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Celebrating American Musicals on Film

April 04, 2014
The First Annual Jason Rubin Musical Theater Film Festival Brings Peter Pan and Hairspray screenings and discussion April 4 and 5.

CHESTERTOWN, MD—In tribute to a popular former professor, the First Annual Jason Rubin Musical Theater Film Festival will bring free screenings and discussions of two classic movies – Peter Pan, and Hairspray –to Norman James Theatre on the College campus April 4 and 5.  The theater is located on the first floor of William Smith Hall on the Washington College campus, 300 Washington Ave., Chestertown. 

The College’s Clifton M. Miller Library and Friends of Miller Library conceived and organized the festival along with the Washington College Dramalumni and Friends, to honor Rubin and to celebrate the Library’s Jason Rubin Musical Theater Collection. That collection of books, videos, and other resources was established last spring when Rubin, a scholar of American musical theater, retired from the drama faculty after 27 years.  Created through an initial donation by the Dramalumni and Friends, the Collection was bolstered with additional funding from Matthew T. Weir ’90, grandson of legendary actress Mary Martin. 

The festival will start Friday, April 4, at 4:30 p.m. with a screening of the 1960 TV adaptation of Peter Pan that stars Mary Martin. Both Rubin and Weir will offer introductory remarks before the movie, and a reception will follow in Miller Library. Peter Pan is a magical tale about a boy who refuses to grow up. Peter and his fairy friend Tinkerbell visit the London bedroom of Wendy, Michael, and John Darling, and with a sprinkling of pixie dust, they fly off to Never-Never Land on an enchanted adventure. The 1960 television broadcast was a restaging of the 1954 Broadway production directed by Jerome Robbins as a musical adaptation of J. M. Barrie’s 1904 play Peter Pan and Barrie’s own novelization of the story, Peter and Wendy

On Saturday, April, 5 at 1:30 p.m. the Festival presents the 2007 film Hairspray, featuring John Travolta, Nikki Blonsky, and Zac Efron. Rubin will introduce the movie.

Hairspray is both an entertaining trip through 1960’s style dance music and a social commentary on the injustices of American society at that time. Set in 1962 Baltimore and based on the 1988 John Waters film of the same name, Hairspray follows teenager Tracy Turnblad as she realizes her dream of dancing on the Corny Collins Show, becomes an overnight celebrity, and launches a campaign to integrate the show. The movie musical is based on the Broadway version, with music by Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Shaiman and Scott Wittman and a book by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan.

Matt Weir has made his famous grandmother’s legacy an important part of the theater culture of Washington College. He established the The Mary Martin Program in the Performing Arts in 1992 (and rededicated in 2012) to provide awards and opportunities for students. The Mary Martin Prize is awarded to a student majoring in Drama who demonstrates great dedication in any area of the theater arts, and Mary Martin Student Fellowships fund opportunities for students majoring or minoring in Drama to pursue independent learning experiences. In addition, the Program funds a Lecture/Performance Series and a Residency Fellowship for visiting scholars and performers. 

Jason Rubin, who lives in Baltimore, began his teaching career at Washington College in the spring of 1986. A professional set designer since 1970, he has designed sets for Theater of the First Amendment in Fairfax, Va., Totem Pole Playhouse in Fayetteville, Pa., and The Folger in Washington, D.C. He is a former artistic director of Children’s Theater Association in Baltimore and belongs to Actors’ Equity Association and the Theater Library Association. For 10 years he was a juror for the George Freedley Award. He has also taught at George Mason University and Loyola College in Baltimore. 

Dramalumni and Friends brings together Washington College drama alumni, friends, faculty, staff, and students for thought-provoking discussion, dynamic events, and meaningful networking. 

The Friends of the Clifton M. Miller Library support and advocate for the Library in order to enrich the intellectual life of Washington College and its surrounding community. The Friends seek to acquaint the greater community with the Library’s resources, host and coordinate library-related events and programs, grow the Library’s Maryland Collection and develop a full collection of Sophie Kerr’s works.


Festival Schedule at a Glance:

Peter Pan

starring Mary Martin

Friday, April 4, at 4:30 p.m.

Norman James Theatre

Reception to follow in Miller Library



featuring John Travolta, Nikki Blonsky, and Zac Efron

Saturday, April 5, at 1:30 p.m.

Norman James Theater

For more information about the Festival,  please contact Librarian Ruth Shoge at rshoge2@washcoll.edu

Norman James Theater is located on the first floor of William Smith Hall on the Washington College campus, 300 Washington Ave., Chestertown. 

Last modified on Mar. 18th, 2014 at 3:00pm by .