CTC Embarks on Journey of Spiritual Awakening in GEM OF THE OCEAN Jan. 24-Feb. 9

With a central character who claims to be 285 years old and a storyline that follows a journey to find a city in the center of the Atlantic Ocean, mysticism and realism intersect in the Chattanooga Theatre Centre’s upcoming production of August Wilson’s GEM OF THE OCEAN, opening Friday, January 24, and running through Sunday, February 9.

GEM OF THE OCEAN is chronologically the first work in the preeminent playwright’s celebrated 10-play American Century Cycle, each play capturing the essence of the African-American experience during a decade of the 20th century. Beginning with last season’s FENCES, the Theatre Centre has committed to producing the full cycle over the next 10 years.

Set in Pittsburgh in 1904, GEM OF THE OCEAN follows a myriad of characters among the first generation of African-Americans to emerge after the end of the Civil War and their history of enslavement. In the drama, waves of former slaves and descendants venture north and find themselves at Aunt Ester’s home in Pittsburgh’s Hill District. The fiery matriarch claims to be 285 years old and is known far and wide for cleansing souls and providing sanctuary to the troubled and lost.

Arriving on her doorstep is Citizen Barlow, a young drifter racked with guilt over his past crimes and desperate for redemption. Perhaps in his imagination or perhaps through mystical transportation, she sends him on a spiritual voyage across the Atlantic Ocean, following the route taken by the slave ships, to the City of Bones.

This mythical story is set against the very real backdrop of a turn-of-the-century Pittsburgh where tension boils and its population grows impatient with poor working and housing conditions.

GEM OF THE OCEAN is both a lyrical journey about spiritual awakening and a riveting tale of hardship, struggle, and freedom.

Under the helm of guest director Sadiqua Iman, the cast includes Gabriel Bailey, E’tienne Easley, Keath Jackson Jr., Kim Reynolds, Tommy White, and Sheila Wofford. Marie Dance is the stage manager.

Performances are January 24-25 at 8 p.m., January 26 at 2:30 p.m., January 30 at 7 p.m., January 31-February 1 at 8 p.m., February 2 at 2:30 p.m., February 6 at 7 p.m., February 7-8 at 8 p.m., and February 9 at 2:30 p.m.

The play will be presented in the Circle Theatre with general admission seating. For tickets, call the CTC box office at 423.267.8534 or visit TheatreCentre.com.

Posted January 7, 2020

Drama Can Heal: Kelseigh Garrett Finds Her Career Path

A love for theatre and psychology led Chattanooga Theatre Centre alum Kelseigh Garrett to pursue a career in helping those with mental illness through expressive arts as therapy. Kelseigh is working towards completing a Master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling with a specialization in expressive arts therapy at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Expressive arts therapy facilitates creative processes through the most meaningful medium for each person and situation, using a variety of approaches such as music, drama, dance, writing and visual arts as therapeutic tools in an integrated way to initiate change within mental health treatment.

“I have this love for theatre and I have this love to provide people with the tools to promote positive growth and healing and then, when I found expressive therapies, I found everything that sustains me come together,” she said.

Even before moving to Chattanooga when she was twelve, Kelseigh would participate in the youth summer camps at the CTC while visiting her grandmother, June McBride, who has also served on the CTC board of directors. Both she and her mom, Wendy Garrett, have acted in CTC productions over the years. Kelseigh has performed in Love/Sick, Murder on the Nile, and Miracle on 34th Street on the CTC stage. Wait Until Dark directed by Bob Willie was one of her first shows at the CTC.

“Including working backstage and on stage at the CTC and in college, I have been involved in about forty shows,” she said. “Getting to play different roles with the same people and getting to see those same people in other roles,” as well as the relationships she established here, were parts of what she has enjoyed about the CTC.

Kelseigh graduated from Chattanooga High School Center for Creative Arts in 2012 and graduated from Carson Newman College in 2016 with a double major in communications and psychology.

“I wanted to graduate in four years, so I took three classes in the summer before my senior year, while working and doing 9 to 5 at CTC. So, when I had time before and after rehearsal, I was doing homework. But being in the show, I needed that for myself. It was something I enjoyed,” she said.

