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April 26, 1996     Cape Gazette
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April 26, 1996

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20 - CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, April 26 - May 2, 1996 CAPE LIFE Dusbiber and Dutton's "oh! maggie" brings ovations By Trish Vernon "I was sorry to see it end, but I'm excited to move on," said co- author and musical director Martin Dusbiber of the musical comedy "oh! maggie" which ended its pre- miere Possum Point Players' stint this past weekend. Dusbiber, Rehoboth Beach assistant city manager by day, along with David Dutton, archi- tect, found their first collaborative attempt "quite an experience," which may bear fruit beyond the walls of Possum Hall. "By opening night, I had lost all objectivity - I had no clue whether it was good or not - and I was flab- bergasted by the response. People were so enthusiastic," Dutton said of the lighthearted song and dance look at adolescents approaching adulthood and their interaction with their parents. The feedback has been tremen- dous. Dusbiber said that it's not only unusual "but very rare" to receive so many request for video- tapes and soundtracks. "Some have even compared it to shows in New York," he noted, adding that they are being solicited by other amateur theatrical troupes and have feelers out with professional publishers. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of "oh! maggie" is the wide range and rich depth of Dusbiber's original tunes, ranging from rock n' roll to country and western to gospel and back. Rather than "filler" attempting a transition from one scene to another, the musical numbers carry the plot along effortlessly, without skip- ping a beat. "The music stands on its own, as does the play," Dusbiber noted. The tunes range from lyrical and romantic - "Notice Me, why won't he notice me?" Maggie wonders, to the boys' quasi-rap "Blast" - "I tell you the girl was a blast. Would you say that she passed? I would say that she was fast. Not like the girls I've known in the past." With only one set for the entire production, Dusbiber and Dutton make use of scrims to introduce choruses and other players who appear to be floating above the dorm room, providing the needed additional dimensions to "oh! maggie". "The scrims are expen- sive and time consuming, but it provides the opportunity to intro- duce many more playing areas on the stage without changing the set," Dusbiber explained. The most remarkable facet of this production of "oh! maggie" was the mature breadth of acting and vocal abilities of the cast. All six main characters are high school seniors, with Holly Brock as Maggie, Meg Clifton as Char- lotte and Ricky Parsons as Martin hailing from Cape Henlopen. "The kids really worked to pull the play together. I can't say enough about them" Dutton said. Of Brock, Dusbiber added, "I knew as soon as I saw her she was Maggie, and the parents were very supportive. We originally wrote the roles for young adults, but this young cast did as well or better. Cape has a very good drama department and we feel they did an exceptional job. Many of them are going on to college and how many drama students will have their own videos and tapes before graduating from high school?" The generation gap reared its head ia couple of times, however, as the humor, of driving a Ford Pinto was lost on the high school actors, for instance. Even the The lead roles in the original production of "oh! maggie" were all won by high school stu- dents, three of them from Cape Henlopen High, including (l.-tr) Meg Clifton and Holly Brock, along with Erin Foley from Stephen Decatur High. Ricky Parsons is the third Cape student. audience at any given perfor- mance laughed at certain lines, while other lines, that had them reeling the night before, seemed to go right over their heads. "oh! maggie" has a timeless quality that can carry it through the years and seasons. The versa- tility of the music keeps the pro- duction from becoming dated, while songs such as "Holidays" can be construed not only as per- taining to Thanksgiving, the par- ticular holiday written into the play, but also spring break from the college routine upon which the production revolves. Perhaps the most universal aspect of "oh! maggie" is the theme: just be yourself. While two of the male and two of the female characters try the age-old stunt of trying to pass themselves off as someone they are not, Mag- gie remains true to herself. "We are all special as individuals - no matter what our heritage, age or background," Dusbiber said. Dutton and Dusbiber are in the process of obtaining two separate grants from the Delaware State Arts Council, one for the music and one for the play. Depending upon the stipulations, they will use the funding either to produce "oh! maggie" again, or work on their new musical, "Cambridge Street," based on a Baltimore neighbor- hood with an underlying "boy meets girl" theme. It took the duo almost four years to bring "oh! maggie" to fruition, and not only are they still speak- ing, but "we rarely differ in opin- ion, which makes the creative process fairly painless," Dutton noted, admitting that Dusbiber is the musical dynamo. They both agreed that the summer "read throughs" in 1994 helped tremen- dously in preventing the need for any rewriting down the line. One of the few glitches was the fact that the cheese from the many pieces of pizza Maggie was expected to consume throughout the production could cause vocal problems, so the cast was advised to eat as little as possible. They also agreed that director Jim Hartzell and producer Kenney Workman deserve much credit for the success of the musical. Dusbiber hopes to keep the momentum going with "oh! mag- gie" and Workman has introduced them to prospective buyers. There's always the chance this Rogers and Hammerstein of Sus- sex County will see their names in Broadway lights, but even if not, "it was the high point of my life so far - except for getting married and the birth of my kids," Dutton exclaimed. Two-year.olds have expensive tastes Scientists and pediatricians know a lot about children who are heading into their second year of life. They can tell you about a child's motor skills, such as walk- ing and pointing. They can tell you about their verbal skills, such as the formation of basic words. And they can tell you about their dietary habits; just what foods they can tolerate. When a child achieves certain basics, scientists will tell you, regardless of his birthday, the child has the maturity level of two years of age. But grandmothers have a differ- ent perspective. They can tell a child's age by other criteria. After the first visit of a grandchild, heading into his or her second birthday, grandmothers use the "How long can I stand it and how much is it going to cost me" chart. Part of this chart involves the rock test. A child definitely is in the two-year-old range when he picks up a rock and throws it at the nearest Lexus, which is usually parked in your neighbor's drive- way. It is common knowledge that two-year-olds have expensive taste and only go for the top of the line Japanese imports. And it differentiates him from the five-year-old, who will be dri- ving the Lexus as soon as the sitter is asleep. And if there is more than one rock, a two-year-old child will stuff about eight to 10 of these in his mouth and carry them around until someone notices his cheeks are double the size of his head. This is almost always followed by a lot of screaming and commands like "Spit it Out" and "Get the Pli- ers !" A two-year-old will not under- stand these commands. This is the direct opposite behavior, than say any animal, such as a dog, who knows at the age of two to swal- low any rock evidence immediate- ly and just sit there pretending to admire the hydrant across the street. A two-year-old will not relin- quish anything unless there is at the very least a short chase in which his grandmother performs maneuvers that involve enough cut-backs and turns to qualify her for the National Football League draft. Well, I thought I had said good- bye to the,"terrible twos" about 30 years ago. I had put in my time of saying the word "no" 250 times a minute, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, weekends, holidays and in my sleep. I had faced down two-foot high people who held their sister's Bar- bie doll hostage oVer the open bar- becue pit until it qualified for the Miss Black USA contest. I spent so much time grabbing two-year- olds off of balconies, roofs and ladders that the fire department put me on their call list. Yes, I had been to that mountain and emerged victorious. And now the terrible twos were back in the form of a grandchild. And the playing field was leveled, as they say in legal circles, because my strength was depleted. Today, grandmothers are vul- nerable. The only weapons you have are a tired estrogen patch clinging to your skin, bleeping its last gasp of hormones, and a set of knees that you have to jump start every morning with a quart of STP. But more importantly, the two- year-old of today brings new cun- ning weapons with him that grand- mothers are powerless to combat: He is wearing those adorable OshKosh bib overalls and the cutest baby Gap hat and those tiny sneakers with little trains on them and he has learned to say your name. With that outfit and a smile, there is no way you are going to win.