Hart Ford
Hart Ford

Community theatre kicks off

GRAYLING – AuSable Artisan Village’s new community theatre program will begin next month with open auditions for three productions. 

Director Jomarie Leone has announced that auditions for Love Letters, Picasso at the Lapin Agile and Rope will be held on Tuesday, March 2; Thursday, March 4; Monday, March 8; and Wednesday, March 10 – all at 7 p.m. – on the stage of the AAV gallery at 219 Michigan Avenue in downtown Grayling.

Those auditioning should plan to participate in improvised and script-based scene demonstrations, said Leone. Participants also can have monologues of up to three minutes prepared – though that is not required. There will be cold reads of scenes from the scripts, so familiarity with the plays will be helpful.

Leone will discuss callbacks at the conclusion of open auditions, and they may be scheduled for specific productions closer to their performance dates.

“Participants should plan to have fun,” she added.

The first play, Love Letters by A.R. Gurney, will be presented on June 5-6. The play centers on two close friends, a man and a woman, who exchange letters for 50 years. Originally written as a short story, The New Yorker rejected Gurney’s submission of it on the basis that it was a play. He responded by bringing the story to life on the stage and was rewarded when Love Letters became a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The two characters – Andrew Makepeace Ladd III and Melissa Gardner – have been played by innumerable well-known actors since its 1989 opening.

Steve Martin’s Picasso at the Lapin Agile,will run July 30-31 and August 1. Rope, by Patrick Hamilton, will be presented October 22-24.

Leone, a native of the San Francisco East Bay, has been a Crawford County resident since 2007. She served as director of the Kirtland Center for the Performing Arts from 2011 to 2020. She currently lives in Grayling, where she is the production director for Blarney Stone Broadcasting and host of “Jomama’s Rock and Roll Joyride,” aired weekdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Q100.

She has extensive experience in the theatre. As director for the KCPA and the theatre arts instructor at Kirtland, Leone revived and produced the Kirtland Community Theatre, founded and produced the Rising Phoenix Student Theatre Company and presented ten seasons of the Kirtland Youth Theatre and eight seasons of the touring artist series at the college. 

“This experience, combined with 10 years of previous experience in producing, directing and performing in semi-professional and professional theatre and film projects, gave me the desire to found a community theatre project for the AuSable Artisan Village and undertake a touring artist series there,” said Leone.

“The AAV’s aim in performance art is to further enrich the artistic and cultural offerings in our community through music and theatrical productions,” she explained. “Community theatre especially gives a broad section of the public the chance to participate both on-stage and as an audience.”

“People can count on dramatic literature specially chosen for our audience, our space and our actors, accompanied by information on authors, literature, production history and social relevance. Each production will invite the audience to participate in a post-performance discussion of all aspects of the show, curated by the production’s dramaturg.“

Anyone interested in directing a 2021-2022 AAV community theatre production can contact Leone at 989-915-0829. 

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