Kelseigh discovered her specialized career path while working on her undergraduate degree.

“I was looking into counseling programs and I didn’t know drama therapy was a profession and I found this and thought, this is fantastic! I could utilize drama and psychology,” she said.  “I was accepted at Lesley University, but the cost of living in the Boston area is astronomical. They didn’t have a low residency program in drama therapy at first, but all the performance arts can be utilized in expressive arts, which they did have as a low residency program, and that really appealed to me.

“Things that I had already been doing at a performance level, I didn’t realize could be done at a therapeutic level,” she explained.  By taking the low residency college option path, Kelseigh is only required to spend three weeks each summer on campus, taking the rest of her classes online and completing the required hours of field counseling experience. This allows her to continue working in Chattanooga at Erlanger Behavioral Health Hospital while completing most of these required hours through an internship at Agape Youth Behavioral Health in East Brainerd.

To graduate in May, she is required to have 700 supervised hours.

“I feel like my whole life is filled with mental health, between the demands of my work and education, but I do love it. And I do love educating people on the importance of mental health and destigmatizing it,” she said.

Through her field experience hours, Kelseigh has worked with children and adults and has found that, “through different art forms you can address different appropriate communication and social skills, emotion regulation and emotion identification.” She said, “My thesis that I’m working on is on the neurological approach on integrated arts and how arts change and shape the brain.”

She explained, “The use of visual art, for example, involves your motor skills and your occipital lobe and your brain is just making these connections that you just can’t do through verbal processing. The creative arts offers a different avenue to explain yourself when words are hard. If you’re really sad and have this sinking feeling, it can be really difficult to explain that verbally. Using arts, drama to work through that sadness by drawing your sadness or creating a sound to express that. Even like creating something, whoever I’m working with, it gives them a sense of accomplishment and is beneficial, helps create coping skills and boosts mood and affect.”

Kelseigh said this type of expressive arts therapy has been found to be beneficial with prison inmates and, “utilizing dance movement therapy with victims of trauma helps them reclaim parts of their body.”

She said, “They offered a course over the summer, with music therapy, using your voice to re-empower yourself. The creative arts in Chattanooga is growing and it’s such an artsy community, there are people already doing some of this work. As mental health becomes less stigmatized, people are looking for more therapies that appeal to them and work for them.”

Kelseigh said creative arts talent is not required for this type of therapy to be effective.

“One of my favorite things about utilizing the expressive arts in therapy is that you don’t have to have any kind of skill in creative arts,” she said. “Expressive arts therapy is more about the process of engaging in the arts, rather than the final product.”

She hopes that this type of work and her thesis will help people see the importance of the arts.

“I feel like it validates the arts in general,” she said. “The arts are typically underfunded or are not part of school curriculums like they should be. And I feel it adds further validity to creative arts as a form of therapy, as a therapeutic tool. Instead of art and therapy, it’s art as therapy.”

Kelseigh said, “I’m really passionate about working with everybody. I feel mental health is so underreported. I really like working in an inpatient setting, because I feel like the people in this setting are significantly underserved.”

She said drama therapy is being used in schizophrenia studies and with those with “major depressive disorders and providing them with the tools to deal with when they leave. It depends on the person, the day, for what type of expressive arts is used, meeting the person where they are at. The benefit is that it’s an added tool. We might have a session where everything is verbal and another where the patient says they don’t know how to explain it. So, I say, okay let’s draw it or dance it. And just being involved in the arts in general is healing; it’s feeding you. Writing down poetry when you’re sad or happy.”

Kelseigh said she is thankful to have had a lot of support from friends and family to help her along this journey and “at the end of the day, I have to be really thankful for helping people.”

By Tammy Knotts | Writer and CTC Parent Volunteer

Posted December 3, 2019

 

 

Theatre Centre Illuminates a Journey of Redemption as “The Amen Corner” Opens Dec. 6

The double-edged sword of righteousness is illuminated in a poignant depiction of the power of faith in the Chattanooga Theatre Centre’s holiday production of THE AMEN CORNER, opening Friday, December 6, and running through Sunday, December 22.

