view counter

Articles by All

Theater and puzzles take us back to the ­kingdom of imagination


     Continuing Bay Weekly’s celebration of summer, this week we focus on child’s play.
    Nobody plays as wholeheartedly as a child. Do you remember your dedication when you were a child at play? How putting your hands on the simplest thing opened the universe of your imagination?
    I had three favorite talismans for entering the world of make believe: my dollhouse, paper dolls and my collection of horse statues. For my sons, the transporter was racing Hot Wheels and slot cars. For my grandson, it’s Minecraft. “Nothing else comes close,” says Jack’s father Alex. “Not even eating or sleeping.”
    The kids featured in this week’s paper take pretend beyond the realm of the imagination onto the stage.
    Every Saturday through August 2, Infinity Theater plays The Emperor’s New Clothes, which Jim Reiter writes in this week’s review, “gives young audiences as well as adults a taste of professional theater.” Adults — from company principals Anna Roberts Ostroff and Alan Ostroff to director/choregrapher Erin Gorski to the ones who bring the kids — make it happen. But upfront this is theater for kids and by kids, with four young Infinity interns dividing many roles.
    The Talent Machine’s talented pre-teens and teens are putting their shows on the boards this month and next. Bay Weekly intern Madeline Hughes, herself a teen, introduces you to the kids performing Peter Pan July 11 to 20. For them, putting on plays is make believe with real world dividends. “As actors,” she writes, “they learn to manage their time, to carry on when things don’t go according to plan and to work with different people. Most of all, they learn to believe in themselves, gaining confidence.”
    The Peter Pan cast are kids seven to 14. Next month, August 8 to 17, high schoolers take the stage in The Wedding Singer.
    Both of these productions are performed in local colleges: Anne Arundel Community College for The ­Emperor’s New Clothes; St. John’s College for Peter Pan.
    In Calvert County, Twin Beach Players’ Youth Troupe has just staged Harvey. “The teen actors playing grown-ups are mature in roles and dramatic skills. No one missed a beat — or a line,” wrote Bay Weekly reviewer Michelle Steel of their work.
    Now, more kids are preparing for their turn on stage. Twenty-five aspiring playwrights from elementary to high school created plays for Twin Beach Players’ annual Kids Playwriting Festival. Six winning playwrights are now preparing works for production — by kids — August 1 to 10.
    With so much talent, we recruited some for our pages. This week, you’ll read a one-act play by two young local playwrights — Anna Gorenflo and Jeffrey Thompson — who’ve had six plays produced in earlier Festivals. This play — Holmes and Watson Make the Best Summer Ever.
    Read on and see if that brilliant best friend of childhood still returns to you.



Playing at Puzzles
    For adults, puzzles are like Peter Pan, helping us return to the elusive, meditative and creative land of childhood. Among the 21 Reasons People Play Puzzles (www.conceptispuzzles.com): calming and challenging their minds. Like the kids of Talent Machine, we learn more than meets the eye from working puzzles: Puzzles teach us not to give up, help us form habits of behavior and reward us with repeated moments of accomplishment. Millions of Americans can’t start their day without taking on the crossword, Steve Kroft reported in a 2003 60 Minutes story.
    Throughout July, we’ll keep bringing you new and different puzzles. We depend on you to work them and to report your results and satisfaction: editor@bayweekly.com.
 

