Revitalizing ACT Theatre
Large, framed posters and photos of cast and crew members throughout the years grace the walls of the ACT Theatre lobby in Pleasanton. Displays from performances like “Little Old Ladies in Tennis Shoes” and “The Dearly Departed” capture the joy that theatre brings to actors, those behind the scenes and the audience. However, it has been about four years since the last performance at ACT Theatre.
Local residents Jessica Maxwell and Elizabeth Singer are teaming up to bring new life to this local treasure. The community has responded well, with many auditioning for the upcoming August performance of “Dorothy in Wonderland.” This children’s play is slated for three performances, Friday-Sunday, Aug. 18-20.
They are extremely excited about the show, which features a cast of over 30 children. The principle actors are Sirrah Maxwell, playing the part of Dorothy, and Kadence Kubish as Alice. The play features familiar characters like the Tin Man, the Mad Hatter and more. Concessions will be sold by donation.
This will mark the second show Maxwell has directed. She has been in theatre since she was 5 years old. Singer is in charge of promotions and social media. She started by acting in ACT Theatre’s children’s shows. Both have backgrounds in high school theatre.
“I think it is really important to try and reach a different age demographic, some of the younger families and people with children,” Maxwell said.
She added the theatre will still show adult comedies in the future. The pair are hoping to perform a fall show with adults. Maxwell emphasized their adult comedies are never inappropriate; it is usually sarcastic humor.
Some members have moved away and last year the group lost treasurer Peggy Schulze.
“She was pretty much the backbone of the theatre. She was the one who often directed a lot of the shows and chose what they were doing,” Maxwell said.
The group began meeting again in February and meets on the first Monday of the month at 6:30 p.m. at ACT Theatre. They discuss the budget, upcoming shows and a possible youth group. Annual dues are only $5 per year.
Rather than just sit in a chair and direct, Maxwell knows the importance of assisting the young actors by getting on the stage with them. She loves to watch them grow and see their confidence transform. Over time, they do more than just read their lines. The children realize what it takes to bring the character to life.
“I work with kids on their voices and speech pattern. I try to give each actor individual time where we work with them,” Maxwell said. “I want them to have fun and I want them to fall in love with it, because I want them to come back and do more shows with us.
Many volunteers help to make it all possible, by assisting with scenery, make-up, etc. Many improvements are also needed for the building. She shared it is definitely a team effort.
“Luckily, the president of the theatre, Sandy Locke, is an excellent carpenter. So he volunteers a lot of his time,” Maxwell said.
Other ideas are being considered for the future such as a spring show, a variety show and more.
“We just want everyone to know we are here,” Maxwell said.
“The community always pulls together for these kinds of shows,” Singer said. “For the children’s shows, the two that I have been a part of, they always sold out.”
You can find the group on Facebook under “ACT Theatre Group” or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.