Sunday, November 19, 2000

Theater group starts to take off

Second offering begins this week

By Jenny Callison
Enquirer Contributor

        MIDDLETOWN — Like bringing a play to the stage, starting a new theater company requires a blend of hard work, revision and improvisation.

        Actor's Repertory Theatre is in its shakedown phase. The troupe was born early this year when the owner of Middletown's historic 1883 Masonic Temple made the building available for use as a theater.

        Michael Coyan, director of arts in Middletown, became the group's artistic director and Deborah Walker its general manager.

   What: Private Lives by Noel Coward, presented by Actor's Repertory Theatre.
   When: 8 p.m. Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; and 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Where: 2 N. Main St., second floor, Middletown.
   Tickets: $18 for general admission; $15 for students/senior citizens.
   Information: 727-9361 or

        On evenings and weekends, eager theater students and volunteers cleaned and restored the two-story space, creating two small performance areas.

        Theater classes began in September, and Actor's Repertory Theatre officially opened Oct. 19 with a production of Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods.

        The second offering, Noel Coward's Private Lives, begins this week.

        “We are a work in progress,” said public relations/marketing staffer Aaron Swisher, who will also help direct productions this year.

        “Our construction is slowly coming to an end.”

Staffing jells
               The company is taking shape, too, he said. After several months of working on the physical facility, summer volunteers began gravitating toward their long-term roles within the ensemble.

        There is a core group of seven professional actors. Auditions will be held as needed for other cast members.

        Mr. Coyan is very encouraged at the theater's achievements thus far.

        “We attracted people from places like Oxford, Maineville, Kettering, Wilmington, Xenia and Northern Kentucky,” he said. “Many have become season subscribers. They like the convenience and the restaurants available in the Middletown area.”

Lots to learn
               As Private Lives opens, the theater's learning curve is still fairly steep.

        “We as a company are still working the bugs out of the building,” Mr. Coyan said. “We're learning how to use the space effectively, and how to make sure audience comfort comes first.”

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- Theater group starts to take off
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