“Prelude to a Kiss” Opens at Arts Collective @HCC This Friday, May 3rd by Santina Maiolatesi

 Changing Everything With One Kiss in Craig Lucas’ Romantic Comedy Prelude to a Kiss: May 3rd through 19th

Think back on your youth, of the things you never had the chance to do.  If given the chance to go back, would you do it?  What would it cost? What if you were presented with this strange and extraordinary second chance but in exchange you must face your own mortality? In Prelude to a Kiss, writer Craig Lucas takes us for a whimsical joyride about second chances in this romantic comedy. Through his amazing story of brave and funny characters we imagine how one kiss could change everything.

Director Darius McKeiver. Photo courtesy of Arts Collective@HCC.
Director Darius K. McKeiver. Photo courtesy of Arts Collective@HCC.

Prelude to a Kiss received a Tony Award nomination in 1990 for Best Play and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Now, Howard Community College’s Arts Collective, headed by Producing Artistic Director, and Directed by Darius McKeiver, has taken a wonderfully different perspective on this story. This piece, presented as the Arts Collective’s Spring production, is in final rehearsals for their Friday night opening.  It runs three weekends – May 3rd through May 19th in the Studio Theatre.

I took some time to talk to the actors and creative staff to find out about the process of putting together such a masterfully written play.

Jon Kevin Lazarus, playing the role of Peter Hoskins, commented on the human aspect of the play which we all can identify with. He said, “Sometimes with a romantic comedy you see people only as a character and lose what makes them (the characters) connectable to us. These are very real people trying to deal with situations the best way they know how. [The story] moves quickly but the connections are real. The challenge has been Lucas’ story. There are lots of nuances and character-mining that can be done, as an actor. The show must carry its own pace…be allowed to hit the highs and all the lows. It is a story of real human struggle.”

Cheri George, playing the role of the Minister, discussed her character and her love of working with the Arts Collective team. When asked about her favorite and most challenging experiences from the creative process she commented, “At first I thought, well, the Minister is just that…a minister. But when I began delving deeper into who she really is as a person, her journey, that all changed. I took her out of the ‘minister box’ and I am enjoying the REAL person she has become.”

Arts Collective, now in its 18th season, is fully established as a cornerstone community theatre in Howard County and known throughout the Baltimore –Washington corridor, and beyond. Prelude to a Kiss is one of the main stage blockbuster productions Arts Collective is well-known for.

Director Darius McKeiver has been part of the Arts Collective creative team for 7 years, working alongside Producing Artistic Director Susan G. Kramer, who launched Arts Collective back in 1994. I asked Mr. McKeiver to comment on his angle for this story. When asked how he felt being asked to direct this play, he said, “It has been an absolute joy working on Prelude. It is a story about relationships: lovers, spouses, parents and their children. I love working on shows that allow one to see the journey; the true rise and fall of real life – that is what Lucas was trying to get across and I am honored to bring it to life.”

Ilene Chalmers, playing the role of Mrs. Boyle, talked to me about working with Mr. McKeiver throughout the rehearsal process. She explained, “In the craft of acting, the artist begins as a shapeless ball of clay.  The director’s job is to mold that clay into something truly magical. Darius McKeiver does this with such effortless skill – it takes my breath away. He has a way of moving you in the right direction with a single word or gesture. It has been an honor to be inspired by him throughout this process.”

She also commented on her journey through the rehearsal process, specifically about her character.  She explained to me that there is more than meets the eye when it comes to Craig Lucas’ text. “On the surface Mrs. Boyle is a loving mother and wife. She loves boldly and without reservation…but there is more to this character, and she has become a part of me.”

(left to right) Jon Kevin Lazarus (Peter), Keri Eastridge (Rita) and Bill Stanley (Old Man). Photo by Nate Pesce.
(left to right) Jon Kevin Lazarus (Peter), Keri Eastridge (Rita) and Bill Stanley (Old Man). Photo by Nate Pesce.

Actor Obinna Nwachukwu, playing the role of Tom, expressed his love of the text by saying, “I didn’t know much about the play or Craig Lucas, coming into the process, but once I read it I loved it. I love the storytelling. It’s a really beautiful story about loving someone for who they are more than anything else.”

