2020 is off to a good start with a new project and new ideas initiated by the Young Acting Krew (YAK). Two of our members, Pixie and Raiden Lilburn, have written a treatment for a futuristic western series, which will be filmed on created sets and locations chosen in the area. Bell Tower Player, Richard Rutherford, who has worked in the film industry, will mentor the filming of the project. Several members of YAK have expressed interest working backstage with lighting, sound, and special effects. Richard will start a mentorship program, opening his home studio twice a month during YAK meeting hours, to teach these skills. Parents will be asked to participate by transporting those interested and being there during these apprenticeships. Teaching will also be done on site at the new theater during stage building. This is a wonderful opportunity for the three boys and one girl who are eager to learn these skills. Chad Blotner has also agreed to teach how the electrical work is being done to create a state-of-the-art stage.

Each week at YAK meetings, we are working on the film’s storyboard under the tutelage of our stage director, Jack Milhaupt, who is also an accomplished artist. Jack is also leading weekly exercises in improvisation acting and mentoring one of our most talented YAK members, Henry Gardner, in stage directing and prop design. Filmmaker and videographer, Bob Keeton, advises us on film editing apps and approaches.

The entire YAK group is excited to participate in the development of this series, scenes of which will be performed as vignettes at a variety of venues.

We are also working on performance ideas for the grand opening of our theater, tentatively scheduled for May 16, 2020.  Dan Foster, the composer of the fabulous score for our first production, “Saluda, the Musical: A Historical Depiction of Our Town,” will be there to perform with his Radio Rangers, original songs from the musical and a selection of cowboy songs to kick off the production of our western movie. YAK will perform a variety of vignettes during this festival.

Dan Foster and the Radio Rangers will return October 16th to perform at the Saluda Historic Depot Train Tales event a musical tribute to the legendary Saluda Grade. Members of YAK perform with them songs and scenes from the “Saluda, the Musical.”

Progress continues at the theater site with landscape clearing and underground wiring installed by Duke Energy. A new electrical system was installed by local licensed electrician and gifted photographer, Chad Blotner. Interior framing continues by Henderson County Capital Projects Construction Manager, David Berry, who oversees every aspect of the renovation to ensure the renovation plan meets code.

A stage design plan was also created by David Berry with input from Richard Rutherford, an expert in stage lighting and sound, who drew up a plan to incorporate the appropriate wiring into initial construction of the stage. He has put in a request from contacts for lighting equipment and is willing to donate some of his own from his home studio.

The stage will be built by project leader, John Savage and Jim Beyer, who have applied their ingenuity and carpentry skills since the beginning of this project. Input was also given by local resident, Peter Eisenbrown, and James Little from Tryon Fine Arts, who are also experts in lighting, sound, and stage design and have generously agreed to participate in the project.

John Savage continues to reach out to Lowes Store Manager, Laura Sykes, for donated materials for the project, and recently met with Kenneth Cairnes at Hardins Quality Flooring, who is willing to donate much of the labor. He also began contacting his suppliers requesting donations of materials for the flooring. John said he offered this without request.

Jim Beyer is in the process of contacting a tree service to address the overhanging branches behind the building. Interior painting will begin as soon as the bathrooms are re-plumbed and framed. Kathy Beyer and I are in charge of this job and are in the process of picking out colors.

We have a target date, May 16, 2020, for our grand opening. Work will continue after our opening, but the theater will be at a point of completion to be in use for beginning workshops and theatrical performances. How fortunate we are to have a dedicated team of volunteers who have given their time and expertise to make this possible for the local children of our community.