Centre Stage Theatre making a comeback in 2013

Centre Stage’s last production came in 2010 with “The Music Man,” starring Matt Arnst and Mandy Braunwarth. Organizers are already preparing for a comeback show, “Fools,” later this year. (File photo by Paul Downer)
Centre Stage’s last production came in 2010 with “The Music Man,” starring Matt Arnst and Mandy Braunwarth. Organizers are already preparing for a comeback show, “Fools,” later this year. (File photo by Paul Downer)

Mention spring, and some people will think of baseball’s spring training. Some will think of finally going outdoors without multiple layers of clothing on, and some will think of community theater.

After a two-year hiatus, Centre Stage Theatre and Arts is making a comeback in 2013 with a new director at the helm and an eye toward enlisting as many area residents as possible to produce a hometown version of “Fools” by Neil Simon.

While the show dates of Aug. 1-3 seem far enough away to be over the horizon, organizers are hoping to rally a strong cast and crew early on.

“We’re going to need a lot of people for this, so that’s why we’re trying to get the word out on the show,” said Brian Isles, the new drama director at Central High School who will also serve as director for Centre Stage. “People should start looking for flyers for auditions in the very near future. We’ll be posting those around the community, and we’ll be sending emails and calling past cast and crew members.

“We really want people to know that it’s still alive, that we’re still interested in getting the community involved, and we’d love to see everyone come out to the show when we do it in August.”

While Centre Stage has a strong history stretching back over a decade, the group hasn’t put on a show since 2010’s “The Music Man.” One reason was the renovation of the high school auditorium that took place in the summer of 2011. And 2012?

“We just kind of ran out of gas,” said Julie Kuenzel, the district’s community education director who also serves as a member of Centre Stage’s organizing
committee. “Now Brian has come in and has a lot of energy and I was talking to him one day about getting it going again, and here we are.”

Kuenzel said Centre Stage has never had much trouble finding people who want to audition and take part in the play, but the behind-the-scenes organizational work has been another matter. Now, with Isles heading up a revival and a renovated, air-conditioned auditorium ready for use, the table is set for a successful return.

“We’ve had people calling every year and asking if we’re going to be doing a play and when we’re holding auditions, so I think the community is going to be looking for it again,” she said.

This year’s production focuses on a backward town where the residents have been cursed with stupidity and go about their business in a ridiculous manner. A teacher comes to the town and has 24 hours to educate one individual and break the curse before he falls under the spell as well.

“It’s a very funny play, a warm play, and there’s a big cast that we’d like to use for it. We’re excited to see what we can do,” said Isles. “I know the humor will play here, and it’s a very ambitious show for set design, for construction. We’ll need a nice crew to help with that. There’s a lot of fun stuff to do with the cast and I think the community will see a really fun show.”

Isles said that a successful production will require participants with a wide variety of skills. Aside from the actors, he is also looking for people with construction skills for the set, as well as musicians for additional entertainment.

“The nice thing about the show is that it’s adaptable. If we get a nice turnout we can find places for people to go. And if we don’t get as nice of a turnout there is some doubling up that we can do,” said Isles. “It’s kind of testing the waters to see how many people are still interested in coming out and participating in the community. And we’re hoping that it’s a large amount, but that’s why we picked a two-act comedy as opposed to a musical. We just kind of have to see where we are now, get a pulse on the community, where the interest is, and then we can build off that.”

Auditions for the play will take place on Thursday, June 13 and Saturday, June 15, with cast roles posted on June 17. Rehearsals will follow through the rest of June and July on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings.

Anyone with an interest in the production is welcome to audition, regardless of age or experience level.

“It’s a great way to get into theatre for young students, and it’s a great way to keep up that acting muscle for people who have been in theatre for years,” said Isles. “I’m excited to see what I’m working with. I only know the students, so I can’t wait to see what the other community members bring to it. It’s just a great experience.”

• Anyone interested in being part of the Centre Stage committee or looking for more information can contact Kuenzel at (952) 467-7391.

About Centre Stage
Centre Stage began forming in 1999, and its first production was “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” in 2001.

Other past productions include “Rumors” by Neil Simon, “Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “Dearly Departed,” “Cinderella,” “You Can’t Take it With You,” “Oklahoma,” “Harvey” and “The Music Man.”

Between summer productions, CSTA also had several dinner shows which included popular series from the Golden Age of Radio, assorted comedies, and mysteries.