Extinction is the right ending

After the altruistic Autobots defeated the evil Decepticons in the Battle of Chicago, the American government had enough of alien warfare. The military ended its alliance with the Autobots, and both Autobots and Decepticons were declared illegal immigrants.
    So you can bet that the junked semi-truck found by broke robotics inventor Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg: Lone Survivor) is more than it seems. In repair, he discovers that the wrecker is actually Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots. Yeager plans to fix up the Transformer to sell to the government.
    The CIA, led by the nefarious Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer: Think Like a Man Too), is running a black op, hunting down Autobots and Decepticons. Military units rend the Transformers into scrap sold to tech company KIS. Led by CEO Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci: Muppets Most Wanted), KIS is attempting to reverse-engineer the Transformers into a fully automated American army.
    Key to the plan is the recovery of Optimus Prime. So Yeager’s discovery brings in blazing guns. As death threatens, Yeager realizes the government might not be on the right side of the law and helps Prime escape. Now fugitives, Yeager and his family help Prime rebuild the Autobots and fight a new alien threat.
    Can Yeager and his family survive? Will Americans ever learn that robots that look like cars are our friends? How many IQ points are you willing to waste on this flick?
    Tortuously long and completely incomprehensible, Transformers: Age of Extinction is an exercise in endurance. Director Michael Bay (Pain and Gain) has set the cinematic bar so low you’ll need a deep-sea probe to find it.
    Avoiding plot at every turn, Bay fills the film with explosions; confusing action sequences; low-angle shots; esteemed actors belittling their craft and career for a paycheck; and female characters with no agency and even fewer clothes. Impressively, Bay has managed to include a half-naked woman, product placement or an American flag in just about every sequence of this two-and-a-half-hour car commercial.
    To make bad worse, Bay has taken time out of the movie’s busy explosions schedule for the dullest family drama ever committed to film. Yeager doesn’t want his sexy daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz: Bates Motel) to date because he feels he owns her body. When Tessa reveals a secret boyfriend, Yeager and the boy fight bitterly about who gets to tell her what to do.
    Mark Wahlberg has made a lucrative career vacillating between terrible and inoffensive performances. He seems at the mercy of his costars, who either elevate or expose him. When his costars are CGI hunks of metal and equally vapid humans, Wahlberg is lost. His skill extends to flexing his biceps and grimacing while shooting a gun.
    Veteran actors Tucci and Grammer add little. In campy performances that prove once and for all that acting is a job first, art form second, these actors debase themelves for paychecks.
    Transformers: Age of Extinction is the cinematic equivalent of a concussion: It’s difficult to stay awake, painful and you’ll feel slightly duller for a few hours if you survive the brain trauma.

Painful Action • PG-13 • 165 mins.

Encounters with wild neighbors

The creatures of Chesapeake Country are out in force. Since the last full moon on June 13, critters of every make and model have been hopping, waddling, crawling, slithering, walking, meandering and flying out of cover and into view.
    Since that moon, treetops flash with male fireflies signaling their mates. Closer to ground, females flash in their own code. Strange flying things come nearer still.
    Luna moths hang around my porch light in pairs, glowing in iridescent shades of green. Through a door left open after dark, a Pandora sphinx moth of many more shades of green visited editor Sandra Martin’s home, staying long enough to be photographed and drawn.
    A bunny sits alone in the yard and watches me with caution, then hops off to safety. Old Man Toad — who arrives every year in early summer — visits me in the evening on the patio and poolside. A family of geese swims in a neighborhood pond.
    At our Bay Weekly office, a lone praying mantis nymph the size of a thumb-pad, scales an enormous wall.
    These are safe entrances into the world we share. More often, encounters involve risk, usually for a wild thing not yet evolved to avoid human machines.
    Since the last full moon, I’ve seen four box turtles survive road crossings. The last one made me a hero as a school bus full of kids cheered as I carried the turtle out of the way of the oncoming bus and to safety.
    Eight ducklings haphazardly waddling without Momma Duck on Route 2 were scooted to safety on a nearby patch of grass by two human mommas.
    A wild turkey mother and chick scampered across a winding country road, then climbed an embankment to safety. Families of deer — three after moonset June 30 — looked left and right before crossing.
    But too often roadways mean death: deer, frogs, possums, raccoons, skunks, snakes, squirrels, turtles lie killed, often crushed, along our roadways.
    Drive carefully; we’re not alone here.
    Send us your sightings with photos: calendar@bayweekly.com.

Where will summer take you?

