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Playcast Plus street party series launches at Marinoff Theater

By Tabitha Johnston - Chronicle Staff | Jul 16, 2021

Former CATF season actor David Toney performs a monologue from one of CATF’s older plays, “Stick Fly,” accompanied by trumpeter Mike Burton, in the Marinoff Theater parking lot Friday night. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN — The Contemporary American Theater Festival’s Playcast Plus street party series launched on Friday evening in the Marinoff Theater parking lot.

While this first event drew around 250 attendees, CATF Public Relations Manager Gabrielle Tokach said she hopes to see even greater turnouts for the final three parties of the series, this Friday, July 23 and July 30.

“I think as people come to experience these parties, that word is going to spread and people are going to come out in greater numbers,” Tokach said.

According to Tokach, having to move the Playcast Plus parties from behind the Market House, which was structurally damaged by a hit-and-run on July 4, to the Marinoff Theater parking lot, has allowed event attendance to be expanded, due a decreased concern of needing to social distance in the larger space.

“For this week and next that we’ll probably be out here, we’re not going to turn anybody away,” Tokach said. “We want everybody to come and hang out with us!”

The Speakeasy Boys close out the evening in the Marinoff Theater parking lot on Friday. Tabitha Johnston

While tonight’s street party will feature the talents of national musicians, poets and artists, the first street party focused on the talents of local musicians, poets and artists, including the Shepherd University Jazz Quartet, Shepherd University Director of Vocal Activities Rob Tudor, the Speakeasy Boys, a blues trio and Laughing Hat Photo Booth. The evening also featured musical monologue performances from previous CATF plays “The Cake” and “Stick Fly,” by Erika Rolfsrund and David Toney, respectively.

“Tonight is about featuring Shepherdstown artists and part of the theater festival,” said CATF Director of Development Vicki Willman. “This series is a way for the university, the town and the theater festival to welcome people back to Shepherdstown together.”

CATF founder and producing director Ed Herendeen said he is confident the festival will finally be able to produce the six plays it initially planned for the 2020 season, prior to the season’s cancellation due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, next year. As further evidence of his certainty, the festival began selling discounted 2022 season passes Friday evening at the party.

“We’re here, we’re together and we’re making plans for 2022. In my heart, I know we will be able to return to our traditional series then!” Herendeen said.

Reservations for the street parties are encouraged. Tickets to the Listening Parties on July 23 (Kevin Artigue’s “Sheepdog”) and 30 (Terence Anthony’s “The House of the Negro Insane”) are $25 for a chair at a table or $15 for a chair without a table. Seating for all of the events begins at 6 p.m. and the performances start at 7 p.m. Beverages will be available for purchase.

Erika Rolfsrund performs the monologue from “The Cake” that she originally performed during CATF’s 2018 season in the Marinoff Theater parking lot on Friday night. Tabitha Johnston

The Listening Parties’ audio dramas, which were recorded in New York City and edited in Seattle, Wash., will be available for listening to at www.broadwayondemand.com, for one month after their CATF premiers.

Visit catf.org for more information about the series and to make reservations.

A couple dances to the music of the blues trio in the Marinoff Theater parking lot on Friday night. Tabitha Johnston

Laughing Hat Photo Booth owner Laura Freeman, who runs the business with her photographer husband, Seth Freeman, talks with Playcast Plus attendees in the Marinoff Theater parking lot on Friday night. Tabitha Johnston