New theater will help cultivate area's talent

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Montgomery Clift. David Janssen. Fred Astaire.

Marlon Brando.

Ring any bells?

Dorothy McGuire. Gordon McRae. Nick Nolte. Robert Taylor.

OK, how about Rodney Grant or Ward Bond?

No self-respecting Southwest Nebraskan could forget Ward Bond, star of "Wagon Train" and "It's A Wonderful Life."

Like the others in the list above, as well as many others, Bond called Nebraska home, specifically Benkelman.

We've yet to reach 2 million in population, but Nebraska is well represented in show business, thanks in no small part to our work ethic and the quiet self confidence life on the plains seems to produce.

Johnny Carson. Dick Cavett. Sandy Dennis. And, of course, Henry Fonda.

Who knows who the next big star will be?

No one, actually.

But perhaps even someone who first learned their craft in Southwest Nebraska.

McCook Community College is making sure aspiring actors get their chance, and creating an exciting new venue for audiences to enjoy new kinds of production.

Part of Tipton Hall on the MCC campus has been gutted, and a new "black box" theater is being constructed.

The theater will have no set stage area, and seating for 125 on moveable bleachers for maximum flexibility.

MCC drama instructor Sue Watts is excited about the prospects.

"This allows for the seats to be set in traditional theater style, in arena seating (in the round) or three-sided arena," she said. "The actors will be able to perform in a variety of theater settings, allowing for great opportunities for experimental as well as traditional productions," she said.

The new theater will be finished in time for an April production of a hilarious play-within-a-play, "The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen's Guild Dramatic Society Murder Mystery," produced by MCC.

Tryouts will be Sunday, Feb. 19, Wednesday, Feb. 22 and Thursday, Feb. 23, from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Student Union on the MCC campus.

There is no preparation necessary to try out.

If you've ever considered being in a play, perhaps this is your chance. Who knows; maybe your name will be right up there with Ward Bond's.

For more information, call Watts at (308) 345-8173.

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