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Letter from the Editor (All)

The General Assembly adjourns; Marylanders finally get to vote

The oceanic roar of political passions in the presidential primaries perhaps deafened you to the estuarine rumble of the Maryland General Assembly.
    But an energy reading of Annapolis would show a precipitous drop after April 12, as our 188 elected representatives and the lobbyists who throng them retreated after another Assembly’s end.
    For 90 days starting the second Wednesday in January, the capitol throbs with the business of making laws. This year, 2,817 bills were considered; 834 become laws. In a marathon on April 12, Gov. Larry Hogan signed 106 into law.
    Most affect an individual life in small ways, as will this year’s revision of Maryland divorce law allowing uncontested divorce without a witness to a couple’s separation of at least a year.
    What will be the biggest legislative deal of 2016?
    In the long shadow of Freddie Gray’s death, Baltimore gets millions to reduce urban blight.
    Noah’s Law makes a sentimental favorite, memorializing a young officer killed in the line of duty — and perhaps saving many more on the roads — by expanding the range of convicted drunk drivers bound to use ignition locks.
    Environmentally, we’ve agreed to further reduce greenhouse gasses by 2030. Oysters in the wild come a step closer to gaining protection as a regulated fishery. Still, there’s no spotlight environmental success this year, when once again disposable plastic bags survived a legislative ban. But from that sector comes a measure of how hard it is to make a bill into law.
    Maryland League of Conservation Voters reports organizing more than 6,750 emails and over 8,000 phone calls to legislators for the sake of environmental legislation. “Environmental voters also showed up in force on Lawyers’ Mall, in committee hearings and legislators’ offices in the hundreds to rally for our healthy environment and future,” said Executive Director Karla Raettig.
    That number includes a swarm of human bees in favor of more pesticide controls.
    From concept to the General Assembly — even to fail — takes a massive effort. For legislation moves by consensus, and ideas draw virulent opponents as readily as they do enthusiastic supporters.
    A bill with the name Maryland Healthy Working Families Act surely must have been loved by at least some of its 80-plus sponsors, including Anne Arundel Delegates Mark Chang and Ted Sophocleus.
    But to Calvert Del. Mark Fisher, it was one front of “Maryland’s War on Work.”
    Fierce as are the tempests that rage in the General Assembly, the storms roil few citizens — but the hyper-committed. In terms of fans, lawmaking is not prime-time material. Too much head-scratching and back-slapping, plus listening and thinking.
    Politicking is a lot more dramatic, particularly presidential, and particularly this year. With Maryland’s late primary, we have had to get our electoral thrills vicariously. Finally, it’s our turn.
    Early voting opens April 14 and continues through April 21. For the first time this year, you can register to vote at every early polling place, all open 10am to 8pm. To register, bring your MVA-issued license, ID card or change of address card, or your paycheck, bank statement, utility bill or other government document with your name and address. Find your closest at ­www.elections.state.md.us/voting/early_voting_sites/2016_EARLY_VOTING_SITES.pdf.
    As this is a primary election, you must vote by party — Democratic or Republican — for president, senator and congress-person and delegates to your party’s national convention. Candidates for judge in Anne Arundel and School Board in Calvert run independent of party, so all voters can weigh in on them in
    If you’d rather vote with your neighbors, Election Day is Tuesday, April 26. Polls are open 7am to 8pm.

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

Look who’s inviting your community to play(s)