School’s out for kids everywhere, including the kid in your heart who still thrills with possibility long after the 12-month work calendar has replaced the nine-month school calendar. What adventures lie ahead for you, your family — and your hosts of summer visitors eager to see the sights?
    By land and water, Chesapeake Country is full of wonders. Whichever way you turn you’ll find plenty to see and do, from ocean to Bay to mountains and lakes, from cities to the countryside, from farms to state parks and national wildlife refuges, from fairs and festivals to fun in your own back yard.
    To help you plan your travels, Bay Weekly writers share their favorite day trips and excursions.
    Starting off the journey are mother-daughter team Heather and Mackenzie Boughey, who’ve written a play to show us that No Place Is Far from Fun. Recalling last summer’s travels to the north and west, from Elk Neck State Park to the Garrett County Fair, they vow to do it all over again, this time on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
    If they — or you — need help in planning what to see after crossing the Bay Bridge, the Stories of the Chesapeake Heritage Area has developed heritage tours in Caroline, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties. Find them at www.storiesofthechesapeake.org under the Visit Us tab.
    Wherever you go, writer Leigh Glenn reminds us, the best journeys are planned to the taste of the travelers.
    Photographer-writer Emily Mitchell visits the National Wildlife Center at Patuxent Research Refuge. Blackwater, Eastern Neck and Susquehanna River National Wildlife Refuges give you more Maryland options. My family loves to cross the state line to Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.
    Elisavietta Ritchie takes another approach to Patuxent sightseeing, suggesting ways into the water of Maryland’s all in-state river. Make the most of your water destination, as does Dotty Doherty, paddling quietly, looking and listening.
    Turn up the volume at the ballpark, where baseball groupie Diana Beechener invites you to see dem O’s play major league baseball. For just as much fun at lower prices with easier parking, go out to one of Maryland’s five minor league ballparks to see Cal Ripken’s Aberdeen IronBirds, the Bowie Baysox, the Frederick Keys, Hagerstown Suns or Southern Maryland Bluecrabs, who play in Waldorf.
    Or make a Washington Nationals’ game part of a trip to D.C., where — as intern Madeline Hughes writes — every visitor expects to be taken to see the monumental sights.
    Back home in Chesapeake Country, many pleasures are cut to a smaller scale, as writer Sandy Anderson’s visitors know, for she’s sure to take them treasure hunting at Chesapeake Marketplace in Lusby.
    As you travel, make time fly playing the Bay Game, reviewed by junior reporter Storrie Kulynych-Irvin.
    Me? I want to do it all.
    The stories you’ll find in this issue go beyond splendid sights to amazing adventures and general good times. As wonderful as Chesapeake Country is, place is only part of the story. The other part is what you bring to the places you travel: your eyes, your history, your openness, your willingness to get in the spirit of adventure.
    Where will you find your Chesapeake adventures?

Puzzle Alert!

    For brain-teasing mental vacations, Bay Weekly brings you puzzles. Throughout July, we’re auditioning new word puzzles to tease you in the wake of cruciverbalist Ben Tausig’s retirement. Send me your thoughts to help us choose a replacement: editor@bayweekly.com.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher; editor@bayweekly.com

Five women seek balance between domesticity and independence, birth control and motherhood, drugs and responsibility in 1960’s London

