Act Two Productions has its premiere play set, “Life! – A Musical Lesson.”
See the comedy revue, with an all-local cast, at 7:30 p.m. March 13-14, at rented show space at Ground Zero, 904 Chester St., Myrtle Beach.
Paul Allen, executive artistic director of Act Two, said getting this troupe together since he moved in November from Fort Wayne, Ind., has worked out well, and getting the word out about its premiere has been the priority since auditions and casting in early February.
“I could not ask for a better group of people to work with,” he said, eager to adapt “Life!” for “something pretty simple,” for family-based appeal and ease to include newcomers to acting as well.
Allen said nine people, ages 16 to 55, make up the cast, including two working backstage, with help on sound from a kind aide at Ground Zero, a ministry to teens that operates in the former Rivoli Theatre site.
“We do everything else ourselves,” Allen said of the teamwork thus far, even with selling tickets. “We’re pretty much doing it all on our own.”
Looking ahead at goals for Act Two’s first year, Allen would like to coordinate “at least six shows” and take some 1920s and ’30s plays in the public domain and “modernize them, bringing new life to old shows.”
Allen also wants casting calls for Act Two’s plays to draw “everyone, regardless of experience level and looks.”
“I really believe theater is something that everybody can do,” he said, noting plays each bear a different nature, calling Act Two’s approach “not as rigid on the specifications for characters.”
“I really hate when theaters get so hung up on how people look,” Allen said. “There are so many talented people who might not get parts based on looks or lack of experience.”
Taking part in a play, Allen said, with rehearsals spanning 8 to 10 hours a week, builds skills that carry into life in general, such as for someone apprehensive about speaking in front of people, the gain of self-confidence. With one’s commitment to studying and practicing lines, sticking to the plan and knowing what he or she is supposed to do, when the show finishes, “you feel a sense of accomplishment,” he said.
Allen said some individuals participate in a play for self-esteem and others for sheer fun.
Scanning the local theater scene, Allen brought up his enjoyment of seeing “You Better Watch Out!” in December by Stage Left Theatre Company, in its second season based at The Market Common in Myrtle Beach. (Its season finale is “Elvis Has Left the Building,” May 28-June 14; details at 232-0339 or www.stagelefttheatremb.com.) He said he liked Stage Left’s “cool setup” with a black box theater.
Finding the Ground Zero site, where various concerts have taken place, excited Allen for a starting point for Act Two’s first curtain call.
“The stage is so perfect,” he said. “I fell in love with it instantly.”
The timing to borrow Ground Zero’s stage for this premiere has been ideal, for “Life” marks the first theater production there, Allen said, with host personnel who “have been nothing but fabulous to me.”
Allen said he hopes the relationship continues, especially with the former Rivoli site having “so much history and so much personality.”
“It’s a fun place to bring the family and see the show,” he said.
The themes in “Life!” also should resonate, Allen said, with each presenting something different that can happen, or has happened,” to anyone.
‘Love Allways’ in Murrells Inlet
Murrells Inlet Community Theatre, in its 16th year, also is getting used to a new home, the newly rebuilt Murrells Inlet Community Center, 4450 Murrells Inlet Road.
On March 12, the same night next week that Act Two takes its first bow, Murrells Inlet Community Theatre will open its second play this season, “Love Allways,” with shows for two weekends, at 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays, through March 22.
June Jordan, secretary for the theater company, said “The Last Romance,” for two weekends in November, marked its return after construction of the new community center.
“It worked out fine,” she said, yet, “it’s sort of like starting over again.”
The troupe continues adapting to the new surroundings to change the auditorium into a theater for each play, such as raising the stage level for “Love Allways” for better audience viewing, she said.
This production, with a crew of nine on stage and several other volunteers behind the scenes, comprises five separate plays covering various scenarios and generations. A married couple, Joe Bologna and Renee Taylor, wrote the play.
“Love Allways” will open less than a month after Valentine’s Day, but its timing is purely coincidental.
“That was chosen before anybody gave that a thought,” Jordan said.