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Community theater returns to stage

By By JONATHAN CLAYBORNE News Editor
Becky Rogers is returning to the director's chair after an absence of 20 years with a night of two one-act plays for the Washington Community Theatre Association.
A founding member of the WCTA, Rogers this spring directs one of two one-acts with J.R. "Jimbo" McKeon. The show goes on at 8 p.m. May 15 and May 16 in the Washington Civic Center.
Open auditions are set for 7 p.m. Monday and Wednesday at the Civic Center. Anyone may try out, Rogers said. "Men and women ages 20 to 60 are needed," according to a WCTA notice.
Ticket prices haven't been set.
Rogers, a retired English and drama teacher, helped found the WCTA 30 years ago. Back then, the group was called Pamlico Playhouse, and its first meeting was at Rogers' house.
On Feb. 12, Rogers was elected president of the WCTA's Board of Directors. Longtime theater-booster Marti Buchanan was elected vice president.
Aside from church functions, the last show Rogers directed was "Oklahoma," which ran at Washington High School in 1983.
Rogers said she intended to return to the WCTA before now, "but I got so tied up with others things," such as family and career.
Rogers directs "Kentucky Marriage Proposal," based on an Anton Chekhov play. The plot revolves around a widowed mother, her spinster daughter and a man looking to get married. The cast consists of two women and one man.
The run time for "Kentucky Marriage Proposal" is approximately 35 minutes.
McKeon, a businessman in downtown Washington and a promoter of cultural events, first directed the hillbilly comedy "Shotgun Wedding" at the Washington Summer Festival in 1996.
His last directorial effort for the WCTA was as musical director for "Gypsy" in 1999.
McKeon directs "The Man with the Bowler Hat," a "melodramatic comedy" about a couple living in a modest apartment. Nothing happens to the two people until they conspire to steal a jewel from a thief.
The script calls for a cast made up of the man and wife, the chief villain, the villain's assistant and the man with the bowler hat himself.
The one-acts mark the WCTA's return to the spotlight after an absence of one year. Last March, the group was revived by director Joey Toler with "Steel Magnolias," after being "dark" for two years. The WCTA's last show before that was "Ten Little Indians," which was almost washed out by Hurricane Floyd in 1999.
Arguably, WCTA reached its peak in the mid- to late 1990s. The group, allied with another theater organization, produced 14 events in 1996, including shows, workshops and fundraising events. In 1997, Toler's "Godspell" played to hundreds in the Civic Center.
To Buchanan, the one-acts signal a triumphal return -- a worthy prelude to a major production in September. WCTA already has about 30 dues-paying members, and people are saying, "When are you going to do another show," Buchanan commented.
For more information, call Rogers at 946-6298 or McKeon at 975-6878.