I was expecting SHOUT! The Mod Musical to be smashing, and it is. With hits by the likes of Petula Clark, Lulu, Shirley Bassey, Mary Hopkin, The Seekers and The Association plus a phenomenal cast of singer/dancers plus a superstar director (Jerry Vess) from seven previous Summer Garden productions, how could it be anything but?
    What I didn’t expect was relevance.
    SHOUT!, which debuted in 2006, revisits the Swinging Sixties in London through the eyes of five women in different stages of life as they discover women’s liberation. Seeking a balance between domesticity and independence, birth control and motherhood, recreational drugs and responsibility, they strive for the glamorous autonomy of superstars like Dusty Springfield even as her music counsels them to wear their hair for him, do the things he likes to do. It was a confusing decade of change, so thank God that Shout Magazine, the U.K.’s answer to Elle, had an advice columnist. Gwendolyn (Ginnie White) guides them through each life crisis with dismissive beauty and fashion tips: all hilarious — until they’re just not, anymore.
    The girls are as anonymous as their letters, each identified only by the color of her frock. There’s Orange Girl (Jamie Erin Miller), the tippling housewife who is completely contented and completely in denial; Blue Girl (Kara Leonard), the vain and lonely sophisticate who can’t find a chap she connects with; Green Girl (Brittany Zalovick), the commitment phobic good-time gal; Red Girl (Mariel White), the baby and a hopeless romantic mess; and Yellow Girl (Katie Gardner) the loud and emotional American.
    They sing in harmonies that approximate the originals without disappointing. Some, like the anthems Windy and Georgy Girl, are delivered in duets; some, like White’s touching rendition of To Sir with Love are solid; and some, like Downtown, are ensemble pieces that eclipse the originals. Nancy Sinatra never sang These Boots Were Made for Walking as well as these skirts. White also sells Those Were the Days and How Can You Tell. Gardner wows with Son of a Preacher Man and Shout. Zalovick rocks One, Two, Three and I Couldn’t Live Without Your Love. Leonard stuns in You’re My World and Don’t Sleep In the Subway, where she flirts with the crowd. And Miller shines in I Only Want to Be with You and Don’t Give Up. Some of the music, like Coldfinger is just fun.
    Interspersed with the music are comedic vignettes à la Laugh-In, poking fun at the French, the Brits, the Royals, fad diets, Twiggy, orgies and asbestos dresses. Leonard’s skin cream commercial in which she contorts her face to look like Munch’s The Scream is a scream, as is Gardner’s stalking of Paul McCartney. Your Fashion Horoscope is an eye-popping trip back through the rack.
    A musical revue needs more than just the right sound and jokes, though. Looks matter, and this production is spot-on from the Mary Quant minis and Vidal Sassoon bobs to the white Go Go boots and frosted lips. The girls speak in accents that echo the ubiquitous Union Jacks decorating the stage and costumes as they swim, jerk, shrug, frug and otherwise dance their way to psychedelic bliss.
    This show is technically tight with custom voice-overs and few glitches on opening night. The fine musical combo grooves in balance with the singers. Only the pre-show entertainment, perhaps a Dionne Warwick medley, was regrettably inaudible.
    SHOUT! is rated PG-13 for sexual and drug references, but those are sedate by modern standards. So go downtown, where the lights are bright. Everything’s waiting for you at Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre.

By Philip George and David Lowenstein. Director and set designer: Jerry Vess. Musical director: Anita O’Connor. Choreographer: Jason Kimmel. Costumer: Julie Bays. Dialect coach, hair and makeup designer: Emily Karol. Lights: Alex Brady. Orchestra Conductor and pianist: Ken Kimble.
Playing thru July 19: Th,SaSu July 3, 5 & 6; Th-Su July 10-13; and W-Sa July 16-19. 8:30pm at Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre. $20: 410-268-9212; www.summergarden.com.

Can the Bay Gardener solve it?

About 30 years ago, I began to build up my garden with compost and leaves. Every few years, I would gather and put down about three feet of leaves to rot and be tilled into the 50-by-50-foot garden space. The garden now has a beautiful loamy soil. I have been planting with wonderful results for about 20 years.
    About six years ago, I collected the leaves and put them down but did not plant for two years. I gather the bags of leaves, mostly oak, from neighboring houses. Several mulched bags of grass were in the mix this time.
    When I next planted my garden in a six-by-30-foot area, all the plants, tomatoes and cucumbers withered and died over a 12-hour period. The plants had been in the ground for about three weeks and had begun to produce small vegetables.
    I immediately removed them. The University of Maryland Extension Service recommended I plant buckwheat and oats. This I did for two years in a row. It grew beautifully, and so did the weeds.
    This year I have once again planted the garden. In the very same area, all the vegetables withered and died over 12 hours.
    The garden has been tilled many, many times. This is the only area that has the problem. It has not spread to another section of the garden.
    Could I have gotten some chemical like Roundup in the collected bags? If that is the case, why has it not moved with all the tilling?
    I might add that the dead plants have perfectly healthy root systems, and there are no tunnels or holes from moles or voles.
    I am totally at a loss as to what is happening and as to what I can do to fix the problem. Any advice you can give would be greatly appreciated.
–Pat Fessler, Crownsville

The Bay Gardener’s Solution


    The problem is not Roundup. Glyphosate, as the Monsanto weed-killer is called, deteriorates into phosphorus once it enters the soil. It does not have weed control properties when it becomes a soil component.
    I suspect that the soil is infested with fusarium, which is a fungus, or possibly sodium or soluble salts. I suggest that you have the soil tested by A&L Eastern Agricultural Laboratories. Request the S3 test to include soluble salts and sodium. Submit one sample of soil from the affected area and a second soil sample from the surrounding area. Do not indicate crop or request recommendations. Each soil sample should include at least five core samples from each area. Air-dry the samples overnight before mailing them for fast results. Print submission form and instructions from the web page: www.al-labs-eastern.com.
    Have the lab send me the results at DR.FRGouin@gmail.com. We’ll get to the bottom of this.

