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Lesson 1: From the ground up

     Organic gardening is a science based on being able to supply nutrient needs and ideal growing conditions that will produce healthy plants that can resist diseases and pests. Fruit and vegetables free of pesticides are considered healthier because they are untouched by man-made chemicals with the potential to cause health problems.
    Success in growing plants organically begins with selecting land that can generate ideal growing conditions. Site and soil are of utmost importance. Establishing an organic garden on a slight slope facing south gives you soil that warms more rapidly in the spring and stays warmer in the fall than soil on a northern slope. A warmer soil will release nutrients from organic soil matter faster. Sandy soil will warm faster than silt or clay soil because there is less water present and the soil is denser. However, during drought, sandy soils will need supplemental irrigation and/or mulch to satisfy the water needs of the plants.
    Full sun also helps warm the soil, enabling the release of nutrients from organic matter and maximizing ­photosynthesis.
    Well-drained soils are essential to promote deep rooting of plants and early warming of soils. Avoid poorly drained soils. Good air drainage is essential for the rapid drying of foliage to minimize disease problems.
    Since the organic content of the soil is the primary source of nutrients for plants, the pH measurement of soil acidity should be monitored by regular soil testing at three-to-five-year intervals. Soil testing is also a guide to maintaining optimum levels of nutrients such as calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg) and to prevent phosphorus (P) and manganese (Mn) from accumulating in excessive amounts.
    The organic garden thrives on organic matter. To be successful, you need to increase the organic matter of the soil to five percent and above. For every percent of organic matter present in soils, 10 pounds of nitrogen (N) is generated per acre per year through a biological process known as mineralization. To obtain optimum yield, you must maintain the organic matter content of the soil at between five and 10 percent. Maintaining levels of organic matter concentration above five percent requires yearly applications of organic matter. Good sources include compost, animal manure and organic fertilizers such as fish emulsion, cotton seed meal, bone meal and compost tea.
    In choosing seeds, the organic gardener seeks varieties with vigorous growth characteristics and disease resistance. In planting, avoid over-crowding, which increases competition among plants for sunlight and moisture. Crowded plants are more susceptible to diseases because they tend to be weak and their foliage is likely to remain wet for prolonged periods of time.
    Healthy plants are more resistant to diseases than weak plants. However, healthy plants are equally susceptible to insect damage, though they are better able to tolerate limited plant damage before significantly reducing yields.

Blue crabs at quarter-century low

     The 2013 Chesapeake Bay blue crab harvest was the lowest in 25 years. The 2014 numbers look to be at least as bad, perhaps worse.
    How could this happen?
    Maryland Department of Natural Resources has had some of its best scientists and managers working to conserve this keystone species, one of the most revered (and consumed) in Maryland.
    Despite this concentration of talent and effort, the female blue crab population has decreased by 80 percent within the last decade. Thus, the overall population of blue crabs has fallen to the edge of collapse once again.
    Officially the crisis has been blamed on unforeseen environmental factors such as severe cold, natural predators, parasites, unusual weather and unpredictable ocean currents. Those forces do inevitably impact the overall population of our blue crab.
    But there is one reliable and utterly controllable tool available to resource managers that can ultimately protect the population levels: varying female crab harvests and, in particular, the commercial female crab harvest, as the recreational harvest of females is already prohibited.
    Almost 20 years ago, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation began a vigorous campaign to reduce the female blue crab harvest, arguing that females were critical to the health of the species. The immediate results were death threats to some of the staff and the burning of a Foundation education center.
    When decisions have to be made that can affect the commercial fishing industry and the livelihoods of individuals, emotions can run high. Nothing came of the campaign to protect the female crabs. The harvest continued unabated.
    The blue crab population subsequently collapsed to a declared federal crisis level by 2008. DNR finally had to acknowledge that the female crab harvest levels were based on flawed science: Female Chesapeake blue crabs do not spawn just once in their lifetimes; many spawn multiple times.
    The ecological emergency had one positive effect: Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia began cooperating to rebuild the depleted species. Unprecedented protection for the females was put in place by all. The result was an extraordinary and rapid resurgence in blue crab numbers. Within two or three years, the population rebounded to pre-crisis levels.
    Unfortunately, so then did the resumption of the commercial female crab harvest — with predictable results.
    We are in crisis again. This recurring situation is a strong clue that officials charged with the management of the blue crab have failed to account for unanticipated and uncontrollable mortality events that inevitably happen in a large, open ecosystem like the Chesapeake. We have continued to harvest too many crabs, especially females.
    Recently, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation issued a 2014 Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab Advisory Report urging minimizing risks to crab populations by immediately protecting juvenile female blue crabs while state agencies consider future changes to regulations to rebuild the population.
    The Foundation also called for creating sanctuaries in different parts of the Bay to further protect females; improving on the accountability and reporting of both commercial and recreational harvests; and moving agency management review cycles to better (and more promptly) respond to natural population fluctuations.
    Part of the problem remains unaddressed: How to rebuild blue crab numbers and maintain the population of both males and females at a healthy level without hurting the incomes of the many hard-working watermen that bring them to market.
    Assuming Maryland intends to continue the unofficial policy of providing stability to the commercial crabbing industry, some mechanism other than the exploitation of the blue crab had better be devised.

