(Featured photo: The cast sings the opening number of Little Shop of Horrors in is new building Sept. 25. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News)
The Augusta Players’ organization has lived a nomadic life in its 79 seasons of bringing theater to the community, using schools, church gymnasiums and other arts’ studios to hold its rehearsals, but now it appears those days of roaming may be coming to an end.
“I don’t know if the Players have ever owned space. It’s not in any of my archives,” said Scott Seidl, the organization’s executive and artistic director, on Monday.
Sept. 25 was Day 3 of rehearsals for Little Shop of Horrors in the newly acquired building. The curtain goes up season opener about a blood-thirsty plant on Oct. 6 at the Imperial Theatre.
For the past several years, the thespians have rehearsed on the second floor of the Jessye Norman School of the Arts. They were scheduled for rehearsals there on Sept. 22, but the giant Audrey II head used in Little Shop of Horrors wouldn’t fit through the doors, Seidl said. That prompted a move into the Ellis Street building.
The site that the organization is renting with the intent to purchase in 2024 is a former garage which was used for many years as a place for its former owner to store his car collection.
“We’ve been looking for this space for over four years,” he said. “We’ve visited probably 25 buildings around town. This was a complete surprise. It was not on our radar at all.”
The timing of the discovery is fitting because this year is subtitled the “Season of Dreams” and having its own building is a longtime dream come true, he said.
Seidl envisions the building as having space upstairs for three rehearsal rooms as well as six offices with the lower level home to a construction area and storage.
Despite the dusty conditions and the lack of A/C, “the cast has been great,” Seidl said. “(The building) has not been renovated at all, but they’ve been coming in and sweeping it and sitting in their camping chairs. It’s been great.”
Since it’s the group’s dedicated space, pieces of the set can be used during rehearsals without having to take the pieces down at the rehearsal’s end.
“It’s the first time in at least 20-something years, we’ve been able to rehearse with at least a portion of the set,” he said.
The second-floor ceilings aren’t as high as the Imperial Theatre’s stage, so they can’t build the set to its 16-foot and 20-foot heights. They can, however, use Seymour’s shop and another set piece, which helps in the logistics of spacing during rehearsals. They won’t have to make as many changes when moving to the Imperial, he said.
Seidl said that the Augusta Players will launch a capital campaign to raise funds for the building and its renovations.
Charmain Z. Brackett, the publisher of Augusta Good News, has covered Augusta’s news for 35 years. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sign up for the newsletter here.
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