June 18, 2024

CSM Main Stage Season Begins

CSM Main Stage
Davey, performed by Sean Smith of Waldorf, and Frankie, performed by Alyshia Bradley of Lusby, travel the heartland, enjoying the adventure and each other’s company in CSM’s Main Stage Theatre’s production of John Olive’s “The Voice of the Prairie.”

The fall theater season has begun at the College of Southern Maryland. CSM Main Stage presentations of “The Voice of the Prairie” started this week, and will continue at 8 pm Sept. 29 and 2 pm Sept. 30 at the college’s Fine Arts Building on the La Plata Campus.

Playwright John Olive describes his play as “an adventure about storytelling.”

The story begins in 1923, as a traveling radio salesman named Leon Schwab stops in a Nebraska town and gives the residents the opportunity to tell a story on the radio. Farmer David Quinn takes a turn at the mic and connects with the listeners so well that Schwab takes Quinn with him on the road.

“David is so compelling and Leon so craftily enterprising that soon they’re traveling the Midwest together, sharing the ‘magic of the ether’ across the prairie,” said Michelle Ebert Freire, adjunct faculty in CSM’s Theatre Program and the director of the college’s performance. “David’s stories of his itinerant youth and his three glorious months on the run with a blind girl named Frankie touch a nerve with listeners. Soon, everyone is hooked.”

The remainder of the play deals with adventures related to what happened to a girl named Frankie and inquiries from the new Federal Communications Commission about whether Schwab’s radio shows are legal.

“The story is touching and beautifully told,” Ms. Freire said.

The play’s message is particularly relevant to today’s audience, as we are always steeped in stories being shared on social media, she said.

“You know how Facebook, Instagram and other forms of social media seem to make our worlds larger by connecting — and reconnecting — us to people? Well, in ‘The Voice of the Prairie,’ broadcast radio seems to serve the same function,” Ms. Freire said. “I love the way the play intersperses radio broadcasts, memories, flashbacks and real-time events to really drive home our sense of longing, of needing connection.”

Three actors are featured in the play: Chris Fleming of Hughesville, Sean Smith of Waldorf and Alyshia Bradley of Lusby. Each actor plays multiple parts.

A group of other players are also involved, in both incredible sound design and narrative voiceovers, including Emma Ansell, J.R. Cook, Michelle Freire, Zoe Freire, Kenneth Laclair, Lisa Laclair, Christopher Lange, Gershawn Mason, Andrew Roell and Kenneth L. Waters Jr. Sound design is also being handled by Waters.

Cost to see this play is $15 for adults or $12 for members of the military, seniors and youths. Cost for CSM students, faculty and staff is $5 if tickets are purchased before the day of the show. For tickets or more information, email [email protected] or call 301-934-7828. To buy tickets online, visit the box office link.

“The Voice of the Prairie” was originally commissioned and produced by Artreach in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The expanded version was produced by Hartford Stage in Hartford, Connecticut. The play is produced at CSM by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc.

Next up for the CSM Main Stage Theatre is “Ragtime,” the musical, based on the novel by E.L. Doctorow with music by Stephen Flaherty and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, which interweaves three stories in turn-of-the-century New York. “Ragtime” will be presented Nov. 2 and 9; 8 p.m. Nov. 2, 4 and 10; 2 p.m. Nov. 11 at the Fine Arts Building at the La Plata Campus.

For more about the College of Southern Maryland, visit its Leader member page.

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