Players grow by leaps and bounds
by Sally Litchfield
May 06, 2014 11:15 PM | 1862 views | 0 0 comments | 29 29 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Barbara Rudy, left, plays Julia and Shelley Barnett, plays her sister, Vera, in the romantic comedy ‘At First Sight.’ Both are members of the Polk Street Players and were rehearsing at the Stellar Cellar Theatre at St. James Episcopal Church recently. Both women forgot their lines and broke out in laughter. <br> Staff/Jeff Stanton
Barbara Rudy, left, plays Julia and Shelley Barnett, plays her sister, Vera, in the romantic comedy ‘At First Sight.’ Both are members of the Polk Street Players and were rehearsing at the Stellar Cellar Theatre at St. James Episcopal Church recently. Both women forgot their lines and broke out in laughter.
Staff/Jeff Stanton
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Director Lane Teilhaber, right, coaches actors Colleen Kilto, who plays Fay and Drew Bennett, who plays Curtis, in the Stellar Cellar romantic comedy, ‘At First Sight.’ The group is part of the Polk Street Players who perform the play at St. James Episcopal Church.
Director Lane Teilhaber, right, coaches actors Colleen Kilto, who plays Fay and Drew Bennett, who plays Curtis, in the Stellar Cellar romantic comedy, ‘At First Sight.’ The group is part of the Polk Street Players who perform the play at St. James Episcopal Church.
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This month marks the 35th year the Polk Street Players have entertained Marietta. The amateur theater group sponsored by St. James’ Episcopal Church celebrates its anniversary through the production of a comedy, the genre for which the group is known. “At First Sight” by Anne Pie, directed by Lane Teilhaber, is on the Stellar Cellar stage May 9 to 24.

The Players have seen success through steady and progressive growth.

“We wouldn’t make any big leaps. We wouldn’t make any changes suddenly. We’d make it all stage by stage, not only by the opportunity, but as the practical reality led us to work,” said Michael Campion, church registrar and charter member of the group.

The Players got its start in spring 1979 through a conversation among a small group of friends following a church service.

“We discovered we were interested in serious amateur theater,” the Marietta resident said.

Campion directed the first one-act play the group performed. They continued performing plays that year in the Parish Hall and expanded to include performances on two consecutive nights.

Realizing they needed more appropriate space, they proposed to the vestry, the governing body of the church, to convert the basement area into a small theater.

“(The basement) was nothing more than a dump for broken furniture and bazaar stuff,” Campion said.

In December 1987, the Stellar Cellar opened. By 1990, demand for seating increased and the Players expanded their productions to three weekends, with the first two Saturday performances preceded by dinner in the Parish Hall.

They also opened auditions to “all theater-minded people in the community,” in addition to church members. “We would do plays of all kinds and not confine ourselves to Disney-type comedies and fairytales — some of everything, no holds barred, within reason and obvious limits. There are a lot of budding actors in this area,” he said.

In 2003, the church underwent a major building program.

“The theater entrance was where the workers used to come in and out of the building. We had to close the theater down and put everything away so it wouldn’t get spoiled,” Campion said.

Construction did not stop the Players.

“We didn’t stop acting. We rented the Alley Stage at Theatre in the Square during that time,” he said.

In May 2004, the Players returned to the church.

“Sometime along the way, we rebuilt the stage to make it more solid and lower. The ceiling in the theater was so low, the actors’ heads were getting mixed up in the floodlights,” he said.

At the end of 2006, the Players completed a full renovation of the theater including replacing the seats and changing the rise of the platform to allow for more legroom.

Now in their 30th season, PSP continues its appeals to all audiences.

“We are not experimental. We use plays that are well-known and appeal to the audience with a definite bias to comedy. Our audiences want comedies and excitement. We pick suitable plays and don’t try to do experimental plays. We avoid anything on the edge of uncertainty,” Campion said.

The Stellar Cellar at St. James’ is at 161 Church St., Marietta. Performances are Friday and Saturday, May 16, 17, 23, 24 and May 22 at 8 p.m. A Sunday matinee on May 18 is at 2:30 p.m. Call the Box Office for reservations at (770) 218-9669. Visit www.polkstreetplayers.com for more information.

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