Community theater companies, which keep the joys of live performance alive for those of us who can't, or don't, often get to see the big guys in Washington or Baltimore or New York, are limited by real-life demands on potential cast members.
Rigorous rehearsal schedules and the commitments of three or four performances many weekends in a row keep talented actors in the audience instead of on the stage.
The Colonial Players in Annapolis have an antidote for this: their annual summer production is lighthearted, casual and scheduled for a limited run, so that performers such as local favorite Mike Dunlop can lend their talents without it interfering with their other commitments.
This summer's production is "Arrangements," an original black comedy by John Fritz, winner of The Colonial Players 1993 Promising Playwright Competition.
Fritz will be on hand for this weekend's opening of his play, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. It's the unusual tale of a mortician who becomes his own best customer, and the effect of his final wishes on those left behind.
"Arrangements" continues its run on Sunday evening, then July 24 and 31 at 2:30 p.m. This Sunday's performance is by invitation for the neighborhood. Check with the box office for ticket availability.
Tickets for all performances are $5. The theater is wheelchair accessible, including accessible bathrooms. Information: 268-7373.
There's more good theater beginning this weekend when the Annapolis Company Theater returns for its third season, with Shakespeare's romantic comedy "Much Ado About Nothing."
It opens Friday at 8 p.m. in McDowell Hall at St. John's College. The production continues through July on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
The production is in modern dress, the audience remains in the light, and many speeches are addressed directly to them.
The directing is swift and the plot convoluted, with many cast members playing several roles.
Tickets are $10, $7 for senior citizens and students. They're available at the Smoke Shop on Maryland Avenue and at the door, although seating is limited. Tickets can be ordered by mail as well. Send your check and your phone number, with a request for performance date and time, to ACT, 1430 Regent St., Annapolis 21403.
For more information, call 268-2793.
We move from theater to music, and the "Rock-a-bye Baby Bash," featuring the Hubcaps, from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. this Thursday at the Annapolis Ramada.
The evening of '50s and '60s dance music is sponsored by the Ramada to benefit the Fetal Central Monitoring System at Anne Arundel Medical Center's new Rebecca M. Clatanoff Pavilion, scheduled to open next spring.
Tickets for the event are $25, and can be purchased by mail from AAMC, 1605 Orchard Way, Annapolis 21401. To find out more, call 267-1373.
There hasn't been a Backe dog update recently.
He gets a lot of practice in not getting what he wants these days, since he likes to accompany my husband everywhere and anywhere, staying in the van when necessary, and he just can't do that in this heat.
In fact, it's illegal in Maryland to leave an animal in a vehicle in a manner that endangers its health or safety -- a hot car surely qualifies.
On even a 75-degree day, the temperature in a car can reach a lethal level. Humane workers, police, fire, and emergency personnel are authorized to break into a car to save an animal in danger, and people who see an animal in distress in a hot vehicle are encouraged to call the county animal control officer at 222-6690, or the SPCA of Anne Arundel County at 268-4388.
The Quiet Waters Park 1994 Environmental Lecture Series continues Thursday, when Charles Stine talks about vanishing amphibians.
Stine is coordinator of the Certificate in Environmental Studies Program at Johns Hopkins University. He's an expert on the Eastern Tiger Salamander, one of many endangered or threatened species of amphibians in Maryland.
The park's lectures are recommended for persons 12 and older. Advance registration is requested. A $1 fee covers speaker expenses.
Other programs this summer include Fidos for Freedom next month, on canine companions trained to help those with physical handicaps; Birds of Maryland in September; and Bats in October.