By Dan Rankin
Looking ahead, 2017 is certain to be an exciting time for the St. Marys Community Players, as they prepare for their first full year with brand new seating throughout the Town Hall Theatre and a completely re-vamped stage with all new curtains and lights. While the group’s new president Patti Muma-Cook steps into the role occupied for the past three year’s by outgoing president Fern Pridham, they will also begin the transition phase of replacing Gary Austin, resident equipment manager, and Maggie Whitcroft, media and publicity, who have announced their intentions to gradually step away from those roles. St. Marys Town Councillor Don Van Galen will also be leaving the board.
Those future concerns were not enough to keep the group from celebrating a successful 2016 at their annual general meeting held on Thursday, Nov. 10.
According to an income statement presented at the meeting, ticket sales for the group from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016 – including their productions of “Cabaret” and “The Importance of Being Earnest” and two nights of improv comedy – were $47,710, up from $29,675 the year before. Revenue for “Cabaret” was more than $800 over the budgeted amount of $8,500, while “Earnest” came in at just under $2,500 more than the budgeted amount of $3,500. For the year ending June 30, 2016, they showed a profit of $13,547.43.
“I think it was the most successful year ever in Community Players,” longtime member David Cullen said. “The largest capital expenditure ever is now done… things are really looking positive.”
The most recent SMCP production, “Steel Magnolias,” is also expected to exceed its budgeted revenue amount of $8,000. The 2017 budget shows the group in the red, however that is chiefly due to the $95,507 worth of Town Hall renovations that are on the books. Another new expense will be about $754 per year as the group begins using the St. Marys United Church basement for storage.
“I’m budgeting an excess of general expenses over the revenue of $34,632, which is not unreasonable because this is the year we’re spending the money for the major renovations,” said Henry Monteith, who presented the budget at the meeting. “But, I think we’re pretty healthy as far as the cash is concerned.”
Looking ahead, SMCP’s spring 2017 production will be the Tennessee Williams classic “The Glass Menagerie,” which will be directed by Denise Fergusson, followed in the fall by the musical “Man of La Mancha.”
Now that there is such a dramatically improved stage (pun intended) at their disposal, the Players have begun considering other ways they might take advantage of the space throughout the year, including possibly hosting dramatic readings or a mini-festival of one act plays.
“The seed is planted,” Pridham said. “We don’t know how it will grow, but it’s there.”
They also expressed an interest in working to have the theatre air conditioned so that putting on performances during the summer could become a possibility. “That theatre is impossible to use in June, July and August,” Van Galen said. “Summer theatre is a natural, I think, for any small town, but we don’t do it for that very reason.”
Registration for “Laugh and Learn: Intro to Improv,” led by SMCP’s Liane Gregory-Sterritt, is open until Nov. 24. The fee is $150 for the 12 week session. The class begins Thursday, Dec. 1 and runs from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm. Two improv shows are planned for Mar. 3-4, 2017.