Not your game if you’re a Bay Weekly reader

     Monopoly, Sorry! and Chutes and Ladders: The games we play are the similes writer Tom Hall uses to explain how the nation’s biggest energy debate is playing out in Chesapeake Country.
    Monopoly, Hall says, is what the game seems like when an energy giant like Dominion Resources plays out its next move in your back yard.
    For the third time in 14 years, the sleeping giant on the Chesapeake at Cove Point in Calvert County is stirring. The first tremors were reopening, as a series of energy companies sought and gained permission to put the Liquefied Natural Gas depot back in business. Next, from 2004 to 2008, came expansion as Dominion Resources doubled the old plant’s capacity to receive natural gas from around the world. Now, in an energy economy turned upside-down, Dominion Cove Point is seeking to switch its impressive machinery to exporting some of America’s suddenly abundant natural gas to India and Japan.
    Such big business makes many citizens of Calvert — and climate change opponents throughout the state — fear they’ll be playing the game of Sorry!
    But, says Hall, a story with so many forces at play may be better explained as the maze of Chutes and Ladders.
    For all 14 years, Bay Weekly has reported this story to keep us from playing another game: Blind Man’s Bluff. We’ve explained the stakes, introduced the players, walked pipeline right of ways through citizens’ yards, watched environmental impact studies and refreshed memories with updated chronologies.
    This chapter of the story — with export approval seeming around the corner — is told by Tom Hall. Hall has the standing, experience and balance it takes to explain a local story with national import. A Navy patrol plane mission commander turned journalist, he’s reported on business for the Pensacola News Journal, San Jose Business Journal and Washington Business Journal and worked as an editor at USA Today, Gannett News Service and McClatchy-Tribune News Service.
    How did we get so lucky to add Hall to our contributors? Wouldn’t you know he loves the water!
 



Still Puzzling
    Sudoku is here to stay. We wouldn’t dare omit it. Voices sounding like The Godfather crammed our answering machine after last week’s accidental interruption of the five-year flow of number puzzles in Bay Weekly’s pages.
    It won’t happen again.
    Word puzzles are not provoking such passion. Not since the retirement of Ben Tausig, which moved Bay Weekly puzzle-solver Katie Sabella to her definitive assessment of the value of crosswords in “any periodical worth its salt.”
    Crosswords bring people great happiness. For me, they are a little daily treat that allow me to escape and keep my mind sharp. Supposedly doing them staves off neurological diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s. … It’s a guilty pleasure, a little slice of bliss, but it’s important to me. I suspect many of your readers feel the same. Why not keep that element of joy as a part of Bay Weekly?
    Kris Kross is “okay,” according to puzzlers like Evelyn Newman and Bill Vance. Others hate it. I kind of like it, though it doesn’t give me the same thrill as wading through clues and puns to a good crossword’s multidirectional solution.
    Anagrams drive me crazy. I ought to be able to rearrange the letters — I claim to be a wordsmith — but I’m stuck in the rut of reading from left to right.
    With repeating letters, cryptograms are easier but not so rewarding if the revealed message is stale. The themed crosswords we’ve been running are frustratingly easy, making me miss my weekly struggles with the demonically minded Ben Tausig.
    What’s your say? Email me at editor@bayweekly.com