To his first work for the theatre, James Baldwin, one of America’s preeminent African-American writers, brought all the fervor of the storefront churches of his childhood along with an unwavering awareness of the price those churches exacted from their worshipers.

As the story goes, Sister Margaret Alexander, a pastor in 1960s Harlem, has moved her congregation for years with a mixture of personal charisma and ferocious piety. A single mother, she has lived a public life of undying holiness and devotion to her Lord. But when her estranged husband shows up on her doorstep deathly ill, she is in danger of losing both her standing in the church and the son she has tried to keep on the godly path.

While Margaret had led everyone to believe that her husband had abandoned her with their son years ago, it was in fact Margaret who had left him and pursued a religious life. This information precipitates confrontations between Margaret, her husband, her son, and the elders of her congregation regarding what they perceive as the hypocritical nature of her religious convictions.

What follows on that Christmas is an unforgettable journey of atonement and redemption.

Adorned with resplendent gospel music, THE AMEN CORNER is a play about faith and family, about the gulf between black men and black women and black fathers and black sons. Both sorrowful and uplifting, it is considered a masterpiece of the modern American theatre.

Making her CTC debut as Margaret is Marsha Mills. Carlos Alvalrez Davis, who appeared in last season’s FENCES, portrays her husband, Luke, and Jeremiah Taylor is their son, David. Others appearing in featured roles include LaShonda Bryant, Brandon Hines, Travis Johnson, Roderick King, Teara King, LaKeysha Nolan, Patricia Pruett-Starks, Cel Reid, Charde Terry, and Cortney Warner.

Members of the congregation include Nathalie Alcime, Jessica Desmond-Bennett, Joclyn Foster, and Sherri Winston. The children’s ensemble includes Aniya Niccole Bryant, Nehemiah Bryant, Jacobi Carter, Nadia Merrell, Jada Mills, and Kennedi Morton.

THE AMEN CORNER is directed by Ricardo C. Morris, with musical direction by Trent Williams, costume design by Tinita Coulter, lighting design by Julius JanMichael Johnson, and scene design by Tom Hansen. Denise Wilborn is the stage manager.

Performances are December 6-7 at 8 p.m., December 8 at 2:30 p.m., December 12 at 7 p.m., December 13-14 at 8 p.m., December 15 at 2:30 p.m., December 19 at 7 p.m., December 20-21 at 8 p.m., and December 22 at 2:30 p.m.

THE AMEN CORNER is one of two holiday offerings at the CTC this season. The theatre’s production of MARY POPPINS also runs through December 22.

For tickets to either show, call the CTC box office at 423-267-8534 or visit TheatreCentre.com.

Posted November 18, 2019

A Spoonful of “Mary Poppins” Goes Down at the CTC Nov. 22-Dec. 22

Everyone’s favorite practically perfect nanny takes the stage as MARY POPPINS, a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious musical adventure, opens Friday, November 22, at the Chattanooga Theatre Centre and runs through Sunday, December 22.

 

One of the most popular Disney movies of all time is capturing hearts in a whole new way as a seven-time Tony Award-nominated musical for the stage. Based on the children’s books by P.L. Travers and the classic Disney film of 1964, Disney’s and Cameron Mackintosh’s MARY POPPINS delighted audiences on Broadway for more than 2,500 performances and brings things both new and familiar to this theatrical production.

 

The stage show features many of the original songs made famous by the Oscar-winning duo of Richard and Robert Sherman (“Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and “A Spoonful of Sugar” among them), with additional music and lyrics from George Stiles and Anthony Drewe and a book by “Downton Abbey” creator Julian Fellowes.

 

Under the direction of Scott Dunlap, with musical direction by Michael Huseman and choreography by Lindsay Fussell, MARY POPPINS is an enchanting mixture of an irresistible story, unforgettable songs, breathtaking dance numbers, and astonishing stagecraft. And yes, if you’re wondering, the Theatre Centre’s Mary Poppins is going to fly!

 

As the story opens, Bert, a jack-of-all trades, introduces us to England in 1910 and the troubled Banks family. Young Jane and Michael have sent many a nanny packing before Mary Poppins arrives on their doorstep. With patience, kindness, and a little bit of magic, she must teach the family members how to value each other again. Mary Poppins takes the children on many magical and memorable adventures and teaches them—and the grown-ups in their lives—that “anything can happen if you let it.”

