Havre de Grace theater to offer 'Proof'

Tidewater Players, the community theater of Havre de Grace, is tackling the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning drama, "Proof," by David Auburn.

The plot revolves around a brilliant theorem, or proof, discovered after the death of a famous mathematician. But the former professor was mentally ill during the last years of his life, when he was cared for by his younger daughter, Catherine. Is it possible that he wrote the proof? If not, who did? Robert Oppel directs.

For Tammy Crisp Oppel, who plays Catherine, it's not the first time she's been in a play directed by her husband. Recently at Tidewater, he directed Neil Simon's "Lost in Yonkers," in which she played mentally challenged Bella, who loved to make ice cream sundaes in the family sweet shop.

"Catherine is very complicated. She has a lot going on - her father's death and her fear that she will go 'bughouse' like he did," she said. "She's terrified of that."

Beginning with a production of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," the Oppels have been in shows together for 20 years. Only two years ago were they finally in a scene together. Last fall, in Tidewater's "Dog Sees God," he played CB and she played his sister. In this show, however, he plays Hal, a former graduate student of her father's, and the two progress to onstage kisses.

"I don't like doing it," he said, referring to directing and acting in the same show, "but we lost an actor and couldn't replace him. Being a director is hard work. Being an actor is hard work. Doing both at the same timeā€¦It's never something I set out to do."

Now married for six years, the couple may soon take a break from sharing the stage. They are expecting a baby in September.

Sarah Sickels plays Claire, the bossy older sister, who had felt unable to stay and see her father deteriorate. She has made a life for herself in New York and now she wonders how to care for her sister, Catherine, whom she fears has inherited her father's instability.

Audiences may remember seeing Sickels here in "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" and in Covered Bridge's "Legally Blonde."

"My last two shows were musicals," she said. "It's nice to go back to a serious show again, without complications with choreography and singing."

Thom Sinn, a newcomer to the Tidewater stage, plays the father, Robert. Previously, he appeared in another math-related show, "Partitions" for Spotlighters, and he was in the ensemble of CenterStage's "An Enemy of the People."

"Robert is very devoted to both his children, particularly to Catherine," he said. "Their connection is their shared passion for mathematics. The play is about family and dedication and devotion, about being there for each other."

"Proof" runs for three weekends upstairs at 121 N. Union Avenue in the old Opera House in Havre de Grace from March 1-17. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. Tickets are $13. For reservations, visit http://www.tidewaterplayers.com or call 410-939-8433.

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