STAGES fundraiser tells story of six 'belles'
This month, STAGES Performing Arts Youth Academy will put on a benefit show at HART Theatre to support ongoing theater training, scholarships and theater performance opportunities for youth in Washington County.
"BELLES," a comedy by Mark Dunn that's loosely based on real life events, tells the story of six southern sisters separated by mid-life choices who live in different areas of the country. When their mother needs them, Peggy (Rebecca Morse), Aneece (Debbie Davis), Sherry aka Dust (Sandee Cnossen), Paige (Aurea Taylor), Roseanne (Renae Iverson) and Audrey (Kathleen Silloway) seek to bridge the physical and emotional distance between them via the telephone.
That's the main blocking for the play — "BELLES" features an unconventional format in which all scenes are told in two acts and 45 phone calls.
The production will be directed by STAGES board member Kim Sandstrom, also a former founder of HART. The play marks the second time Sandstrom is directing a show to premiere as a fundraiser for STAGES Performing Arts Youth Theater. "BELLES" is following the success of STAGES 2016 production of Elaine Bromka and Eric Weinberger's "Tea for Three: LadyBird, Pat and Betty." After last year's show, STAGES Executive Director Cindy Wilkins and Sandstrom began to look for another premiere theater piece to produce as a fundraiser for the organization.
Dunn's poignant story, which is based on his own family, is southern-flavored and noted to be filled with grace. Each sister has a very different take on where she is in life, and the lively play features moments that are sure to resonate with audiences.
STAGES youth members will be participating with music or back stage duties for the show. The eight- to 12-week production experience allows students to work with professional directors and actors. The other innovative element to the STAGES annual fundraisers is that they're produced and directed on two different sides of the country. Sandstrom, who is currently in Florida, uses Facetime to communicate with the actors in the rehearsal hall.
Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at www.stagesyouth.org. The performances will take place at HART Theatre, 185 S.E. Washington St. in Hillsboro, from Oct. 13 to 15. The Sunday performance will be at 2 p.m., with all other performances happening at 7:30 p.m.
Last year's fundraiser pulled in several thousand dollars for the STAGES scholarship fund and also supported the "I'm a Star" theater program for individuals living with disabilities.