 

CTC veteran Joanna Lewis, seen most recently in last season’s AVENUE Q, will appear in the title role. Alex Loyd and Christiana Russell share the role of young Jane Banks, and Charlie Clevenger and Layton Williams likewise appear in alternating performances as her brother, Michael.

 

Taylor Williams steps into the shoes of the good-natured Bert, and James Gienapp and Greer Caldwell appear as the upper-crust George and Winifred Banks.

 

Featured in adult roles are Anne Barbieri, Landon Carpenter, John Echols, Brendon Ferguson, Morgan Giannotti, Dawn Hendrix, Rebecca Henson, Vivian Long, Jennifer Major, Austin Massey, Beth McClary-Wolford, Keenan Pasqua, Lauren Rayhab, Jason Russell, Joshua Shoop, Donel Solomon, Ian Taylor, Sierra Ventura, and Jennifer Arbogast Wilson.

 

The youth ensemble includes Bree Brantley, Alex Champion, James Derrick, Kiera Geren, Landon Greene, William Hall, Cole Hayes, Tytus Hayes, Lauren Hays, Claire James, Emily James, Ephraim James, Will James, Wyatt Jones, Olivia Kelly, Tessa Kelly, Paul Knotts, Hayley Lewis, Annabelle Major, Carter McKissick, Brenden Mullins, Acadia Phillips, Lennon Shuff, Cora Grace Williams, Addison Young, and Kaitlyn Young.

 

Angie Griffin is the stage manager, and Alyssa Robinson is the assistant stage manager.

 

Performances are November 22-23 at 8 p.m., November 23-24 at 2:30 p.m., December 5 at 7 p.m., December 6-7 at 8 p.m., December 7-8 at 2:30 p.m., December 12 at 7 p.m., December 13-14 at 8 p.m., December 14-15 at 2:30 p.m., December 19 at 7 p.m., December 20-21 at 8 p.m., and December 21-22 at 2:30 p.m. Live captioning for those with hearing loss will be featured in the December 5 performance.

 

For tickets, call the CTC box office at 423-267-8534 or visit TheatreCentre.com.

 

Posted November 4, 2019

CTC Appoints 7 New Board Members

The Chattanooga Theatre Centre has appointed seven new members to its board of directors, each of whom brings valuable professional and personal skills to the non-profit organization’s governing board.

Newly elected to the board are Kim Jackson, Lisi Phillips, Alfred Smith, Rodney Strong, LaFrederick Thirkill, Marte Williams, and Kat Wright.

Jackson is an actor, teacher, and community volunteer; Phillips is a Starshine Friends teacher at Highland Plaza United Methodist Preschool; and Smith is of counsel with the law firm of Miller & Martin. Strong is a retired Assistant District Attorney with the Hamilton County District Attorney’s Office, and Thirkill is principal at Orchard Knob Elementary School.

Williams is executive administrative assistant to the Vice President of Provider Networks and Contracting at BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. Wright is Program Coordinator for Public Art Chattanooga.

Founded in 1923, the Chattanooga Theatre Centre is one of the oldest and largest community theatres in the Southeast. The Theatre Centre produces high-caliber theatrical productions and provides volunteer and educational opportunities for people of all ages.

Posted October 18, 2019

 

Encore Cabaret Revives Favorite Shows, Favorite Songs & Favorite Singers on Nov. 9

Some of the last three decades’ most popular singers, songs, and shows on the Chattanooga Theatre Centre stage will be showcased during the CTC’s Encore Cabaret, a fundraising musical event on Saturday, November 9.

Guests will hear some of the CTC community’s favorite performers belt out favorite show-stopping tunes from favorite CTC shows of years gone by. A line-up of 20 singers will reprise numbers from as far back as 1987’s “My Fair Lady” and 1994’s “Guys and Dolls” to as recent as 2017’s “The Wiz” and last season’s “Little Shop of Horrors.”

Jennifer Arbogast Wilson is musical director and accompanist, and Beth McClary-Wolford will emcee.

