Alertness is key in mystery

Potomac Playmaakers present comedic whodunit 'Sandbag, Stage Left'

Potomac Playmaakers present comedic whodunit 'Sandbag, Stage Left'

May 11, 2006|by CHERYL M. KEYSER

The clue's the thing in the courtroom comedy, "Sandbag, Stage Left," presented by the Potomac Playmakers of Hagerstown starting this weekend. Audience members will have to be especially alert to all the nuances in the John Anthony play as 12 of them will be randomly selected to form the jury.

Did Arnold (played by Barry Harbaugh) kill his actress-wife, Amelia by tampering with the rigging in the theater, causing a sandbag to drop on her, crushing her to death during her closing night performance in "Hello Dolly"?

Defense lawyer, Static, (Andre Brown) and prosecuting attorney, Cling (Shelby Sabetti) grill the witnesses with clever banter (and clues) in the course of a trial presided over by Judge Judy Wapner (Peg Hardinge).

The improvised jury and audience members will not be the only ones attuned to the ins and outs of the case. The show has two endings, and depending on the jury verdict - guilty or not guilty - actors have to be prepared to finish the show appropriately.


"Sandbag, Stage Left" is directed by Jeff Wine, who said that he "got hooked on theater at 4 years of age when I was in a church Christmas pageant." The early experience spurred a lifelong fascination that has taken him, either as actor or director, through some 45 productions.

All the actors in the cast of 16 are volunteers; several have been performing with the Playmakers for many years.

The Potomac Playmakers have been producing plays for a long time. Now celebrating its 80th year, it is one of the oldest community theaters in the United States, according to Wine.

Founded in 1926 as a project of the Women's Club, the Playmakers originally limited membership to women only, according to Dick Hershey, board member and four-time president of the Playmakers. The woman who organized the Playmakers and came up with the name is Mary Titcomb, known for starting Washington County Free Library's bookmobile, one of the first in the United States.

Hershey has been with the theater group for close to 49 years as actor, director, stage designer, set builder and author of the Playmakers history.

"Community theater is a wonderful opportunity for people to enjoy quality, live theater in their own backyard for slightly more than the price of a movie ticket," noted Wine.

Cheryl M. Keyser is a free-lance writer for The Herald-Mail.

If you go ...

WHAT: "Sandbag, Stage Left"

WHERE: Women's Club auditorium, 31 S. Prospect St., Hagerstown.

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, May 12; Saturday, May 13; Thursday, May 18; Friday, May 19; and Saturday, May 20; and 3 p.m. Sunday, May 14.

COST: Tickets range from $9 to $12 and can be purchased by advance reservation or at the door. To reserve, call 301-797-8182 between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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