Community theater comes to Gypsum, Eagle |

Community theater comes to Gypsum, Eagle

Daily Staff Writer

By Connie SteiertSpecial to the DailyDo you love live theater, but find yourself gazing wistfully at professional productions from afar? Perhaps you hammed it up on stage during high school, but haven’t been in front of the footlights since. Or, maybe you just yearn to have some homegrown entertainment in your own background.Well, Eagle, Gypsum, now’s your chance. A grassroots group is starting a down-valley theater group, aimed at bringing plays, musicals, variety acts, and maybe a melodrama or two, to Eagle and Gypsum – and the entire down-valley community is invited to join in the fun.”Our goal is getting a community-oriented theater group going, where people from the community can get involved, from acting, to directing, to props, to stage management,” explained Ann Olin, one member of the small, down-valley group of theater enthusiasts organizing the new theater company.When Ann Olin, Paulette McDougall and Lora Silagy noticed that the populations of Eagle and Gypsum were growing by leaps and bounds, they decided it was time the area had its own theatrical venue. Sparked by a phone call from part-time Singletree resident McDougall, the group decided to start a theater company specifically devoted to providing entertainment and theatrical opportunities to down-valley residents.The trio envisions a theater group that can provide a varied lineup of maybe two to three theatrical productions a year, with everything from old-fashioned melodramas and musicals, to variety shows and plays. The group also is considering offering entertainment for business engagements, such as at Christmas parties or meetings, and is open to suggestions from the community on other possible productions as well. Eyeing both Gypsum Days and the new outdoor theater being built in Gypsum on the old Lundgren property next to the Gypsum Town Hall as ideal venues, the group would like to kick off its inaugural theater season next July.”We are hoping that our first show will be at Gypsum Days,” Olin said.A downvalley opportunity Olin, McDougall and Silagy all have theatrical connections, past and/or present. McDougall is a playwright, and was instrumental in starting a community theater group in Texas several years ago that remains successful today. McDougall believes a community without community theater is lacking something vital. Silagy was involved in community theater in Cleveland, Ohio, before moving to Eagle County, and more recently served as the stage manager for the Vail Valley Theater Company’s production of “Camelot,” and was in its Evening on Broadway. Olin was also in Camelot and an Evening on Broadway, and continues to serve on the VVTC’s board. Like other Eagle and Gypsum thespians before her, however, she has found the drive to Battle Mountain High School in Eagle-Vail to rehearse four or more times a week hard to juggle in her busy life.”Some of us, who have been involved in other theater in the valley, found that the drive to Battle Mountain High School limits our ability to participate,” she said. She emphasizes that the new theater company is not designed to compete with VVTC, however. “It’s a matter of complementing it, and providing some theater experience to some people who can’t be involved in the up-valley theater. We just feel the time has come for the market to expand.”One vision of the new theater group is that anyone interested in being involved in theater in any way will be welcome – even if they have never set foot on a stage before, or have no interest in doing so now. “We want this to be very community oriented so that people with no community theater experience can come in and be involved,” Olin said. At the same time, the group recognizes that there are plenty of frustrated thespians out there, who grew away from the theater when life, jobs and families intervened. “A lot of us got our start on high school stages, or just through somebody saying, ‘hey, you should come do this with us.’ Most of us have never done theater professionally. If the last time you have ever done theater is in high school, that’s okay.”The first stage of starting a theatrical group or organization, however, is forming committees and boards to run it, promote it and raise funds for it. Right now, Olin, McDougall and Silagy are looking for people willing to serve on a publicity committee to get the word out; a “friends of the house” committee to handle ticket sales and ushers; or a fundraising committee to organize benefits and attract sponsors. The new company will also need people who prefer to work behind the scenes on costumes and props, or as directors and stage managers.”What we are hoping for is a really community-supported venture of and by and for the community,” Olin said. “Speaking to people, the response is, people are excited, and the response has been tremendous.” The theater group will hold an informative meeting for anyone who is interested on Sept. 1 in Eagle. If you are interested in attending, or in finding out more about the new, down-valley theater group, contact either Lora Silagy at 524-0431, or Ann Olin at 328-9892.Vail, Colorado

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