Lucy GilhamSherrie Morreall
Leonora FiskeElaine Rinner-Singer
Ellen CreedMarilyn M. Sale
Albert FeatherDavid Kelso
Louisa CreedSheila Miller
Emily CreedSharon Vermeulen
Sister TheresaMary Lou Reyen
Offstage voices of Bates & Man from RochesterJohnn O. Rand

Sharon Vermeulen
Sherrie Morreall
David Kelso
Elaine Rinner-Singer

Newcomer sparkles on Poway stage

For The North County Times

Ruth Lepper

POWAY - Marilyn M. Sale is doing a remarkable job in her first-time-ever stage performance in the lead role in the charming mystery, "Ladies in Retirement."

Director Loree Cohen took a chance on casting a newcomer to community theater in this starring capacity and it's paying off. Sale has taken acting classes for several years but hadn't been inspired to audition for a play until now. She's glad she did, and so is the audience.

Sale plays Ellen Creed, a spinster living in comfort as housekeeper and companion to a retired actress. When she brings her two eccentric sisters home for an extended visit, daily situations become strained.

T'he sisters never really grew up and both depend on their elder sibling to care for them. Sheila Miller and Sharon Vermeulen play the sisters, Louisa and Emily.

Miller is a delight to watch as she reacts in a childlike fashion, including tattling on Emily to everything around her. Vermeulen's character is somewhat more contrary and cantankerous.

Both Miller and Vermeulen have appeared many times at the Poway Performing Arts Center and other theaters around the county. They bring a wealth of talent to the stage.

Elaine Rinner-Singer plays the retired actress Leonora Fiske. She emotes Leonora's lovely personality with as much aplomb as her irritability with the irascible sisters.

Enter Albert, the scheming nephew who pops in unexpectedly to borrow money from his Aunt Ellen. She's gone off to fetch the sisters, so Leonora steps in to bail out Albert from having made a few unauthorized withdrawals from the bank where he works.

That's all we see of Albert in the first act. By the time he returns, Leonora has disappeared - mysteriously, of course. No one knows that Albert once met Leonora, except for Lucy, the flir tatious maid.

David Kelso gives an effulgent portrayal as the glib Albert. While the prodigal nephew con nives for his own gain, the meager touches of tenderness he shows the aunts is commendable for his character.

Sherrie Morreall is delectable as the enamored maid who agrees to do anything asked of her by Albert. Morreall is not only a newcomer to the Poway Performing Arts Center but to the San Diego area. She adapts well to her new surroundings and is an added plus to the local regime.

Mary Lou Reyen appears as Sister Theresa, a real "sister" from the nearby convent. Reyen is a natural for this part, evoking a persona typical for a nun in the 1800s.

Written by Edward Percy and Reginald Denham, the play is set in 1885 in a townsite some miles from London. The action takes place in the living room of a grand old manor. The elegant set was designed by Johnn 0. Rand, giving off an aura of warmth and coziness. An antique decor adds greatly to the overall ambiance.

Rand went overboard with this period piece, researching prominent English architectural styles.

"The house in this set was built in or around 1750 and added onto several times over the next 100 years," he said. "To show the progression, I started with the fireplace and Kentish-style bakeoven wall and trimmed the other two walls in 15- to 25-year leaps.

He challenges the audience to take note of the subtle changes. Sound design by Lou Alliano and lighting by Jim Millard add to the atmosphere, especially with the rain storms in the English countryside.

Costumes created by Cindy Charron and Cindy Swan are perfect for the period.