Chanda Calentine is the current educational director. She finds and brings many fine educators to teach classes. She works with the children’s camps in the summers. There is a half day camp in June for ages 5 to 7. There are many full day camps for ages 8 – 17 throughout the summer. In addition, ACT offers Youth Production Classes for K-12 students interested in learning the “ins and outs” of participating in a big production and specialized classes like Broadway Bootcamp, Youth Improv, Youth Acting, and Youth Filmmaking. Scholarship money is available for those in need.
The fund raising for this new 12,000 square foot center has begun. With some of the parameters of the building established, the Board of ACT has hired McMillan, Pazdan and Smith as the architects to provide them with a workable plan. They would like the building to be three levels with a second stage theatre of 150 seats, provide numerous classrooms for learning about all aspects of theatre production—lighting, staging, acting, directing, producing and even filming—and connect to the current building on the property to the east and north. ACT is certainly hoping they will be able to have the new permanent Education Center built and up and running in the very near future.
For many decades the Asheville Community Theatre (ACT) has been bringing their high quality theatre productions to the stage. Locals volunteer participate in the musicals, comedies and dramas throughout the season. In 2016 and 2017 a highly successful fund raising drive took place, bringing in $2.3 million. This has been used to renovate the stage, making it more easily accessible, updating the auditorium seats so they would be more comfortable, renovating the area where the actors congregate, the Green Room, and the dressing rooms. It is a vast improvement.
The Diary of Anne Frank to Open Next Week
On April 13th, ACT will open with the moving and powerful play,The Diary of Anne Frank, on their recently renovated Mainstage. This production of The Diary of Anne Frank is directed by Adam Cohen and is the newly adapted version of the play from the original that opened on Broadway in 1955. This new version of the well known classic includes some added text, as told by the sole survivor, Otto, who tells the horrific later fate of the family.
In this powerful play, a young Jewish girl named Anne captures in her diary the claustrophobic realities of her life and the lives of seven others, all of whom are hiding in an attic in Belgium during World War II. Their fears, their hopes, their laughter and their grief are shared, showing the astonishing resilience of the human spirit under very trying circumstances.
The volunteer cast consists of 10 community actors, 5 of whom are making their ACT debuts – including Faith Creech, a 13 year old from Burnsville and student at Cane River Middle School, who is starring as Anne. While in hiding from the Nazis during World War II, Anne Frank heard a radio broadcast asking Dutch citizens to save letters, notes, and diaries so that future generations would understand what they had endured. She began editing and revising her diary, hoping to have it published one day, hoping that her voice would be heard. “It remains important to hear Anne Frank’s voice and to know her story,” said Susan Harper, Executive Director. “Anne Frank would turn 89 on her birthday this year. This story did not happen in the distant past.”
Faith Creech is joined onstage by Brendan Nickerson, a high school sophomore from Black Mountain who will be playing Peter Van Daan and Grace Derenne, a junior at UNC Asheville who will be playing Anne’s sister, Margot. Also in the cast are Rachel Adams, Marc Cameron, Paul Clark, Samantha González-Block, Kathy O’Connor, Jerry Russom, and Thomas Trauger. All have volunteered and were chosen at an audition. Scenic designer Jack Lindsay has created a set that mimics very closely the actual secret annex. After researching the square footage of the annex (approximately 500 – fairly spacious compared to other hiding spaces that were used during this time), he designed a set that is only slightly larger. Once the cast arrives in the annex, they will not leave the stage for the duration of the play. Jack’s set underscores the frustration and tension that would come with 8 people sharing such a space for several years.
Adam Cohen, the director, is a long time resident of Asheville and has had a 15 year career as a professional stage manager. He has directed two previous productions for ACT: Arsenic and Old Lace in 2011 and The Odd Couple in 2012. He mentions, “The rehearsing for the current production began in mid-February, usually four evenings a week for about three hours. Brendan Nickerson, who plays Peter, and Faith Creech, who plays Anne, are both very talented. I had originally envisioned that I would find some young adults, who could play teens, and was pleasantly surprised to have to choose from several actors who were near the same ages as the characters. I have seen a good deal of growth in Brendan and Faith since we began rehearsals, and look forward to that continuing throughout the run of the show.”
Opening weekend perks include complimentary champagne on Opening Night, complimentary chocolate on Saturday night, and a talk-back with the cast and crew after the Sunday matinee.
Asheville Community Theatre will also be offering an ASL Interpreted performance for this production on Sunday, April 15. ACT continues to offer audio-described performances for patrons who are visually impaired in partnership with DASI (Descriptive Audio for the Sight Impaired) during the second weekend of each production. For The Diary of Anne Frank, those dates are April 20-22, 2018. Patrons interested in seating with optimal interpreter sight lines for the ASL Interpreted performance should contact Box Office Manager Joshua Runkles. For more information about The Diary of Anne Frank or about Asheville Community Theatre, please visit www.ashevilletheatre.org.
Later in the season, from June 1 – 24th, the ten-time Tony Award nominee and a hit movie, The Full Monty, will be presented. In August, ACT is producing a NC Premiere with The Groundling by Marc Palmieri and directed by Betsy Puckett. For more information on all this and perhaps to donate to the new education building, go to www.ashevilletheatre.org.