Anissa Cordova rehearses for Seussical.
Anissa Cordova rehearses for Seussical.

Behind the curtain with the Augusta Players

(Featured photo: Anissa Cordova rehearses for “Seussical.” Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News)

When Anissa Cordova stepped into her current role of Gertrude McFuzz with the Augusta Players’ May 5-7 production of Seussical, she had no idea that it would change how she’s sees herself.

Gertrude wants bigger tailfeathers to be more beautiful — or so she thinks. She goes to extremes to get them. But once she gets them, she finds those feathers do more harm than good, and they detract from who Gertrude really is.

Gertrude’s perception of herself struck a chord with the actor.

Scott Seidl directs a recent rehearsal. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News

“There have been many times when I’ve debated on plastic surgery,” she said. “I was seriously thinking about it a month ago. After I was reading Gertrude’s story, I don’t know. She’s helped me realize that I’m beautiful in my own way. She has helped me get over a lot of deep body positivity issues.”

The impacts of theatre often go beyond simply entertaining people, according to Scott Seidl, the Augusta Players’ executive and artistic director.

 A character may make an impact on someone as Gertrude made on Cordova or actors may forge deep and lasting friendships with one another. Seidl said he often hears the word “family” used to describe them. That chosen family has made a tremendous difference.

“There are individuals who credit their lives with having been part of this organization,” he said. “They would’ve committed suicide or overdosed or made bad choices if it weren’t for their involvement in this organization. People say it’s fluff and not important, but I disagree.”

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As Seidl and the organization’s board heads into future seasons, they are adding programming that will touch more lives in a greater way.

 “We really do provide value to the Augusta community,” said Michael Bailey, an actor and Augusta Players’ board member. “With certain non-profits, they have a sustainable mission that you see — feeding the hungry, providing clothes. It’s a little bit harder to explain what our organization does for people.”

Programs will reach people in the community who may not be able to participate in current ones.

“We’re starting a new program geared for seniors – a readers’ theatre for seniors. They don’t have to memorize plays, and these will be plays just for senior citizens,” said Seidl.

Plans are to have a season with three shows. It will be based on interest. Many current shows are geared to younger casts. The Augusta Players even has its own youth wing with several shows each season for different age groups from 6 to 18.

The Augusta Players recently formed a partnership with Augusta University’s occupational therapy department.

“We’re just in the beginning stages, but we’re looking at how to make what we do more accessible to those with disabilities,” said Seidl.

Not only do the Players want to make their shows more accessible to audience members with disabilities, but to actors as well.

“We’re looking at potential programming on a show 100 percent with people with disabilities,” he said.

 One current outreach program is Camp Wonderland, a summer camp for children ages 7 to 21 on the autism spectrum.

“The camp goes beyond teaching participants to sing, speak or dancer. The camp nurtures creativity, provides a sense of accomplishment, develops friendships and is fun!” according to a Facebook post on the camp that will be July 17-28.

Seidl said he and board members have a lot of ideas for the next few years. Implementing them will depend on people and financial resources.

“(The board is) not just about putting on shows at Imperial Theatre. That’s our market. It’ s what we will hopefully always do that, but we’re so much more than that,” he said.

Charmain Z. Brackett is the publisher of Augusta Good News. Reach her at

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