The performance will be in the mainstage lobby, which will be decked out with a nightclub atmosphere. Appetizers will be provided, and a cash bar will be available. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and the performance is at 8 p.m.

Tickets for this special fundraising event are $20 for adults and $10 for age 16 or younger. Limited seating. Tickets are available at 423.267.8534 and TheatreCentre.com.

Here’s the program:

Rhonda Catanzaro

“I Gotta Crow/Neverland”

PETER PAN

 

Mitch Collins

“Blood in the Water”

LEGALLY BLONDE

 

Tim Forsythe

“Oh, What a Beautiful Morning/Surrey with the Fringe on Top”

OKLAHOMA

 

Kim Jackson

“The Last Midnight”

INTO THE WOODS

 

Brandy Johnson

“Change in Me”

BEAUTY & THE BEAST

 

Cody Keown

“Wilkommen”

CABARET

 

Michael Marin-Howard

“Bring Him Home”

LES MISERABLES

 

Beth McClary-Wolford

“Slow-Startin’ Day”

An Original Michael Huseman Composition

 

Mark Oglesby & Rodney Van Valkenburg

“Lily’s Eyes”

THE SECRET GARDEN

 

Genna Raborn and Garrett Henson-Hinck

“Somewhere”/”Grow”/”Suddenly”

LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS

 

Janet Reeve

“I Could Have Danced All Night”

MY FAIR LADY

 

Joel Scribner

“If I Were a Rich Man”

FIDDLER ON THE ROOF

 

Stephanie Smith

“I’ll Be Seeing You”

ALL NIGHT STRUT

 

Donel Solomon

“Slide Some Oil”

THE WIZ

 

Samantha Teter

“Maybe This Time”

CABARET

 

Brent Thompson

“Luck Be a Lady”

GUYS & DOLLS

 

Rodney Van Valkenburg

“Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat”

GUYS & DOLLS

 

Jonathan and Jennifer Wilson

“The Song that Goes Like This”

SPAMALOT

 

Posted October 17, 2019

 

Theatre Centre’s “The Lion King Jr.” Opens Youth Season with a Roar

Hakuna matata! The Chattanooga Theatre Centre’s Youth Theatre program opens its 2019-2020 season with a kid-friendly twist on Disney’s beloved coming-of-age tale “The Lion King, Jr.,” opening October 25 and running through November 3.

The original “The Lion King” has captivated the imagination of audiences around the world. In this junior adaptation, the African savannah comes to life on stage with a familiar cast of characters as they journey from Pride Rock to the jungle and back again.

It’s the story of the epic adventures of an adventurous and endearing cub named Simba as he struggles to accept the responsibilities of adulthood and his destiny as king of the Pridelands.

Along the way, the young lion encounters a colorful cast of characters, including spunky lioness Nala, charismatic meerkat Timon, and loveable warthog Pumbaa. To claim his rightful place on the throne and save his beloved Pridelands, Simba must find his inner strength and confront his wicked uncle Scar.

This abridged musical blends moments from the animated 1994 film and the Broadway production but in a shortened running time, making it accessible to young performers and young audiences. There are familiar songs like “Circle of Life,” “Hakuna Matata,” and the Academy Award-winning “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” as well as additional songs penned for the Broadway production. The original music and lyrics are by Tim Rice and Elton John.

Charlie Clevenger portrays Simba, with Drew Champion as his kingly father Mufasa. Taylor Slack is his lioness friend Nala, and Noah Hawkins is his evil uncle Scar. Other familiar characters include Rafikia (MaKenzie Ballard), the wise mandrill who guides Simba on his journey, and Pumba (Darrius Calloway) and Timon (Eben Shriner), the comical warthog and meerkat who Simba encounters along the way.

Other featured characters are played by Johnathan Adams (Banzai), Jackson Allen (Young Simba), Sam Gross (Shenzi), Trey Hartley (Ed), Hunter Landreth (Zazu), Eboni Moore (Young Nala), Essence Moore (Sarabi), and Cora Grace Williams (Sarafina).

The ensemble includes Melayna Buttry, Alex Champion, Gracie Hawkins, Abigail Holloway, Rylee Holloway, Darian Moore, Darryl Moore, Acadia Phillips, Manuel Tibbs, Erin Vaughn, Kyla Wheeler, and Kaylyn Yancy.

