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Broadway on St. Paul Street

Posted 7/1/2009

Ms. Ditkoff, I caught your insightful review of Frozen recently ("Raising Pain," Stage, June 24). My wife and I live in NYC, but happen to have been in Baltimore last week and we were intrigued to see a local, "out of town" production of Frozen, which we had previously seen TWICE in NYC--once at the East 13th Street Theatre (near our apartment) and then again at Circle in the Square theater (we are members) in the Broadway district about five years ago. I must say my wife and I were very pleasantly (if such a word can be used with so disturbing a subject) surprised at both the quality of the production and the creative talent involved. Down the line, from Michael Spellman's superb directorial choices to the individual performances--especially those of Frank Vince and Debbie Bennett--we were amazed that Frozen in Baltimore did not melt in comparison to the productions in New York City. In fact, the intimacy we first found so appealing at the smaller, downtown East 13th Street Theatre in Manhattan (as compared to the larger Circle in the Square production) was re-welcomed in the equally intimate Spotlighters Theatre in Baltimore. In particular, for us, Frank Vince's portrayal of Ralph, was as interesting a take on a pedophile as was Jackie Earle Haley's Oscar-nominated performance in the thought-provoking Kate Winslet film Little Children a few years back.

While I did not agree with everything in your review (the tattoos never bothered me at all), my wife and I were in total synch with your high praise of the Spotlighters' production of Bryony Lavery's play. I wonder if Baltimoreans know that, from a theatrical point of view, Broadway is just a short bus or car ride, or even walking distance, from downtown Baltimore--and a whole lot more economical. Much applause and a standing ovation to the fact that theater lives in Baltimore.

Merrick Bursuk
New York, NY

Foster Care: Not as Easy as it Looks

I am writing on behalf of the Maryland Association of Resources for Families and Youth (MARFY) in response to City Paper's recent articles entitled "City of Lost Kids" (Feature, Part One, June 10 and Part Two, June 17). MARFY is a provider network, committed to strengthening families, youth, and communities through its advocacy for a responsive and accountable system of care that provides high-quality, holistic, and culturally competent services to those in need.

MARFY has supported the Maryland Department of Human Resource's Place Matters initiative since its inception. We support the vision that when children must be placed outside of their homes, that it should be in the least restrictive, appropriate placement as close to their homes as possible. We also strongly endorse the development of a system of care that provides a comprehensive array of services, including quality group care, that meets the needs of children and their families in any given point in time.

"Every child deserves a family." MARFY wholeheartedly agrees. We also believe that every child and his or her family deserve to be provided with appropriate services that will address their current situation. We believe that placement decisions should be made based on a thorough assessment of those needs and the understanding that needs can and do change over time. The state needs a system that is responsive to all of those needs.

If only it was as easy as placing a youth with a caring family. Foster parents must have adequate training, access to additional services, and consistent support from the placement agency to meet the needs of youth who frequently present with complex mental health and behavioral challenges. Absent those three components, foster home placements often fail, resulting in even more trauma for already wounded youth. MARFY believes that these changes in practice must occur before many youth who currently reside in group care can be appropriately served in family placements.

The MARFY membership is made up of 68 private agencies that have been providing quality services to Maryland's children and families for many years. They possess the experience and expertise to participate in a meaningful way in planning the direction of child welfare in the future. We would like to re-emphasize our commitment to partnering with DHR to bring about the systemic changes that will result in the full and successful implementation of Place Matters.

Shelley Tinney
Executive Director, Maryland Association of Resource for Families and Youth

Correction: Last week's feature on the future of home entertainment ("Clicking and Streaming," June 24) incorrectly identified Steven Soderbergh's film The Girlfriend Experience as an IFC Films release. Though it was offered via video-on-demand simultaneously with its theatrical release, it was released by Magnolia Films. City Paper regrets the error.

Editor's note: The winners of the national 2009 AAN Awards were announced June 26 at the annual Association of Alternative Newsweeklies convention in Tuscon, Az., and City Paper won three awards among papers with greater than 50,000 circulation. A selection of work by City Paper contributing photographers John Ellsberry, Frank Hamilton, Frank Klein, Michael Northrup, Ryan "Rarah" Stevenson, and Jefferson Jackson Steele was awarded first place in Photography, while contributing artist Paige Shuttleworth won third place in Illustration for her 2008 Sizzlin' Summer issue cover. Former staff writer Jeffrey Anderson, senior staff writer Van Smith, and staff writers Edward Ericson Jr. and Chris Landers won third place in Investigative Reporting for the paper's series on Baltimore's "shadow economy." Congratulations to all the winners.

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