Chesapeake agenda reflects ambition to expand entertainment, educational programs
By MARY JOHNSON and For The Baltimore Sun
Aug 21, 2014 | 8:17 PM
A glance at Chesapeake Arts Center's upcoming schedule indicates an exciting season beginning in September, with entertainment to attract audiences with diverse tastes in music, theater and star attractions.
Chesapeake recently received $20,000 through a community grant from Maryland Live casino, and executive director Belinda Fraley Huesman has big plans to broaden CAC's revitalization.
That effort began in earnest in November, when Chesapeake's Studio 194 Theatre in Brooklyn Park hosted Bay Theatre Company's Wine and Words reading of "Love, Loss and What I Wore," drawing an overflow audience. In January at the same venue, Janet Luby's one-woman show, "Bad Dates," consistently drew capacity audiences.
Pleased with the success of the Chesapeake-Bay partnership, Fraley Huesman hopes future Bay productions will return to comparable ovations.
For now, she's forging ahead with a project of "turning over a new leaf with a new vision, new staff and new directions." Chesapeake has already increased theater usage and expanded its educational arts programs, and has received a reported increased in funding from sources including Maryland State Arts Council grants.
Fraley Huesman related recently how a youngster enrolled in a program through a grant "skipped into the building with her grandmother and into the class."
"I watched her and wished we could bring in all the underserved community," Fraley Huesman said. "These grants can change young lives."
In addition to Bay Theatre, Chesapeake is forming partnerships with the Performing and Visual Arts Magnet Program at the adjacent Brooklyn Park Middle School, as well as working with Towson University and Anne Arundel Community College.
A New Ages on Stages program, taught by Anita Horwath of Baltimore School for the Arts, will work with the magnet students as well as seniors with Anne Arundel County's Department of Aging and Brooklyn Park Senior Center. This project encourages communication among seniors and youths to overcome stereotypes and enhance self-esteem for both groups.
The performance excitement begins Sept. 14, when Chesapeake's 752-seat Hammonds Lane Theatre hosts musician Jeffrey Osborne at 8 p.m. in partnership with Rams Head On Stage. A star for four decades, Osborne is a five-time platinum and gold recording artist. Tickets, at $69.50, are on sale at all Rams Head ticket outlets and online at ramsheadonstage.com, or at the Chesapeake website, chesapeakearts.org.
On Sept. 19 at 8 p.m., also at the Hammonds Lane Theatre, Chesapeake presents the Deanna Bogart Band. An award-winning band leader, singer and songwriter, Bogart performs what she calls "blusion" — a combination of boogie-woogie, blues, country and jazz. Tickets are $22.50 for Chesapeake Arts members and $25 for nonmembers ($23.50 for military).
Another new Chesapeake program, Jazz on Sundays, debuts Sept. 21 at 3 p.m. in Studio 194, featuring musicians Doug Byerly and Marty Knepp. Byerly heads the AACC performing arts department; Knepp is also at the college as a professor of music. Two more Jazz on Sundays concerts are scheduled for Dec. 21 and Feb. 15. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for Chesapeake members and seniors and $13 for military.
At the Hammonds Lane Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 27, fans of Sweet Adelines barbershop harmony will enjoy the Harbor City Music Company Show Chorus presenting "LOL" — a family-themed show performed by more than 70 women singing four-part harmony. Tickets are $25 general, $23.50 for military, $22.50 for members, $20 for seniors and $4 for children 12 and under.
A new "Be the Band" competition arrives in October, with round one Oct. 4 at 4:30 p.m., and the final round Oct. 25 at 7:30 p.m. at Studio 194. The competition is designed to help find outstanding musicians and help the community "rock out." Chesapeake staff and friends will chose the seven bands to compete on the center's Facebook page.
Another October event is a performance in the Hammonds Lane Theatre by illusionist The Amazing Kreskin, who for 50 years has amazed audiences. Tickets are $22.50 for Chesapeake members and $25 for nonmembers.
Looking further ahead, on Nov. 6 Hammonds Lane will host the National Players' performance of "The Tempest" at 10:15 a.m. and "As You Like It" at 8 p.m.; and on Nov. 15 at 7:30 p.m. at Studio 194, the folk group Shenandoah Run will perform.
Much more is ahead, but in the meantime, Chesapeake Arts Center is also soliciting readers' input on concert and theater preferences; as well as suggestions on new classes to develop. Call Fraley Huesman at 410-636-6597 or contact staff on Facebook. Tickets for all shows are available at chesapeakearts.org.
Bay's Wine and Words
Bay Theatre Company has announced the next edition of its free Wine and Words shows, welcoming all to mingle over wine before enjoying a play read by Equity actors. Nancy Frick's "Four Weddings and an Elvis" is set for Sept. 8 at 7 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis at 333 Dubois Road.
Reservations are required and may be made at firstname.lastname@example.org. Call 443-254-1211 for details. Hoping for a capacity crowd, director Janet Luby promises, "We'll keep the wine flowing and the laughs coming."