From Sondheim’s enchanting fall musical, Into the Woods to the upcoming beloved spring musical, Children of Eden, South Shore Theatre Works (SSTW) in Holbrook, Massachusetts, is having a stellar premiere season. With a group of dedicated volunteers and Board of Directors, Executive Director and President Richard Bento is thrilled about South Shore Theatre Works’ promising future. In a “sink or swim” sort of industry, Benton says South Shore Theatre Works is “Michael Phelps-ing” it. Click here for more information on auditions, how to support and becoming a member of South Shore Theatre Works, and more on upcoming performances.
Jeanne Denizard: Your first musical was Sondheim’s Into the Woods. For a first show, that must have been quite an undertaking. I understand you had a very good turnout though.
Richard Bento: Yes, we had about 64 people from across Massachusetts and Rhode Island that came and auditioned. Into the Woods is a very difficult show acting-wise because it’s about relationships. It’s about relationships between mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, children and their grandparents, brothers, and new found love. It’s a very challenging piece, not just vocally, but we wanted to do a production that shows people we’re really out to play. We want to be on the map as one of the best community theaters in the area, and doing a show like Into the Woods really put us out there. You know, it’s one of those “sink or swim” shows and we didn’t just float. We definitely Michael Phelps-ed it and we swam successfully.
JD: To start the New Year, you presented the musical comedy, The Big Bad Musical. Please tell me about that.
RB: The Big Bad Musical is part of our junior production season for young performers under the age of 19. It was a great production. I think it really piggybacked on the production of Into the Woods with some of the characters, like Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf, and brought it to a different world. It had a lighter side that Into the Woods does not necessarily have and brought a sense of humor to the fairy tale stories. It introduced other characters like The Boy Who Cried Wolf and the Three Little Pigs. The Big Bad Musical was an exciting adventure to work with young children and see how they grow. It’s amazing how they step up to the plate. With an adult who is performing in community theatre, you expect to have a certain level of professionalism and respect for the craft, but to see these kids who are young adults doing a show unknown to most people, doing music that people don’t know, and having to do a show that has so much dialogue, and really putting it on themselves, is something great to be a part of. I’m honored to be a part of it.
JD: Please tell me how can someone participate in these educational workshops?
RB: Our Junior Workshop programs are for anyone under the age of 19 who want to participate in a youth production. We not only teach them about the acting side of dramas and musicality of musicals depending on the show, but also what it is like to put on a show and be involved from beginning to end. We are very fortunate for our summer junior workshop. This summer, we’ll be performing Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Jr. Keep a lookout on our website, and join our email list for updates. Auditions would be in the late spring for this August production. It’s open to anyone under the age of 19 who wants to participate, have some fun, learn, and improve their skills.
JD: Now, South Shore Theatre Works is producing the lauded play, Steel Magnolias, a classic story featuring a much smaller cast. When does that show kick off?
RB: We had auditions for that show right after Into the Woods in November and we’ve been rehearsing throughout the holiday season. We’re really focusing on it now that it is the New Year. It’s a great, well-known show, not just for the play, but also for the movie. They’re very similar to one another, but also extremely different because the play only takes place at Truvy’s Hair Salon. It really involves the six actresses on stage connecting with the audience on a different level that they would be if it was a different type of show. The show is about emotion, the interaction between friendships, and also the interaction between all different kinds of relationships. I think the motif of South Shore Theatre Works 2016-2017 season has been about relationships.
JD: South Shore Theatre Works runs fundraising campaigns, most recently with the restaurant, Not Your Average Joes. In what ways can people support South Shore Theatre Works?
RB: We partner up with local restaurants and local businesses throughout the year. We’re very fortunate to have the support of The Chateau in Stoughton, who held a fundraiser for us last year. Uno’s Chicago Bar and Grill helped us out as well. We had our good friends at Five Below on the Stoughton/Brockton line continually help us out with our endeavors by holding numerous fundraisers for us, which is greatly appreciated. Not Your Average Joe’s, the last one we just did in the month of December, was a great way for people to be able to go out to eat like you normally would and support a great cause. We’ll be continuing to do this with other restaurants in the area. Another one is scheduled for February in Holbrook. It is a great way to get some extra revenue in and for people to participate without having to do lot of work while you are putting on a full season.
We here at SSTW are very ambitious! We technically have been putting on a main stage and junior season, two seasons simultaneously. To be able to do that financially, we need the support of the community. Not just by supporting us on these fundraising events, but helping us with sponsorships and ads. If there’s someone in the community who would like to support the arts and see it continue in their community, check out our website to see how they can assist us, whether it’s a program ad or a sponsorship. Someone once told me it takes a village to raise a child. It’s the same thing with a community theater. It takes the town and the surrounding communities to raise and bring up a successful community theater.
Volunteers are always needed, whether you can sew, help with the box office, hang up or design a flyer or a poster, or with media. Volunteer your talents, whatever that talent may be. You can start off assisting a stage manager or helping on a crew and by the next show, you can get more and more involved. We would greatly appreciate it.