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'Spotlight on Mary Martin'

Mary Martin, a darling of musical theater, will step into the spotlight for a singer's showcase at Camelot Theatre, performed by local diva Presila Quinby.

During the latter part of the golden age of American musical theater, Martin starred in such leading roles as Ensign Nellie Forbush in "South Pacific," Maria Rainer in "The Sound of Music" and Agnes Snow in "I Do, I Do," among other Broadway hits. She may be best known as the actress who played the title role in "Peter Pan," which earned her a Tony Award.

Performances are set for 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, March 1-3 and March 8-10, and 2 p.m. Sundays, March 4 and 11.

Quinby also wrote the script for Camelot's "Spotlight on Mary Martin."

"It was easy to choose the songs Martin was known for," Quinby says. She got the idea when she cut her hair short. "Martin cut her hair for 'Peter Pan'."

Martin won audiences over with her pluck and positive spirit for the characters she played and the songs she introduced, including "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair," "The Sound of Music," "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" and "I Won't Grow Up."

Quinby also based some of her ideas for the script on "Mary Martin: Broadway Legend," a book by Ronald L. Davis published in 2008 by the University of Oklahoma Press.

"There is a touching story toward the end of the book," Quinby says. "When Martin was 70, she revisited her role as Peter Pan at a fundraiser for a hospital's trauma center in San Francisco. By this time, stage technology made it possible for Martin to actually fly over the audience and sprinkle fairy dust on them."

Though Martin didn't star in the Broadway production of "Annie Get Your Gun," she did perform in the touring production. So Quinby added "There's No Business Like Show Business" to the script.

"The song perfectly sums up Martin's feeling for live theater," Quinby says. "She loved that connection to a live audience."

Tara Johnson, a graduate of Southern Oregon University's theater-arts program, will narrate the shows as Peter Pan. Roy Rains Jr. directs. Musical arrangements are by Dal Carver.

Tickets cost $18 for the March 1 preview, $22 for all other performances. Tickets are available at the theater box office and www.camelottheatre.org or by calling 541-535-5250.

Presila Quinby plays Broadway diva Mary Martin in a new musical spotlight at Camelot Theatre. - Photo by Steve Sutfin