Masterpiece Theater doesn’t tempt me with its behind-the-scenes insights into actors assuming character. I want my characters in character, just as I met them, preserving their fictional illusion.
    Community theater is a different story, with a local angle.
    Show after show, familiar faces transform like Hugo, Man of a Thousand Faces. (Don’t know Hugo? You have a gap in your childhood.) One of those faces may belong to your office mate.
    As you read, local theaters are imagining, mounting and striking another play — and another.
    Consider four we work with routinely.
    Twin Beach Players is making its home-stretch push toward Thursday April 7, opening night for The Miser. A 350-year-old French comedy is a leap for a grassroots, bootstraps local theater.
    “We’re strong enough to be judged on how well we do,” says Sid Curl, company president and theater pro.
    The 17-year-old company loves literary masters, which saves money, as it pays no royalties on plays aged out of literary protection.
    Twin Beach Players’ work with children in productions and in the annual Kids Playwriting Festival make it, Curl says, “the largest children’s organization in Calvert County with the exception of the public schools.”
    This year’s 11th Annual Kids Playwriting Festival is the other project keeping the company buzzing. Step one, again this year, is recruiting the playwrights.
    In Annapolis The Colonial Players opens Friday, April 8, with the musical The Secret Garden. Meanwhile, actors are just stepping into character for Colonial’s June production, Good People.
    At 67, The Colonial Players stands on the strength of heritage. A membership of some 100 theater supporters — dues are only $10 — gives the company plenty of energy, with new people stepping forward as others retreat. “We’ve got books and books of bylaws and procedures distilled from experience,” says Darice Cleewell, an actor, director and, by day, trainer who is completing her year-long term as Colonial’s president.
    Colonial’s standing shows in other ways. It already has its own home, its theater in the round in downtown Annapolis, plus a second property for sets, costumes and rehearsal. The company also has a reliable audience whose subscriptions guarantee revenue. “We’re able to take more risks than other companies, and we take that responsibility seriously,” says Clewell.
    2nd Star Productions is readying Guys and Dolls for a June 9 debut at Bowie Playhouse. Musicals are this all-volunteer company’s specialty, so even an ambitious play like this is not too big a stretch. It’s also likely to be a money-maker, which means surviving for another play, another season. Mounting a play, especially a musical, costs as much as $70,000, says company treasurer Gene Valendo.
    The actors who’ll play Guys and Dolls’ gamblers and molls work throughout the region. The board is small, dedicated and looking to expand. You don’t have to act to help.
    “I have no desire to be on stage,” says Jane Wingard, company president and award-winning set designer. A Prince George’s County drama teacher, she was an empty-nester when challenged to form the company.
    Part of that fun will be bringing to life next February’s much-anticipated Peter and the Starcatcher.
    “It’s the first Peter Pan play,” Wingard explains, “for a company that takes its name from Peter Pan’s second star to the right and straight on ’til morning.”
    April isn’t too soon for Annapolis Summer Garden Theater to get is 50th anniversary season started. The Wedding Singer opens May 26. This Saturday, April 9, is spring cleanup with volunteers needed to ready the lobby, garden, backstage and everywhere else. Show up at 10am at the theater, 143 Compromise St., Annapolis: ­volunteer@summergarden.com.
    That’s one of many ways to join your neighbors in play.

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

Three-dozen helpers in keeping up with Mother Nature

Such energy is all around us! The miracle of humus, light, water and sap that brings Earth back to life each spring Mother Nature achieves apparently effortlessly.  She’s so good at her job that our own inspiration rises in wonder at her seasonal restoration. With Earth looking so good, I find myself saying, what about my own home and garden?
    Whether we live on green acres or way up in a high rise, whether our space is sprawling or tiny, we can follow Nature’s lead. For the size and scope of our spring projects matter less than the energy they release in our human beings. As Mother Nature’s children, we’re driven like all the rest of Earth’s creatures to renewal.
    Spring renewal brought crisp white linen slipcovers to the overstuffed chairs and couches of the most welcoming home I’ve ever visited, the Lewis family home in the haphazard village of Gillespie, Illinois. Florence, who ran the home, had an eye for perfection. Each object, each seasonal change, was a comforting act of invisible artistry. Those slipcovers, for example, were sewn by Florence and her mother-in-law, who had owned the house before her. Years later, they still stand as my talisman of domestic comfort. I’ve never dared such an invitation to soils and spills, though over time it’s occurred to me that the parlor they adorned was less used than the family room-library.
    My indoors ritual of spring renewal is to attack the windows. Washing, opening and hanging light curtains changes the home season. It’s my symbolic first step into spring, and I feel obliged to start with the equinox. Thereafter everything else, indoor and out, unfolds slowly as I find time, energy and money.
    The physical acts of remaking our home and garden is part of the reward — until it becomes a burden. So this Home & Garden Guide helps me scale my plans to my abilities and discover to whom to turn to carry out the dreams I can’t manage.
    I hope it will do the same for you, becoming your directory to the greater Chesapeake Country village where you do your spring renewal shopping.
    All the businesses you’ll read about here are advertisers who pay for the paper in your hand. Their investment in Bay Weekly, ours in you and yours in them: That partnership keeps us all in business. That continuity keeps our community culturally and economically strong. A strong community enriches our personal lives and supports our choices. That’s true all the way into our homes and gardens.
    This year’s Home and Garden Guide introduces three-dozen businesses to help you keep up with Mother Nature.
    From a bank, Realtor and insurer to support your biggest decisions … to who can build the projects you imagine … to call to tune up your heating and cooling system … to who’ll wash even your highest windows … to where to find art to open your horizons: You’ll find all these and more home improvers in these pages.
    Outdoors, we take you from nurseries to landscapers to lawn services to experts in outdoors living who can dig you a pool, keep your pool fresh and healthy and equip you well, from extravagant grills to outdoor kitchens.
    For what to prepare in those kitchens we take you to farms, farm markets and orchards where you can have a good time with the free time you’ve saved as well as find bounty to bring home.
    In our pages, you’ll read what each says they do best. When one strikes a chord, you can turn from our pages to that website to continue your research. After that, you might find that the project you dream of is only a phone call or visit away.
    We see great returns from this issue.

