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FOOTLOOSE Will Be First Show On A Major Stage In Western Maryland

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The production will be presented live with an audience October 22, 23, and 24 at The Maryland Theatre in Hagerstown MD.

FOOTLOOSE Will Be First Show On A Major Stage In Western Maryland

The entertainment world has arguably been hit the hardest by COVID-19. In Maryland, theatres got the go ahead to move to stage 3 of opening, which allows for 50% occupancy or 100 people for indoor events or 250 for outdoor events. Most theatres across the country have been dark since March as scientist and government tried to figure out the best course of action to return actors to the stage and patrons to the seats. On September 4th, that's exactly what happened.

Authentic Community Theatre, based in Hagerstown MD, is preparing to present Footloose The Musical, Live with an audience October 22, 23, and 24 at The Maryland Theatre in Hagerstown MD

While very few shows have happened in Maryland since the shutdown took place in March, this is the first show being done on a major stage in Western MD. President of Authentic Community Theatre, Robbie Soto, credits this to the determination and unwavering dedication from his cast, creative team, and his board of directors. "It would have been so easy to just go dark and wait for Governor [Larry] Hogan to give us the okay to then start rehearsing and get a show up in a couple of months. My team was not going to do that. We worked with local and state health officials, which we still do, almost daily, to make sure we could rehearse and prepare for whenever we were able to return to our home at the Maryland Theatre to bring people a night out as normal as possible". Soto continued "All the credit goes to my cast, staff, and board of directors for coming in and preparing and getting ready to go as best as we possibly could given the circumstances. That is exactly what we did. But not only that, we had to push the show from July to October in hopes stage 3 would happen by then. There is no nice way of putting it, we got lucky. We had no idea if we were going to hit stage 3 at all, but here we are and we are ready to bring everyone an amazing show put on by some of the most talented people in the area".

We asked Soto what it was like to rehearse and prepare through the pandemic and he said "Not easy! But with the dedication of our cast and crew we were able to make it happen. We unfortunately lost some cast members along the way due to not being able to commit to the show for far longer than anticipated when we first auditioned in March. Some were headed away to college, some had other obligations, and some just didn't think the show would happen. I don't blame anyone for having to step away from a 8 month commitment, but at the same time, I am in debt to all of those that did stick around and trusted our leadership. While you never want to lose anyone from a show, there is nothing more satisfying than seeing a cast come together to make things happen no matter what the scenario".

When asked about the restrictions placed by the Governor and how it could affect the show, Soto replied "Well, while having only 100 people at the show is not what we are used to, we are going to put on the same performance we do for the 700-1,000 people we are used to seeing. If you are asking how it's going to affect the business end, it's going to hurt. We are used to seeing almost 2,000 people a weekend. Now, at most, we will see 500. We are going to lose money on doing this show and the safe bet was to just cancel until we could have opened back up at full capacity, but money is not our main job. Our mission is to inspire, explore, and unite. We are hoping to ease that loss as much as possible. We started our Capital Campaign to purchase a new building to house our professional company, we have applied for grants, taken donations, and cut spending in order to slow down the bleeding. I have said it since I took over as president, Authentic Community Theatre isn't going anywhere. We will find a way, we will find a solution to all problems so we can continue our mission".

According to Soto, Authentic Community Theatre's push to go professional came because he doesn't want people to feel like they have to move to a big city to get work as an actor. The theatre has proved that they have what it takes to make it as a professional theatre not only by the reviews of their current local actors but also by gaining the endorsement from Tony Award Winner Wilson J. Heredia and Tony Nominated Actress Susan Egan. Not an easy accomplishment for a small community theatre in Western Maryland. They are also hoping for an endorsement from Broadway Superstar Major Attaway, the Genie from Disney's Aladdin on Broadway, who will be attending their Saturday evening performance as a special VIP guest and teaching a masterclass at Authentic Community Theatre on October 25th.

We asked Soto what support his theatre needs and he responded "Simply put, we need support. And when I say we, I mean the entire theatre community. Everyone was hurt by this. We all have had to deal with it. But if you're asking what does Authentic Community Theatre need, buy tickets to our shows, donate to our capital campaign, donate, volunteer. There are dozens of ways for you to help and get involved. I am so thankful I have the team that I have! My board of directors has been so supportive of all of our programs from the kids, to the community theatre, and everything in between. We added a new Artistic Director with Scott Ruble who has been a huge help in pushing toward us moving to a professional company. For a lack of better terms, I am blessed to have the team I do. This show in particular, is one of the best we have put together. The cast is strong, the creative team is incredible, and the passion to get this show up is unsurpassed. Don't take my word for it. Come see it. There are only a few tickets left so don't wait".

Footloose is Directed and Choreographed by Award Winning Director/Choreographer Kelly Jenkins-Moreland (Owner of Dancin' Time Studios in Hagerstown), and Music Directed by Award Winning Music Director Zaynah Burnham. The Show Stars Dustin Perrott as Ren, Kristen Davis as Ariel, Soto as Shaw Moore, Alicia Stough as Vi Moore, Hope Wolford as Rusty, Timothy Vinson as Willard and Tiffany Mullinix as Ethel.

For tickets go to www.mdtheatre.org/act.php. Tickets are general admission and are $30. Tickets will not be available at the door and must be purchased in advance. For more information on what Authentic Community Theatre is up to and how you can get involved and get in on the ground floor of a new blossoming professional company, go to www.actforall.org



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