The Chattanooga Theatre Centre production will use music, movement, fabric, headdresses, and puppets to animate the story. The production is directed by Scott Dunlap, with musical direction by Neshawn Calloway and choreography by Marie Dance. Angie Griffin is the assistant director, and Paul Knotts and Christiana Russell are the stage managers.

Public performances take place on October 25 at 7 p.m., October 26 and 27 at 2:30 p.m., November 1 at 7 p.m., and November 2 and 3 at 2:30 p.m. School performances are scheduled during the week of October 28. The show, performed in the CTC’s mainstage theatre, is appropriate for first graders and up.

Tickets are available at the CTC box office at (423) 267-8534 or online at TheatreCentre.com.

Posted October 11, 2019

Second Century Society Ensures Theatre Centre’s Next 100 Years

As the Chattanooga Theatre Centre closes in on its 100th anniversary, this mainstay in the lives of many theatre-goers in the community is taking steps to ensure its next 100 years.

That initiative recently took shape with the launch of the Second Century Society, which aspires to identify supporters who have decided to make a planned gift or a gift to the non-profit community theatre’s endowment.

Inspired by a generous gift from the estate of Alice Probasco Lupton, the Second Century Society has attracted 17 charter members, surpassing its original goal in less than a year’s time.

“The Theatre Centre is one of only a handful of community theatres in this country that have survived about 100 years, and the theatres who will last another 100 years all have a body like our Second Century Society,” says Executive Director Todd Olson. “That’s how important this inaugural group is.”

The Second Century Society is appealing to potential donors to leave a legacy that maintains the culture of a quality, community-minded theatre. The Theatre Centre was founded in December 1923 as the Little Theatre and staged its first show, “Dear Me,” in April 1924. Today, the CTC plays to over 30,000 patrons attending adult and youth productions each season.

“The Second Century Society is one of the most important groups in the city as it will continue the legacy of the Chattanooga Theatre Centre for generations to come,” says Paula Henderson, a CTC Board of Stewards member who is heading the Second Century Society drive. “I am more than proud to be associated with this worthwhile effort.

“A community without live theatre is not complete,” Henderson says. “The CTC contributes to the richness of our community in many ways, including education, diversity, economically, and through opportunities for all to participate in the creative process we call theatre. I don’t think it gets more important or special than that.”

Henderson says the Second Century Society welcomes gifts of any size, which has made this giving opportunity within reach for any member of the theatre family. Donors can make a bequest to the CTC in their will or trust or by designating the CTC as a beneficiary of their retirement account or insurance policy.

Among the charter members of the Second Century Society are Bryan and Mindy Kelly, who are dedicated supporters of the arts throughout the community.

Bryan says, “When I first moved to Chattanooga, on a whim I tried out for ‘Beauty and the Beast’ having never done anything like that before, and I was cast as the Beast. Since then, I have found a tremendous family at the CTC and I know that the encouraging, uplifting, and empowering spirit that I have felt in my time is being instilled and fostered in everyone that is lucky enough to participate in a CTC production. From the CTC’s Youth Theatre to its community outreach and its collaborations with other groups and organizations, my wife and I are proud to be a part of supporting CTC‘s next 100 years.”

The complete list of charter members of the Second Century Society includes: Jo Coke, Jackie Collins, Mitch Collins, John Foy, Paula Henderson, Becki Jordan, Bryan Kelly, Mindy Kelly, Jim Kennedy, Martha Mackey, Judy Schwartz, Alice Lupton Smith, Lynn Strong, Rodney Strong, and Sonia Young. In addition, gifts from the estates of Mrs. Lupton and Milly Fariss supported the creation of the society.

For more information about the Second Century Society, contact Development Associate Lisa Glisson at 423-267-8538 ext. 308 or [email protected].

Posted October 10, 2019

 

Attention Volunteers! Meet Our New Volunteer Coordinator

Opportunities abound to volunteer at the Chattanooga Theatre Centre on stage and off, and all are vital to the success of the theatre, says CTC’s new volunteer coordinator Becki Jordan.

