Actors performing for the sheer joy of it
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.