Show time: Group bringing 4 Broadway plays to Avalon Theatre
The first show is months away, but theater owner and Broadway junkie Terri Schafer can barely contain her excitement.
Word has trickled out that four local groups have decided to pool their resources and knowledge to bring Broadway shows to the Avalon Theatre this year.
The four-show inaugural season of “Broadway at The Avalon” will begin with “Forever Plaid” on May 4 and end with “Oliver!” on Dec. 23.
The shows will include professional actors performing alongside local talent with top-flight choreography, costume and technical design, organizers said.
“This is our chance to do really wonderful work,” said Schafer, one of the collaborators and owner of Showtime Productions, a private theater on Main Street.
Schafer travels to Broadway at least once a year with several of her theater students to take in the sights and sounds of one the most vibrant live theater scenes in the world.
Along with Schafer, the other major players making “Broadway at The Avalon” a reality are Avalon Theatre General Manager Theron LaFountain, Absolute Dance owner Theresa Kahl and Smoke and Mirrors Theatre Company founder Jerry R. Ditter, who also happens to be a theater professor at Colorado Mesa University with a technical and directing background.
Fellow live theater fan Nicholas L. Walker, who has served as artistic director on Smoke and Mirrors shows, also will help with the Broadway shows.
The shows won’t be staged by Broadway touring companies as is often seen in larger communities. Instead, they will include professional talent hired from out-of-town and paired with local talent.
In fact, New York City-based actor Jason Law has signed on to play the character Smudge in “Forever Plaid,” and California actor John Adkison will play Frankie in the first show.
Everyone will operate with strict rehearsal guidelines similar to those on Broadway, Schafer said.
The idea for “Broadway at The Avalon” was first tossed around last fall, LaFountain said.
When Ditter staged his first Smoke and Mirrors show in December, LaFountain became better acquainted with Ditter’s professional experience and knew he could help stage quality shows here.
“(Jerry) brings a technical aspect not in Grand Junction before,” LaFountain said.
When Kahl and Schafer agreed to help, LaFountain had the players he needed to ensure the music, choreography, directing and technical design of the Avalon shows would be professional, but not without some hurdles.
Ditter estimates the Avalon’s stage is one-quarter the size of an average Broadway stage, so technological manipulations will have to be used to give the local theater the right feel.
Ditter, along with the collaboration team, are optimistic and enthusiastic they can simulate Broadway because they want professional theater in Grand Junction, and they think there is an audience that wants it, too.
Season tickets are on sale, the process to hire actors has begun, and additional opportunities for youth involvement in the shows are taking shape.
Schafer plans to use the “Broadway at The Avalon” shows as teaching tools for children ages 8–18 in related revues and classes, she said. Specifics about youth opportunities will be released closer to the time of each show.
“I’m so excited,” Schafer said.
“I smile every time I see that poster,” she said, referring to the “Broadway at The Avalon” flier.