The Clayton Center is now the home of a new, community-focused theatre company thanks to the efforts of two Clayton High School (CHS) educators, Andrew Wade and Ann Meigs.
Wade, the artistic director, has been a performer professionally for the past 15 years - performing mainly musical theatre Off-Broadway, on national and international tours, cruise ships, theme parks, and other event themed venues. He currently teaches theatre arts and directs theatrical productions at CHS.
Meigs, the musical director, has been teaching music for 28 years - starting as an elementary school music teacher and working her way up to be the Choral Director at CHS.
“We felt there was a need to be filled in the community for additional youth theatrical opportunities,” said Wade.
According to Steven Langston, Interim Cultural Arts Director for the Town of Clayton, conversations about getting a theatrical group going at The Clayton Center began in the spring of this year.
“It is important to The Clayton Center and to the Town Council that the youth in the community have a place they feel they belong,” said Langston. “The Center has a long history of supporting our local youth and felt strongly that this could be a way to continue that support.”
The idea for Clayton Theatricals wasn’t fully conceived until early June, which meant Wade and Meigs would have to work against the clock to get a performance put together for this summer. With just 6-7 weeks to prepare, the group couldn’t do a full production because they did not have enough time to hold auditions, market it to the youth of the community, and raise money to buy the rights all before the show. This meant that Clayton Theatricals would have to develop an original show. “Broadway Through the Ages: A Musical Revue” will highlight many of Broadway’s biggest shows from over the years, ranging from today all the way back to the Golden Age of Broadway.
The debut performance is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 5, at 7 p.m. at The Clayton Center and is the culmination of a two-week “Broadway Bootcamp,” where students learned songs, choreography, and acting skills.
“No matter what challenges we have faced to get here, seeing the growth in these kids over the summer has made all of the hard work worth it,” said Meigs.
One of the main focuses at the heart of Clayton Theatricals is to produce shows and productions that reflect the values of the Clayton community.
“We hope Clayton Theatricals will become a mainstay of the community and that people will be proud to call us their local theatre company,” said Wade.
Both Meigs and Wade said there is much in store for Clayton Theatricals, as they both have big dreams and a clear vision for the road ahead. In addition to serving as a professional theatre, the group plans to do educational outreach, hold multiple youth productions each year, have classes year-round for K-12, even into the early collegiate, and potentially offer acting classes for adults.
“The ultimate goal is to be a professional non-profit theatre. In my dream of dreams, it would be to be the premiere theatre in Eastern North Carolina,” said Wade. “Our hope is to provide a service that is story oriented, truth oriented, and a theatrical company with integrity that is supported by and serves the community that it is based in.”
For more information on the Aug. 5 debut show at The Clayton Center, please visit: theclaytoncenter.com/claytontheatricals