I talk a lot in this column about partnerships, groups coming together to enhance each other, to spread the workload around, and to increase each other’s fundraising efforts and public image. One of the best ways you can see that in Jackson County is the partnership between Main Street Ripley, owners and operators of The Alpine Theatre, and the Jackson County Players. It’s a natural match: Main Street has the county’s only public theatre, and the Players are our county’s only theatre group.
It’s been amazing to see how this partnership has paid off this first year. The Players bring with them not only an enthusiastic group, they also bring a lot of theatre skill we don’t have at Main Street Ripley, including the sound expertise of Lee “Dr. Lee” Blizzard, who with the help of his talented father-in-law, Stan Blizzard, have moved all of our sound and lighting equipment to the first floor and made it near-idiot proof to run. This will make it much easier on our volunteers at movie screenings, and gives the Alpine a professional touch that our more seasoned performers and acts will be looking for.
For most of you, you’ll get to experience these positive changes first with the Player’s production of “Blithe Spirit.” Coming to the Alpine stage Oct. 19, 20, 26, and 27, this play by the famed Noel Coward is a combination of Agatha Christie and those great fifties screwball comedies. You’ll get to see all your favorite Players, like Suze McGinley, Angie Crank, Missy Harbin, and Cam Matheny, doing their very best to figure out how to keep a deceased wife from wrecking a happy home, while introducing you to new Players Mark Reed, Karen Parsons, and Anne Blizzard, as they round out this very funny, energetic cast doing one of theatre’s most popular plays.
The Players board, which include “Blithe’s” co-directors Amanda Blizzard and Leslie Haynes, Children’s Theatre director Doug Torres, Suzette Lowe, and Mike Ruben, are committed to using The Alpine to promote the stage talents of Jackson County, and thanks this partnership, they’re able to host more events and host them in a way that contributes meaningfully to our arts community.
The popular Children’s Theatre program was able to go from a one-week to a month-long program, allowing kids ages 6-12 to really get a feel for being on stage, not just at The Alpine, but also at the Wild, Wonderful Arts & Crafts Fair, thanks to Shari Leavitt and her board.
Additionally, the Players held two Open Mic nights this summer, exposing us all to the talented people in Jackson County, sometimes right down the street (talking to you, Kenny Skeen!). They’re looking forward to a winter Open Mic series as well, when performers of all kinds can get their chance to practice being on stage in front of an audience receptive to new talents.
But just having more eyes on the Alpine is a huge help. The building is nearly 100 years old, so it needs lots of people keeping an eye out for leaks, stage issues, tech issues, things that might go unnoticed if only Main Street Ripley’s core of volunteers are held responsible. By partnering with groups like the Players and the Ripley CVB, people that have a vested interest in keeping The Alpine not just functional, but moving forward, Main Street Ripley will be able to ensure that all the time and money we and our supporters have invested in keeping The Alpine open hasn’t been in vain.
So make this October the month you spend at the Alpine Theatre, and supporting live plays and performances: come see “Blithe Spirit” October 19, 20, 26, and 27, only at The Alpine!