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Higgs dropping curtain on his Annapolis years


Pick any job in community theater and Dan Higgs has done it.

He's been an actor, starring in "1776," "Sugar Babies," "A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum" and "Tribute" at 30 theaters in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington.

Mr. Higgs, a teacher and media coordinator with the Anne Arundel County schools for the past 32 years, also has directed plays, designed sets, hung lights and painted more than his share of scenery.

He has been a two-time president of the Colonial Players and the Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre, a member of the county's Commission on the Culture and the Arts and a "First Night Annapolis" board member. Mr. Higgs also was the first on-air teacher in the history of Maryland Instructional Television.

All that's in the past now.

When Mr. Higgs takes the stage tonight as the wise-cracking Top Banana in the Chesapeake Music Hall's production of the burlesque romp "Sugar Babies," he'll be playing his last role in his final run as an Annapolis actor.

Mr. Higgs is about to retire from the school system.

He and his wife of five years, Shigemi, and their daughter, Vera, 3, will begin a new life in Sarasota, Fla., after Mr. Higgs completes his "Sugar Babies" run in August.

"I never thought I'd ever leave here," he said. "But we hate the winter, and we're going to give it a shot. It's a new area for us; we don't know anybody there, so it'll be a real adventure."

It seems fitting that "Sugar Babies" will be the swan song for Mr. Higgs.

The show gives his talent as a sketch comedian a chance to come to the fore.

Whether playing a foul-mouthed schoolboy, an oversexed countess or a Borscht Belt-style "tummler" kibitzing with the crowd, he keeps his audiences laughing through shtick and thin.

"The show really is a license to steal," he said, chuckling. "It's a chance to break away from a script, play with the audience and just have a ball. Hey, I grew up wanting to be just like Abbott and Costello, Red Skelton and Danny Kaye. This is my chance."

His new home, Sarasota, is home of the Ringling Brothers circus.

Sarasota also is known as one of the cultural centers of Florida's Gulf Coast, with an opera house, a symphony and plenty of regional theater.

No doubt a talented Thespian, a prodigious worker, a supportive colleague and a funny man should fit right in.

For ticket information about performances of "Sugar Babies," and to see Dan Higgs' last run, call the Chesapeake Music Hall at 626-7515.

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