StageWorks of Cleveland is gearing up for the third and final show of its first season in Cleveland — “Steel Magnolias.”
They may not get Dolly Parton to audition for Stageworks’ “Steel Magnolia,” but the board members know Cleveland has talent and definitely expect it to surface in the upcoming auditions on May 13 and 14. Callbacks will occur on May 15. Auditions will start at 6:30 p.m. in the Ocoee Room at Fairfield Inn and Suites. The performance will be in September.
With the dissolution of Ocoee Players in 2010, Cleveland residents had to look to places like Chattanooga, Athens, Etowah or Crossville to find onstage performances. It had been almost three years since Cleveland enjoyed its own community theater. Then StageWorks emerged through people interested in theater such as Michelle Castleberry, Anna Kalfayan, Michael Myers and Jamie Newberg — a retail manager, a librarian, a hotel desk clerk and a church worker. Myers and Castleberry had both acted with Ocoee Players, and their experience helped solidify the goals and purpose of the new company.
Now, the theater group is putting together its third show — a great accomplishment for this company in its first year. A gala was held in September 2012 as a fundraiser. Although all participants are volunteers, money is still needed for legal processes, buying performing rights, building sets, costumes and so forth. And the board of directors are seeking people who are interested enough in having a community theater to contribute time, work and resources.
Newberg, the current vice president, came to Cleveland from Ohio to study music at Lee. She interned in Nashville. However, she later dropped music and pursued a business degree.
Born and raised in Cleveland, Myers, who serves as president, is a graduate of Cleveland High School and received a degree in international business at Maryville College. But he said, all his life he has had an passion for arts — choirs and theater.
It was just a coincidence Myers “showed up” at the motel where Newberg was working as desk clerk. Joining with Castleberry, secretary Anna Kalfayan and treasurer Charlene Avilla, a board of directors was formed, each lending their talents and abilities to the dream. They agreed they needed to get something started again. Kalfayan helped the group draw up the bylaws ... and so they were all on board for Stageworks.
So how did they choose “Steel Magnolias” for the final show this season? Actually, StageWorks was chosen for the play. Newberg was approached by Ed Callais, who said he had the show ready to go and wanted StageWorks to do it.
“It’s been a great partnership,” Newberg said. “With his enthusiasm and experience, we feel he’s going to help us take the next step.” Due to Callais’ connections, the company will be able to have corporate sponsorships, also, which is so important to the production, she added.
The group is looking forward to a fulfilling future in community theater. “We’re excited about the future and are already planning for next year,” Newberg said.
Myers added that their focus for the next season is rewriting and reviewing the bylaws and recruiting people to be part of their plans — and continuing the route for community theater.
They agree it’s not fair for the community to have to go elsewhere when there is so much talent in Cleveland.