Star City Playhouse on Pollard Street in downtown Vinton has been delighting audiences with free lunchtime plays during the holiday season. Owners Marlow and Karon Semones Ferguson have been working to build their audience base and to thank the community for their support during the inaugural 2017 season in Vinton with the free productions.
Their belief is, and experience shows, that lunchtime theatre tends to attract audiences for regular evening and weekend theatre performances.
The series of lunchtime plays has been scheduled so that business owners, town employees, and citizens have the chance to attend during their lunch hours. The one-act plays generally last about 45 minutes and lunch has been available onsite at each performance from Chef Drew Buzik.
On December 11 Star City presented “I’m Herbert,” followed on December 18 by the comedy “Wanda’s Visit,” playing to a full house.
On Monday, January 8, the theatre will present “Bridal Party,” written by Karon Sue Semones. This production begins at 12:15. All are welcome to attend.
Karon Ferguson says that although the theatre has been open in Vinton since just February of 2017, they are making great progress in drawing patrons both from Vinton and across the Roanoke Valley.
“We love being in Vinton and know we will continue to grow,” said Ferguson.
Their focus, now and throughout their 23-year history, has been to choose plays of great distinction, but perhaps not great name recognition for audiences.
“People won’t visit a museum and only look at one painting nor will they lay out money for a concert to only hear one song, and yet, that’s what they require of the theater everywhere in the world,” said Ferguson. “They only want to see a familiar play. Each theater has to take into consideration what will ‘sell.’ There is nothing wrong with a favorite play but it restricts new plays or great plays with an unfamiliar title.”
“This is what we do,” continued Ferguson “We will choose a play not because it’s been done to death but because it will stretch our actors’ craft and, who knows, you might find a new favorite. It’s educating the public.”
With that thought in mind, Star City Playhouse has announced that its 2018 season will include “Gin Game” at the end of January through mid-February, “Private Lives” in April, “The Dresser” in June, “Cactus Flower” in August, “An Inspector Calls” in October, and “The Bargain,” adapted from Charles Dickens, during the 2018 holiday season, which includes 54 weekend performances in total.
Ferguson said Vinton deserves a grown-up theater in addition to the familiar productions in the local schools. She believes that a few years down the road, Star City Playhouse will be a familiar landmark.
According to the Fergusons, “The Star City Playhouse is a labor of love.”
Formerly located 11 miles outside of Manhattan, the small theater has served over 25,000 patrons in its time. The Fergusons bring over 60 years of combined experience to the playhouse. They consider that its most important mission is to bring affordable art to the community they serve and professional acting training through the great plays of the last 100 years.
“Whether for a girls’ night out or a date night or anniversary celebration, you’ll find a great variety of shows and hopefully find your next favorite play,” Ferguson said.
The price for a general admission ticket for the 2018 season will once again be $12 for adults, $8 for seniors and students, “Broadway’s best at yesterday’s prices,” she said.
The theatre does not receive grant support. It does conduct occasional fundraisers and businesses are invited to advertise in the Star City Playhouse publications. More information is available by calling 366-1446.
Information is available on upcoming auditions and performances on th Facebook page.