Going Downa Shore. Mic in one hand, open script in the other, the 11th Hour Theatre Company specializes in intimate concert versions of musicals great and small. This summer, they have a great idea: Take it to the beach! On Aug. 23, 25, and 26 they'll do The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at the refurbished Gateway Playhouse in Somers Point. It's their first road trip outside Philly.
I caught director Michael Philip O'Brien on the train. The Gateway, which was reopened only last summer, "is really a beautiful theater, 220 seats, a great place to work," he says. A nine-person cast, a four-person band … isn't this a little different for 11th Hour? Agreed, says O'Brien: "In our Next Step concert series, we often do seldom-seen or new work, but for a new audience in a new place, something well-known seemed like a better fit. Plus, a lot of the action in Putnam happens at a standing mic in the middle of the stage, which suits us perfectly."
The crew will stay in Somers Point for the four days. They're skipping Friday, because the free fireworks at the beach mean parking is lousy, and they don't want to compete with bam! pop! boom!