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All her world's a stage

September 14, 1998|By JULIE E. GREENE

Growing up in Reno, Nev., Kelly Jenkins was surrounded by opportunities to hone her dancing skills and become a professional entertainer.

Jenkins started dance lessons at the age of 2, taught dancing at a studio while at college and performed at the MGM Grand where she would start her professional choreography career.

Now Jenkins wants to offer opportunities to area residents who want to act, dance, sing or choreograph through the Washington County Playhouse.

Jenkins took over the playhouse on Sept. 4 when she, her husband, Alfredo Jimenez, and her parents, Dixie and Roy Odermatt, bought the playhouse from Don Wiswell, she said.

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Jenkins, 36, wants to widen the 44 N. Potomac St. dinner theater's audience and get more people of all ages to audition.

There are openings available for the musical comedy "Crazy For You," the playhouse's Christmas show that opens on Nov. 6, Jenkins said.

The playhouse puts on six shows a year. This year's shows include the comedy "Nunsense," which is now playing. The performers cook and serve dinner before each show.

Shows are on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for senior citizens and students, and $12 for children.

Jenkins has begun making renovations and programming changes.

Starting on Oct. 3, the playhouse will have a children's drama workshop from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturdays. On Dec. 12, the children will wrap up the program with a performance of the "Musical Toy Shop," Jenkins said.

Jenkins plans to start offering children's theater shows that could be arranged for birthday parties or a day out with the kids.

Such shows would include a buffet, with the food, including chicken nuggets, hot dogs and pizza, geared toward children, she said.

Wiswell, who operated the playhouse since 1986, said he has left it in good hands.

Jenkins and Jimenez have been involved with the playhouse for almost six years. She said that shortly after moving to Hagerstown they choreographed their audition for "Oklahoma!"

Jenkins said she hopes to attract young and new performers and choreographers to give them professional experience.

The couple also run the Dancin' Time dance studio at 979 Mount Aetna Road.

Besides working at the MGM Grand in Reno, Jenkins performed on the Norwegian Cruise Lines SS Norway, where she started acting.

Her dance career took her to Madrid, Spain, in 1985 where she met her husband, who was the dance company manager at La Scala hotel where she performed.

They danced on a Saturday night variety show on Spanish television between 1987 and 1990, performing numbers from "West Side Story," "Phantom of the Opera" and "Don Quixote," they said.

From 1986 to 1991 they toured Morocco, Athens, France, Portugal and the Canary Islands with their own dance company, they said.

They came to Hagerstown in 1992 because Jenkins' mother's employer transferred her from Nevada to Hagerstown.

"When we moved to Hagerstown, we really fell in love with it," Jenkins said. They think the smaller city is a good place to raise their three children, Brandon, 9; Derek, 3; and Sierra, 8 months.

For reservations at the playhouse, call 301-739-SHOW or 301-739-7469.

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