Stuttgart Theatre Center offers ticket to imagination

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In their roles as charity workers, Joe Holder and Charity Stone interact with Scrooge played by Max Heidt. This interaction of shared emotion is the power of live theater according to Artistic Director Richard Roberts. He stated, “Emotion is transient and you are in a room with people who are on the stage feeling things and therefore you’re feeling it.”

Story and Photos by Beth Bellizzi

Special to the Citizen

A play based on a book that was once deemed beneficial to an entire nation is coming to the Stuttgart Theatre Center located on Kelley Barracks.

For passionate theatergoers that review may be enough enticement to purchase a ticket. Others may be surprised that this play is the holiday classic A Christmas Carol.

The theatre center offers a unique presentation of this world-renowned play. The patrons who will fill the blue fabric cushion seats are offered something rare in today’s world of sophisticated theatrical special effects: a chance to imagine.

Part of the theatre’s success emanates from a minimal approach to set design according to the theater’s Artistic Director, Richard Roberts. “We do what we need to do to create a mood and give the audience a sense of where they are.”

“For example, even if we do an old-style play there are no walls,” said Roberts. “We will do doorways, but there will be no walls. But what happens is the audience fills it in. That’s what theater should do. That is what theater is about,” said Roberts.

Every cast is comprised solely of volunteers, and still the theater has been recognized for its high-quality performances with Topper Awards. The awards, which are judged by professionals from the New York theater community, recognize outstanding military community theater.

At a recent Christmas Carol rehearsal, Roberts’ guidance to the actors revealed that each performance is much more than just memorized dialogue.

“You need to set the mood of this world. Remember, we are in the Industrial Revolution. Machines started taking the jobs of human beings. People were begging constantly. You all need to feel this quite deeply. Those are the things that drive this play; the engine that makes it work.”

While the mood of each play might be the engine it is the actors who start that engine.

One Christmas Carol actor is Elise Wimmer, a senior at Patch High School. She also acted in the theater’s Topper Award-winning performance of Carrie the Musical. Wimmer plans to study theater arts in college.

“Everyone in the show is so committed that the show turns out even more amazing then I could have possibly imagined,” said Wimmer. “I feel that I have learned and grown so much just by being here that I feel that I’m ready to pursue whatever passion I want.”

Martin Jelonek, in the part of Scrooge's nephew, Fred, reviews dialogue with Max Heidt, who plays Scrooge. The quality of the theatre's performances is such that season ticket holders often inquire about renewing after the final performance of the season. "I don't have the next season set yet, but they don't care, they just like coming here!" said Artistic Director Richard Roberts.

Martin Jelonek, in the part of Scrooge’s nephew, Fred, reviews dialogue with Max Heidt, who plays Scrooge. The quality of the theatre’s performances is such that season ticket holders often inquire about renewing after the final performance of the season. “I don’t have the next season set yet, but they don’t care, they just like coming here!” said Artistic Director Richard Roberts.

The growth and professionalism formed between the actors is not limited to Americans. “Part of our mission statement is cultural exchange,” Roberts stated. “It is a big part of what we do. The local nationals are both audience members and English-speaking actors. It’s fascinating working with this melting pot on stage,” said Roberts.

In A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge’s former partner turned ghost, Jacob Marley, tells him, “Look, so you may remember what has passed between us.”

The emotion that passes between the audience and the Stuttgart Theatre’s actors is also something to remember.

The Stuttgart Theatre Center performances of A Christmas Carol are December 5, 6, 12, 13, 19 and 20 at 7:30 and December 7, 13, 14, 20 and 21 at 3:00 p.m. For tickets call the Theatre Office at DSN 421-3055 or CIV 0711 729 3055 Tuesday through Friday.