On Thursday night, I attended "Chicago" at the Scottish Rite Theatre in Collingswood. The performance
was held in the grand ballroom where the room was converted into a stage. There were few props to clutter the vertical
space and the lighting was used sparingly to accent the dancers and silhouette peripheral participants. The actors entered
from all parts of the space - through the crowd, around lower level curtains, up the stairs allowing the audience to be plunged
into the middle of each scene. The actors were fresh and funny and the dancing was effortless. It's the work of
many people who put in many hours of practice and many sleepless nights. But in truth, it is the work of Mary Baldwin.
renaissance of our town has coincided with Mary's creation of our community theatre. Everything from the recent "Joseph"
to "The Music Man" is either a Mary Baldwin production or Mary Baldwin had something to do with it. She has trained
generations of talent whose voices will be heard for years to come.
greatest gift as a director is her ability to work with little and create so much. Even back in her high school production
days, her shows were ingenious in the use of simple props that were adaptable in many scenes or even many other plays.
The actors would whirl around stage pieces on wheels and use as much of the tiny middle school stage as could humanly be fit.
built those stages, put up those lights and taught herself how to tell a story. "Chicago" to me, seems to be her finest
work yet. Her cast is a who's who of Collingswood musical talent. Their confidence is a tribute to her.
compliments like the athlete she is. She dodges and volleys them back toward her crew and cast. So that's why
I'm writing this. For once, she'll have to stand still and accept some praise.
you are a true gift to Collingswood - to our town and our school system. Why, I don't even think Governor Christie could
say a bad thing about you. Your amazing voice (which needs no microphone) will echo in our theatres and our hearts forever.
back to work.