“This theatre was founded nearly one-hundred years ago by volunteers. Our volunteers kept us going through World War II and the Great Depression,” Becki says. “Many other community theatres would have had to shut down during times such as those, but through the work of volunteers, we kept running. We’ve relied on the work of our volunteers and we’ve been richly blessed over the years with a very dedicated and hardworking volunteer community.”

Becki, a longtime CTC volunteer herself, has just joined the staff as volunteer coordinator and in that capacity is working to expand and revitalize the theatre’s volunteer base. She is taking several approaches to accomplishing this goal, one of which is to enlist more educators and students.

“We have a number of volunteers who are educators,” she says. “I’d like to work more closely with them and help students who have community service requirements get involved.”

The CTC also relies heavily on parent volunteers. Most are parents of children involved in Youth Theatre productions or in a production that includes a large cast of children, such as this season’s opener, “Matilda.”

“Over the years, we’ve had a lot of families that will volunteer together,” Becki says. “It’s always good for the parents to be able to work on the same project with their kids.”

Becki also says she is reaching out to past volunteers who became inactive due to work or family obligations but whose circumstances have now changed. “I want them to know they are still welcome and there is still a place for them,” she says.

There are many different roles volunteers can play, Becki says. Aside from acting on stage, the theatre needs technical and running crew help backstage for shows. She says for the upcoming production of “Mary Poppins,” the theatre will need reliable volunteers for extra technical crew.  “We need people who can consistently be available throughout rehearsals and the run of the show,” she says.

The CTC also needs volunteers to assist with set building in the scene shop, costume building in the costume shop, ushers, and administrative help such as addressing envelopes for fundraising campaigns. Becki says if you are willing to donate your time, the CTC will find a place for you to volunteer and will gratefully welcome your help.

Becki’s capacity as the volunteer coordinator seemed a natural transition for her due to her long volunteer history at the theatre. She is a Chattanooga native and following her graduation from Tennessee Wesleyan College with a degree in theatre, she returned home and “volunteering at the theatre just seemed like the right thing to do,” she says.

Becki began working and studying with Nancy Lane Wright at her studio, the Dance-Theatre Workshop. During this time, Wright choreographed many of the musical productions at the CTC. “Whenever she was working on a show at the theatre, she would bring everyone from the workshop over to perform in the show,” Becki says. “An Evening with the Other Sex” in 1975, a play featuring women’s roles throughout history, was the first CTC play in which she was involved.

“It was really here that I learned how to act,” she says. “My degree was in theatre and I knew a lot about theatre history and stage managing. Nancy got my feet wet with performance. But I started watching everyone around me on stage here at the theatre and I really learned a lot about acting from them. I owe them a big debt.”

The “family feeling” from a few particular casts has been very meaningful, especially the cast of “Rumors” in 2002. The Neil Simon comedy ran at the CTC not too many months following the 9/11 tragedy, giving the community the light-hearted production it very much needed. It was also not long after the loss of her mother. “Coming back into that cast with everyone around me, well, it was wonderful to have that kind of support,” she says.

Becki has continued to act and be involved in dozens of plays at the CTC and has served on the theatre’s Board of Directors for a number of years. In addition to her work at the CTC, Becki has served on the vestry of Grace Episcopal Church and has been a board member in years past with the Dance-Theatre Workshop and the Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga.

She recently retired from her position as a contract analyst in the legal division at BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. While serving on the CTC board, she organized front-of-house volunteers. So, when the board determined that there was a need for a volunteer coordinator, she decided to pursue the job.

Becki is working hard to reach prospective volunteers with the message, “You are welcome and there is a place for you here. Everyone is welcome here. You don’t have to be on stage. There are many places to help offstage too.”

If you would like to volunteer at the CTC, contact Becki at [email protected].

By Tammy Knotts | Writer, Journalist and CTC Parent Volunteer

Posted October 9, 2019

 

 

Seeking Volunteers for Upcoming Run of “Matilda”

The Chattanooga Theatre Centre is looking for 4 volunteer crew members for its upcoming production of MATILDA the musical.