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

Heeding spring’s reminder that water is a force in our lives

Once spring starts coming, you can’t nag it back underground. Wind and chill, I complain, stole the weekend. And when the weather was fair, flu kept me inside.
    What’s a little chill? We feel fine, the cherubic pink blossoms of magnolias proclaimed. Forsythia didn’t need sunshine to shoot yellow through its switches. Willow goes green as happily in the 40s as in the 60s. Maple is littering my lawn with a new bumper crop of spent blossoms before its last year’s leaves are raked. Sprouts wiggle through as if wet leaves didn’t weigh all the tons I’ll soon feel in my muscles.
    What I need, spring, is a little more time.
    And I need a little more knowledge, I realize as I read staff writer Kathy Knotts’ story Holy Waters: Churches on a mission to save the Bay.
    She’s writing about Watershed Stewards, many of whom take their vows to help their congregations — 16 churches so far and one temple — manage their waters for the earth’s sake. Of the 160 graduates of the Anne Arundel Watershed Stewards Academy, 15 percent are church or temple sent. Why they come to this mission in such numbers, you’ll read in Kathy’s story.
    Religious or not, each of the 160, I realize, brings something of the knowledge of a hydraulic engineer to his or her place on this earth. Each of them understands the force of the water not only where it falls, but throughout its flow all the way it takes to navigate back to downstream to the big water it’s seeking. That would be the Chesapeake, and where I live it’s not very far away — and all downstream. So the water flows fast, off our roofs, through our gutters, down our streets and hills.
    I have dug a channel to catch and direct the flow from the buried drainpipes that lead from my gutters. Neighbors have rain gardens and rain barrels. As a community, we have put in swales and drainpipes. But we need more, and part of what we need is more sophisticated engineering.
    “Every church has a creek,” says Calhoun,” and every creek deserves a church.”
    I suspect those words are true of every home and every neighborhood as well. We’ve all got creeks, and we’ve all got stormwater exerting all its power to get to them.
    Fortunately, more and more of us, individuals and organizations, are gaining know-how in managing stormwater.
    The first step is looking at water in a new way.
    I like how Brian Van Wye, chief of program implementation for D.C.’s Stormwater Management Division, puts it: “For decades and decades, people designed in the city to get stormwater off of a site as fast as possible. What we’re trying to do is turn that on its head and slow it down and, as much as possible, turn stormwater into a resource on that site.”
    I read his words in a CityLab article distributed by the Chesapeake Bay Program’s listserve, explaining how private investors are taking on public stormwater retention problems in return for marketable retention credits: http://bit.ly/CityLnk.
    For me, that’s a new way of looking at water as wealth.
    Bigger thinkers than me are already there, and that’s a good thing because managing water takes moving elemental forces around, and that’s costly work. As you’ll read in Kathy’s story, the big project underway at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Eastport will cost over one million dollars.
    St. Luke’s is one of hundreds of projects big and small in Anne Arundel County, installed or undertaken by Riverkeepers, conservancies, schools, churches, businesses, neighborhoods, homeowners and Watershed Stewards and the county itself, often working in concert. Here at Bay Weekly we’re beneficiaries of some of that work, organized by the Spa Creek Conservancy. The stormwater fee we pay in Anne Arundel is one source of that money that gets the work done.
    But behind it all is the energy unleashed in each of us when, heeding the call of spring, we see the forces of water at work in our gardens and all the places we call home.
    I think my channel needs a series of step pools. I think I need to enroll in the Watershed Stewards Academy: http://aawsa.org.

