‘Up Close and Personal’ Theatre

March, 2014,    Volume 2, Issue 2

Dear Reader,

Driving down the 800 block of Saint Paul Street, you could easily miss Spotlighters Theatre, a compact performance space tucked into the Terrace Level (basement) of the Madison Apartment building. But you’d be missing out. There is a regular – and ever-growing – audience of theatre lovers that have been enjoying performances at this Baltimore mainstay for more than 50 years.

Called an ‘intimate gem’ by CBS Baltimore, Spotlighters boasts the city’s largest line-up of musical and theatrical productions.

Executive Director Fuzz Roark

“I want people to feel like they’re in a professional space, but also a very welcoming and homey space,” says Executive Director James ‘Fuzz’ Roark.

Fuzz shares his passion with thousands of theatergoers by directing productions, leading educational classes and after-school programs, managing the nonprofit’s day-to-day operations and even personally returning phone inquiries.

The theatre itself is an intimate space – just 70 seats! “I can’t tell you the number of people who met their significant other on stage or in our audience,” Fuzz laughs.

“A patron stated that he tells everyone to come to Spotlighters because it is ‘up close and personal theatre’ – and I like that!” Fuzz continued. “When you can feel the actors’ tension, and stress, and joy and sadness – then it can become yours as well. Our actors also like the intimacy, because they get to feed off the energy from the audience.”

theatre in the round
The compact theater-in-the-round

Many actors that Spotlighters works with are first-timers who go on to the national stage, such as In the Heat of the Night star Howard Rollins Jr. “He was so tremendously talented,” Fuzz said. Spotlighters is also tightly connected with the Baltimore theater scene. Jayme Kilburn started out at Spotlighters as an intern. She went on to create The Strand Theater Company in 2007. In addition, Fuzz is working with several other local theatre professionals to create a citywide theatrical performance database.

“I’ve always had a passion for doing a variety of things,” Fuzz said. That might explain the bounty of productions the theatre puts on – as many as 10 a year! From Into the Woods to Angels in America, and, most recently, Romeo and Juliet.

Its next production, Five Course Love, is a deliciously over-the-top musical comedy about five calamitous dates.

The evening begins at Dean’s Old-Fashioned All-American Down-Home Bar-B-Que Texas Eats, where a blind date goes char-broiled wrong. Next, at the Trattoria Pericolo, a mob wife has a secret rendezvous with her lover. At Der Schlupfwinkel Speiseplatz, a VERY interesting three-some is revealed, at Ernesto’s Cantina, Love and Lust battle for Rosalinda, and finally… at the Star-Lite Diner, a mystery date is set!

The show opens tonight, March 7, and will run through April 6. Tickets are $20 adults, $18 seniors, $16 students & military.

On Thursday, March 13, there will be a ‘Ten Spot Thursday,’ with all tickets just $10! You can also ‘Talk Back’ with the Cast and Director immediately following the performance on Sunday, March 23.

For tickets, visit www.spotlighters.org or call 410-752-1225. Spotlighters Theatre is located at 817 St. Paul Street, in Baltimore.

‘Looking Forward to Spring’ at
The Walters Art Museum



Now on view through May 11, 2014, Designed for Flowers: Contemporary Japanese Ceramics displays 60 contemporary Japanese ceramic vessels produced for the traditional art of ikebana flower arranging.

“One of the things we think about when we think of Japan is the weather,” says chief curator Robert Mintz, “This exhibition looks forward to the blooming world of lovely things. Spring is about to happen.”

The exhibit captures the essence of the natural world, yet since it is a contemporary exhibition, it is subjective. “The vases speak from the artist to you,” Mintz says.

Hōgō 2010-1 (Petal 2010-1), Fujino Sachiko, 2010, stoneware. The Betsy and Robert Feinberg Collection. © The Walters Art Museum, John Dean Photographer

At the entrance of the exhibition is the Petal container (pictured), which is made of folded clay. The material has a heavy quality that is reminiscent of felt. “This surface is tactile,” Mintz says, “It harkens back to winter.”

Cases in this gallery display rough, earthen vessels that were made using ancient methods. “These pieces look back in time,” Mintz says, “They are crusty, and cruddy, and yet the artist is incredibly in control of the process.”

Step into the next gallery, and the vessels seem to skip ahead hundreds of years. Made of celadon, they have a smooth, space-age quality. “These vessels are rather crystalline, and they evoke the ideal,” Mintz says.

