“The Baltimore Waltz” closed the curtain on the Princeton Summer Theater’s 2018 season.
The cast of three put on a final and fitting performance, which was held on Aug. 19.
Written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel in response to the AIDS crisis, “The Baltimore Waltz” follows two siblings, Anna and Carl, as they travel through Europe as a last attempt to live life to its fullest.
The play opens with Carl (Sean Peter Drohan), who is clearly an openly gay man, telling the children who he reads to at a public library in San Francisco that he has been fired from his job and will be leaving at the end of the week.
It is vague as to why he has been fired, but he is wearing a pink triangle on the top left of his shirt, a sign that was used to identify any homosexual individual in Nazi Germany. As an arts-and-crafts lesson in the library, Carl attempts to get the children to all cut out pink triangles from scrap paper. Carl is then asked to leave on the spot.
But when his sister Anna (Abby Melick) contracts the incurable ATD (Acquired Toilet Disease) from one of the restrooms at the public elementary school she teaches at, she and Carl make their way to Europe to make sure Anna can see the world one last time.
Anna, who feels that she has wasted her 30-year life being a “good girl,” wants to sleep her way through the continent as she feels she should direct her life through lust.
Evan Gedrich, who plays a plethora of roles including The Doctor, The Third Man, Garçon, The Little Dutch Boy and many more, shares a bed with Anna on multiple occasions throughout the production, but not always as the same man.
Carl, who claims an old friend lives in Europe and may have a black-market drug for his sister, races from country to country trying to find a cure for his dying sibling.
In the end, the play was actually taking place in the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, where Carl is dying of AIDS and Anna is imagining the trip the two of them had dreamed of taking but never actually did.
Paula Vogel wrote this play after her own brother, Carl, had died of AIDS-related complications in 1988.
When Carl Vogel was diagnosed with AIDS, Paula “was seized by panic that someday [she] would have to use the past tense to speak about Carl.”
But after writing “The Baltimore Waltz,” and naming the male lead after her brother, Paula Vogel “rediscovered something about theater that [she] had once known but forgotten…. In the theater, characters are always living in the present moment, with an ever-impending future right up until the curtain falls. Carl would be in the present tense for as long as the play is read or performed.”
Nico Krell, the director of Princeton Summer Theater’s production of “The Baltimore Waltz,” left this note to audiences in regard to Paula Vogel:
“When Paula Vogel wrote ‘The Baltimore Waltz’ in 1989, she did not set out to encapsulate all of this multifaceted international epidemic. Instead, she sat in the hallway of Johns Hopkins Hospital, waiting for her brother Carl’s imminent death, pouring all of the confusion, remorse, hope and loss experienced waiting in that hallway into a play. What resulted is a deeply human story of a sister losing a part of her soul – her brother.”
“The Baltimore Waltz” ended Princeton Summer Theater’s 49th season. As they look ahead to their 50th, the theater’s officials thank anyone who has made their way to any show over the years for their support. The Princeton Summer Theater can be reached 732-997-0205 or go to princetonsummertheater.org.