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

Branch out this weekend to many Marylands

For each of us, Maryland is a different place: perhaps a state of mind, perhaps a state of being, perhaps a blood line running through your veins.
    Like many Marylanders and distant cousins spread throughout the land, your link may take you all the way back to 1634, when Lord Baltimore’s sea-tossed ships The Ark and The Dove bumped into now-St. Clement’s Island and decided the Potomac River was the place for them.
    Bay Weekly contributing writer Mick Blackistone is one of those so linked. So are my sons, through their paternal grandmother Mary Mattingly.
    Another link: You can celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and Maryland Day at the same time and for much the same reason: possession of land. Englishman Cecil Calvert, the mind behind our colony, was made baron of the territory of Baltimore, in north central Ireland, in the 1620s, when such grants were in the English king’s power. His colonial ambitions were further tried in Newfoundland, which proved too cold, and finally in Maryland.
    In Ireland, Baltimore is a rocky village on the coast of County Cork.
    So you can toast Maryland Day with a glass of Irish whiskey. Or beer. But better not make it wine, lest you suffer the fate of a thirsty group of Baltimore colonists. Father Andrew White, who chronicled the voyage, reports the sad consequence of celebrating Christmas 1633 at sea with wine: in order that that day might be better kept, wine was given out; and those who drank of it too freely, were seized the next day with a fever; and of these, not long afterwards, about twelve died ...
    Modern Marylanders preserve the legacy they’ve inherited in many ways.
    For the Ann Arundel Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, including Bay weekly correspondent Diana Dinsick, the touchstone of Maryland history is the Rising Sun Inn, a pre-Revolutionary farmhouse and later tavern tracing its lineage to Virginia Puritans, an outlying branch of the believers who caused so much trouble in England for Charles I, whose history is entwined with Maryland’s.
    For Annapolis, the touchstone is preserving the homes and stories of Revolutionary era personages great and small.
    For Captain Avery Museum’s dedicated volunteers, the touchstone is inviting new generations to share the opportunities of a waterfront home — first of a sea captain, then a Jewish community summer home.
    For the Galesville Historical Society, it’s preserving the traditions of two communities in one, black and white. For the Deale Historical Society, it’s sharing memories of generations leading to ours.
    There are many Marylands beyond these, probably many for each of us, and often divergent.
    New Jersey transplant Joanna Evens can’t get over our roads, she writes of her new home in Southern Maryland:
    “My suspicion is that many numbers of people here are hunters. I can tell by the number of pick­up trucks that crawl up my car trunk as I meander along Rt. 4. Meandering is something I brought with me from New Jersey. Why rush to the next stoplight? The pickups don’t like meandering. …
    “I realize the contorting roads are part of the terrain and not unlike those used when slow-moving wagons transported tobacco. I don’t like driving them — yet — but I like seeing the old barns that suddenly surprise me as I take a sharp turn. The barns are colorful, some colorless, but grace the empty fields much like a stately lighthouse on an empty beach. They seem to be guarding something, perhaps the past.”
    Maryland Day weekend, this weekend, is a good time to visit other Marylands beyond our own, extend our acquaintance with generations past and ponder what we’re handing down to the future.