One artist has utilized technological advancements by spraying gold, silver and platinum on the surface of their objects. Other objects are then fired in a kiln as many as 40 times. The result: A juicy surface texture evocative of the condensation around an icy glass of soda. “We were worried people might start licking them!” Mintz added.

In another gallery, objects take on a humorous twist. “This is called ‘A Vase That’s Not a Vase,” Mintz said, pointing to a pile of ceramic shards that seems to fall apart among the flowers. Yet however unconventional it may seem, like all of the objects in this exhibition, the artist used very traditional methods to create it.

Oribe Kaki (Oribe Flower Vase), Katō Yasukage, 2006, stoneware. The Betsy and Robert Feinberg Collection. © The Walters Art Museum, John Dean Photographer

Haiku, or Japanese poems, are stenciled along the exhibition walls, and tatami mats are scattered throughout, inviting visitors to linger. This is your chance to sit, appreciate the beautiful simplicity of these vessels, and ponder what types of flowers you would fill within them.

At the end of the exhibition is a perfectly symmetrical vase emblazoned with a yellow kingfisher bird. You can almost hear his birdsong. “Spring is the most commonly used inspiration in Japanese art,” Mintz said. “It’s a beginning point to expand and explore ideas.”

Just by walking through the exhibition, you can feel the seasons change, and spring has finally arrived. And what a relief that is!

Designed for Flowers is comprised of vases drawn from the Betsy and Robert Feinberg Collection and has been generously supported by The E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, Friends of the Asian Collection of the Walters Art Museum, he Bernard Family, Mr. and Mrs. Douglas W. Hamilton, Jr., and The Edward Clark Wilson Fund for Asian Art.

Museum hours are Wednesday through Sunday 10am-5pm and Thursdays 10am-9pm. Designed for Flowers is a special ticketed exhibition: $10 adults, $8 seniors, $6 students. Children under 17 years and members of the Walters Art Museum receive FREE admission. The museum is free for everyone Thursdays 5pm-9pm.

For even more hands-on fun, The Walters will offer three ikebana demonstrations 2pm on Sunday, March 9, April 6 and April 27. A Japanese film festival takes place on Thursdays in March starting at 6pm. You can even make your own ceramic vessel on Sunday, March 23 and April 27.

The Walters Art Museum is located at 600 N. Charles Street in Baltimore, MD. Phone 410-547-9000. http://thewalters.org/

Welcome, New Mount Vernon Members!

I’d like to take a moment to welcome the newest members of our Mount Vernon Cultural District, the Johns Hopkins University Sheridan Libraries and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO)! You’ll be hearing more about these fantastic institutions in upcoming issues of The Mount Vernon Newsletter.

Mount Vernon Member Sticker


And if you’re a Mount Vernon area business or restaurant, keep an eye on your mailbox! I have mailed you an exclusive invitation to our esteemed group. You, too, can be a member of The Mount Vernon Cultural District. We will soon be planning our first multi-faceted ad campaign, and we welcome your participation.


Other Mount Vernon News

Thomas Dolby To Teach at Peabody

Courtesy Peabody

Thomas Dolby, creator of the memorable 1980s synthpop anthem “She Blinded Me With Science,” will join Johns Hopkins University’s faculty as the first Homewood Professor of the Arts.

At Johns Hopkins, starting in the fall, he will be teaching “Sound on Film,” a collaboration between Homewood’s Film and Media Studies program and Peabody’s Recording Arts and Sciences program, in which students create soundtracks for films. The announcement was made by The Baltimore Sun and a video and story about it can be found at the Johns Hopkins Hub.


March Events In Mount Vernon

Presented in Chronological Order


Center Stage
700 North Calvert Street | Phone: 410-332-0033 | Website

Twelfth Night
Written by William Shakespeare


Twelfth Night

“Twelfth Night is a perennial favorite […] with its multifaceted plot mixing sweetness, sadness and silliness.”-The New York Times

Revelry, disguises, swashbuckling, and (of course) pining lovers abound in what some call Shakespeare’s most perfect comedy. Twins Viola and Sebastian, separated in a shipwreck and presuming each other dead, wash ashore in the beautiful but mysterious land of Illyria. A tale of mistaken identity and mismatched ardor unfurls as lords and ladies, servants and masters wind a topsy-turvy path to happiness.

Directed by Gavin Witt, the performance runs now through April 6. Tickets are $19-$39. To purchase tickets, learn more about the show, and for your chance to meet the actors, click here or call 410-332-0033.


