St. Croix Theatre Company prepares for first production in newly renovated SSMS theatre

Sari Green/Courier The St. Croix Theatre Company Inc. will be performing The Faery’s Kiss, a romantic comedy fairy tale, over two weekends later this month at the newly-renovated theatre at St. Stephen Middle School. The theatre company is working towards making the SSMS theatre it’s new permanent home, and is also looking for sponsorship so they can continue entertaining their audiences. Back, from left to right: Anne Woodbury, Reed Haley, Carole Way, Vern Faulkner, Jeremy Reid, and Connor Reid. Front: Jane Beckerton, Kerry Hatt, and Ella Goulding.

St. Stephen – The St. Croix Theatre Company Inc. is hoping to finalize details on a new permanent home where they can put on productions. Chairman Brian Brooks said this is the theatre company’s 25 year in operation, and in all that time, they have never had a permanent home. They have a new production in the works, The Faery’s Kiss, and hope to have more productions at St. Stephen Middle School in the future.

“We’ve had to move from place to place, wherever we can get space to put on our productions,” said Brooks. “We’ve tried to do two productions a year, and we’re still trying to keep that schedule up. We did the fundraiser variety show. In between, we’ve done some other things. We may be doing a dinner theatre with another organization in town that wants us to help them do a fundraiser.”

Brooks said the theatre company is hoping that SSMS will be its new permanent home, and is in the works. They have sent a memorandum of understanding with the school district, and Brooks said Principal Bronwyn Tanner has been a huge help and strong force with the opening of the school theatre up to the community.

“She’s headed up the renovations, and is a huge force in this whole thing. She has made a huge effort in that regard, and she deserves a lot of credit.”

Brooks said the idea of the theatre being a community space is great news for the theatre company, and they are looking forward to being able to call the school theatre their new home. One of the company’s biggest problems has been finding affordable locations to put on their productions. He said the best locations are school theatres, but the cost can be prohibitive for small theatre companies such as the St. Croix Theatre Company Inc.

“They’ve been charging a fair amount to rent for the productions,” said Brooks. “If they (SSMS) will allow us in there without charging us a standard rental fee that would be super for us. That’s something we’re working on, and we’re trying to get that finalized. As far as I know, they are agreeable to this.”

May people don’t realize the expenses that go into productions. In addition to costumes and props, which they collect and try to keep for other productions, the biggest expense is the cost of royalties to use the plays.

“When you go looking for a play to put on, the publishing company wants royalties. That can be pretty steep. The American companies seem to charge a lot, even down to how many people you expect you are going to have for an audience. They have a lot of requirements.”

Brooks is currently on a mission to get sponsorship from local businesses, and said if they can find someone to invest $1,000 per year, or more as a major sponsor, it would help immensely. Currently, he has found two major sponsors, who have agreed to spend $250 per production. At the moment, the theatre company depends on sponsorship and ticket sales, and has no other financial help.

“You never really know what kind of an audience you’re going to get,” said Brooks. “That’s all we really have to depend on, outside of sponsorships. If we had some sort of seed money to start with, some production money already in the account that we could depend on, that would be huge for us going forward. We’re trying to get a better financial base built at this juncture. Having this home is going to be huge. At least we’ll know where we are, and what we can do stage-wise. Hopefully, we’ll have room there to store costumes, props, and so on.”

Brooks said the theatre company was involved in raising funds for the school theatre renovations, and purchased four seats. They have also contributed to St. Stephen High School in the past towards “enhancing the equipment and so on in their theatres”.

At the moment, Brooks said they are hoping to build a better base, and would like to see more people come out and volunteer with their group. He said they would love to do projects that encompass younger people so they can be involved. One example is acting classes, which they have held in the past and hope to do again. They may even consider expanding into other types of performing arts besides theatre.

“When it comes down to it, it’s a small nucleus of people who are involved every day trying to make this work,” said Brooks. “We’re talking a dozen people. We definitely need new people, and we’re trying to recruit as we go along. We’d like to recruit younger people.”

The upcoming production of The Faery’s Kiss, starring Kerry Hatt, Jeremy Reid, Ella Goulding, and Vern Faulkner, will be performed over two weekends. The first set of performances will be held on Friday, January 24, Saturday, January 25, and Sunday, January 26. The second set will be on the following weekend, Thursday, January 30, Friday, January 31, and Saturday, February 1. Tickets cost $10 each, and are available at Stuart’s Gifts in St. Stephen, the St. George Veterinary Clinic, the McAdam Village Office, and Cockburn’s in Saint Andrews.