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

For a week’s worth of words, open Bay Weekly

All the puzzles on Bay Weekly’s expanded Activities Page have me thinking synonymously.
    Amalgamation … composite … everything but the kitchen sink … fusion … gallimaufry … grab bag … hash … hodgepodge … marriage … medley … mélange … miscellany … mishmash … Noah’s ark … odds and ends … olio … omnium-gatherum … pasticcio … pastiche … potpourri … salad … salmagundi … scramble … stew … and my favorite, dog’s breakfast, a ­Canadian idiom I immediately understand. Like the lunch salad my husband generously made for me, this Bay Weekly is full of little bits of good things.
    Come to think of it, newspaper belongs on that list.
    (I’d make that memo to Mr. Peter Mark Roget (1779-1869), were he still around to read it, or his Fifth Edition successor, Mr. Robert L. Chapman, had he not, alas, left this world back in 2002.)
    For what is a newspaper but a periodic anthology of all the stuff that’s come to its editor’s hand by way of assignment, diligence and timeliness?
    I go gallimaufrying as I read my morning newspapers (The Washington Post and The Capital plus a section left over from the plentitude of Sunday’s New York Times). Gallimaufrying, in case you didn’t know (I didn’t) is a “conflation” of French words meaning to amuse oneself and to gorge. And what I seek is to breakfast on the unexpected, from five appreciations of Nancy Regan to stories of love and marriage to who may be who on the Supreme Court to defiances of death to cartoons to advice on the complexities of daily life.
    At Bay Weekly, we’ve gorged ourselves on gallimaufrying in making this paper, so you can expect to go gallimaufryin, too.
    Your reading this week will inform, enlighten and entertain.
    Start with edification. The Chesapeake Waterkeepers, in a new monthly feature by Mitchelle Stephenson, will keep us up to date on front-line actors and action in restoring the Bay, river by river.
    Then learn how researchers and citizen scientists at Smithsonian Environmental Research Center are looking long-term into a future, planting a forest of 20,000 trees to learn lessons in diversity.
    That’s a forest you can visit any day, but what about those saplings you’re passing on every day’s drive? There’s another part of Bay Restoration, planted by the State Highway Administration to improve the health of the Chesapeake watershed by capturing pollution-producing nitrogen and phosphorus in their root systems.
    For news you can use, read Kathy Knotts’ stories on tax advisors ready to help you meet your date with Uncle Sam and Mr. Franchot.
    For what’s happening in the animal world, you’ll read how you can help Chesapeake conservancy set up a new nestcam to spy on a blue heron rookery.
    Speaking of diversity, that, Moviegoer Diana Beechener writes, is the lesson behind the very entertaining Zootopia.
    You’ll find more entertainment in Get Your Skates On, wherein first-time contributing writer Karen Holmes takes us visiting area hockey bars, where fans watch their beloved Washington Capitals score.
    You’ll find entertainment every day of the week in 8 Days a Week, your go-to source for fun and festivities.
    Once your head is full, you’ll be ready for word puzzles four ways: Crossword, CryptoQuip, Kriss Kross and Anagram. Full of words? Stimulate other parts of your brain and satisfy other appetites in this week’s Sudoko and Coloring Corner.
    All that for free 52 weeks a year in Bay Weekly. All we ask is that you support our advertisers.

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

Mine wouldn’t be so harrowing had I had Bay Weekly’s annual Camp Guide

I sure wish I’d had this week’s Camp Guide back when I coerced my mother into sending me 800 miles from home into the wilds of Minnesota for six weeks at Camp Wood ’n’ Aqua.
    Parents, read on lest your kids wander into an experience like mine. Our annual Camp Guide will give you choices, and I’ll give you some practical guidelines in the form of questions I wish I, or my parents, had thought to ask.
    If you’re past that life stage, read on, reminisce — and keep right on reading into Camp Guide. There you can dream, because the camps we’re writing about are awesome.
    Camp Wood ’n’ Aqua had sounded pretty awesome the afternoon its owners pitched its wonders to the assembled third through eighth graders of Our Lady of the Pillar school. I came home after their talk — illustrated with slide images of the Land of Lakes, woods, paper-bark birch trees, canoes and happy campers — to tell my parents they had to send me.
    Persuasion took some doing. Wasn’t the distance far and the stay long? I was nine years old and had never been away from home alone. I was also a pest, and I drilled them like mosquitos around a campfire till they could take no more.
    Preparation was an adventure. Mother and I shopped for a shining black metal chest and filled it with neat stacks of required camp wear. She bought labels printed with my name and stitched them on every blouse, pair of shorts, jeans, underpants and socks, sheet and towel. She gave me lessons on fixing my own hair, and along with soap and shampoo we packed hairbrush, hair bands and bobby pins. I added a stack of books and comics, and she tucked in tablets, envelopes and stamps.
    In the grand dark caverns of St. Louis Union Station, Mother, Dad, my grandmother and most of the staff of our restaurant waved and wept. The train trip north could have been my little ride on the Orient Express — had I not been in oxygen deprivation, holding my breath to keep terror at bay. Instead it felt like a first-timer’s journey on the Hogwarts Express. Despite my stiff upper lip, I was already lonely.
    On the first day of 42, I discovered that we girls weren’t the only swimmers in Minnesota’s thousand lakes. In the bathhouse, as we pulled off our wet one-piece swimming suits, we found shiny black blemishes on our legs and stomachs. Our lake was inhabited by leeches. We poured on salt — boxes were on hand for that purpose — to remove the slimy parasites.
    Rule 1: Ask what flora and fauna you’ll go to camp with, and how camp organizers promote peaceful coexistence. Campers can be taught to avoid poison ivy, like the vine entangling my granddaughter’s camp cabin, and skunks. Avoiding leeches means staying out of the water, but what’s the fun of camp if you have to stay out of the woods? Check out tick precautions.
    At Camp Wood ’n’ Aqua, I spent my time on the water instead of in it. That’s where I learned to paddle a canoe. The amber waters, cloudscapes and peppery smell of ozone before a storm drew me back years later for long canoe and camping trips on the Canadian side of the Boundary Waters. On these adventures, we made up our own family party of two or three, so I had the fellowship you hope for at camp instead of loneliness. Which brings up …
    Rule 2: Ask how counselors promote friendship, defuse cliques and guard against bullying.
    Whether camp friendships are easy or hard, campers are never alone. For an only child used to being solitary, the constant companionship of this big makeshift camp family felt like being in the zoo instead of visiting it. So I suggest …
    Rule 3: Make sure your camp provides quiet time. Camp days are full steam ahead. Most kids, wild things as well as introverts, need the relief of calming quiet time.
    Finally, Rule 4: Broaden your choices. The camps you’ll read about this week in Bay Weekly’s Camp Guide offer about everything under the sun, from animal training to zip-lining, all in manageable installments from hours to half days to overnights to weeks. As you find ones you and your kids like, go beyond the introductions we make in these pages. Study websites. Take notes. Visit camp fairs and open houses; you’ll find many noted in these pages. Talk to organizers, ask questions and consider what you learn. Imagine what it will be like to be there. Then go have fun — or envy the kids who will.