Enoch Pratt Free Library
400 Cathedral Street | Phone: 410-396-5430 | Website

The International Women’s History Month Literary Festival

Enoch Pratt

On Saturday, March 8 in the Wheeler Auditorium, join us as four women writers discuss the intersection of place, time and culture in literature and in the lives of women. The conversation will be moderated by Linda A. Duggins of Hachette Book Group.

Misty Copeland (Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina), the first African-American soloist in the last two decades at the American Ballet Theatre, has written a memoir about her inspiring journey to become a professional dancer.
Deborah Johnson (The Secret of Magic) writes about the postwar American South, its people, both black and white, at a time of wrenching yet hopeful change. She is the author of an earlier novel, The Air Between Us.
Sujata Massey (The Sleeping Dictionary) won Agatha and Macavity awards for her Rei Shimura mystery series. Her new book is the first in a series of historical suspense novels featuring Bengali women and the independence movement in India.
Lauren Francis-Sharma (‘Til the Well Runs Dry) tells the story of a young Trinidadian woman, her two sons, the young policeman who loves her — and the family secret she’s guarding.

The Ivy Bookshop will have copies of the authors’ books for sale at a reception and book signing following the program.

Presented in partnership with the Antigua & Barbuda International Literary Festival and the Baltimore Times.

The Enoch Pratt Free Library is located at 300 Cathedral Street in Baltimore. Phone 410-396-5430. For a complete list of March events at The Pratt, visit www.prattlibrary.org.


Maryland Historical Society
201 W. Monument Street | Phone 410-685-3750 | Website

‘Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte in Europe’

Robert Lefevre - Pauline Bonaparte, Princess Borghese 1806
Pauline Bonaparte Borghese (1780-1825), Robert Lefevre (1755-1830), painted 1806, Collection of the Palace of Versailles

On Thursday, March 13 at 6pm Chief Curator, Alexandra Deutsch will guide visitors through the Woman of Two Worlds: Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte and Her Quest for an Imperial Legacy exhibition with a special focus on Elizabeth’s time spent in Europe.

Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte was among the first American women to skillfully navigate the aristocratic circles of European society. After her first ill-fated trip abroad in 1805 when she was abandoned by her husband, Jerome Bonaparte, Elizabeth made seven more journeys to the continent. In Paris, Geneva, Florence and England, Elizabeth moved with social ease among the princesses, princes, dukes and duchesses who wandered through post-Napoleonic Europe. Her wit and intelligence won her spots in the most elite intellectual salons of Paris, a feat few Americans achieved. During this tour, Curator Deutsch will discuss the intrigues, romances, friendships and legal battles Elizabeth pursued an ocean away from Baltimore – including her complicated friendship with Pauline Borghese (pictured).

Light refreshments will be served. To register, click here.

The Maryland Historical Society is located at 201 W. Monument Street in Baltimore. Call 410-685-3750 for more information. For a complete list of March events at The Maryland Historical Society, visit  www.mdhs.org.


The Garrett Jacobs Mansion
and Engineers’ Club
11 West Mt. Vernon Place | Phone: 410-539-6914 | Website

‘Meet the Garretts: Baltimore’s Gilded Age Royalty’

On Sunday, March 23 at 2pm, join Edward Heimiller, curator of the library and museum on the Maryland Masonic Grand Lodge in Hunt Valley, Maryland, as he discusses Dr. Henry Barton Jacobs. Tickets are $10.

Prior to the lecture, you are invited to enjoy an elegant Champagne Brunch at the Mansion – $35 per person all-inclusive. Reservations are required, along with advance payment by check in person or via credit card in person, by phone or credit card. For more information, see this link or call 410-539-6914.

The Garrett Jacobs Mansion is located at 11 W. Mt. Vernon Place, Baltimore.


Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
1212 Cathedral Street, Baltimore | Phone: 410-783-8000 | Website

A Weekend of Mendelssohn

Baiba Skride Photo: Marco Borggreve all rights reserved
Baiba Skride, violin

Friday, March 21, 2014 at 8 p.m.
Sunday, March 23, 2014 at 3 p.m. 

Click here to order tickets

“A throwback to the golden age of Heifetz,” raves BBC Music Magazine of Baiba Skride, who performs the much-loved Violin Concerto of Mendelssohn. This concert also features Jean Sibelius’ very first symphony. “It transported me to a new civilization,” wrote a critic after the premiere performance. “Every page breathes another way of living than ours…” John Storgårds is the conductor.

