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Young Victorian Theatre Company considering Roland Park Country School

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The Young Victorian Theatre Company is leaving Bryn Mawr School, but not necessarily north Baltimore.

Young Vic, as the much-loved troupe is known, has been performing summer stock versions of Gilbert & Sullivan operettas since 1971, and just ended this year's run of "The Mikado" on July 22. Young Vic was based at Gilman School for 18 years and then at Bryn Mawr since 1989, except for 2003, when Young Vic went back to Gilman because work was being done on the Bryn Mawr theater.

Now, the company is being forced to leave Bryn Mawr's Centennial Hall theater, because the school plans to expand its summer theater workshop program in 2013, said the school's headmistress, Maureen Walsh, and Director of Arts Michael Robinson.

Young Vic officials are looking for new digs and are considering Roland Park Country School, home of Sinex Theater, spokespeople for the school and the theater company confirmed.

"We would love to have them here," spokeswoman Nancy Mugele said in an email July 23.

Young Vic General Manager Brian Goodman told the Messenger he plans to visit Roland Park Country School in early August and is "absolutely" considering the schools as a new base.

Goodman writes in the program book for "The Mikado" that he has "no idea where we will be for our 43rd season of Gilbert and Sullivan with 'HMS Pinafore' next year."

The program refers people to keep checking the company's website, http://www.yvtc.org, to find out where it is moving.

Robinson said Bryn Mawr's need for the theater is due to his creation of a community theater program this summer on a small scale, with plans to expand it next summer. He said the expansion of the program is part of an overall expansion of summer class offerings at the girls' school. The classes and other programs are aimed at young graduates and current students, with the goal of making Bryn Mawr more of a year-round, continuing education campus.

Walsh said this year's theater workshop was for one weekend and drew students, alumnae and faculty from Gilman, too.

Bryn Mawr officials said they are sad to be losing Young Vic, however.

"It has been a pleasure to host the Young Vic for so many years," Walsh said in an email. "Their shows are wonderful."

And Robinson said the school's "close ties" with Young Vic go deeper than just the use of the theater. For example, he said, Bryn Mawr director of music Alyson Shirk is "a Young Vic alum."

"It's sad to see them go," Robinson said. "There's a lot of people who are going to be sad to see them go."

Young Vic began using Bryn Mawr when Gilman underwent renovations in 1989.

"The air-conditioned comfort of Centennial Hall was too hard to resist," Goodman remembers in a history of the company on its website, http://www.yvtc.org.

It was that year, too, that Young Vic, then a division of Gilman School, became its own legal entity, Goodman said.

It has been a memorable run at Bryn Mawr since then. In the program, Goodman, a Towson attorney, recalls his daughter, now a Bryn Mawr graduate and college student, "in a baby walker strolling across the lobby."

In 2005, a power outage cancelled a Saturday performance, but the cast sang songs outside for theatergoers and did two shows the next day, including a makeup performance.

And Young Vic celebrated its 40th anniversary on the campus in 2010.

In his program letter, titled "End of an Era," Goodman looks to the future by quoting a line from "The Mikado."

"With joyous shout and ringing cheer, inaugurate our new career."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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