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Actor’s Charitable Theatre debuts black-box theater

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CW/ Joe Will Field

CW/ Joe Will Field

CW/ Joe Will Field

Desi Gillespie, Staff Reporter

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The theater community in Tuscaloosa continues to grow as those who once performed on stage as kids are now leading a younger generation into the spirit of acting. This weekend, the community grew a little more as The Actor’s Charitable Theatre (ACT) performed its first show at a new theater in Northport over the weekend.

“I have been indirectly involved since the third grade, with my first role in one of their shows being an ensemble role in ‘Into the Woods,’” said Will Henson, a sophomore majoring in theater. “[The ACT] had a huge role in my progression into theater.”

The ACT performed its inaugural show “Of Mice and Men,” starring Daniel Maguire and Greg Vander Wal as George and Lennie, respectively. The actors said this play served well as the opener for such an up-close-and-personal space.

The community theater company used the building as a rehearsal studio in years past to prepare for its shows at venues throughout the city. However, two months ago, The ACT board decided the building could be better used as a theater that the organization could own.

“They’ve done a lot of work on the space,” said The ACT marketing chair Colton Crowe. “They’ve added about 65 theater seats in the audience, making it into a traditional black box theater.”

The ACT is a community theater organization for all ages of actors. Founded in 2008 by artistic director Joey Lay, the group has put on shows of all kinds and sizes. Previous seasons have featured shows like “Mary Poppins” and “Seussical,” with the organization also putting on various “Youth Series” and theater camps. In accordance with the mission of The ACT, a portion of each show’s ticket profits is donated to a charity in the Tuscaloosa community.

“Our new studio theater is different than other spaces because everything we do is so intimate,” director Benji Stockton said. “It’s also special because it’s our own space, and we don’t have to rent a space or have stressful load-in or load-out times.”

“Of Mice and Men” is the story of two Californian migrant workers struggling to survive during the Great Depression. Convicted by their own American dream, George and Lennie are trying to save enough money against all odds to start a rabbit farm.

“‘Of Mice and Men’ is a story filled with all types of struggle and loneliness,” Stockton said. “So for it to be the first show in the new space felt right because of the intimacy of both the theater and the piece.”

Henson, who has been involved with The ACT since 2008, felt a connection to the show as he performed in a new environment with some of the same people he has known since he was ten.

“I play Curly in the show, and it’s very up-close, definitely the closest I’ve been to an audience,” Henson said. “We’ve put a lot of work into the show, and it’s very relevant. People who see ‘Of Mice and Men’ can likely find themselves in every character and identify issues in our nation today within the conflict of the play.”

The ACT’s new venue is located at 2205 9th Ave. in Northport. “Of Mice and Men” will conclude its run with 2 o’clock matinees this Saturday and Sunday and a 7:30 p.m. performance on Monday night.

For tickets, visit www.acttix.info.

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Actor’s Charitable Theatre debuts black-box theater