Ac­tors per­form­ing for the sheer joy of it

Chattanooga Times Free Press - ChattanoogaNow - - INSINDE - Con­tact Shawn Ryan at mshawn­ryan@gmail.com.

I’m em­bar­rassed to say, but I’ve lived here 10 years and, un­til this week, I’d never at­tended a per­for­mance at the Chat­tanooga Theatre Cen­tre.

My mis­take. Times three. Or four. Do the cal­cu­lus.

A cou­ple of days ago, I saw the mu­si­cal “Newsies,” the cen­ter’s first of­fer­ing of its new sea­son. Wow. Ter­rific. No other word for it. The amount of tal­ent on­stage and the light­ing and the mu­sic and the stage sets and the di­rec­tion was ob­vi­ous and im­pres­sive. More than that, it made me re­al­ize that I have been miss­ing out on a great source of en­ter­tain- ment in our town.

It’s even more im­pres­sive when you know the ac­tors are do­ing it for free. They’re do­ing it for the sim­ple love of do­ing it, and it shows.

So I apol­o­gize to all the peo­ple in the pro­duc­tion. I should have come to see you be­fore.

Hav­ing at­tended — and re­viewed — com­mu­nity the­ater in cities other than Chat­tanooga, I know it can be a roll of the dice. There’s no doubt that ev­ery­one is work­ing their rear ends off, do­ing their best, putting it all out there.

Some­times, though, the tal­ent just isn’t on­stage, per­haps be­cause it isn’t there in the first place. Per­haps the right peo­ple for the roles or the be­hind-the-scenes work sim­ply aren’t avail­able. Maybe the com­pany tries to stretch its the­atri­cal wings, tak­ing on pro­duc­tions that are be­yond its abil­i­ties.

More power to them. If you don’t take chances, you stag­nate. If you fail, it’s not be­cause you didn’t give it your all. Make fun of com­mu­nity the­ater or dis­miss it at your peril. You want to put in the hours and ef­fort it takes to put on a per­for­mance? Be an ac­tor. Be a set de­signer (heck, be a set builder). Be part of the mu­sic. Be what­ever. See how hard it is, how ded­i­cated you must be.

The Chat­tanooga Theatre Cen­tre is putting on 10 pro­duc­tions be­tween now and next July, es­sen­tially once a month. Some are mu­si­cals; some are dra­mas; some are come­dies; some are for kids. It’s a daunt­ing task to of­fer that many pro­duc­tions, not sim­ply to put it on­stage but to keep the qual­ity high, too.

I’m will­ing to give the cen­ter the ben­e­fit of the doubt. With tick­ets only rang­ing be­tween $10 and $25, de­pend­ing on the show, it’s a bar­gain. I will be back.

Shawn Ryan

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