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Totem Pole cast and crew charmed by 'Visiting'

May 30, 2002|by KATE COLEMAN

katec@herald-mail.com

Totem Pole Playhouse, the professional summer theater in the woods at Caledonia State Park in Fayetteville, Pa., will open its 52nd season Saturday, June 1.

The first play, "Visiting Mr. Green," is a "charming piece, really," says Wil Love, Totem Pole's associate artistic director, who stepped in to direct the comedy when Producing Artistic Director Carl Schurr had to go out of town because of an illness in his family.

The two-character play features Donald Ewer as Mr. Green, an elderly retired dry cleaner who wanders into upper-West-Side New York traffic and is almost hit by a car driven by 29-year-old corporate executive Ross Gardiner, played by David Engelman.

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Gardiner is charged with reckless driving and his community-service sentence is to help Mr. Green with grocery shopping and other errands for six months.

Engelman, who made his Totem Pole debut last year, lives in New York City. He is enjoying another summer - and the people he gets to work with - in the woods.

"Visiting Mr. Green" is about the journey the young man and the old man take together, he says.

Ewer, 78, has done several plays at Totem Pole in past years, including Neil Simon's "The Good Doctor" and "On Golden Pond," and seems to enjoy pointing out the age difference between him and his co-star.

Engelman was born in 1969. That was the year Ewer appeared in an Off-Broadway play and received an Obie award for his performance, he says.

"The man has more energy ... " says Love of Ewer, who recently completed a run of "Brief Lives," a two-hour, one-man play at Philadelphia's Walnut Street Theatre.

That energy works nicely for the Totem Pole production.

"Visiting Mr. Green" is funny, says Canadian resident Ewer, who came to North America on holiday from London in 1954.

"It's a very, very warm play," he adds.

The cast and crew are luxuriating in the little bit of extra time they've had to prepare the show since it opens on a Saturday instead of a Tuesday, says Love, who is celebrating his 32nd season at Totem Pole.

The casts and crews usually have less than 50 hours from first rehearsal to first curtain for each show in the season. The timing has worked for a long time - more than 50 years.

Each of the plays will feature a "Getting-to-Know-You" post-show discussion, something that actors and audiences alike have enjoyed for the past several years, says Love.

Theater goers will have an opportunity to meet actors and staff members after the Wednesday, June 5, evening performance.

Dinner at Totem Pole will be available on Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 6:30. The full buffet will be prepared by the Chambersburg, Pa., Main Street Deli Catering. The $17 per person cost includes tax and gratuity.

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