By Rudy Schouten, Freelance Writer.

British actress Janet Suzman had a cheeky way of explaining the lure of the theater. “Life is difficult. People want to experience that from the safety of a comfortable seat.”

And you don’t have go to Broadway for it; it’s available in Indy because a troupe of volunteers,all lovers of local theater, sees to it. They are members of the Encore Association of Central Indiana, a nonprofit organization providing for the exchange of ideas among groups and individuals interested in furthering community theater.

The Buck Creek Players, a case in point, celebrated its 200th production a year ago, and this month it presents the Indianapolis premiere of the musical, “The Rink.” Very much in keeping with Suzman’s premise that “life is difficult,” it explores conflict an audience would rather enjoy from a distance than experience first-hand. But there are laughs, too. Anna Antonelli’s beloved old roller rink and its date with the wrecking ball serve as the backdrop for an exploration of Anna’s relationship with her daughter.

The hustle and bustle at Buck Creek during the run of “The Rink” is typical for community theater. D. Scott Robinson, whose roots run deep at the theater, drives his vision of the production as director. Aaron Bailey, who is president at Buck Creek but equally comfortable with a hammer in his hand, is finishing up his work building the sets. Georgeanna Teipen and Miranda Nehrig, a reallife mother and daughter pair, are nailing down their roles as Anna and Angel Antonelli. Cathy Cutshall, fresh from directing a play in December, hunkers down offstage stitching costumes for the next production, whose cast is already busy learning lines in the lobby.

So it goes with 10 other Encoremember theaters in greater Indianapolis. Productions in January and February also include “Brooklyn, the Musical” (Footlite Musicals), “Murder Inn” (Shelby County Players) and “Other Desert Cities” (Carmel Community Players).

Encore-member theaters are a tremendous asset to the community. Productions coincide with school semesters, encouraging teachers to volunteer as directors and students to audition for parts. People from all walks of life and all levels of experience can be part of it. As Bailey of Buck Creek summed it up, “It’s a team activity. Volunteers come together to try something new; something, maybe, they’ve never done before. It’s a fluid process and everybody makes mistakes, but somehow it always comes together. Strangers end up making friends because they support one another, and because people like to see people succeed.”

And for those of us just interested in seeing some conflicted version of life from the safety of a comfortable seat, local theater is a fun, affordable night out. Go see a play soon!

Encore Association Members

  • The Belfry Theater, Noblesville
  • Buck Creek Players, Indianapolis
  • Carmel Community Players, Carmel
  • Center Stage Community Theatre, Lebanon
  • Epilogue Players, Indianapolis
  • Footlite Musicals, Indianapolis
  • Hendricks Civic Theatre, Danville
  • Main Street Productions, Westfield
  • Shelby County Players, Shelbyville
  • Stageworthy Productions, Indianapolis
  • Wayne Township Community Theatre, Indianapolis

Read this an other stories in the Jan-Feb 2018 issue of the IndyBOOMER magazine.

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