Germantown Community Theatre opens curtains to area group

Lana Robinson
Julie Jacobson Hight, Robin Cox and Randi Sluder perform a number from the musical revue  "Simple Melodies," which features songs from "mid-20th century and before."

Photo by Lana Robison, ©Lana Robison

Lana Robinson Julie Jacobson Hight, Robin Cox and Randi Sluder perform a number from the musical revue "Simple Melodies," which features songs from "mid-20th century and before."

GCT Presents!

Here's the complete schedule of GCT Presents! For tickets, order online at gctcomeplay.org or call 901-937-3023.

Thursday

RSVP Chorus: Contemporary A Cappella; 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $15.

Friday and Saturday

Voices of the South presents "Southern Short Stories": 8 p.m. each day. Tickets: Adults $15, $10 seniors/kids under 18.

Saturday

Unsolicited Artists Theatre Troupe presents "Landfall" by Spencer Miller: 2:30 p.m. Tickets: Adults $10, $5 kids.

Sunday

RSVP Chorus: Contemporary A Cappella; 2:30 p.m. Tickets: $15.

Jan. 17-20

Working Title Productions presents "Simple Melodies": 7:30 p.m. Jan. 17, 8 p.m. Jan. 18 and 19, 2:30 p.m. Jan. 20. Tickets: Adults $15, $12 seniors/students.

Jan. 19

Art for Life's Sake presents A Young Musicians Concert: 2:30 p.m. Tickets: Adults $10, kids $5.

Jan. 24-27

North Ember Productions presents "The Last Five Years" by Jason Robert Brown: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 24, 8 p.m. Jan. 25, 2:30 and 8 p.m. Jan. 26, 2:30 p.m. Jan. 27. Tickets: Adults $20, $15 senior; $10 Students (Adult subject matter, not recommended for children).

When Brent Davis looks at the month of January, he sees possibilities.

The executive director of Germantown Community Theatre realized that while it was usually a month of low ticket sales, there had to be a way to get people into the seats.

"I thought to mix things up and do an audience development initiative," he said, "to give other area companies an opportunity to do something on our stage that they wouldn't be able to do regularly."

Musical and theater groups — many of which usually perform in Midtown — could, he figured, have a chance to bring their productions to the intimate stage at Germantown, which Davis calls "East of East."

He first tried it in 2011 with success, and he is doing it again this month as "GCT Presents!" with a mix of attractions — some revivals and some new productions.

On Thursday and Sunday, for example, the male chorus RSVP will do concerts of contemporary a cappella works.

On Friday and Saturday, it'll be a bit different with Voices of the South presenting "Southern Short Stories," the act that got the thriving group started in 1995. "We were trying to get a show to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival," said co-founder and executive producer Jenny Odle Madden. "I'd seen Alice Berry do short stories with Gloria Baxter at the University of Memphis."

And that started not just the project but also the company. "We did 'The Window' by Eleanor Glaze," Madden said, "and to raise money to go to Scotland, we performed in schools."

Doing those Southern short stories led to a wider variety of productions, including introducing Sister Myotis to the world. Now, Voices of the South, with Madden and Berry, will again do "The Window" this weekend along with another Glaze piece, "Humming Song."

From Jan. 17 to 20, Working Title Productions is reprising its "Simple Melodies" revue that ran last summer at TheatreWorks.

Working Title was formed last year by Jason Spitzer, Randi Sluder and Mark Rutledge. After its debut performance of the drama "Veronica's Room," the company wanted to keep building its audience. Some time opened up at TheatreWorks in August and September, and they took the opportunity.

"We brainstormed," said Spitzer, "and Randi is a big fan of musicals. We knew we couldn't afford a big musical, but we could do a revue."

The company's audience base is a bit older, so they decided to do music from mid-20th century and before. "So we got some Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern and George M. Cohan patriotic songs," Spitzer said, "and put them together under the title 'Simple Melodies,' taken from the Berlin song 'Play a Simple Melody.'"

When Davis made Germantown Community Theatre available this month, "We thought the Germantown crowd would appreciate the material, and we had another good opportunity to perform, so we signed up."

A new production of the musical "The Last Five Years" will take the stage Jan. 24 to 27 with Emily F. Chateau and Stephen Garrett.

"I had always wanted to do this musical, but the timing had been wrong," Chateau said. "This was the perfect time, and it has beautiful music. I needed the perfect partner and couldn't think of anyone better than Stephen Garrett."

Chateau got Amy Hanford to direct the two-person musical with a minimal set that focuses on the rise and fall of a relationship. "Everyone who has gone through a breakup knows about this," Chateau says. The musical has the two performers follow the course of the relationship, but Chateau's Cathy goes in reverse chronology, and Garrett's Jamie starts his journey from the beginning.

"It's out of order but still makes sense," Chateau said, "and they only meet at the same time once, during a verse in the middle of the wedding."

"The audience will really root for us at that moment, but they know it's only going to last a split second."

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