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Making more than music

Greenspring Players fund scholarships for performing arts students

Created date

July 25th, 2011

From Eliza Doolittle s pensive Wouldn t It Be Loverly? to Nicely-Nicely s crowd-pleasing Sit Down You re Rockin the Boat, the Greenspring Players recently provided their sold-out audiences with a show they will not soon forget. The Sounds of Broadway, featuring favorite musical numbers from Rodgers and Hammerstein s My Fair Lady, and Loesser and Burrows Guys and Dolls, was not only a crowd pleaser but an act of charity. Proceeds from the show were used to fund a scholarship for local performing arts students. Only two other times in our club s history have we done a musical, says the show s talented director and costume designer Verna Finly. These were not typical musicals but rather original musical farces of Shakespeare s Othello and Romeo and Juliet. Since those shows were very well received, we thought it was a good time to try something musical again.

Getting into character

To anyone watching any of the show s sold-out performances, it was immediately clear the actors were enjoying themselves as much as their audience. One thing that I ve heard over and over again from my neighbors is You folks looked like you were having fun, says Oscar Olson, who portrayed gambler Nicely-Nicely Johnson in the Guys and Dolls numbers. Appearing in his third Greenspring Players production, Oscar admits that this was not his first appearance as a gambler. This performance was very nostalgic for me, he says. Fifty years ago, while at my first Foreign Service post in Caracas, Venezuela, I performed in Guys and Dolls with a wonderful English-speaking theater club. When I heard that the Greenspring Players would be performing excerpts from the show, I knew I had to be involved. For Jane Ford, playing the lead role of Sarah Brown in Guys and Dolls was a dream come true. While this was my fifth show with the Greenspring Players, I am new to theater. It is something I never did until I moved to Greenspring and now I love it.

The power to transform

In addition to playing Sarah Brown, Jane played both a street sweeper and a flower girl in the My Fair Lady numbers. We rehearsed for a full three months, she says. The time we spent putting the show together was very fulfilling and it kept us out of mischief. I also really enjoyed the costumes we were given. They were really remarkable. Verna has an unparalleled talent. Verna s costumes were so well received that Greenspring s in-house cable channel is airing a show based solely on the costumes. My favorite costume piece was the hats worn by the women in My Fair Lady s ascot scene, says Verna. There s something about putting a grand hat on that makes the person stand taller their neck gets longer and they really look regal.

Reaching out

Dedicated to sharing with the local theater community, the Greenspring Players earmarked proceeds from the show to be used to fund two scholarships for students at nearby George Mason University. Fran Duvall, the show s producer and the current chair of the Greenspring Players board, first presented the idea of a scholarship to the group s members five years ago. Our shows are typically very well received, says Fran. As a result, we were finding that after our expenses were paid, we had an excess of money. I felt compelled to offer some of that money to someone who needs it. The Players contacted George Mason University and discovered that no other performing arts scholarship was available to students. It was decided that the Greenspring Players scholarships would be awarded to performance arts students entering their junior year or above. This year we will be providing two $1,500 scholarships, says Fran. We have found the students to be very grateful and charming. It s wonderful to see their faces. The one thing we expect after they receive the award is that they come to one of our meetings so they can meet our membership at large. Two-time recipient Patricia Talmadge did more than make the required visit. She performed the leading role of Eliza Doolittle in the My Fair Lady portion of the recent show. I love mingling with the Greenspring residents, she says. These scholarships are a gift from the entire community, everyone who pays their five dollars and buys a ticket, Fran says.

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