Love, war mix in drama

July 20, 1998|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Take a boy-meets-girl story, throw in some local Civil War history and sprinkle it with a few historical characters and you have the basic plot of "A Love Divided."

The drama played to a nearly full house Sunday at the Capitol Theatre, one of the many events in this year's ChambersFest celebration.

"I wrote all my life, but I never got anywhere until after I retired," co-author Marcus Steinour said as he greeted theatergoers before the play. A retired computer administrator, the St. Thomas, Pa., man said this was the 10th play he has written and the seventh to be produced, mostly for community theater or "off-off-Broadway" in New York.

"I usually go outside to the lobby and walk up and down biting my nails," he said of previous openings.

"Line 'em up," Patricia Goode said to the cast of 21 milling about the lobby a few minutes before the curtain went up. The former president of the Chambersburg Community Theater, she co-directed the production with Virginia Stake, who co-authored the play with Steinour.


The three-act play concerns the love affair between a Chambersburg woman, Catherine Randall, and a Confederate soldier, John Randolph. Leads Jenny Kreyl and Mike Shoeman brought some chemistry to the stage since they also happen to be dating.

"We actually met here on this stage doing 'Brighton Beach Memories,'" Kreyl said. A recent graduate of Chambersburg High School, Kreyl said she's been acting for about six years and Shoeman has acted, directed or otherwise been involved in more than 50 productions.

"I wanted the lead role before I read the play. After I read it, I wanted to be Mary Elizabeth," said Krista Bruno, who portrayed the play's vixen.

For a play that may never see another performance - Sunday's was the only one scheduled - "A Love Divided" took a lot of work by dozens of volunteers. Goode said pre-production work began six months ago and the cast of students and amateurs began rehearsals in May.

Goode said donations of period costumes helped keep costs down.

Stake said the play made about $2,000 and that profits will be split between the Greater Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce, Chambersburg Community Theater, Capitol Theatre and the Cumberland Valley School of Music.

Steinour, Stake and others said it's too early to determine if "A Love Divided" will become a perennial event.

If not, Steinour has written another, "Phoenix: The Burning of Chambersburg." Next year is the 135th anniversary of the burning of the town by Confederate raiders.

Today the focus at ChambersFest switches from plays to pets. Registration for the Pet Parade begins at 6 p.m. at Kerrstown Square with prizes for Best of Show, Best Costume, Most Exotic or Unusual Pet and three other categories.

ChambersFest, which celebrates the borough's rebuilding after the July 30, 1864, raid, continues through Saturday.

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