kinlock, recently seen in Shore Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and Church Hill Theatre’s “Jake’s Women,” portrays Ruth.
Nana is played by Kathy Jones, a familiar talent on stages at Chesapeake College, Church Hill Theatre and Colonial Players in Annapolis.
Howard Mesick portrays Wally’s father, Jack. Mesick is a playwright and a familiar face on local stages, playing lead roles at both the Garfield Center for the Arts and Church Hill Theatre.
Jean Leverage plays Alyson, Wally’s mother, and has appeared in several musical productions at Church Hill Theater.
Childhood Wally is played by Aaron Sensnsig, and his childhood friend Dick is portrayed by John Crook.
Orlando is portrayed by local actor Tom Dorman, who has played a wide range of roles at Church Hill Theatre.
Eddie Dorman and Jan Eliassen round out the cast playing police officers.
The production crew is made up of Eliasson (stage manager and copper), Eddie Dorman (stage crew), Lewin (set design/construction), Patrick Fee (sound design), Doug Kaufmann (lighting design/operation) and Barbi Bedell (costumes).
Lewin, a published playwright, having had two one-act plays published by Baker’s Plays, brings his extensive experience to directing his own script. Church Hill Theatre has a collaborative history with Lewin, having provided a venue for original scripts including two musicals, “She Stoops to Conquer, The Musical” and “Celluloid,” both featuring musical scores by Dick Durham. (“Celluloid” played Off Broadway in 2010.) His murder-musical “The Burgundy Wine Mob” also debuted at CHT to go on to an Off-Off Broadway production in 2012. Lewin’s short script titled “Not Responsible” was featured in the Short Play Lab’s MidTown Festival in New York City in 2013.
BC Productions collaborated with Church Hill Theatre to present Lewin’s dramatic comedy “Saint Georges Blues” in 2016, the dark comedy “Accidentally Wealthy” in 2015 and the romantic comedy “Visiting Sam” in 2014.
All tickets to “Orlando Rising” are $15; call Church Hill Theatre at 410-556-6003 for reservations.
Chris Rogers, left, and Christine Kinlock appear in a scene from “Orlando Rising.”
A cowboy is bucked off during the 2016 rodeo at the Queen Anne’s County Fair. Expect more of the same at this year’s rodeo Saturday evening, Aug. 12, starting at 5 p.m.