CUMBERLAND - The year is 2006, and the play takes place in an old tavern...destined soon to be razed and erased from the landscape. A tavern that, in its heyday, was THE place to be...THE place to gather with friends, listen to the juke box, have a few drinks, get away from life's troubles for a little while.

By Trish Morgan
For the News Tribune
CUMBERLAND - The year is 2006, and the play takes place in an old tavern...destined soon to be razed and erased from the landscape. A tavern that, in its heyday, was THE place to be...THE place to gather with friends, listen to the juke box, have a few drinks, get away from life's troubles for a little while.
Before I tell you some of the highlights of the play, I would like to commend everyone who was involved in creating the set for "Yankee Tavern.” When you walk into the theatre and take your seat, the stage is truly magnificent in how the set was designed - down to the most tiniest detail. Such creativity at Cumberland Theatre...such a great team of volunteers, actors and leadership!
Stepping into the Yankee Tavern with this cast of four actors was a riveting experience. I have seen many plays and musicals and theatre productions over the many years in my life, but this cast...these four actors...are some of the very best I have ever seen on the stage.
The play starts off with Adam (Nick Fruit) and Janet (Courtney Feiman) talking about their upcoming marriage - getting out the invitations and all of the things that need to be done to prepare for a wedding. Adam is working on his thesis in the midst of all of this wedding planning, plus trying to run the Yankee Tavern that was left to him by his father.
Oh, the acting chops of these young lovers. Nick has a wealth of theatre experience in Baltimore, Maryland, and soon will be making his debut in Washington, D.C. Courtney, from Frederick, Maryland, also has a long list of theatre credits herself. What a outstanding opportunity theatre-goers in our area have - to be able to enjoy the talents of these actors!
Soon, one of the tavern's favorite patrons comes in to visit, and he begins his famous tirade of conspiracy theories. James Wicker plays Ray, who believes that everything in life is a conspiracy. He says that even weddings are a conspiracy because they will take money right out of your wallet. "Coffee is a cult in a cup," says Ray, who soon begins on his long list of all of the conspiracies that crowd his brain and rule his life.
Wicker is a retired drama teacher, and he has done most of his acting in Florida and New York. He has learned his craft well. On the stage at Yankee Tavern, Wicker was so charismatic, and delivered his lines - his numerous, numerous lines - with powerful conviction...provoking such remembrances and thoughts of the many conspiracies that we've all heard about during our lifetime - conspiracies such as the Man on the Moon, chads, Al Gore, Save the Planet, Bay of Pigs, JFK and even the conspiracy of the conspiracy itself, OJ and his Bronco, Dick Nixon, 9/11, and even the death of Adam's own father.
This incredible drama continues to unfold as a mysterious bar patron comes in, takes his seat at the bar and orders two beers - one for himself and one for an invisible person. For the longest time, he really does not have much to say. He's just there, taking in all the conversation while drinking his beer.
Matt Bannister, originally from London, England, has been directing, producing and acting in and around the Frederick, Maryland, area. As an award-winning actor in the Baltimore region, Matt brings on the perfect air of mystery as Palmer at Yankee Tavern, and we soon find out the real reason that he comes into the bar.
This thriller will keep you on the edge of your seat. The acting is some of the best you will ever see in this area. You will feel the characters' emotions. You will feel the angst and betrayal that Janet experiences. Controversies abound in this production. There are unexpected twists and turns, and this thriller will make a memorable evening out.
"Yankee Tavern" continues in its final weekend - tonight and tomorrow night, Sept 15-16, at 8 pm, and the Sunday matinee at 2 pm. Reservations may be made by calling 301-759-4990. On Saturday night, for an additional $10 charge over and above the admission price, one can enjoy a beer-tasting before the show and at intermission - having the opportunity to taste six different beers.
Support local community theatre. Keep performance arts alive...your life will be richer for it!