GALLIPOLIS — The French Art Colony’s Riverby theater Guild recently won the Ohio Community theater Association’s Southeast Regional Performance Competition with the recent, hit production, “Steel Magnolias.”
This is a first-time entry into the competition for RTG. Joseph Wright, executive director of FAC, said being selected to represent Gallipolis, and the southeast region of Ohio in a nationally-recognized arts competition is a notable honor.
The state level competition for OCTA will take place Sept. 2-5 in Independence. Community theaters that won regional divisions from across Ohio will compete. Each theater group will perform an excerpt from their selected production. The groups will have 45 minutes to set up and perform a scene in its entirety. Fourteen groups in all will compete.
A member of the American Association of Community theaters, the RTG entry will also be judged for selection to compete in the American Association of Community theaters national competition in 2017. Two of the 14 entries will be selected to move on to the regional competition at the national level in April 2017.
The play, “Steel Magnolias,” by playwright Robert Harling, is an audience favorite, Wright said, and was the springboard for the film of the same title. The story is loosely based on the life and death of Harling’s real-life sister and remains a tribute to her and honors the strength of friendship.
The cast headed to competition will include five of the original RTG cast members: Annie Roach as “Truvy,” Minda Hager as “M’Lynn,” Marah Hager as “Shelby,” Jenny Myers as “Ouiser,” and Cynthia Sexton as “Clairee.” The role of “Annelle,” originally played by Samantha Fooce, will now be played by assistant director Betsy Willet. Fooce bowed out of the production following the regional competition as a result of her personal schedule. She is a candidate for the West Virginia House of Delegates.
The “Steel Magnolias” stage crew will include Frances Gibser, Dave Warner, Charles Myers and Gary Roach, as well as production director Wright.
“Our original stage manager, Ashleigh Miller, was unable to continue on with the project, but was instrumental in the success of our original performances,” Wright said.
RTG’s production of “Steel Magnolias” was also honored with additional awards at the OCTA Southeast Regional Competition. The production was awarded “Excellence in Ensemble,” as well as “Merit in Costuming.” Both Minda Hager and Annie Roach were awarded “Merit in Acting” for their performances.
Participating in such a competition can be costly for community theater, Wright said.
“The French Art Colony’s Riverby theater Guild is non-profit and routinely operates on very limited funds. As a result, the group will conduct various fundraisers in the weeks leading up to competition to help defray the competition and travel costs,” he said.
A GoFundMe account has been established online and is being promoted through social media to help the group work toward their $3,500 goal. The cast and crew also will participate in an unusual Trivia Night Challenge, led by RTG volunteer and OCTA alternate representative Ron Siders.
On Aug. 30, teams of six to eight people will compete in a multi-round trivia competition for cash and prizes at the FAC’s Pavilion. The group is actively recruiting players to join teams. People are encouraged to create their own teams of six to eight players, as well. All players must be adult.
More details on the event can be found at www.frenchartcolony.org. If interested in supporting the group or participating in the Trivia Night Challenge, call the FAC at 740-446-3834.