Infinity Theatre making connections between Annapolis and Broadway
By By Mary Johnson and For The Baltimore Sun
May 22, 2013 at 11:20 PM
From its start, Infinity Theatre Company has had a mission to bring New York City productions to Anne Arundel County. It was a goal fulfilled in the troupe's first full season in 2011 with the show "My Way," which played in Annapolis after previewing in Manhattan two months before.
Now Infinity has come full circle, with the troupe serving as a co-producer of a Tony-nominated Broadway revival of "Pippin," and also with efforts underway to bring last season's Annapolis hit, "Dames at Sea," to Broadway by spring 2014.
Both productions represent jewels in a crowning achievement for Infinity founders and producing artistic directors Anna and Alan Ostroff, who began brightening the Anne Arundel County theater scene in 2010 with their production of the off-Broadway classic "The Fantastics," and the duo's glowing version of the song, "Soon It's Gonna Rain."
The following year, in "My Way," the couple again displayed production prowess — and vocal skill, as well — as they portrayed half of a talented foursome paying tribute to Frank Sinatra.
Early audiences soon realized just how much the multi-talented duo had to offer as they presented Broadway-caliber productions for Anna's hometown of Annapolis. Infinity's production of "Little Shop of Horrors" was so polished that even carnivorous plant Audrey II had Broadway-level star power.
In the troupe's second season, "Sisters of Swing" brought alive the talents of the Andrews Sisters, celebrating their music and telling their life stories in a concert-like atmosphere.
"Dames at Sea," with its precision tap dancing and classic Broadway musicals, followed under the direction of Broadway director-choreographer Randy Skinner. Skinner produced the thundering power of tap as never before seen or heard on an Annapolis stage.
Anyone who enjoyed this show will understand why these "Dames" are moving from Annapolis to Broadway. The Ostroffs are working to bring the show to New York in 2014, though a venue has not yet been announced.
The couple has gotten a taste of Broadway in "Pippin," a show whose seven awards from the New York-based Outer Critics Circle were a high for the 2012-13 season and whose 10 Tony Award nominations make it an early front-runner.
Even as the Tony talk reaches a peak, the Ostroffs are turning their attention to the start of Infinity's third season in Annapolis with equal enthusiasm. An Infinity show in Annapolis, Alan Ostroff assured, is "as exciting as the 'Pippin' opening."
He noted that Broadway shows are more accessible to theatergoers — and to specific performers for Infinity's Annapolis productions. In fact, he said, area residents should take pride in having a resident theater with such connections in New York.
Infinity's 2013 season starts with "Always ... Patsy Cline," opening June 8, followed by "She Loves Me," which makes its debut July 12.
"Always … Patsy Cline" is based on a story told by the mid-20th-century country singer's friend, Louise Seger. In the show, she attends one of Cline's shows and, at the end of the night, hosts the singer in her kitchen as they share bacon, eggs and thoughts on love, joy and pain and everything that makes a good country song. Songs include "Walking After Midnight," "Sweet Dreams" and "Crazy," among other favorites.
Infinity's production features Jenny Lee Stern as Cline and Robin Baxter as Seger. "Always … Patsy Cline" runs June 8-30, Thursdays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., with additional performances June 19 at 7 p.m. and June 28 at 8 p.m.
Next on the schedule is "She Loves Me," a romantic musical comedy with music by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick. The two collaborated on "Fiddler on the Roof," and "She Loves Me" is another delightful score with familiar, upbeat tunes.
The 1963 musical, originally produced and directed by Hal Prince, is based on a story first known as "Parfumerie," by Miklos Laszlo. It later became the 1940 James Stewart movie "The Shop Around the Corner" and was revived again in 1998 by the Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan film "You've Got Mail."
"She Loves Me" runs July 12 to Aug. 4 with performances Thursdays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.
Infinity has announced an extra treat for dancers, too. Skinner, the choreographer, will make a return engagement July 17 to teach master classes in tap and jazz, as he did last season.
The shows and the dance instruction will be held at the CTA Theatre Complex, also known as Children's Theatre of Annapolis, a 5-year-old professional facility located on the Broadneck Peninsula at 1661 Bayhead Road. Parking is plentiful.