Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Gypsy Wanders into Waycross

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Gypsy Wanders into Waycross

Article excerpt

Waycross police Lt. Duane Caswell is accustomed to people

following his directions. He does have certain advantages, a gun

and badge, among them.

His most recent orders are given in a theater in a soft voice,

without the hard edge that elicits fear.

"Eve. On that `Don't you laugh. Don't you dare laugh.' I want a

lot more intensity on that."

Caswell was talking to Eve Hazen, who plays the Rose in the

musical play Gypsy .

Caswell, who has spent nearly two decades on the Waycross

police force, knows intensity. His tough talk many years ago

elicited a formal complaint in the arrest of a man toting a

sawed-off shotgun.

The suspect didn't seem to mind his language, but a woman

across the street was offended, Caswell said.

Caswell doesn't want everyone to rave. But in the role of a

stage mother, who cajoles and berates producers, the role

demands it, and Hazen responds with speaking voice similar to

Bette Midler's.

Gypsy is one of four productions the Waycross Area Community

Theatre will stage this year with a mostly amateur cast on a

shoestring budget. The troupe's actors change often as some move

off to college or leave the area. Some drift in and out, while

others appear in many productions, Caswell said.

Although they all work free on theater productions, some earn

money in entertainment elsewhere. John Youmans, who plays

Herbie, is a member of the Trembling Earth Productions, which

performs in schools. Sandy Palmer sometimes works as a costumer,

and Hazen operates a dance studio.

Palmer, who calls her work an interesting hobby, is especially

important in bringing the play in under its $5,000 budget.

Palmer has done some movie and television costumes, but most of

her work has been in productions at Disney's Orlando theme

parks. In her professional work, Palmer has no problem getting

the fabric, buttons, zippers and bows she needs. But to dress

out amateur actors, she has to be more creative.

"Most of the fabrics we get are recycled from another show,"

she said. "We sometimes spend as little as 50 cents on a

costume."

The theater also accepts donated clothing, she said.

"Old coats -- fabulous. Men's hats was the toughest this time,"

she said.

Palmer has put together 144 costumes for the 50 actors, who

change outfits seven or eight times.

And some people work on play after play. Lawyer Edmund Pedrick

has played piano at rehearsals since the theater was founded 23

years ago. He makes sure the actors hit the right notes.

When Alicia Hampton and Nancy Boyd stumbled at the ending of a

song, Pedrick directed them through it again.

"Sing all the `mamas,' " he said, telling them to hit a higher

note as they sang the word repeatedly. …

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