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

Should dispelling stereotypes trump history?

You know that conversation on race we’re all supposed to be having? We’ve jumped into it in the midst of Black History Month from the unlikely springboard of a 1940 romantic comedy set in the whites-only high society of Main Line Philadelphia.
    This month, 2nd Star Productions tried The Philadelphia Story out on 2016 audiences.
    Cast as establishment tycoon George Kittredge, the groom-to-be, in a three-way competition for the love of the female romantic lead was Akili Brown.
    Brown happens to be African American. His race — in that role — was a key issue with Bay Weekly long-time theater writer Jane Elkin, who reviewed the play in our February 11 issue.
    “2nd Star Productions tries to update this classic with color-blind casting,” the review noted, in an edited sentence agreed on by Elkin and me.
    “Confounding credibility is the directorial concept of Tracy’s interracial engagement to George. For these characters, such a union would have been unthinkable,” she continued. “That scenario was the impetus for a different Hepburn blockbuster — Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner — 40 years later.”
    Given the culture of The Philadelphia Story, Elkin could not will “the suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith.” Poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s two-hundred-year-old explanation remains the best we’ve got for how literature, and ­theater, affect us.
    In two of close to 100 reviews Elkin has written for Bay Weekly since 2007, she has made the same complaint.
    “In the past I have criticized Anne Arundel Community College for casting an African American in the title role of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (a tale that takes place in the antebellum South) as well as Colonial Players for casting an African American woman in the role of a blonde, fair-skinned Van Gogh model (a known historical figure who is the subject of a famous portrait) in their production of Inventing Van Gogh,” she explains.
    Is Elkin wrong? Is the color of an actor irrelevant in the 21st century? Should our suspension of disbelief fall on race?
    The pros and cons on that issue bring a lively debate to our pages one week after Elkin’s review was circulated in 20,000 papers and online.
    “We are quite concerned regarding the emphasis in the review regarding our updating of the story and color-blind casting rather than an analysis of the performance itself,” the officers of 2nd Star Productions wrote me.
    “It is a long-standing policy of 2nd Star to cast the best possible actors from our open auditions to fill the roles in a show. We pay little attention to ethnicity in this process as the community we serve is so multicultural. There may be shows such as A Soldier’s Play or Ragtime where race is an important aspect of the story that will demand us to consider skin tone, but beyond that we try to be as inclusive in our casting as possible.”
    Color-conscious casting is the contemporary term for inclusionary casting, and it is common practice in modern theater, explains Pam Shilling in another commentary on Elkin’s review. “Frequently the choice to cast a show in this manner stems from the theatre company’s or director’s dedication to expand opportunity to all actors and to engage the best performers regardless of ethnicity.”
    As an actress with 2nd Star, Shilling was nominated for a WATCH award in Hello Dolly! She was praised as “exquisite” by Elkin last March in 2nd Star’s Cabaret.
    “I am giving Ms. Elkin’s the benefit of the doubt,” Shilling continues.
    “I am asking Ms. Elkin to elaborate on her position on this,” Shilling concluded. “I look forward to her reply.”
    Here’s what Elkin had to say: “I am sensitive to the challenges that minority actors face, but that does not help me suspend my disbelief in such cases. Theater is about creating a credible illusion, and clear visual cues that the play is not entirely within the dimension it purports to represent are distracting to me. Give me an interracial Romeo and Juliet — no problem. But Phila­delphia society girls of the 1930s did not date men of color with their families’ blessings. That’s how it was, and wishing history to be otherwise does not change it.”
    What do you think?
    Should dispelling stereotypes trump history?
    Is it time that we go colorblind — suspending that last visage of disbelief at least in the darkness of our theaters?
    See 2nd Star Production’s The Philadelphia Story for yourself, and perhaps you’ll see things differently.
    Playing FSa 8pm, Su 3pm thru Feb. 20. Bowie ­Playhouse, White Marsh Park, Bowie; $22 w/discounts: 2ndstarproductions.com.

