Friday, September 23, 2005

what's central at CenterStage

"I'm really happy," says Tim Behrens. "Leslie [Grove] and I haven't been so relieved since we started this thing. Now we'll be able to get the right shows and really work with the actors -- so that even if the shows themselves aren't extraordinary, we can _make_ them extraordinary in the performances -- instead of just scrambling."

Behrens' enthusiasm derives from his First Avenue theater having received $70,000 in pledges. (But the money needs actually to roll in, folks -- Behrens reports that whereas CenterStage's accounts payable were over $40,000 before the recent we-just-might-close crisis, "it's less than $30,000 now.")
One anonymous donor provided a matching grant of $10K if the the theater could raise $30K, which of course it has exceeded.
"One guy pledged $35 a month for the rest of his natural life -- and he's about 50," says Behrens, chuckling.

In other developments, Kim Roberts and Kathie Doyle-Lipe have both joined CenterStage's artistic committee.

After Nunsense II (Oct. 7-Nov. 18), the month of December will be filled with corporate parties, with Behrens throwing in some of his Pat McManus shows at some of those private events.

The season's second show will open Jan. 19, with "three or four" shows still under consideration, including a musical revue entitled "Are We There Yet?"

Sometime next spring, CenterStage will follow up on its experiment of doing a non-musical play in the dinner theater format. Playwrights under consideration are Neil Simon and James McClure (Laundry and Bourbon, Lone Star).

And on Saturdays starting in February, CenterStage will initiate "Snack Theater for Children": sack lunches, short plays and puppet shows (a "Go Dog Go" script is under consideration for that).

With new executive director Tina Luerssen in place, Behrens doesn't have to concentrate on financial matters. "Tina's doing a great job. She's taken all this crap away from me -- from her point of view, it's not crap, but kind of interesting stuff -- and so Leslie can concentrate on ella's and musical direction, and I've gone from 15 hours a day to 14 and a half," says Behrens. Then he adds, laughing, "just enough time for a nap."


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