NWC News Desk

Auditions Sept. 14-16 for community theater with a twist

Posted September 8, 2009

POWELL, Wyo. - Aspiring actors are encouraged to bring their improvisational skills to community theater auditions at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, Sept. 14, 15 and 16, in the Nelson Performing Arts Center Auditorium in Powell. Along with regular acting duties, cast members will be adlibbing in their roles for the mid-December production of "The Awesome 80s Prom."

Director Fred Ebert, a speech communications and forensics instructor at Northwest College, said he wanted to add a little spice to the community theater lineup in its third season and decided the improvisation and audience interaction of "The Awesome 80s Prom" would do the trick. Now in its fifth year, the off-Broadway production received the 2006 Improv Theater Award for best interactive show.

"The story takes place in a high school setting," Ebert said, "but we need older people to play the teacher roles and younger ones to play little brothers and sisters. The script features 25 parts, but we'd like to cast as many roles as we can fit on the stage (up to 80). We'll add parts as needed to target our local audience."

The play won't be contained to the stage, Ebert said. It will happen all over the building, and possibly across the campus.

"Nobody will see the same play because different parts of the audience will be participating in different storylines," he said. "It will also change from night to night, depending on the interaction of the audience. The actors will be working as an ensemble more than anything else. Some characters may have more lines, but none of the parts will be more important than others."

Ebert called it a "huge study piece where actors will be researching '80s fashions, music and language styles to help establish and develop their characters." The blast-from-the-past story is designed to have every audience member saying "Oh, I remember that happening at my prom" at least once during the play. "It's meant to be a really good time for everyone, the actors and the audience," Ebert said.

Rehearsals are scheduled Monday-Thursday evenings, but not everyone needs to be at each rehearsal. Ebert said he also works around schedules and conflicts to make it as easy as possible for actors to commit to a role.

Backstage helpers in set construction, costuming, makeup and other areas are also needed.

"The Awesome 80s Prom" will be staged the second week of December, marking the third season of the Big Horn Basin-wide community theater venture that has consistently performed to nearly full houses.

"We were careful to avoid scheduling conflicts like we've had in the past with high school state drama, so we're hoping to get lots of high school students to audition," Ebert said. "It would also be great to see parents taking an active role with their younger-than-high-school children who want to be in the play."

For more information, e-mail Fred Ebert or call (800) 560-4692, ext. 6047, or (307) 754-6047.