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performs in Baltimore at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. 1212 Cathedral Street, Baltimore. Call 410-783-8000 for more information. For a complete list of March programs with The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, visit http://www.baltimoresymphony.org/


The Maryland Humanities Council
108 West Centre Street | Phone: 410-685-0095 | Website

Tune into MHC’s Humanities Connection
Thursdays at 5:45pm on WYPR-FM

George Peabody Library Curator Paul Espinosa

Each week MHC’s Humanities Connection explores the intersection of the humanities and our daily lives, reflects on the past, present, and future, celebrates the power of literature, and demonstrates the importance of the humanities to understand the human experience.

Segments feature the voices of scholars and public humanities professionals throughout the state, cover historical milestones, and hidden cultural narratives. You may have recently heard Center Stage’s Director of Community Projects and Education Rosiland Cauthen’s commentary on their MHC grant-supported program Trayvon Moments, or President of Poe Baltimore Kristen Harbeson on Baltimore’s Literary Luminaries. Perhaps you caught local folklorist Elaine Eff’s reflection on the 100th Anniversary of Painted Screens in Baltimore. Listen to these and other podcasts on the WYPR website.

Does your cultural institution have a humanities-related story to tell? Contact MHC Communications Officers Michele Alexander, who produces the segment, at malexander@mdhc.org to pitch your story idea.

A tour guide talks about Edgar Allan Poe at the former home of J.H. B. Latrobe. Courtesy of the Maryland Humanities Council

Maryland Humanities Council Literary Walking Tours of Mt. Vernon Return in April

The Maryland Humanities Council’s popular walking tour of Baltimore’s cultural hub returns April 19th. The Literary Walking Tour of Mt. Vernon weaves history, architecture, and philanthropy into its literary narrative about the historic neighborhood. Tour-takers learn about the authors, poets and editors who sojourned there and share quotes by each featured literary luminary.

The walk, which takes about 90 minutes, spans from The Enoch Pratt Free Library where the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Karl Shapiro is highlighted, to the Gertrude Stein residence on Biddle Street. Participants will enjoy a special treat with a short presentation by curator Paul Espinosa (pictured left) at the George Peabody Library demonstrating some of the rare books in their collection.

The free tour is offered on the third Saturday of each month from April to September, during the Baltimore Book Festival, and Literary Arts Week in October. Fun and informative, the Mt. Vernon Literary Walking Tour is appropriate for high school ages and above. After the tour, walkers are encouraged to enjoy lunch at the Historic Owl Bar at the Belvedere Hotel with a 10% discount coupon for lunch.

Groups of 10 or more can schedule a tour outside of Saturday dates for a nominal fee. Space is limited for free tours and reservations are required. Call (410) 685-4186 or visit www.2014MtVernonLitWalkTour.eventbrite.com to make your reservation today.

Trivia Time!

Congratulations abound to everyone who correctly answered last month’s question!

Just what was the original color of the fence around the Washington Monument?

Designed by the monument’s architect Robert Mills, the fence’s decorative color was applied several years after the monument’s completion by a painter named George T. Rosensteel. How can we tell? In the 1842 bill Rosensteel that sent to the Board of Managers, he says that it took him 37 1/2 days to paint the fence. According to Rosensteel, he used a ‘Bronze green paint.’

We would like to thank Lance Humphries, chairman of Mount Vernon Place Conservancy Restoration Committee, for providing these fantastic details to the Maryland Historical Society’s Library blog, Underbelly.

Ready for this month’s question?

Take a walk around our Mount Vernon neighborhood, and you can’t help but notice the beautiful cast- and wrought-iron that adorns our buildings. “[It’s] is a virtual catalog of local ornamental iron both cast and wrought,” writes Citypaper, “including fences, gates, window grates, railings, shoe-scrapers, roof crests, weather vanes, and two very French Quarter-ish cast-iron balconies on the south sides of 700 and 800 Cathedral Street.” You’ll find more examples along Park Avenue, in Mount Vernon Park, and throughout the campus of the Peabody Institute.

Much of this work was created by artisans right here in Baltimore. In fact, much of the wrought ironwork in other cities, including New Orleans, was made here in Baltimore, too!

Name the Baltimore ironwork company that created these masterpieces. Known as the oldest blacksmithing business in North America, they’re still in operation, today.

Email me your answer, and you could win a prize!


Laura Rodini
Executive Director, The Mount Vernon Cultural District

The Mount Vernon Cultural District Is Proud Partner of Downtown Partnership of Baltimore and Visit Baltimore

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