the baltimore waltz
This production of THE BALTIMORE WALTZ by PAULA VOGEL was presented by Draw the sneck productions at usc's massman theatre, los angeles, December 4-7, 1997, produced under special arrangement with DRAMATISTS PLAY SERVICE.
It was directed by John Drouillard; TECHNICAL direction by Christopher beyries; sET DESIGN BY CHRISTOPHER BEYRIES; lighting by andrea housh; sound by john drouillard; properties by scott FREEburg and courtney kleinman; language consultants were Allyson garro, suzanne SCHMIDt, and inga golde; produced by WILLIAM VOGT, CHRISTOPHER BEYRIES, JOHN DROUILLARD, AND SCOTT FREEBURG; production stage manager was COURTNEY KLEINMAN.
The cast was as follows:
ANNA • JESSICA RANDLE
CARL • CHARLES HESS
THE THIRD MAN | Doctor • allyson GARRO
ABOUT THE BALTIMORE WALTZ
When Anna, an unmarried schoolteacher, is diagnosed with ATD, Acquired Toilet Disease, a fatal new malady with a high risk factor for elementary school teachers, she and her brother Carl take flight to Europe. Anna decides she wants to drown herself in the sensuality of food and sex, while Carl becomes involved in a wild Third Man-ish espionage scheme to find a cure for his sister on the Continent. Something is not quite right with the scenario, and the largest hint is dropped when Anna shows slides of their trip to Europe where each frame looks exactly like Baltimore. Carl's quest for a cure dead ends with a mad Viennese quack. Their European idyll is broken by Carl's death, and the tragic revelation that the entire play was Anna's valiant fantasy to keep alive her brother's spirit when she could not save his life. - from Dramatists Play Service
After having spent much of the previous 18 months on the consecutive productions of Tracers, I wanted to challenge myself with something that was thematically different in both voice and energy, and something with which I wasn't as familiar. A comedy about the personal toll of AIDS? Perfect.
Prior to my becoming aware of this piece, about two years before, I'm not sure I'd have believed one could write a comedy tackling this subject, let alone on such an intimate level as the relationship between brother and sister and the pain of the possible loss of the other. And then, there was The Baltimore Waltz, Paula Vogel's beautiful, touching, and very funny play about just that, a truly elegant device to explore this very heavy landscape.
Pulling together the core of our team from Tracers, we assembled a terrific small cast of three, within which we had the distinction of the first cross-gender casting of the Third Man, who is not only the Third Man character, but actually all of the other characters in the show, played brilliantly by the eclectic Allyson Garro. Finding the perfect Anna and Carl was crucial and the auditions were intense, searching through dozens of actors, multiple configurations, before deciding on Jessica and Charlie, who were not only tremendous actors, but, most importantly, already seemed like they'd been brother and sister for 20-plus years, a quality they had from their first audition together and an energy which provided the strong emotional core of the piece.
My only regret on this show was that our photo call was killed by a series of unforeseen events and all that remains, at least at this writing, are stills from the recurring slide show portions of the play, the last of which was added at the end of our production as a window opening further into the reality of Anna and Carl's actual life and relationship.
I'll always hold a special place in my heart for The Baltimore Waltz, such a perfect little dream about the mighty and sometimes ridiculous journeys we'll embark on to save the ones we love.