Spotlight to Shine Again at Attic Theatre
by Tim Froberg
Community theater is among the best bargains available. It offers an entertainment outlet for local citizens at a reasonable price and provides artistic opportunities on the stage for everyday people and aspiring thespians.
Attic Chamber Theatre will once again raise its curtain and offer the community theater experience following an 18-month hiatus.
Attic has announced plans to host a pair of shows this summer at the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley’s Communication Arts Center in Menasha. Both are expected to have a run of four to six performances.
The first will be “Jeeves at Sea,” a rollicking comedy featuring a highly competent valet and based on characters developed by novelist P.G. Wodehouse. The play opens July 8 at 7:30 p.m.
The second will be “Music in the Attic,” opening Aug. 12. The show will be a cabaret of songs from various Attic musicals performed over the years.
“We feel it’s time for us to come back,” said Attic Chamber Theatre President and Artistic Director Berray Billington. “A lot of things are still up in the air, but we’re getting the ball rolling again and that’s exciting.”
The summer shows will be held in the James Perry Hall, the larger of the two theaters at the Communication Arts Center, to allow for social distancing. Attic will follow all pandemic-related safety requirements advised by UW-Fox Valley. Masks must be worn at all times, and audience members will be seated at least six feet apart. There will be no intermission, refreshments, or congregating before and after performances. Tickets will be $20 per person and must be purchased online. The shows will be limited to a much smaller audience than in the past.
Casting may also be much different from previous years.
“We have to reinvent what we do during these times,” Billington said. “We may have to do casting by video submission or audition by appointment only, rather than open audition.”
Attic is revisiting the “Jeeves” series after a well-received sellout performance of “Jeeves Intervenes” in 2019 which featured Tom Stadler as the lead. Warren Gerds, entertainment critic for the Green Bay Press Gazette and Gannett Wisconsin Media, called the performance “a find of a production, a delight.”
Getting back to the stage will be a treat for Billington and cast members. The last time Attic held a performance was January of 2020 with a production of “The Cure for Love.”
“It’s been a weird year,” said Billington. “All of us at Attic just want to perform again. There hasn’t been an outlet for people’s creative juices because of the pandemic. But we’re not going to do a performance just to do it. We’ve worked hard over the years to get a good reputation, and we need to protect that.”
Attic will be celebrating its 70th year entertaining local audiences. It was founded in 1950 in the attic of the Cloak family home on North Union Street in Appleton. It began as an acting class and grew into the longest-running community theater group in the Fox Valley. In the early years, performances were held at Jefferson Elementary School and local church basements before moving to Lawrence University and eventually UW-Fox Valley.
“People like our great storytelling and production values,” Billington said. “And it’s just fun sitting in the audience watching people you know perform on stage.”
Billington added that Attic is considering live streaming both shows.
For more information on Attic Theatre’s performances, call 920-734-7887 or go to attictheatreinc.com.