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Davis Journal

CenterPoint Legacy Theatre named Best of State

Jul 05, 2022 01:04PM ● By Becky Ginos

Friend to Friend kids perform in ‘Seussical’ at CenterPoint Legacy Theatre. The program is for children with special needs. Photo courtesy of CPT

CENTERVILLE—For the last two years in a row, CenterPoint Legacy Theatre has been named Best of State in the community theater category and recently received the honor again this year. The theater has also received several Broadway World awards for best musical, best play, choreography, set design, acting and costume design. Since it opened its doors in 2011, CenterPoint has become a popular venue for professional level productions.

“We had to pivot during COVID,” said Jansen Davis, Executive Director. “We did some shows outside and in the meantime people discovered us.”

The focus of community theater is about the experience, he said. “How can we raise the experience for people when they come? We’re so fortunate to have the building we have. Actors come and say ‘wow, I get to perform on this stage?’ We want to give them as much of a professional experience as we can.”

The theater holds open auditions for each show, said Davis. “We select the cast from the auditions. It’s open to all comers, then the director and production team determine what they need. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle that doesn’t have a picture yet. They bring all the pieces together to present a show in the way they want to.”

Productions are chosen following a formula the theater tries to adhere to, he said. “We do a classic type piece, one that is interesting to a younger crowd. Another one that has wide appeal not only to patrons but family members who are involved at the same time. We mix in some non musicals. We want a little variety of shows that make sense. A lot of different things go into that process.”

Generally they’re planning a show six months before auditions, said Davis. “Once the auditions happen many of the musicals rehearse six days a week before a show, for about eight weeks.”

 Productions are double cast to cover any problems that come up and it gives more people an opportunity to perform, he said. “They do three to four shows a week so it’s quite a commitment. They’re setting aside a third of the year.”

Besides the regular shows, CenterPoint has some special programs that caught the attention of the Best of State judges. 

“Our Friend to Friend is 11 years old,” said Shelley Davies, Development Director. “It’s for children with special needs but we call them children with remarkabilities. It’s for ages 5 through 55. We started with five and now we have 90 participants. They meet every Friday and learn singing and dancing and perform two times a year on the main stage.”

One mother said when she goes into the class it’s like liquid love, Davies said. “I’m the head coach and there are 22 other coaches. It’s just heaven working with the children. We don’t focus on their disabilities. They come to life when they come on stage.”

BRAVO was started five years ago and gives junior high and high school students the opportunity to receive reduced ticket prices. “The second Saturday of each show is $5 during the school year,” she said. “There is a discussion by a professor or history teacher who talks about theater for 45 minutes before the show. It’s a good introduction to theater that ties into an educational component.”

Troubadour was discontinued during COVID but is slated to start up again in September, said Davies. “It’s eight personnel that go into schools to teach the magic of theater. The assemblies are 40 minutes long and they engage with the children while they’re doing it. The kids seem to enjoy it.”

The CenterPoint Academy has also been a hit, she said. “It’s absolutely incredible. We’ve had a huge response. We have over 600 kids enrolled. They put on magnificent productions that the children love. Every weekday it’s jam packed with beautiful children.”

Davies said these special programs played a big part in the award but it’s also the quality of what’s happening on stage. “We’ve had tremendous feedback from our patronage. The level of performance has been raised every year. It’s really a beautiful facility.”

“It’s exciting to see how the community has grown and embraced the arts,” said Davis. “It’s not just about us – it's the community we live in.” λ