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Community theater has its ACT together

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The Actors Conservatory Theatre’s “Once Upon a Mattress” cast from a June 2017 performance. (Photo by Mendy Everheart (EverheartImages.com)

The Actors Conservatory Theatre (ACT) has grown a loyal and dedicated following of audience members, performers and backstage participants; and, that’s a good thing.

In the 18-years since it was founded by Joe Ann Brooks, ACT had a name change and at least seven different locations. It’s also added programs, including the ACT Musical Spring Break and Summer Camps, the ACT Show Choir, Academy of the Performing Arts classes, and the Actors Conservatory Element (ACE) teen group activities.

Originally founded as the Flower Mound Children’s Theatre in 1999 by “Miss Joe Ann,” her mission was simple: to introduce children to history, classic novels, and classic authors, to grow their knowledge of the world and to instill in them a love of reading, all through the opportunity to learn about and experience the performing and visual arts.

The first productions in 1999 were performed outside in the Samuel Lusk Amphitheatre in Flower Mound’s Leonard Johns Community Park. Sound and lighting were difficult, the summer weather did not always cooperate and the dirt and splinters were sometimes too much to bear; but, the group persevered and continued to grow.

After several venue changes, the Flower Mound Children’s Theatre moved to Lewisville in 2004, merged with the Flower Mound Community Theatre and became The Actors Conservatory Theatre.

The retirement of Brooks in 2015 also coincided with ACT’s move to its current home at 359 Lake Park Road in northwest Lewisville.

“When I moved here 12 years ago, I kept seeing ads for ACT and loved her [Brook’s] mission,” said Amy Coates, the current artistic and resident musical director for ACT. “As a child, I studied piano for 17 years and did some musical theatre and loved it; so, I took my children.”

She said that while ACT provides good instruction in singing and dancing– plus other theatre-related areas– the best thing participants learn is being part of a team.

Young thespians perform “Peter Pan” at The Actors Conservatory Theatre in Lewisville. (Photo by Mendy Everheart (EverheartImages.com)

“Not everyone is an athlete,” Coates said. “The idea that it takes all of our talent backstage– in costumes or makeup or in the booth in technical [lights and sound], or production [set-building, painting, props] areas– in addition to the performers to produce a show is a real example of teamwork. Don’t be afraid, you’ll see a smile and make a friend.”

She added that although some kids may have “the performance bug,” others may not; but, that doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy being exposed to the team experience in theatre.

“Kids get a lesson in confidence,” Coates said. “They learn to stretch themselves and grow in a safe environment … explore themselves and come out as a new person from that experience.”

She points out that parents can also participate.

“ACT can be a bonding experience for the entire family,” said Coates, “I got to see my various strengths and interests collide in all the different areas– from costumes to being on the Board [of Directors] and working with the performers.”

The upcoming theatre schedule is: James and the Giant Peach, (auditions– Aug. 26) performances Oct. 13-22; The Three Musketeers, (auditions– Sept. 21) performances Nov. 10-12; The Nutcracker, (auditions Oct. 17) performances Dec. 15-17; Mary Poppins (Broadway Musical), (auditions– Jan. 2, 2018) performances Feb. 23-March 4, 2018; Stuart Little, (auditions– March 6, 2018) performances Apr. 13-15, 2018; and, Honk, (auditions March 6, 2018) performances Apr. 27-29.

The 2017-18 Season will culminate with the 8th Annual Toady Awards on May 19, 2018 at The MCL (Medical City Lewisville) Grand Theater, 100 N. Charles St., Lewisville.

For more information, visit: getintotheact.org for registration information. Register before Sept. 1 to save $20 on tuition (The ACT Show Choir early registration deadline is Aug. 15).

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