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The Potomac Playmakers have everything they need but a stage

March 09, 2012|By DAN DEARTH | dan.dearth@herald-mail.com
  • Live performances were just one part of Friday night's Potomac Playmakers Cabaret fundraiser at the Barbara Ingram School For The Arts.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

With actors, curtains, lights and a sound system, The Potomac Playmakers have just about everything a theater company needs.

But what they don’t have since their lease recently fell through with the Academy Theatre on East Washington Street in Hagerstown is a stage.

On Friday evening, the Playmakers, who are entering their 86th season, held a cabaret at the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts to raise money to help pay for a new home.

“I need a stage, seats and a door to come in,” Playmakers President Lynn Litzinger-Rial said just before showtime. “It’s a speed bump, but we’re going to work through it.”

Litzinger-Rial said 75 people paid $20 a ticket to attend the cabaret, which featured show tunes and a silent auction.

Some of the items that were up for bid included sports memorabilia signed by former Washington Redskins running back John Riggins and Baltimore Orioles great Eddie Murray.

Litzinger-Rial said the Playmakers intend to fight to stay alive, and will perform at schools and churches until they find a new home.

The Playmakers’ last production at the Academy Theatre was “Moon Over Buffalo” in May. Shortly thereafter, they were out in the street.

Williamsport resident Ginger Smith said she was heartbroken when the Playmakers lost their stage.

“It’s hard to find good entertainment in Hagerstown,” said Smith, who has been attending Playmakers shows for the past 25 years. “I think it would be really sad if they broke up just because they don’t have a place to perform. We have a lot of wonderful local talent.”

Octogenarian Al Gardner was born two years after the Playmakers held their first production.

Gardner, 84, of Hagerstown, said he got involved with the troupe in 1954, when he landed a role in “Angel in the Pawn Shop.”

“I played the part of a drunk,” Gardner said. “It was one page of monologue, and I enjoyed doing it.”

Since then, Gardner said he has been in more than 100 productions. His most recent performance was last year.

The Academy Theatre was a wonderful venue, he said. The Playmakers only had to worry about practicing their craft, unlike when they used to perform at the Women’s Club on South Prospect Street in Hagerstown, where the actors had to fold up chairs after each show.

Louis F. Heinrich Jr., 85, and his wife, Agnes, 86, said they have been a part of the Playmakers since 1988, when Louis played Declaration of Independence signer Lewis Morris in “1776.”

“We love live performances,” Louis said. “You can’t yell, ‘cut.’ You have to go with the flow.”

Louis said the Playmakers occupy a fond place in his heart because they were founded in 1926.

“That’s when I was born,” he said. “They’re the longest running (local) theater going, and I hope they keep it going.”

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