Regional theater east of downtown Dayton
By Jacqui Theobald
Photo: X*ACT Gallery Ribbon Cutting May 3, 2013 for community theatre and arts in Xenia
The Dayton Community Theatre world is strong and enthusiastic. Several groups are long established and quite high profile, while others may need introductions. All have much in common, especially pride and support for improving their theater space and, of course, presenting winning shows.
All have clever and creative people who love their group, giving more hours than they would admit: working backstage, acting, directing, serving on boards of directors, box office, public relations and all the other tasks that have no category. All think about finances – a lot. A single word describes each involved individual: dedicated.
Big ambitions in Beavercreek
You certainly won’t need a Harvard degree to follow “Legally Blonde” at the Beavercreek Community Theatre, just laugh and cheer your way through the Disney-like fairytale. Sit back and catch the spirit of happy-making songs and dances that end with justice for all.
The play runs for two weekends – June 21-23 and June 28-30 – at the Lofino Center, 3868 Dayton-Xenia Road. “Everyone works so hard,” Director Chris Harmon said. “We’d love to increase our audience to add a third weekend.”
Reese Witherspoon starred in the movie version a dozen years ago with a delightful performance as a California girl who chases her disdainful boyfriend to Harvard. Kaleigh-Brooke Dillingham takes her star turn in this local production. You’ll love the gal, whether or not you believe she’s truly going to vanquish the snobs and doubters, find the murderer and emerge as Harvard Law School valedictorian.
Harmon says of his Elle, “Not only is she beautiful with a voice to match, she is not afraid to contort her expressions, to allow herself to be anything. Her endurance is awesome, singing through the entire show, then working more on her role at home.”
It takes a large cast to help her accomplish all the dancing and singing, wish fulfillment and finding her character’s strength. There are twelve people in speaking roles, two in the Delta Nu/Greek Chorus – that has to tell you a little about the mindset of the humor – and another 10 in the ensemble. Lindsay Sherman is music director, Sandra Hyde, choreographer.
Harmon serves as set designer, chief builder and decorator. For “Legally Blonde” he’s gone all-out pink, creating a total concept, including two enormous pink chandeliers installed above the 120 theater seats. “I require the actors to work at least four hours on construction or painting,” Harmon said. The sophisticated set is well-designed in shades of pink.
The upcoming 2013-14 Season includes two family-friendly plays, two children’s shows and three edgy offerings: “Hair,” “Dog Sees God,” “A Neverland Christmas Carol,” “Til Beth Do Us Part,” “Carrie, the Musical,” “Spamalot” and “The Poisoned Apple.” For ticket and times and next season information go to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 937.429.4737.
Smaller, but adventurous and eager
I recently visited X*ACT, 45 E. Second St. in Xenia, where a rehearsal was in progress in the building this group has been able to purchase and renovate. By the time you read this, X*ACT’s season will have just completed, and they’ll be looking ahead to their 2013-2014 season.
Their ninth season opens ambitiously with “Lion in Winter,” the classic, 12th century story of Henry II and his sharp, witty but dysfunctional family, on Sept. 13.
Auditions will be held Monday, July 8, and Tuesday, July 9, at 7 p.m.
The new season also includes a Children’s Holiday Production, “Hamlet,” “Mousetrap,” “Angel Street” (based on the film “Gaslight”) and “The Big Five-Oh.”
“We have a different view of play selection,” X*ACT Board President Alan King explained. He was joined by actor/director Olivia Gladman, taking a few minutes away from directing the rehearsal of “Mornings at Seven.”
“We ask would-be directors to submit three plays each are interested in doing. We think this plan gives us strong directors who are already committed to a favorite show. It seems to work beautifully,” Gladman said. “We balance the season to appeal to our patrons. A huge coup in our renovation was the discovery eight years ago of classic mid-century Heywood-Wakefield theater seats from a now defunct flea market,” Gladman explained proudly. “They were in excellent condition, more than reasonably priced and elegant, with sculptured wooden backs and clean, bright upholstered seats.”
X*ACT – which cleverly stands for Xenia Area Community Theater – has been able to undergo significant renovations due to a major grant from Kettering Health Network.
Gladman, a woman as much a venerable dramatic classic as the chairs, when asked her preference, proclaimed in Tallulah Bankhead style, “I’d much rather act than direct, it’s just more fun.”
An Artists’ Co-op recently replaced a thrift store in the front of the building. Each produces income, but the board wants to create a total Art Center, with about 20 artists showing a variety of affordable works in different media. It’s open Thursday, Friday and Saturday, noon to 6 p.m.
Much of the thrift store stock was saved for costumes, and certainly helps dress period pieces as well as contemporary shows.
X*ACT’S Children’s Theater Camp
“Christmas in July,” a children’s summer camp will run weekdays Monday, July 22, through Friday, August 2, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for upcoming second graders through high school. They will explore winter holiday stories from around the world, then create and perform their own play. For camp information, theater subscriptions and the Art Center call 937.372.0516 or go to xeniaact.org.
Reach DCP freelance writer Jacqui Theobald at JacquiTheobald@DaytonCityPaper.com.