Spotlight on the Colonial PlayersBy Laura & Mike Clark • Mar 4th, 2007 • Category: Interviews
Listen to our chat with Mike Gidos, of the Colonial Players [MP3 9:18 2.7MB], in Annapolis, Maryland. This was recorded in the theatre lobby before the opening night performance of Jekyll and Hyde (a wonderful performance, review to be posted on Tuesday the 6th), so be aware there is a fair amount of background noise.
ShowBizRadio: Hi, this is Mike Clark with ShowBizRadio and I am talking with Mike Gidos, the Corporate Treasurer of Colonial Players in Annapolis Maryland. We are waiting for the opening of Jekyll and Hyde in their theater in Annapolis. Good to have you with me.
Mike Gidos, for Colonial Players: Thank you. It’s nice to be with you, too.
SBR: So tell me about the history of Colonial Players.
CP: Well, Colonial Players as a community theatre has been operating for, I think this is our 55th year. So we’re not new to the business. We started many years ago using the recreation center in Downtown Annapolis. We’ve been in this current location, oh let me think now. It’s probably, maybe close to thirty years. We do five shows a season. We call that our regular subscription season. Often in the summer we’ll do something special like a series of one act plays. We sponsor every other year a Promising Playwright Contest. When possible, when it fits our stage and schedule we’ll often do a short run of the winner of the Promising Playwright contest. Then we like to leave a month or so open in the Summer to take care of the physical plant.
SBR: Do you know how the theatre got started 55 years ago? Was it part of a school or anything like that?
CP: No, it wasn’t. There were a number of people. Several, well several is probably overstating it. At least a couple people who are still actively involved in the theater who were interested in theater. Annapolis, if you don’t know it, was 55 years ago was pretty much Sleepy Hollow. It was the state capital, but even when I moved to Maryland 40 years ago, Annapolis was a sleepy little town. The sidewalks rolled up when the local Mom and Pop stores closed. There was no, as I understand it, nothing like a theater that put on theatrical productions. This small group of people started it as I said in the recreation center all those years ago. It’s grown over the years to what, I think is the premiere community theater at least in our little county if not the whole area.
SBR: Do you know if you have any famous alumni who have gone on to Hollywood or Broadway or anything like that?
CP: No. There’s nobody we can point to and say he was one of us at one time. We have among our actors and actresses, and among the people who do some technical work are people who have worked professionally. In fact, in the cast of Jekyll and Hyde tonight there is a young lady who is an Equity performer and had to get a waiver from Equity to be able to perform up here in her home town with her community theater. We have no Brian Dennehys or Jason Robards or anybody like that.
SBR: Can you tell me anything about Jekyll and Hyde? Have you been involved with it at all?
CP: Yes, I have. As a matter of fact directly and indirectly. My wife was the props designer and the set dresser for the production. I provided the weapons and the weapons training for the production.
SBR: What other shows are you playing this season?
CP: Well, we just finished, and what I mean by just finished, closed our third show of the season two weekends ago. We did Eugene O’Neil’s Moon for the Misbegotten. Jekyll and Hyde will be our fourth show in our regular production season. We will close our season with Ken Ludwig’s Moon Over Buffalo. A little comedy.
SBR: That’s a fun one.
CP: Very fun and I’m going to be the production manager/producer for that show.
SBR: I haven’t been inside the theater yet. It’s a theatre in the round?
CP: We call it round, but actually it’s rectangle, to be very precise. We seat 180 patrons. We provide 19 performances of each of the productions that we produce.
SBR: Do you have any challenges from having a theater in the rectangle?
CP: Oh, indeed, as you can well imagine. I have not had a lot of experience myself personally working with a proscenium stage, but I followed my wife during that. When you see the performance area tonight you’ll see that there are a lot of technical challenges, not only in the rectangle, but also in the very low ceiling and where the various entrances and exits are. I think that it takes a pretty creative director and staff to sometimes make a show, do it well, do it credibly in this type of venue.
I’ve been in other places where they have performed in the round in a much bigger areas and much more room to maneuver. Certainly the challenge of doing a musical which usually has large casts. You’re on a stage that is relatively small. Usually you’re going to use live music. Finding an appropriate place for even the smallest band or orchestra is a real challenge. You’ll get a sense of that tonight.
SBR: Ok, well we’re looking forward to that. Were you involved in the decision to become a member of WATCH? The Washington Area Theater Community Honors?
CP: Yes, as a Corporate Officer I sit on the Board of Directors.
SBR: Was that a long drawn out agonizing decision or was it something you really wanted to do?
CP: We wanted to do it and were probably remiss for not doing it sooner. We try to be an active participant in the British Embassy Players. I guess I’ll call them the competition. We belong to the Baltimore Theatre Alliance. In addition to that we are reasonably active in things like the Anne Arundel and Annapolis Chamber of Commerce, so we are a community and member of the community and we try to stay in touch with and active within that community.
SBR: Do you get a lot of people from outside of Annapolis who come out for shows?
CP: Yes. If I were to give you a sense from a geographical perspective. We go as far west as generally, maybe Bowie and Crofton area. We have patrons on the Eastern Shore. We have patrons as far south as Calvert county. We creep into north Anne Arundel County and even into Baltimore County and Baltimore City. We have a rather broad draw. I would hazard to guess that the significant portion of our regular theater goers are from Anne Arundel County. Not necesarily all from Annapolis, but from Anne Arundel County.
SBR: Is there anything else you’d like to share with us about the Colonial Players?
CP: I think that we are known and have been known over the years of having quality productions for a community theater. We’ve been recognized several times and I can’t remember specifically how many, by the British Embassy Players. Last year our musical, Enter the Guardsman, won the award for the Best Musical. We have taken top honors in the overall play category, I believe, more than any other community theater that participates in that. We have a solid base of subscribers who we’ve maintained over the years. That’s a big help to us from a business point of view.
Although we draw most of our actors and staff from the local area, again I mean Annapolis and Anne Arundel County, it’s not unusual to have people come from Northern Virginia or the District when they see something that we’re doing and really get their attention.
An example would be Bob Bartlett, who directed Moon for the Misbegotten, is on the staff for the Bowie State University came. We had a number of people from the Northern Virginia/DC area who were in our production of Assassins a couple of years go. We’re not exclusively area in terms of people who come to see us and all the people who help us put these productions on.
SBR: Ok, well thank you very much for talking with us. I appreciate it.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/1876.
Laura & Mike Clark started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.