bkamberger

Featured Employee

Bill Kamberger

Bill Kamberger

By day, he’s the quiet studious chief procurement officer for MDE, listening intently in meetings as all kinds of potential contractors try to sell th​eir business ideas to the agency.

But Bill Kamberger’s true colors really come out at nights and on the weekends. He has been one of the most respected theater directors in the metropolitan Baltimore area for the past 25 years and was selected the city’s best stage director in 2015 by BroadwayWorld for the comedy Almost, Maine and in 2003 by City Paper for the musical Parade.

One of Bill’s most ambitious endeavors ever, Ragtime, based on the novel by the same name by E.L. Doctorow, will be performed April 15-16 and April 22-23 at 7:30 p.m. and April 17 and April 24 at 3:30 p.m. at Memorial Episcopal Church, located at 1407 Bolton Street in Baltimore. Admission is free.

The two-and-a-half hour musical is set in the first two decades of the 20th Century and tracks the interactions of three families -- one African-American, one upper-class white, and one Jewish immigrant – as their paths cross and lives change. Bill said he began the planning process for Ragtime, which ran on Broadway in the late 1990s, a year ago and rehearsals began in early January.

"It’s very complicated because of the large period of time that is tracked. We have 15 major characters, 50 actors total, and 25 musical numbers," Bill said, adding that many of the 50 actors are playing multiple roles. "It’s a broad range of characters that deal with all kinds of social issues and the play has the inherent drama and conflict of that time. This is the first time that I have worked with the Memorial Players and it has been an honor. "

Bill said he has had a life-long passion for directing plays, starting in his parent’s living room. He majored in English and minored in theater at William and Mary University in Williamsburg, Va., before returning to Baltimore and getting involved in community theater.

“I remember one of the early plays I did was a real learning experience because I had to cast two sets of actors, switching them out as they got older. It was hard to find people who looked close enough like the character they were replacing and there were some complaints that the resemblance wasn’t close enough. So, I grew from that and several theaters said that showed I was willing to take a risk and it opened doors for me down the road,” Bill said.

That led to a nearly decade-long run as director at Fell’s Point Corner Theatre and kudos especially for the musical Parade, the trial of Leo Frank, a Jewish businessman accused of murdering a 13-year-old factory girl named Mary Phagan in 1913.

Bill said he has been paid to direct a few plays, like Ragtime, but for the most part has volunteered his time for the more than 35 plays he has directed during his career.

"I always say that I don’t choose the play, the play chooses me," Bill said. "I am especially drawn to the issues of social justice and raising attention to those kinds of themes is a gift to the community."

Bill said he would eventually like to write his own play, time permitting, and that an idea is "currently percolating." But he also said he has no plans to retire from his MDE job, after 33 years of state service. ​