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Aging nicely

Theater director stages his vision for future

Theater director stages his vision for future

March 23, 2006|by TARA REILLY

HAGERSTOWN

Members of the public got a preview Wednesday night of Brian Sullivan's vision to make The Maryland Theatre "a stage for every age."

Sullivan, the theater's new executive director, said he hopes to increase community support for the theater, nurture and enhance the careers of local performing artists and make the 91-year-old facility a place for families to spend time together enjoying shows.

"This is your Maryland Theatre," Sullivan said while addressing the public in a State of the Theatre address. "I am your executive director ..."

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He called the theater a "theater for the arts" and a "theater for all the ages; a theater that is proud to say this is the home of the Maryland Symphony Orchestra; a theater that is proud to say this is the home of the Miss Maryland Pageant; an institution that is proud to say, 'I've been here for 91 years, and I will be here for another 91 years.'"

Sullivan announced plans to hold an awards ceremony similar to the Tony Awards to honor local high school students.

The Maryland Theatre High School Performing Arts Awards will help boost self-esteem and self-confidence among local performers, he said.

Theater representatives will review and evaluate performances, and awards will be presented for best director, best actor and actress and best backstage for high school plays and musicals; and best play and best musical.

Beginning this fall, Sullivan said the theater will offer classes for those interested in backstage technology and stagecraft.

Sullivan's address included performances by some of the area's local talent - The Washington County Showkids; Jennie Avila; Katie Bryson and Amy Cornelius; City Ballet School and Potomac Classical Youth Ballet Co.; Tim Rotz; Katie Strock and Niki Perini; and Alexis Barone and other members of the Youth Expressions Theatre.

After the address, Strock, whose career includes performing in New York City and on two national tours, praised Sullivan's plans for The Maryland Theatre.

"It's very exciting, and I think Brian has a really good outlook for the theater," Strock said. "I just think some really good things are going to happen ..."

Strock, a Hagerstown native who lives in Greencastle, Pa., said she'd like to see more live music at the theater.

"Hagerstown needs live music," Strock said.

The revitalization of downtown can be positively affected by what happens at the theater, she said.

"I like what he's proposing," said Strock, whose performances involve mostly musical theater. "He definitely needs the community to put their hand in, too."

Sullivan said the theater needs more volunteer help and more donations.

Paul Thompson, who traveled from Dale City, Va., to see granddaughter Cortney Hudak perform with The Washington County Showkids, smiled and said he would keep the theater in mind when he's writing out his bills.

"I think it's great," Thompson said. "It's a beautiful theater and a beautiful city."

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