Teen players give you hope in youth and humanity

An all-teen cast draws a fine line between the real and unreal in Twin Beach Players’ Harvey. We’ve known Elwood P. Dowd since 1944, when Mary Chase’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play opened on Broadway, but most notably in James Stewart’s 1950 movie incarnation.
    In all those years, nobody has ever seen Dowd’s best friend and constant companion, a six-foot-three-inch tall white rabbit named Harvey.
    Dowd describes Harvey as a pooka, a benign but mysterious creature from Celtic mythology who is especially found of social outcasts — like Dowd.
    The word comes up several times in the play, always with a mysterious air as if it’s too taboo to be spoken. Nobody else wants to think like Dowd, who is either a nut or a drunk.
    Or is he?
    Twin Beach Players give us glimpses of Harvey — a fedora hat with two holes poked out for rabbit ears, a door that mysteriously opens when Harvey is invisibly passing through, Dr. Chumley sideswiping by Harvey and Elwood’s conversations with his imaginary friend.
    As Dowd, 14-year-old Cameron Walker does such a believable job of talking to Harvey you’d think the oversized rabbit was in the room next to him.
    Dowd’s family doesn’t share his wide-eyed guilelessness. Prim sister Veta (Marina Beeson) is as much put out by his dinner invitations to people he’s just met as she is to his constant opening of doors for invisible lapine friends.
    And how will she ever find a husband for her daughter Myrtle Mae (Abby Petersen), with an uncle whom most of the town regards as a nutcase.
        Myrtle Mae and Veta join forces to have Dowd committed to a sanitarium run by Dr. Chumley (Jeffrey Thompson). Naturally, things do not go according to plan.
    Twin Beach Players keeps the set simple — a cushioned chair, a phone, a bookcase and a desk and chair. All three acts take place in either the library or Chumley’s Rest, the ­asylum.
    The only sound effects are a ringing telephone and the one-time sound of a large rabbit hopping across the stage.
    The elaborate costumes, made to order by Dawn Denison, suit an era of propriety.
    The teen actors playing grown-ups are mature in roles and dramatic skills. No one missed a beat — or a line.
    Veta is dramatic and loud, overbearing to her brother but not to her audience.
    Newcomer and first-time actor Danielle Heckart, who plays Judge Ophelia Gaffney, shows the audience that even a fourth-grader can pull it off.
    Asylum orderly Wilson (Matthew Konerth) adds humor with impromptu actions and one-liners. I couldn’t wait to see him pop back on stage and hear his next crack.
    Dr. Sanderson (Dean Stokes) and Nurse Kelly (Olivia McClung) are believable in their roles as medical professionals: He, the stoic psychiatrist with a secret crush on her and she, the obedient employee with an underlying twist of sarcasm.
    Camden Raines keeps her duel roles — Betty Chumley and Ethel Chauvenet — separate and ­successful.
    Cab driver E.J. Lofgren (Ethan Croll) is true to his role as a cabbie, complete with New York accent and toughness. Despite his short time on stage, he resolves the conflict with his worldly view of patients with mental illness.
    You leave this quirky comedy about human oddities and outcasts feeling pretty good about yourself and everybody else, including large rabbits.

Director: Annie Gorenflo. Producer: Matthew Konerth. Light and set design: Sid Curl. Sound: Michael Happell. Prop master: Camden Raines. Music: Bob Snider. Costumes: Dawn Denison. Youth Troupe directors: Rob and Valerie Heckart.

Playing thru June 29: FSa 7pm; Su 2pm at North Beach Boys and Girls Club. $5; rsvp: www.twinbeachplayers.com.
 

