The Company Theatre is kicking off 2020 with a new look.
Sleepless Critic had a chance to interview Zoe Bradford about the Company Theatre’s upcoming projects, their vision for the future, and even walked away with some good advice. Click here for the full list the Company Theatre’s 2020 season.
Sleepless Critic: Congratulations on Company Theatre’s recent 40th anniversary. So much has happened in the last few years from the upgraded, painted theatre with new seating to new, original productions. Please tell me more about that.
Zoe Bradford: Now that the theatre is beautiful, we’re envisioning the potential of our outdoor property. We’ve done a lot with Academy of the Company Theatre (A.C.T.) with an expanded outdoor stage and new pavilion. We have a growing summer program that has been at full capacity. Not only do we need more space and with everybody addicted to their screens, I believe in getting kids outside. We have a path to the pond front and we’ve held classes there for water coloring and creative writing.
Freedom for creative expression has been the key for me, so I know it is the key for them. It’s why I desperately wanted my own theatre and thank God it happened. It’s not stimulating to work in the confines of another person’s building or organization. That’s one of the draws here.
SC: You once said you chose popular shows that sell, but in the last few years, The Company Theatre has been delving into uncharted waters a bit with musicals such as Carrie the Musical, Lizzie Borden, and American Idiot.
ZB: It’s financially difficult to do that, but we are trying to give the young people what they want. Lizzie Borden went well because people love local history and some said they have been to her house. It’s a gruesome tale, but it was also a nice psychological thriller.
We changed how we choose our shows a little, but we still have to please our general audience and offer something for the family, something mature, and our team knows their demographic well and what will be successful.
I’m passionate about big musicals and there’s nothing like the thrill of a live orchestra. People in the professional theatre world, mentors, and colleagues say they will put eight pieces in here and do a lot of synthetic and prerecord. You can make a lot of money that way, but we can’t do that. Michael Joseph said that is standard while he was here and we’ve maintained it.
SC: What shows do you still dream of doing?
ZB: I’d love to do Wicked, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and I’m also waiting to do Mamma Mia! We’ll get to it. It’s all about rights and I’m sure there are new shows coming out that I’d love to get my hands on.
As a non-profit, whatever comes in has to support what we are doing and help us be self-sustaining. Grants, gifts, and tax deductible donations are the key. We have better opportunities for community support such as new packages for corporate sponsorship due to having higher end computer capabilities, a better website, and a ticketing service that allows people who wish to support us to advertise.
SC: What has been your most challenging musical?
ZB: The Wizard of Oz because the movie is a masterpiece and any derivation from the film would be a disappointment for those who truly love it. People would fight me on that, but if you take on The Wiz, you can do what you want because no one has a preset notion of it.
SC: The Wiz is also part of Company Theatre’s 2020 season. What advice would you give someone taking on a business in theatre or similar?
ZB: It’s highly competitive. Know your vision, don’t give up, and try to think of something that someone else hasn’t already thought of. Be fresh and original when you can and make sure people know of your existence without being obnoxious about it. We still struggle with it. Some people say they didn’t know a theatre is here.
SC: What do you envision for the Company Theatre’s future?
ZB: We have to keep growing and we set up the Legacy Fund. Our money rolls in and out with the tide as any non-profit would, but we’re actively fundraising to ensure another 40 years and beyond.
For over ten years, I’ve wanted to design a new logo. I remember sitting at a little drafting table back in the 70s and hand drew it when we didn’t have any money or resources.
With art being cut in classrooms and attending theatre in Boston can be so expensive, we’re looking to keep this going so it’s accessible for everyone and expand. I can see us taking on more property and A.C.T. quadrupling over the next ten years. We’re not a community theatre anymore, but a year round professional and we’ll evolve again. We provide many jobs for people, but the other part of my vision is to create more jobs for artisans in the area. The more people that are working and inspiring people, the better.
The Company Theatre kicks off their 2020 season with A.C.T’s The Who’s Tommy from January 17 through January 26. Click here for tickets and here for more on Company Theatre’s 2020 season. You can also get tickets by calling the box office at 781-871-2787. Located at 30 Accord Park Drive in Norwell, Massachusetts, click here for how to support the Company Theatre and be sure to follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
For Performing Arts news, interviews, reviews, and much more in Boston and beyond, follow us on Facebook @sleeplesscritic and subscribe.