Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Spotlight on Montgomery Playhouse’s Angel Street

By • Oct 23rd, 2009 • Category: Interviews
Angel Street by Patrick Hamilton
Montgomery Playhouse
Gaithersburg Arts Barn, Gaithersburg, MD
Through October 25th
$15/$13 Gaithersburg Residents
Interviewed October 19th, 2009

Mike: This is Mike Clark with ShowBizRadio. Today I am talking with Pauline Griller-Mitchell, the director of Montgomery Playhouse’s production of Angel Street which is playing for one more weekend at the Gaithersburg Arts Barn in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Thank you for talking with me, Pauline.

Pauline: Thank you for calling.

Mike: So, can you give us a brief recap of the story line of Angel Street?

Pauline: Basically Angel Street is set in the late 1880s in London. It is the story of Mrs. Manningham who has married her husband Mr. Manningham. He is victimizing her into thinking she is going mad in order to find some valuable jewels that he believes are hidden in the house. He manipulates her. He psychologically abuses her. He doesn’t physically abuse her, but he drives her to the point that she thinks she is going mad. She loses things, she finds things and he just slowly and systematically is driving her mad. And one evening an inspector comes to the house and gives her the background about her husband, Mr. Manningham and during the show unveils the fact that a murder was committed in the house fifteen years previously and the jewels are hidden somewhere in the house. I don’t want to go into the entire story line because I don’t want to spoil it. The whole thing is about gaslights going up and down when somebody comes back to the house and the lights go up and down when somebody is in another part of the house accordingly.

Mike: You are doing the show at the Gaithersburg Arts Barn which is a very intimate setting. How are you able to make that work with the show?

Pauline: It is actually a perfect setting because it is a very small auditorium. We only have 99 seats. The stage is very small and we built the set as far forward as we could to give it a small intimate feeling of a room. So there was not a lot of space for people to move around in and so much of the acting is so much of what the actors physically bring to the characters. To the set. There are long monologues and really the intimacy of the space makes it work really well. It is a beautifully designed set, by Eric Henry, that really looks like a Victorian drawing room.

Mike: Do you actually have gas lights that go up and down?

Pauline: We have lights that look like gas lights going up and down. We can’t do real gas lights, but we have flickering sconces by the fireplace. Our wonderful lighting designer, Joy Wyne, did a marvelous job staging that. The oil lamp was the best.

Mike: So tell me about the actors that are playing the parts?

Pauline: There are basically five main characters and the policeman that comes in at the very end. Our leading lady Annette Kalicki plays Mrs. Manningham. She has done a lot of community theater. She is perfect for the role, she looks frail and fragile and pours her heart and soul into the lead role. She is absolutely perfect.

Mr. Manningham is a guy called Joe Kelly. He has returned to acting after a twenty year hiatus. He is dark and kind of menacing looking. He plays the character softly at the beginning and then develops into this really nasty piece of work, I would like to say.

Inspector Rough is a guy called Gordon Adams who I have just done a show with at Silver Spring Stage. He plays Rough as very ebullient. He takes command of the stage. Makes Mrs. Manningham trust him so that she will work with him to work out exactly what is going on in the household.

The maid is Joan Roseboom who is in fact a British lady and is the housekeeper and is very sympathetic towards the mistress Mrs. Manningham. Then we have Nancy who is Cecilia R. Bailey who is the cheeky coffee maid who has influenced the mistress of the house and flirts with Mr. Manningham and gives a little bit of a semi seduction scene.

So basically those five are the main characters. Then we have our very tall policeman who is 6’4″ and barely fits through the doors at the end to arrest Mr. Manningham, Jeff Martinson. So it is a wonderful cast and Jeff is also helping back stage and helping our stage manager Rob Allen who runs the show with George Fitel who runs the lights. And our wonderful Ad/producer John Bartkowiak.

Mike: So the show has got its moments. I saw the production down at Castaways a few weeks ago. It’s got it’s moments of terror and what’s going to happen; the murder mystery aspects. My wife and I were trying to guess who we thought did it. Was it hard working with the actors since they know what’s going to happen? How do you work with the actors to get that air of mystery through to the audience?

Pauline: I let them find their characters themselves. I don’t believe a director should tell people exactly what to do. I let them explore their characters and where they want to do their peeks and valleys There are certain moments in the play where one is not 100% sure what is going to happen. Is she going mad, isn’t she going mad? What is Mr. Manningham going to do to her? Is Inspector Rough real? So there are places where you are really not sure.

I think this cast really heats up the suspense the whole way through. You really don’t know what Mr. Manninghm is going to do to Mrs. Manningham. Particularly at one point you really think he is going to kill her. It is really well done. Everybody has embraced their characters and is keeping the suspense going. I also made the decision to do the show in two acts. I found a very good break in what was originally the second act where we could make a transition so I thought it was much better as a two act show than a three act show.

Mike: So originally it was three acts, interesting.

Pauline: It was originally a three act show. There was a perfect place in the middle of act two to make a break. I do not know why it was originally written to make that break, but I actually think to make it three acts in today’s audience would make it much too long of an evening.

Mike: So how can people get tickets to this show?

Pauline: They can go on the Arts Barn website. You can also go to the Montgomery Playhouse website, which would lead you to the Arts Barn and how to get tickets. Tickets are available for non residents at $15 and for residents of Gaithersburg for $13. We do invite people to make reservations because it is a small auditorium with only 99 seats.

Mike: And when are the performances this weekend?

Pauline: Friday and Saturday nights the curtain is at 8:00 pm. Sunday afternoon is a matinee and our closing performance. The doors open at 1:30 and the performance is at 2 pm. The show runs approximately two and a quarter hours with one intermission.

Mike: Well ok, that is excellent. Thank you very much for telling me about the show. It sounds interesting.

Pauline: Thank you very much for calling and we hope to see people at the show.

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