White perch are ready to bite

White perch are ready to bite

The day had turned ideal, overcast with virtually no wind and a full flood tide. I was busy tying on a bright-colored, one-sixth-ounce spinner bait and, while I couldn’t see my buddy Moe in the bow, I could hear him grunt, “Another one … bigger than the last.” I hurried to pull my knot tight. Of course in my haste I botched the operation and had to cut the lure off and start over.
    After getting the knot right, I was soon tight to a spunky white perch, the most delicious fish in the Chesapeake. The day had instantly become much brighter in spite of that thick cloud cover and our earlier experience.
    The trip we had planned, chumming for rockfish, had become impossibly difficult despite a good start. We had a nice fish in the box in the first 15 minutes; then the bite had died. For a long while we were patient. Then the tide went weird.
    Three hours after the turn was scheduled, the current continued to come in at a dead crawl. Our anchored skiff wandered. Meager, gusting winds sent us first one way, then another. The lines tangled and our baits went unmolested. We tried to persevere, but the awful conditions persisted.
    “Welcome to the Chesapeake Bay, home of the impossible tides,” I said as we separated the intertwined lines of a couple of outfits. Most other boats had gone.
    “You suppose they know something we don’t?” I asked.
    “You mean, like this is a total waste of time?” Moe answered.
    He suggested heading for a more southern shore, a place where we had in previous seasons enjoyed some good fishing for white perch.
    “I’m not sure they are in the shallows there yet,” I said. “The frigid winter made everything so late this year.”
    “So how could that be worse than this?” he asked, as we pulled our Danforth and put our chumming gear away.
    The couple of perch rods we had packed now looked like our salvation.
    After a bit of a run we moved, as quietly as we could go, within casting distance of a rocky, tree-shrouded shoreline studded with stone jetties. I spiked my Power Pole shallow-water anchor into the bottom, and our skiff skidded to a stop. My partner had his rod already rigged so he was quick into action. His first cast answered the big question: The perch are here.
    Just about all white perch feel big for the first few seconds after hooking up, but after that it’s only the larger, thicker, black-backed perch that can keep a sustained bend in a light rod and make the battle a test of wills. With the perch’s delicate mouth structure, an educated hand becomes very helpful in getting a big one into the boat.
    There were lots of throwbacks but among them enough 10-inchers along the shoreline to accumulate a decent-sized fish fry.
    We ate well the next afternoon.

