Empty seats and an empty stage do not a community theater make.
Live theater is a medium as old as human emotion. It’s a living artform, dependent on the community it exists within to keep going. Filling the seats at a performance is one thing, but there’s another aspect to community theater that bears mentioning: participation. And there are plenty of ways to involve yourself at The Civic.
Help backstage, build sets, make costumes, usher, run lights: there are many tasks that must be performed to get a show off the ground. At The Civic, most of them are performed by community volunteers. For those looking to get involved, get some information and fill out a volunteer form at the box office. The Civic is a year round organization, so both need and opportunity are everpresent.
Want to act? All of this year’s plays have open auditions. Greg Miller, artistic director, handles most of the theater’s directing duties. Auditions are a mix of group and individual.
“A lot of people audition because they love being part of a play, or they are intrigued by being part of a play, and they aren’t really auditioning for the lead. So there’s always, especially in musicals, chorus work and less demanding roles,” said Gregory Stavrou, executive director of the Rochester Civic Theatre.
Auditions, he says, are very user-friendly. The Civic posts any show specific info on their website and potential actors are welcome to pick up a script to review.
“Anybody and everybody in the community is welcome and invited to come audition for one of these shows,” said Stavrou.
Pro tip: If you’re going to try out for a musical, you might do well to prepare a song and be ready to dance.
Beware, though, once you sign up for a play, the commitment is no joke. Musicals entail four to six weeks of rehearsal, then a four week performance run. For non-musicals, the commitment is a bit less, but not much.
The trade off for your time?
“The joy of being part of something that is bigger than yourself,” said Stavrou. “The experience of working so closely, and so intensely with a group of people for a period of time. There’s nothing quite like it.”
Audience is essential to theater. It’s the whole point. This year’s RCT schedule seems designed to attract butts to seats. Here’s a quick rundown:
September 8 – October 1
A water shortage leads to a ban on private toilets. The play covers a hero’s fight against the company regulating all public amenities. A satirical musical comedy tackling the legal system, capitalism, populism, bureaucracy, politics.
October 20 – November 5
A play about two half-sisters who inherit an immensely valuable stamp from their mother. One wants to sell, the other wants to hang on to sentiment. Then, three high-stakes collectors enter the fray.
The 1940’s Radio Hour
December 1 – December 17
This musical captures the spirit of a bygone era. It follows a live broadcast of “The Mutual Manhattan Variety Cavalcade,” on December 21, 1942. Mishaps abound and the producer must cope.
The Addams Family
March 2, 2018 – March 25, 2018
The ghoulish American family invented by Charles Addams gets a musical comedy treatment in this production. The action centers around a grown Wednesday Addams attempting to introduce her “normal” boyfriend and his family to hers.
April 27, 2018 – May 13, 2018
Another play taking place in 1942. A nod to classic farces from the ‘30s and ‘40s, the play centers around two of Hollywood’s biggest divas. When they are accidentally booked into the same hotel suite, chaos and hilarity ensue.
August: Osage County
June 8, 2018 – June 17, 2018
Set on the plains of modern-day Oklahoma, this script won the 2008 Pulitzer for Drama. When the patriarch of family Weston disappears, the rest of the family convenes to find him and torment one another.
Ring of Fire
July 13, 2018 – July 29, 2018
A musical based on the biography of Jonny Cash, this production features numbers like “Walk the Line,” “A Boy Named Sue,” and “Folsom Prison Blues.” With a thrilling storyline and enough recognizable hits to fill a double LP, this one promises to be a crowd pleaser.