Fish recipes from the Chesapeake

Catching a fish from the Chesapeake leads to a seafood dinner beyond the reach of most mortals. The fish has come directly from your own hand. It is fresher than anything available to those not thus connected to the water. Freshness is really the defining quality, the gold standard, of seafood cuisine: same-day catch to table. Buying fish from even the best seafood markets will net a catch that is at its freshest three days old: a day from catch to the dock; another day from wholesaler to retailer, then a day (at the least) to the purchaser and to home. As to later than three days, keep in mind the old Benjamin Franklin dictum: “After three days, a fish and a house guest begin to smell.” Rockfish, the most treasured fish of the Bay, is not at all difficult to prepare. It is a dense, white-fleshed creature that responds exceptionally to herbs and spices, assuming they are not overdone. The distinctly fine flavor of striped bass can be easily overwhelmed, which is why my favorite recipe is simplicity itself. Starting with a boneless, skinless fillet, dry it with paper towels, slather with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and place it in a hot cast-iron skillet until it is well browned on one side. Then turn the fillet over and slide the skillet into a 350-degree preheated oven for 15 minutes. Test with a fork to be sure it’s done all the way through and serve. A simple lemon butter sauce with fresh-chopped dill or fennel is enough to lend rockfish all the sophistication that a fine palate could demand. My favorite accompaniments are Eastern Shore Silver Queen sweet corn and some thickly sliced fresh tomato from the same locale, dressed with olive oil, salt, ground pepper and fresh basil. A bottle of chilled champagne would not be gilding the lily. White perch is another seafood treasure from the Bay. Seldom encountered in area markets, white perch caught commercially in Maryland are mostly sent out of state. Apparently the Maryland markets are skewed toward rockfish. However, if you are even a modest angler you can secure yourself some of the finest frying fish in existence. The perch are small; a 10-incher is a big one. However, they are found in great numbers in the Bay and tributaries and, allowing for three fish per person, the average angler usually can secure a fine dinner in no time at all. Carefully fillet and skin the fish, cutting each fillet into two equal-sized portions. Blot the fish pieces dry with paper towels and dip in a mixture of two beaten eggs, two tablespoons flour, salt, pepper and a bit of beer (enough to create a syrupy mixture). Then roll the coated pieces in a shallow dish heaped with Japanese panko crumbs. Accumulate the prepared fish pieces on a large plate. Then heat a heavy skillet — again I prefer cast-iron — with about an inch of peanut oil (corn oil works almost as well) to about 350 to 400 degrees. With tongs settle the pieces of fish in the hot oil, turning them when they are golden brown. Hold the completed fish in a warm oven while you make a simple tartar sauce from chopped cornichons (about eight or nine), olive oil mayo (I like Hellman’s) and the juice of one-quarter lemon. You can also provide some dipping sauces. Texas Pete Buffalo Wing Sauce is a good one if you like it spicy, lemony vinaigrette if you’re of a gentler palate. I prefer an India pale ale to accompany the meal, but ice tea or a good, chilled white wine will go well. Provide plenty of napkins as this feast invites hands-on dining.

Summer’s darlings, winter’s pests

Three seasons of the year bugs are pesky. But summer has fun bugs as well as pests.
    I have a strong dislike of bugs, especially stinkbugs, verging on fear. Those little stinkers freak me out with their buzzing around hitting anything in their path. They and their evil eight-legged or beetle-y friends rule my house, and many other peoples’ too, when they come in from the cold.
    In the summer, however, bugs are like everything else: alive, green and refreshing. I’ve seen a bright green praying mantis scaling the wall at Bay Weekly, a blue and purple dragonfly buzzing around my grandparents’ pond and colorful butterflies fluttering.
    Dragonflies have inhabited earth since the dinosaurs roamed and continue to thrive in our developed world. Their grace, power and magic bring even more joy to a beautiful summer day.
    These vibrant bugs don’t scurry from the cold along with us into our houses, or sneak in through the slightest crack. Summertime greeters are pretty, colorful and born every spring, unlike their bothersome, freeloading cousins that board with you when the weather gets chilly.
    I have always been a fan of summer bugs. When I was younger, I played outside with bugs, capturing caterpillars by day and chasing fireflies by night. I never squirmed away from worms while baiting a fishing hook. Summer bugs I like.
    Come winter when bugs break and enter into my home, we might have issues. For now I enjoy them in their habitat. They were here before us.

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.