The plan was hatched over a late lunch at An Poitin Stil. Loyola Blakefield alumni Bernd Linhart (Class of '92) and Lance Baldwin (Class of '87) were back in town visiting from Los Angeles and New York, respectively. The two actors discussed how it would be fun to do a project together. They researched two-man shows and considered venues. They knew there were some great places for theater in Baltimore City, but what about the county? Could they launch their own acting company? They could, indeed, and the "Gunpowder Rep" was born last year.
The pair decided to look into becoming a semi-professional theater company in-residence at Loyola Blakefield, and approached Christian Garretson, head of the theater department, to come on board as part of the group. He obliged. School administration approved of holding the performances on the classic Creaghan Library stage.
"That's the stage on which I had been introduced to the wonder and magic of the theater myself. It's a gorgeous space," Baldwin said.
The resulting vehicle for graduates to come back and perform modern works led to a second name, "The LATER Acting Company" (short for Loyola Alumni Theater). They primarily fill cast and crew roles with former students who once graced that same old stage, as well as some who may not have tried acting back then, but have since decided to go for it.
"Our goal is to perform intimate theater, in shows that offer some comic relief and stories that touch the heart," Baldwin said.
"We want to create a reputation for doing very good work of a well-regarded, but not so known, dramatic production," Linhart added.
Last July, they were joined by another alumnus actor, Joe Miller (Class of '08), to stage their first play, "Art," by Yasmina Reza. With the help of Dwayne Thomas and Tim O'Neil, the production went beautifully. They started plans for the next time…and that time has now come!
LATER's newest production is "Picasso at the Lapine Agile," written by comedic great Steve Martin. Lance Baldwin makes his directorial debut. Featured actors are Jon Wontrop, Michael Papa, Joe Miller, Mattie Rogers Kroiz, Francis Cabatac, Zac Phillips, and Adam Gibbs.
"Picasso at the Lapine Agile" is set in Paris in 1904, when Albert Einstein walks into a bar to meet a lady, but instead gets into a fight with Pablo Picasso about the roles of art, science and inspiration in everyday life. Other colorful characters in the bar join in the argument. There's even a visit from a show-stealing blue suede-shoed rock-n-roller from the future. First produced by the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in 1996, this unique comedy won the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best-Off Broadway Play.
Performances are April 28 and 29 and May 5 and 6, at 7:30pm. Creaghan Library Theater is in Wheeler Hall on the Loyola Blakefield campus. Tickets are $20 ($10 for students) and may be purchased online at LoyolaBlakefield.org/LATER. There will be a cash bar. For more information, contact LATER Acting Company at 443-841-3224.