James Joyce’s The Dead, rehearsal blog 3 | Quotidian Theatre Company

Stephanie Mumford

Quotidian Theatre Company opens its 15th Anniversary Season with its first musical, James Joyce’s The Dead. Richard Nelson and Shawn Davey adapt Joyce’s story about a family Christmas party and marry the story with music that draws from Irish tradition. This production is made possible due to the generosity of Lois Jean Hempel, and is dedicated to her memory. Lois was the mother of Quotidian co-founder, actor, director, and costume designer Stephanie Mumford, who on the first anniversary of Lois’ passing, writes:

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My earliest recollections of wanting to act date back to my childhood in Phoenix, Arizona, where I directed and performed with my friends in backyard and school room productions of our own invention. One summer at day camp for the youngest echelon of the Girl Scouts, the Brownies, I was cast as a tree in Sherwood Forest. While hardly a leading role, my mother made me feel as though it were by fashioning me a most inventive and, to me, splendid costume created from brown paper bags and sprigs from a neighbor’s pine tree. And so it went throughout the years, my mother supporting and encouraging me in all my theatrical endeavors through college and beyond, especially after my husband, Jack Sbarbori, and I founded the Quotidian Theatre Company in 1997.

When my mother died last October 4th, she continued that support by leaving QTC an endowment, which we have decided to put to good use by producing our first musical, James Joyce’s The Dead. Jack and I were completely enchanted by the Broadway staging of the show, which seemed ideal for QTC with its focus on the drama in everyday life. We regretted that the production costs would be prohibitive for our small professional theatre, however. Now, Mom’s legacy has afforded us the resources to share this delightful and poignant story with you.

The additional funding has allowed us to hire New York opera and cabaret singer Janice Hall; local Irish music expert/musician and New Century American-Irish Arts Company founder Peter Brice; violinist/fiddler Sarah Foard, who performs with the Sligo Steet Stompers; and highly touted local musical director Valerie Higgs, a classically trained musician, who has directed, conducted, and accompanied musical-theater productions in Philadelphia, New York, and Chicago. The rest of the talented cast comprises several musically-gifted actors from QTC’s regular ensemble — Steve Beall, Jane Squier and Don Bruns, David Dubov, Malinda Markland, Leah Mazade, Lou Pangaro and Barbara Scheide — and QTC newcomers — Eric Abalahin, Felicity Brown, Vanessa Kinzey, Mary Beth Luckenbaugh, Carolyn Myers, Tom Zebovitz, and Timothy Ziese.

We dedicate this production to my mother, who we know is with us in spirit!

Proud to be Nurses in Full Uniform by Lois Hempel

My mother had a passion of her own: animal rights. She worked for years against animal cruelty and pet overpopulation on the Maricopa County Animal Control Task Force, and left a bequest to St. Francis Feline Sanctuary, where a refuge for homeless cats has been created in her memory called Hempel’s Happy Haven. Donations in Lois’ memory can be sent to St. Francis Feline Santuary at 45225 N. 16th St., New River, AZ 85087 or via its website at www.felinesanctuary.org.

To learn more about my mother’s early years training to be a nurse in 1946 at St. Luke’s Hospital’s Nurses’ Training School in Boise, Idaho, her book Proud To Be Nurses in Full Uniform is available via Amazon.com. These years were some of the happiest of her life, “forever changing” her personal history.

~Stephanie Mumford

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Quotidian Theatre Company’s production of James Joyce’s The Dead runs Nov 16 – Dec 16. Showtimes are Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm, with one added 2pm performance on Saturday, Dec 15. All performances are held at The Writer’s Center: 4508 Walsh Street, Bethesda, MD 20815. There is ample parking across the street (free on weekends), and the theatre is just five blocks from the Bethesda Metro Station on the red line. Tickets are $30, or $25 for students or seniors, paid for at the door by cash or check, please. Call 301.816.1023 or email quotidiantheatre@comcast.net to reserve.

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