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

Find it in our new Coloring Corner

Not everybody has been lucky in love. So a lucky other’s love story may not universally engender sighs of contentment. If love has done you wrong, your Bay Weekly pick of the week may not be James Baden and Mackenzie Williams’ Love Story, recounted by staff writer Kathy Knotts.
    Fortunately, that’s not the whole story of Bay Weekly. Every week, it’s our mission to have something for almost everybody.
    This week, we send you a Valentine.
    That genre of love token, I’m convinced, has at one time or another warmed every heart. For two centuries, Valentine cards have been a favorite conveyance of affection, from good will to adoration.
    The holiday is the greeting card industry’s second largest sales day. As many as a billion paper cards are exchanged, from inexpensive boxed valentines favored by school children to limited-edition handmade cards costing hundreds, even thousands of dollars. (Millions of e-Valentines are sent, but paper cards are far ahead.)
    Only a fraction of those cards go between lovers. Children, mothers and wives get 80 percent, according to industry tracking. Sweethearts come fourth. Eighty-five percent of valentine card buyers are women, but children give the most. Teachers get more cards than anybody else.
    That statistic won’t dampen my pleasure as, again this Valentine’s Day, I browse the Valentine collection inherited from country schoolteacher Miss Cora Smith, Bay Weekly benefactor and my first cousin twice removed. Handmade and store-bought … funny, sweet and loving, these cards still speak of the affection in the hearts of the children who gave them as much as a century ago.
    Surely a Valentine has made you happy? Can you recall one?
    Two from long ago stand on my mantle, adding sweet memory to the warmth of the fire below. By serendipity, I excavated them at this Valentine season from my treasure chest of past mementoes.
    Both are handmade.
    One is part of a vigorously colored grid of six card-size images created by my younger son at perhaps eight years old. The only Valentine in the block, it shows a blood-red heart pierced by a detailed arrow and dripping five small hearts. Be My Valentine is lettered in blue against a pink background.
    The other is a heart in outline, elaborately inked on an on oversize sheet of art paper. Inside is a message that makes me imagine the friend would have been a suitor.
    When you turn to Bay Weekly page 10, you’ll find a Chesapeake Valentine challenging you to color it lovingly, drawn especially for you by artist Sophia Openshaw.
    Take it, please, as a token of our affection for you.
    Enjoy it. Color it. Feel free to pass it on.
    Coloring Corner will offer you another challenge next week. Tell us if you like it, and images for you to color will keep coming.

