Confession: Im a theater dork. I havent acted in years, but in high school, my big conundrum was whether to quit lacrosse to do theater or vice versa. Theater won.
So, its with a certain amount of excitement that I discovered Wake Forest was about to have its own community theater. Its called Forest Moon Theater, and before too long, youll be able to see its first production.
Academia Nuts will be a small production with only four actors and fun for adults and children. Thats how founders Bob Baird and Cathy Gouge wanted it.
These first few productions really define who we are as a theater, Gouge said. With the community in Wake Forest, we really want to be a family-friendly theater where we choose productions that enrich a familys experience of going to the theater together.
Academia Nuts is a comedy, as you might expect. Heres how Forest Moon Theaters website describes it:
What happens when a spirited woman, whos down on her luck, meets a scholarly professor of poetry, whos living in the historic home of a dead poet? Combine that with a case of mistaken identities, romance, and an academic treasure hunt, and you have a very nutty situation comedy.
Baird adds, Its pure entertainment, but its very clever in the way that its put together.
The second production of 2013 will be Harvey, the play about a giant imaginary bunny. Im a fan.
Starting small, dreaming big
Gouge is a drama teacher at Franklin Academy, where she taught Bairds daughter. Baird and his daughter were active in theater, particularly Raleigh Little Theatre. One day, Baird asked Gouge whether she had ever thought about doing theater in Wake Forest.
One thing led to another, Gouge said. We kept talking.
Baird noticed that Wake Forests mayor was keen on growing the towns arts scene. He and Gouge met with the nonprofit group Wake Forest ARTS and began discussing the possibility of opening a town theater.
Weve taken one step further each time that we have met with them, Gouge said. And it just kind of started.
Wake Forest ARTS has offered moral support, and Baird and the gang had a fundraiser in November. They have about $600 to work with right now. No permanent theater exists as of yet, so Academia Nuts will play at Franklin Academy.
Baird and Gouge are starting off small with these first two productions, but in 2014, they want to expand to three or four. Eventually, they want to have a full-fledged community theater.
Rounding out arts scene
Baird isnt just a co-founder. He is also acting in Academia Nuts, along with other Wake Forest residents including Betsy Richards. She is a nurse practitioner by day and drama hound by night. She has performed dances and musicals, but never community theater.
There are so many other artful people in Wake Forest, Richards said. Its time for actors, and dancers and performers to take our position as well.
The cast had its first read-through of Academia Nuts earlier this week. Richards said it was hysterical, and the cast got along almost like family.
Thats what I like about community theater. Nobody is a prima donna, she said. Nobody is better than anybody else well be doing all of it together.
And so, just like that, Wake Forest has community theater. If you want to join the team, you can check out Forest Moon Theater at www.forestmoontheater.org. Academia Nuts will run March 21-24.
Alex Granados writes about people, places and traditions in North Raleigh and beyond. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.