The Foothills Community Players made history on a small stage, and Tom Ireland couldn’t have been happier.
Ireland, vice president of administration and public relations for the FCP, said the Feb. 12 production of Neil Simons “Rumors” broke new ground for the company and for Clayton Center for the Arts.
It was the first theater-in-the-round production in the Flex Theater at the Clayton Center for the Arts. Ireland said cast members were thrilled with audience response. The play was also a little more edgy than what the Players normally offer.
“It was fantastic. Not only was it an artistic success, but a financial success as well. We were really pleased. We had an excellent crowd, a very sophisticated crowd. They were in-tune with the actors and got a wonderful night of entertainment,” he said. “We did the show in the round, which was the first time Foothills Community Players has done an in-the-round show, and I think it was first time for the Flex Theater.”
Ireland said that with the way the theater was set up, audience members felt automatically injected into the play itself. “The characters entered and exited right next to your seat and the stage was a part of audience setting,” he said. “It was very intimate, and gave a neat audience experience.”
Ireland praised the cast for how they came together to pull off the production.
“They were not only cast members but friends. They really developed a respect for one another. The pacing was so fast, there had to be chemistry. If not, it would have been a disaster,” he said.
Ireland said Neil Simon plays are notorious for quick banter dialogue. “This cast fell into it like they were having a conversation. The cast was so in tune that their banter came across as conversation rather than reading a script,” he said. “The dialogue went smoothly from script to conversation.”
Ireland also praised set designer/carpenter Bryan Jones for being able to quickly redesign the set two weeks before the show when there were concerns about safety. “Bryan pivoted beautifully and turned the set into something special without missing a beat,” he said.
The company’s next production is the musical “Annie Get Your Gun,” and auditions are set for 1 p.m. April 17, and 6 p.m. April 18 at the First United Methodist Church of Maryville.
“The director is going to be Terry Silver-Alford, who did ‘The Music Man’ last year. He’s excited about making a return appearance,” Ireland said. “We’re also going to be having a workshop for anybody interested.”
The workshop is planned for 1 p.m. April 2 at First United Methodist Church of Alcoa. Mary Beth Bonneville is running the workshop.
For information, call Ireland at 865-591-4557 or visit www.foothillscommunityplayers.com.