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

Bay Weekly’s Dining Guide takes the guesswork out of where to go

You and the groundhog may disagree about how much more winter we’ll have.
    You may rejoice, or wince, at the decisions of caucusing Iowans.
    But no matter your views on politics or weather, I bet you’re tickled at the suggestion to go out for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
    Then comes the tough question: Where will we go?
    Read on to answer that.
    Like Groundhog Day, Bay Weekly’s annual Dining Guide comes to you at the halfway point through winter. Your spirits need shoring up. By now, your snowbird friends have all flown to warmer climes. Cold has spent its bracing effect. You’ve seen about all you need of snow. Your woodpile is diminishing and your heat bills soaring. Your endurance is fraying. You’d really like to get away — were it not for the chains that bind you.
    An hour or two’s excursion for a good meal: That’s a renewable prescription for treating the midwinter blahs and brightening the seasonal-disorder blues.
    Our annual Dining Guide maps your way to eating out through much of Anne Arundel and Calvert counties. Each of the spots you’ll learn about in these pages will satisfy you in some special way.
    For relief from the midwinter blues, February ends with Annapolis Restaurant Week. From February 22 to 28, 42 Annapolis restaurants offer special prix fixe menus at lunch, dinner and, at some, breakfast.
    Speaking of breakfast, you’ve got choices near and far. In Severna Park, we recommend two of contributing writer and breakfast-out lover Bob Melamud’s favorites, Garry’s Grill and Cakes and Confections, both places where breakfast is only one option.
    In Annapolis, Chick & Ruths Delly is a natural. But have you thought of John Barry Restaurant & Bar
at O’Callaghan Hotel? Brunch at Metropolitan is a treat. In Galesville, Sunday brunch at Pirates Cove. In Deale, Happy Harbor serves breakfast seven days, and Dockside does on weekends.
    In Huntingtown, try Chessie’s or carryout at Bowen’s Grocery.
    Lunch and dinner? Depends on where you are and what you want.
    Want comfort food and the friendliness of a neighborhood tavern? Try Babes Boys in Upper Marlboro, Happy Harbor in Deale and Anthony’s in Dunkirk.
    Wanting to introduce visitors to Chesapeake ­specialties? You’ll find just what you want at Pirates Cove and Thursdays in Galesville.
    Want pizza? Try Rocco’s in Annapolis, Angelina’s in Edgewater, Chessie’s in Huntingtown or Brick Wood Fired Bistro in Prince Frederick. Have your pizza flatbread style at Metropolitan in downtown Annapolis.
    Want classic American? How about Preserve, in Annapolis, named for a focus on pickling, preserving and fermenting? Or Brick Wood Fired Bistro, where, says owner Jason Nagers “we’re all about fire.”
    Want ethnic? For Italian, try Luna Blu in Annapolis or Angelina’s.
    For Irish, try John Barry in Annapolis and Babes Boys in Upper Marlboro.
    Want Swiss, sort of? Try The Melting Pot.
    Want German? Naturally, it’s The Old Stein Inn and Bier Bär in Edgewater.
    For French, it’s Café Bretton in Severna Park.
    For Spanish, Jalapeños. For Mexican? Jalapeños again, when you’re in the white-table-cloth mood. In the cantina mood, try Rivera’s Tex-Mex café in Severna Park.
    Want sushi? Tsunami, of course, in Annapolis, but you’ll also be pleasantly surprised at Umai Sushi House in Deale, where Korean cuisine is the other specialty.
    Want Thai? Lemongrass in Annapolis.
    Want Chinese? Try Hunan L’Rose in Odenton.
    Want fun with your food? Try Anthony’s Bar and Grill in Dunkirk.
    Want sports while you eat and drink? There’s Dockside and ­Thursdays in Owings.
    Need fish and meat to cook at home? Bowen’s Grocery features an old-fashioned butcher shop plus fresh oysters and crabmeat. For more fresh seafood, try Chesapeake Seafood in Edgewater. For locally raised beef, pork, chicken, lamb and eggs, the place is En-Tice-Ment farm-raised meats in Harwood and at farmers markets.
    How about some of the best baked treats in town? Cakes and Confections is the place.
    All of these special places share one particular ­quality to recommend them to you as a Bay Weekly ­reader: They’re our partners in bringing you this weekly paper. Without them, there’d be no Dining Guide or Free Will Astrology for you. No News of the Weird or Creature Feature. No 8 Days a Week or Sky Watch. No Bay ­Gardener or Sporting Life. And in their place, you’d have to find your own.
    So use your Dining Guide. Keep it for future reference. Use it to figure out where to go out. Enjoy your meals, and — please — say Bay Weekly sent me.

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