No time for Mother's Day, the show must go on

The unhappy truth about Mother’s Day is that it no longer means a leisurely day of breakfast in bed and counting roses. For many Moms, it means another hectic day of schlepping the kids to practice – choose your activity.

Toby’s Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts Performance Troupe did a “Grease” run through at Howard Community College around the same time other families were enjoying brunch or early dinner.

“My mom drove me to practice today but was not upset since my dad was cooking,” chuckled 15-year-old Samantha Yakaitis, a student at Mt. Hebron High School and one of the two Frenchy characters in the musical “Grease,” at the college . “We were a little sad about the Mother’s Day rehearsal, but my mom understands. She was a Young Columbian so she knows the rigor and demands of directors no matter what day it is.”

Long Reach High School sophomore Jalen Stewart (jazzy, fast-talking Sonny in the show) loves to dance, and his mom has been supporting his talent for as long as he could remember. “She was okay with a Mother’s Day rehearsal because she knows my goals and is excited to see the show.”

When Andrew Fleming mentioned the rehearsal to his mom, she told him, “Developing your talents is the best gift you could give me.” The 16-year-old Century High School student who plays the cool Kenicke character said, “She supports me…but just to make sure she wasn’t mad, I made her breakfast.”

Meanwhile, Toby “Mama Bear” Orenstein spent her Mother’s Day dashing between a “Newsies” matinee at Toby’s Dinner Theater and the “Grease” rehearsal at HCC. Her Sunday evening was consumed with looking over “Magic Under Glass” audition notes, an ambitious project that involves both Broadway and Hollywood producers.

Can’t a grandmother get some downtime?

Not when Toby is close to her dream of a permanent home for CCTA students, one that may finally come true with pending downtown Columbia plans to include her vision. She is also buzzing with excitement over the next crop of CCTA stars.

“We have three CCTA siblings performing in our three summer shows. John Dransfield in ‘Grease,’ his older brother Stephen in ‘Magic Under Glass’ and sister Maggie Dransfield in ‘Mamma Mia’ at the dinner theater. How do you top that?” she asked.

Three CCTA alums who performed in Toby’s first “Grease” at the dinner theater, Steve Blanchard, Mary Keller and Ric Ryder went on to Broadway and television fame.

This year presents yet another unique opportunity for Toby Orenstein, her staff and students as they tackle their dream of taking an original musical to the world stage. “Magic Under Glass” is based on the novel by Jaclyn Dolamore and written by ASCAP award-winning musician, Michael Kline.

The Teen Professional Theatre performed its rendition of this original musical during the summer of 2016. The following year, CCTA produced a concert version in Maryland followed by TV appearances in California and New York.

The show now has a new script, updated music and a website, where fans can download the professionally recorded single, “Down in the Field.”

The next stops on this journey include a behind-the-scenes TV series and an off-Broadway performance. Local folks will have to wait until late summer to see a live production of “Magic Under Glass” at HCC’s Smith Theatre Aug. 3-5.

Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts 2018 Summer Series opens with “Grease” at Howard Community College Smith Theatre, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, MD, Friday, May 18, at 7 p.m. and Saturday, May 19, at 2 and 7 p.m. For ticket information, visit or call 410-381-0700.

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