Lo­cal play­wright’s ‘Or­lando Ris­ing’ play­ing at CHT

Record Observer - - Arts & Entertainment -

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.

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