I will rest on Mr. Nwachukwu’s words.They are the perfect summation, the perfect ode to Craig Lucas’ and the Arts Collective’s version of his play Prelude to a Kiss.  It is a really beautiful story; funny and warm, and unlike an average run-of-the-mill romantic comedy. From it we take away what we see within each very real character presented – warmth and truth. Sometimes gritty but always with magical intention, it’s true, one kiss can change everything. You must find out why. Come see HCC’s Arts Collective at their best on stage.

 Prelude to a Kiss by Craig Lucas
May 3 through 19, 2013  **Three weekends only!**
Location: Howard Community College’s Studio Theatre
$15: General Admission
$12: Seniors, Military & Groups
$10: All Students with I.D.

Prelude to a Kiss runs for three weekends only (!) with showtimes on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. A special preview pay-what-you-can performance takes place on Thursday, May 2 at 8 p.m. and a post-show discussion follows the Sunday, May 19th closing performance.

Tickets: $15 for general admission; $12 for seniors, military, and groups; and $10 for students with I.D. and may be purchased through the HCC’s Horowitz Center Box Office (443-518-1500) or online. For more information about AC call 443-518-1922 or email [email protected].

Synopsis: This is a haunting fairy tale, which explores issues of identity, aging, fear, family and unconditional love. At Peter and Rita’s wedding, a mysterious old man insists on kissing the bride. While honeymooning, Peter realizes that the woman by his side is not his wife. What happened during that curious wedding-day kiss?

Note: This production includes mature subject matter. Recommended for ages 12 and up.

Location: The Studio Theatre is located inside the Peter and Elizabeth Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center (HVPA) on the campus of HCC, located at 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, in Columbia, MD.

Directions and a campus map.

The Creatives:
Director: Darius K. Mc Keiver
Producing Artistic Director: S.G. Kramer
Associate Artistic & Managing Director, Dance Coordinator: Grace Anastasiadis
Set, Video/Image, Light Design: Terry Cobb
Sound Design: Ashanti Cooper
Sound Effects Design & Engineer: Dave Harton
Costume Design: Nick Staigerwald
Props Design: Ryan M. Haase
Illustration: Emma K. McDonnell
Stage Manager: Justin Silverman
Assistant Stage Manager: Lacy Hall

The cast of 'Prelude to a Kiss.' Photo by Nate Pesce.
The cast of ‘Prelude to a Kiss.’ PhotoArt by Cheri.

The Cast:
Jon Kevin Lazarus – Peter Hoskins
Keri Eastridge – Rita Boyle
Bill Stanley – Old Man
Eric Small – Dr. Boyle
Ilene Chalmers – Mrs. Boyle
Kate Small – Aunt Dorothy
Grant Myers – Uncle Fred
Erin Adams – Taylor
Obinna Nwachukwu – Tom
Cheri George – Minister
Brenna Horner – Leah

Director Darius K. McKeiver has worked at Howard Community College for the past seven years in the Arts and Humanities Division (in an instructional capacity) and HCC’s Arts Collective (in an artistic capacity). A former HCC student, Darius began performing with the Arts Collective in 2006 as Howie Newsome in Our Town. Mr. McKeiver’s favorite on-stage performances with Arts Collective include Charlie Brown in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, in the original work The Child Behind the Curtain, and as Captain Hook in Peter Pan. His directing credits include The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe (Co-Director with Bill Largess, HCC Actors’ Studio); Dracula (Co-Director with Susan G. Kramer for Arts Collective); The Importance of Being Earnest at Century High School (Director); A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Tom Delise at Century High School (Co-Director); and Rent at Silhouette Stages (Production Consultant). Mr. McKeiver is currently Arts Collective’s Special Project Manager and an Assistant Props and Wardrobe Manager for the college’s Horowitz Center.

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Artwork by Cheri.
Artwork by Emma K. McDonnell.

Art Collective at Howard Community College
10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, HVPA 126, Columbia, MD 21044
Visit our website.


  1. Darius McKeiver is an awesome actor, I’m looking forward to seeing his directing skills but would love to see him act again too!!! Good luck crew, break a leg!!!


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