Local Theatre Group Awarded First Place in State Competition - Southern Maryland Headline News

Local Theatre Group Awarded First Place in State Competition


From left to right: Anne Hammett, Valarie Green, Bill Scarafia, Tina Fratantuono, Trish Cole, Amie Gilligan, Dawn Weber, Linda Lagle, Mallory Green and Patrick Welton raise their glasses to toast The Newtowne Players at the Maryland Community Theatre Festival awards presentation Jan. 16 at the Hilton Garden Inn, Solomons, Md.
From left to right: Anne Hammett, Valarie Green, Bill Scarafia, Tina Fratantuono, Trish Cole, Amie Gilligan, Dawn Weber, Linda Lagle, Mallory Green and Patrick Welton raise their glasses to toast The Newtowne Players at the Maryland Community Theatre Festival awards presentation Jan. 16 at the Hilton Garden Inn, Solomons, Md. (Submitted photo)

CALIFORNIA, Md. (January 22, 2011) — The Newtowne Players (NTP) won first place for its performance of woman: revised and won the award for Excellence in Directing at the Maryland Community Theatre Festival at Three Notch Theatre in Lexington Park Jan. 14-16. NTP will go on to represent Maryland at the Regional Community Theatre Festival in Pottstown, Pa., in April.

"It's always gratifying when our productions are well received," said Bill Scarafia, director of woman: revised and president of NTP's Board of Directors. "This is especially true when the audience includes a panel of certified theatrical judges. I see this as a testament to the type of theatre The Newtowne Players produces for our residents throughout our season. This show was originally produced for our patrons as part of our 2010 Footlight Festival."

A five-member cast, including Tina Fratantuono, Amie Gilligan, Valarie Green, Andrew Pollard and Gloria Ranta, performed woman: revised, written by Trish Cole, a Southern Maryland resident who also wrote last year's award-winning piece, Butterfly.

Woman: revised puts a comedic face on the mundane act of revising the dictionary definition of the word "woman." Over the course of the play, the woman discovers she is no longer the classic feminine sweetheart she once was and learns to accept that her 21st century definition is more inclusive than she wanted.

The annual festival brings together community theatre groups from all over the state of Maryland every January for a time of competition, camaraderie and networking. This year, 10 groups from Silver Spring, Baltimore, Frederick, Waldorf, Bethesda, Annapolis, Gaithersburg and Fort Washington arrived in St. Mary's County to take part in the event.

"It was a huge honor to be selected as the site for this year's event after just four years of participation," Scarafia said. "We are a relatively new theatre group, and many of the groups in attendance this weekend have been around for decades. We're only in our eighth season."

In 2007, NTP entered the competition for the first time with a previously published piece, Time Flies. That year, the group placed third overall and took home awards for both lead actress and costume design.

"The festival lit a spark in The Newtowne Players," said Wendy Heidrich, NTP's artistic director. "We began hosting our own one-act weekend, the Footlight Festival, here at Three Notch Theatre in 2007 and sought out local playwrights to showcase original works."

In the five years NTP has participated in the festival, three of the pieces the troupe performed were written by local playwrights. In addition to those three, more than a dozen original works have been performed at Three Notch Theatre over the last three years during the Footlight Festival.

"It is a tradition we plan to continue for many years to come," Heidrich said. "It's just one of the ways we try to support the community that has embraced us." This year's Footlight Festival is scheduled for June 2-12, 2011.

With the local festival win secured, NTP will move on to regional competition, along with the first runnerup, Montgomery Playhouse, where they will compete with community theatres from Delaware, the District of Columbia, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

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