Two volunteer WARDROBE CREW MEMBERS will be responsible to help children get dressed, assist with quick changes, and keep the dressing rooms in order. Needed throughout the run of the production – Sept 19-Oct 13th. This would begin with a Crew meeting Sept 12th (time TBD), Tech period (crew called at 6pm) Sept 13, 16, 17, 18, 19, Thurs 6pm call for 7pm go, Friday 7pm call for 8pm go, Saturday 1:30pm call for 2:30 go and 7pm call for 8pm go (2 shows each Saturday), and Sunday 1:30 call for 2:30 go. Will consider persons available for all OR MOST of these dates.

The LIGHTING VOLUNTEER will work with designer Alice Trent on Tuesday the 10th all day, and also Wednesday the 11th in the morning and afternoon.

The CREW MEMBER will be needed throughout the run of the production – Sept 20-Oct 13th. This would begin with a Crew meeting Sept 12th (time TBD), Tech period (crew called at 6pm) Sept 13, 16, 17, 18, 19, Thurs 6pm call for 7pm go, Friday 7pm call for 8pm go, Saturday 1:30pm call for 2:30 go and 7pm call for 8pm go (2 shows each Saturday), and Sunday 1:30 call for 2:30 go.

Email Todd Olson asap at [email protected]. Thanks!

Theatre Centre Opens Season with Mischievous, Magical & Musical “Matilda”

It’s not easy being a kid. Especially when your parents are crude, TV-addicted, book-bashing scoundrels and your heartless headmistress has a fondness for torturing children. Such is the plight – and plot – of the mischievous and magical “Matilda,” a Tony Award-winning musical which opens the Chattanooga Theatre Centre’s 2019-2020 season on Friday, September 20.

Inspired by the twisted genius of children’s author Roald Dahl (“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “James and the Giant Peach”), the wonderfully quirky “Matilda” is an exhilarating masterpiece about an extraordinary little girl who, armed with a vivid imagination, a sharp mind, and psychokinetic powers, dares to take a stand and change her own destiny. She’s unloved by her cruel parents, but her intelligence and astonishing wit impress her loveable schoolteacher.

Her school life isn’t smooth sailing, however. The mean headmistress hates children and throws them around the playground and confines them to a spike-filled chest called The Chokey. But Matilda has courage and cleverness in equal amounts, and could be her schoolmates’ saving grace.

Playwright Dennis Kelly and musician-composer Tim Minchin have done a gloriously over-the-top job capturing the wit and heart of Dahl’s tale, which is set in an English village. Packed with high-energy dance numbers, catchy songs, and an empowering message of daring to stand up for what’s right, “Matilda” is a joyous girl-power romp.

Guest director Katherine Michelle Tanner, who directed last season’s musical hit “Newsies,” is also choreographer. As music director, Michael Huseman has songs like “Naughty,” “Loud,” “Pathetic,” and “Revolting Children” to play with.

They lead an energetic cast of 15 children and 11 adults, including two 10-year-olds who share the title role. Libbie Weaver and Anay Philips, double-cast as the precocious Matilda, will appear in alternating performances.

Tripp Ladd and Lee Preston play Matilda’s unloving parents, Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood. Amanda Medlin as a caring teacher and Greer Caldwell as a kind librarian are Matilda’s allies at school. Jason Russell is the sadistic Miss Trunchbull.

The rest of the cast includes Laine Caldwell, Charlie Clevenger, Aria Cochran, Erin Eames, Roxanne Gibson, Cole Hayes, Tytus Hayes, Larry Hubbard, Caleigh Jackson, Keath Jackson Jr., Levi Jones, Aleah Larson, Ken LeBeau, Hayley Lewis, Alex Loyd, Carter McKissick, Caelen Philips, Ripken Russell, and Julie Wright.

Performance dates are September 20-21 at 8 p.m., September 21-22 at 2:30 p.m., September 26 at 7 p.m., September 27-28 at 8 p.m., September 28-29 at 2:30 p.m., October 3 at 7 p.m., October 4-5 at 8 p.m., October 5-6 at 2:30 p.m., October 10 at 7 p.m., October 11-12 at 8 p.m., and October 12-13 at 2:30 p.m.

For tickets, call the CTC box office at 423-267-8534 or visit TheatreCentre.com.

Posted August 30, 2019