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Vaudevillians start off New Year with a barrel of laughs on deck

Oak Crest original production opens to great fanfare

Created date

January 26th, 2010

What happens when residents of a retirement community set sail on a cruise ship visited by a 20th-century German submarine, a 19th-century British sailing vessel, and an 18th-century band of pirates? Over an hour of hilarious, unadulterated fun! [caption id="attachment_7587" align="alignright" width="280" caption="Oak Crest Village Vaudevillian cast members Margaret Ingram (seated), (standing, left to right) Todd Siwinski, Ilse Mair, Andrew Kleinschmidt, Marion Almquist, and Carol Smith (piano) rehearse for Captains Outrageous. "][/caption] The original comedy Captains Outrageous opened to great fanfare at Oak Crest last month. The comedy takes the audience on an international boat ride where an oversight by an incompetent captain leaves passengers responsible for providing their own entertainment and they do so with gusto. Along the way, expensive jewels go missing, adding a bit of mystery to the plot.

All aboard

Captains Outrageous was created by writer, producer, and director Tom Foster, who lives atOak Crestand is part of the community s theater company, better known as the Village Vaudevillians. The troupe of 35 Oak Crest residents and staff began rehearsals in October for its 16th annual production after a casting call was advertised in the community s newspaper, Our Village Voice. Anyone who is interested in volunteering with our group is welcome, says Foster. No experience is necessary. Whether it s performing in the show, doing makeup, or helping with costumes, we will find a use for you. I have no theater background, but I have always loved going to see shows, says Oak Crest Catering Events Manager Andrew Kleinschmidt, whose role as a SWAT team captain in Captains Outrageous marked his third production with the Vaudevillians. I never thought I would be brave enough to step on the stage, but when Mr. Foster found out I could carry a tune, he gave me the opportunity to be a part of the show, and I have loved every minute of it.

Jack of all trades

Foster s background isn t what you might expect, either. A retired Baltimore City mathematics teacher, he got his start writing skits while volunteering in Civil War reenactments. We had a lot of free time between reenactments, and we would try to stay in the mindset the entire time meaning no TVs, radios, etc., he says. I did some research to see how the soldiers entertained themselves during that time. I found out that they wrote and performed skits and shows, so I began writing. When I moved to Oak Crest, I ended up writing my first show in 1995. Four years later, Foster wrote Captains Outrageous over the course of two weeks. He says writing scripts just came naturally to him. I had written and published mathematics textbooks before, but writing scripts comes easier to me, says Foster. Maybe it s from having seen a lot of movies and read a lot of plays. [caption id="attachment_7589" align="alignright" width="176" caption="Captains Outrageous writer, producer, and director Tom Foster in costume as Captain Smith-Smythe. "][/caption]

Tuned in

On the other hand, musical director and cast member Marion Almquist has been involved with theater her whole life. A trained singer, Almquist was introduced to the theater group by a friend when she first moved toOak Crestand has since worked closely with Foster on multiple productions. Tom tells me what music he has in mind for certain scenes and I work around that, she says. Many times, he will research songs on the Internet or look up songs that he remembers from over the years. The goal is to find songs that fit in with the plot of the play. For her, acting is a way to meet people and have fun. I m short, so I very seldom play the lead, she says. They stack me up next to someone who is six feet tall just to be funny. We always laugh and have a great time. As for Foster, he says his greatest joy comes from watching the audience s reactions: It s very rewarding to peek from behind the curtain and hear people laughing that s when we know we got it right.