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New theater company rounds up the troupes

Tualatin, Tigard's community theater program is in search of actors, volunteers and stage
by: Jaime Valdez From left, David Withers, Scott Fisher, Pat Romans and Gary Romans, founders of the Mask and Mirror Theater Company, hope to bring community theater to Tigard and Tualatin this year.

Tigard and Tualatin's newest theater company is ready to go. They've got a play picked out, and a team of people ready to direct and produce, but there's just one problem: They don't have a place to perform.

'If we had facilities I could start auditions tomorrow,' said Gary Romans co-founder of the Mask and Mirror theater company.

A 'true community theater,' Mask and Mirror is a place for Tigard and Tualatin's amateur actors and directors to hone their craft, Romans said. They will learn and, more importantly, have fun.

'I got tired or driving to Vancouver or Gresham to do shows,' Romans said. 'I wanted a theater in my community. I live in Tigard and Tigard doesn't have a community theater.'

Community theaters are a great place for people to get started in acting, Romans said.

'Where do you go for experience? You want a place you can actually go and learn,' he said. 'I played a role in Hillsboro once and there was a young girl in it with me. When we started she was terrible, but by opening night she was the best actress there. That aspect of getting people involved is key. Getting that involvement is important.'

A longtime actor in community theaters, Romans and his wife Pat have helped to create a theater company in Sherwood, and call themselves 'community theater junkies.'

'Community theater is something I've always been involved in and always wanted to be in,' Romans said.

The area has needed a community theater for years, Romans said, but with other local theaters such as Broadway Rose - which has been performing big Broadway musicals and revues since 1992 - he wasn't sure if people would want one.

'We weren't sure if we would get any traction, but we had a script reading and asked people if anyone was interested in starting a group in Tualatin and Tigard and all these hands shot up, it was like they were throwing confetti,' he said. 'We felt that now the time was right and the mass is there.'

Mask and Mirror hopes to be a complement to Broadway Rose, Romans said, The theater company plans to perform comedies and dramas, and will stay away from the lavish musicals productions that have long been the turf of Broadway Rose.

Their first play has already been picked, he said. It's a comedy that Romans plans to direct.

'This has been a long time for me, waiting for this,' he said.

Romans said about 30 people have expressed interest in being involved in Mask and Mirror's first production.

'It's really surprising once you get the word out how many people will want to get involved,' he said. 'With almost no publicity we have all these people coming and saying 'add us to your list.''

Meeting held June 20

Because none of the actors or crew gets paid in community theater, Romans said that tickets to Mask and Mirror productions will be cheap.

'I think it's important that kids and adults see live theater,' he said. 'That's why we want to keep ticket prices low. Around $10 or $12.'

Mask and Mirror hopes to follow the success of other local community theaters such as the Beaverton Civic Theater, which performs out of the Beaverton Public Library.

Romans said that what Mask and Mirror needs most right now is a place to perform, but it doesn't have to be a lavish theater with thousands of seats.

'You can do a good show almost any place,' he said. 'You don't necessarily need all that frilly stuff. If you've got good actors and a good show, you can sell it.'

Mask and Mirror is holding its first public meeting, on June 20 at the Tualatin Public Library's community room at 6:30 p.m.

At the informational meeting, Romans will discuss more details about the theater company and its first performance later this year.

Tualatin Public Library is located at 18878 S.W. Martinazzi Ave.