Preview: Visit to a Small Planet

Preview: Visit to a Small Planet

Visit to a Small Planet Opens at Church Hill Theatre on April 1, 2016

March 31, 2016

Written by:Steve Atkinson

It’s 1958. The Cold War is in full swing and an UFO is seen flying around Manassas, Virginia. The UFO lands in the rose garden of the Spelding family. Kreton, the inter-demensional visitor, is making a visit to observe the American Civil War, but arrives nearly a century to late. That is how the latest production of the Church Hill Theatre, Gore Vidal’s “Visit to a small Planet” which opens on Friday April 1st 2016 begins.

The show is produced by Bonnie Hill and Michelle Christopher. Liz Clarke, who is also the theatre’s full time Administrative Assistant, is the director.

The show features a fine cast. This is the fourth production of Church Hill Theatre I’ve reviewed since beginning this publication and this one is the best all around cast I have seen. Clarke picked a winner for every part.

The alien Kreton is played by Howard Mesick. Even though the play is probably older than he is, he takes the role and makes it seem as if it was written for him. The childlike alien Kreton is disappointed that he arrived in the wrong century, but then realizes he can create a lot of mischief during Earth’s Nuclear age of the Cold War.

As listed in a recent Press Release from the Church Hill Theatre, “Pat Martin, last seen in CHT’s production of Good People, takes the role of General Tom Powers. Kreton’s hosts are members of the good-natured Spelding family. Media pundit Roger Spelding, played by Tred Avon Players regular John Norton, his wife Reba—CHT veteran Debra Ebersole, and their lovely daughter Ellen, depicted by UNH Theatre Arts grad Shannon Whitaker, welcome Kreton into the 1950s with hospitality, despite his spaceship crash-landing in Mrs. Spelding’s rose garden. CHT first-timer Justin Butler plays Ellen’s boyfriend Conrad Mayberry. John Haas plays a military aide, Megan Boyle and Bob McGrory are TV technicians and Maya McGrory is the mysterious Delton 4.”

“Talbot County resident Les Lentz provides the eerie sound effects, while lighting wizard Nic Carter illuminates the stage for Visit. Another stunning set created by Carmen Grasso and Brian Draper, this time with help from Towson student Sam Martin, and decorated by props mistress Cynthia Fields. Liz Clarke and Debra Ebersole team up to clothe the actors beautifully. Katie Sardo, Rachel Pettit, and Tim Daly will be running the sound and light boards for the performances.”

I am volunteering my services as a photographer and have provided publicity shots and more. Usually when I am photographing an event I try to take things very seriously, but a few times I did get sidetracked with outburst of laughter. It definitely is worth taking the trip to Church Hill to see the show, whether you live down the street from the theatre or coming from DC, Baltimore, Philly or anyplace in between.

Visit to a Small Planet runs from April 1 – 17, 2016 with performances at 8 pm on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 pm on Sundays. Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for members, and $10 for students, with special prices for groups of fifteen or more.

Church Hill Theatre offers a “two-for-one” special on opening night, Friday April 1st for those who phone in advance.

CHT also has attractive membership deals and FlexTicket rates for its entire 2016 season. For more information on the season, or to make reservations call the CHT office at 410-556-6003 or visit CHT online at www.churchhilltheatre.org.

Photo by SG Atkinson

Kreton, Howard Mesick sitting, enjoys the company of the Spelding family, from right daughter Ellen, Shannon Whitaker, her suitor and family neighbor Conrad, Justin Butler, mother Reba, Debra Ebersole and Roger, John Norton.

Photo by SG Atkinson: General Powers, Pat Martin at center, addresses Kreton as Captain Sherman, John Hass, looks on.

General Powers, Pat Martin at center, addresses Kreton as Captain Sherman, John Hass, looks on.

Photo by SG Atkinson: Kreton, Howard Mesick, only friend at times seems to be the family's cat.

Kreton, Howard Mesick, only friend at times seems to be the family’s cat.

Photo by SG Atkinson: Roger begins a TV broadcast from his home with a milk commercial  with Megan Boyle and Bob McGrory,  TV technicians.

Roger begins a TV broadcast from his home with a milk commercial with Megan Boyle and Bob McGrory as TV technicians. Captain Sherman stands guard,


Photographs by SG Atkinson

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