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With a script perched on his lap, Charles Kolmann sits in the front row of the Naples High School auditorium.
"Expressive!Expressive!Expressive!"he instructs one of the students on stage after she recites her line with less enthusiasm than he'd hoped for. He's mostly quiet, though, letting the girls on stage trudge through the scene, interrupting only when a student forgets a line. Naples High School drama teacher Charles Kolmann began developing his talent in television in his native Philadelphia.He's currently working with students on the play "Arsenic and Old Lace," with performances Friday and Saturday.Michel Fortier/StaffWith less than two weeks to go before the curtain goes up, it's crunch time, and Kolmann, the drama teacher at Naples High, is hoping to run through the entire play during this night's 3½-hour rehearsal. The production, "Arsenic and Old Lace," is Kolmann's second as director since moving to Naples in June.The comedic tale of two charming, old sisters - who poison men looking to rent a room at their home - and their nephews is a homecoming of sorts for Kolmann.He played the role of Officer O'Hara in the same play nearly 35 years ago. A native of Philadelphia, Kolmann's love for the theater goes back decades, when he began acting in high school and college.He soon realized acting wasn't his strong suit, so he moved into lighting, set design and other aspects of theater production. After graduating with a bachelor's degree in English/education from La Salle University and a master's equivalency in theater from Villanova University, the 53-year-old Kolmann began teaching courses in English, filmmaking, and television and stage production at Philadelphia-area schools. Kolmann started a dinner theater in the parish hall of his church in 1979, recruiting instrumentalists from his school.He worked there until 1986.The theater continued to operate until 1990, when an arsonist destroyed it. IF YOU GO "Arsenic and Old Lace"
While teaching, Kolmann also worked part time in the TV industry.When the opportunity for a full-time position in TV arose, he decided to pursue it, leaving his 14 years of teaching behind. Kolmann spent the next several years rising through the ranks in broadcast television.From writing commercials, doing voice-overs and working as a booth announcer, he eventually became the director of advertising, promotion and marketing for WBBM-TV in Chicago. After 16 years in TV, though, the job lost its luster. "The quality of television is not quite what it used to be," Kolmann said, pointing to radio show host Howard Stern - who has a cable TV show- and Jerry Springer's shows.
Calling teaching "refreshing," Kolmann decided to return to the classroom.He and has family had lived in Miami and vacationed in Naples, so when the position for a drama teacher opened up at Naples High last year, he applied.His wife, Marcia, is a media specialist at Laurel Oak Elementary. Kolmann now teaches about 110 students in four drama classes and oversees the drama club. "(Drama) is a great thing to teach because you can tap persons who are not necessarily academically talented, who are not necessarily athletically talented or like to dance. ...Everybody can do something," he said."It touches everybody.""Arsenic and Old Lace" is Kolmann's second play at Naples High.His first, "The Teahouse of the August Moon," was the school's first full-scale production in more than a decade, he said.He plans to direct plays every November and April and hopes, after some expansion and working with the school's chorus and music departments, to move on to musicals."Chorus Line" is one of his all-time favorites.
"Halloween has always been my favorite holiday because you get to pretend you're somebody else ..." Bukki says Kolmann has invested a lot in the play and has helped her and the other actors with voice inflection and where to stand on stage.A couple of drama teachers have come and gone in the last few years, but Bukki says she hopes that's not the case with Kolmann. "Hopefully he's here to stay." Get in touch
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