By Mary Ann Falk
The Savannah Sipping Society, which promises to have you laughing one minute and dabbing your eyes the next, runs January 23, 24, 25, 26, 30, 31, and February 1 and 2. Shows are at 8 p.m. Thursday – Saturday and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets go on sale Monday, January 20. Call 419-238-9689 from 2 – 6 p.m. or go to vwct.org to buy tickets online anytime. All tickets are $16 and must be paid for at the time of the reservation. Consider this my personal invitation to you to be a part of this wonderful community theatre experience. A wine and cheese reception is being held on opening night at 7:15 p.m. Reserve a seat for that night if you wish to attend this reception.
Van Wert Civic Theatre falls into the category of a community theatre. What does the word community mean in this sense? Usually, community theatre refers to a volunteer-based, locally-driven endeavor. The vision and execution of the play or musical starts and happens in a local community. Northwest Ohio, in fact all of Ohio, has a strong community theatre presence. VWCT has served the Van Wert community for 61 years. We not only provide entertainment for our audiences, but we provide a creative outlet and performing opportunities for our citizens. Community members–your neighbors, co-workers, family, and friends–are the ones who appear on stage, paint the set, answer the phone, and sweep the carpets. And time after time during the course of a production, a community of friends forms because these people now have a common experience. Many of these show communities lead to lifelong friendships.
Over my years working in community theatre, I have been a part of some very special show communities. As the director of the next VWCT production, The Savannah Sipping Society, I have been watching one such community develop. This play, about four women who meet by chance at hot yoga but soon form a strong bond centered around a desire to restart their lives, requires the actors on stage to allow themselves to be vulnerable while fully trusting each other. If this openness and trust does not happen in a show with only four actors onstage, the evening could easily turn into a night of line recitation.
I have been blessed with four actresses who are committed to each other and the characters they play. Portraying the women in this laugh-a-minute comedy are Nicolle Merkel as Randa, a recently fired architect with financial woes; Terry Plas as Dot , a widow who misses the retirement life she never had with her husband; Amy McConn as Marlafaye, a nurse turned liquor distributor after a nasty divorce; and Jan Miller as Jinx, a beauty consultant with designs on being a life coach. A special appearance is made by Stephanie Wagner as Cordelia Covington. After a chance introduction, the women decide to meet for drinks and soon find they all have a desire to regain the enthusiasm for life they once had. Together they find lasting friendships and a desire to live in the moment. I suspect a similar scenario that parallels the plot of the show is happening off the stage as these women build bonds that will be unique to them and the creation of their performances.
My job as the director is to create a space in which these women can work while leading them to a deeper understanding of the characters they will bring to life during eight performances. I juggle all the technical community members needed for the production (costumes, props, stage crew, someone to prompt lines, set construction), and these women work in community to create life live on stage.
And all this work is not complete without our community buying tickets and attending our productions. See you at the show!