June into July is the Bay at its best

“It’s a beautiful day. Don’t let it get away,” my husband emails, quoting Bono.
    So I’m writing with urgency, eager to leave my computer for the Bay, the perfect rhyme to day and away.
    I’ll feel the same tomorrow. What day isn’t beautiful this time of year? Why let any of them get away?
    At the cusp of summer, light is long and weather moderate, mostly. Despite the leonine roars of a changing climate, June’s extremes tend to cool rather than heat. At night, you can still pull on a sweater or tuck under a blanket. Leave your hat on, and you won’t have to take off all your clothes to endure the sun. With luck, that extreme will wait until the sign of the crab yields to the sign of the lion.
    Right now, possibility seems endless.
    School’s finally out throughout Chesapeake Country, the Primary election is won and lost, you can watch baseball every night and many days, vacations are on countdown, calendars are written up with weddings, anniversaries and celebrations. And there’s not yet a jellyfish in sight.
    June, as my grandmother said, “is the month of the roses. The sweetest month and the shortest.” With my birthday falling on June’s last day, there was bittersweetness in that lesson — but not enough bitter to take away the sweetness.
    Anyway, the cup is half-full. We’ve got through Monday before June gets away.
    Then we’ll fling ourselves into the pleasures July brings, starting with Independence Day, which — falling on a Friday this year — gives us a long weekend.
    Bay Weekly is going with the flow. For the next two weeks, I guarantee you a pleasure-filled paper in keeping with the season.
    We’re focusing on fireworks early in this week’s paper, so you can plot a program to double your pleasure. Chesapeake Country fireworks extravaganzas spread over two days.
    On Thursday, July 3, Southern Anne Arundel County is the place to see the show. Anchor out at about 38° 42' or 43' by 76° 30' or 31', and you can see two nearly simultaneous shows, from Herrington Harbour South in the north and Chesapeake Beach in the south. By land, alas, you’ll have to choose one with the other as distant background.
    On Independence Day, Friday, July 4, you’ll find a second helping of fireworks north, south and west, with grand shows in Annapolis, Baltimore, Bowie, Solomons and Washington, D.C. The only pity is you’ll have to choose just one.
    Wherever you choose to see the show, you’ll see it with new insight and knowledge after reading our smart summer intern Madeline Hughes’ description of the choreography that goes into each show and catalogue of the big blasts. Read on to learn the names of the explosions: That one’s a peony … a crysantheum … a willow … a palm, you’ll say, and your friends and family will be impressed.
    There’s lots more to read in this week’s paper to seize this day, for it will never again come your way, from solving mysteries with the Bay Gardener to catching perch with Dennis Doyle to commuting by bicycle with ever-provocative Steve Carr, who returns to our pages this week. The night skies will never be just like this any other week from here to eternity. All of us June babies will read our last birth month horoscope of 2014. And with this week’s crossword puzzle, Bugs in the Program, Ben Tausig retires from weekly puzzling and Bay Weekly’s pages.
    Starting with Independence Day celebrations, you’ll find lots of ways to seize each day, week and month of summer in July 3’s paper, devoted to Travels in Chesapeake County. Bay Weekly writers have combed their memories like beaches in search of favorite day trips and excursions to help you plan many beautiful days ahead for yourself, your family and all your summer visitors.
    Next week, too, some puzzling surprises will come your way.

Answer this call and you’ll think twice about who you ­connect with

With a quirky cast of characters and a script full of great one-liners Dead Man’s Cell Phone keep you on your toes guessing and laughing for most of an hour and a half. The plot draws us in with questions we ask about our own mortality and technology.
    How is technology affecting me socially? Does my cell phone connect me to the world or draw me away? Do I really need to answer my phone every time it rings, even when I’m on the toilet? Is there a heaven? Does everything happen for a reason? What do I want to be known for after I die? Who do I love most in the world?
    The 2007 Helen Hayes outstanding play award winner opens in a café where a customer ignores his ringing cell phone. Annoyed by the ringing, Jean (Heather Quinn) repeatedly asks the man, Gordon (Jim Reiter), to answer his phone. When he does not, she answer for him and takes the message before she realizes he is dead. After calling 911, she keeps the cell phone and injects herself into his life, praying to God “Help me to comfort his loved ones. Help me to help the ­memory of Gordon live on in the minds and hearts of his loved ones.”
    The next scene opens as Gordon’s mother, Mrs. Gottlieb (Mary Fawcett Watko) eulogizes her son. It’s a funeral, but she is funny, keeping us alive and awake with witty lines. After a phone rings in the service, she exclaims “There are only one or two sacred places left in the world today. Where there is no ringing. The theater, the church and the toilet. But some people actually answer their phones” in the latter these days.
    It is Gordon’s cell phone ringing. Jean leaves the funeral to answer and meets the caller, who is Gordon’s mistress (Darice Clewell). To her  and all the people who call the undead line, Jane says exactly what they most want to hear.
    Dead Man’s Cell Phone brings a lot of themes and even some romance to the table. There are slow downs in the script, but the actors keep you involved. Theater in the round makes for four separate audiences, and the play’s six actors reach out to all. The theater is so intimate that you can appreciate even their smirking and grinning. Costuming was archaic compared to the phone, but the sparse set served its purpose.
    About that cell phone: It’s a temptation but finally not a substitute for face-to-face connections.

Director: Tom Newbrough. Set design: Edd Miller. Sound: Richard Atha-Nicholls. Lights: Shirley Panek. Costumes: Christina McAlpine. With Jean Berard and Nick Beschen.
Playing thru June 28: Th-Sa 8pm; Su 2pm (also Su June 22, 7:30pm) at Colonial Players’ Theater, Annapolis. $20 w/discounts; rsvp: 410-268-7373; www.thecolonialplayers.org.