I wanted to begin 2012 refreshed so Scott and I are taking a road trip to Austin to see two of our favorite Clevelanders. While we’re in the live music capital of the world, I leave you in the very capable hands of a few local bloggers I enjoy.
And with my love for Cleveland’s theatre community, I figured what better way to kick off the guest posts than by clue-ing into Near West Theatre with Sara at Finding the Time? Plus, she’s hosting a giveaway for tickets to their 2012 benefit – enjoy!
Hi, I’m Sara from a little blog called Finding the Time. I’m thrilled to be stopping in to guest post at Clue into Cleveland while Amanda and her husband hit the road. I actually met Scott 5 years ago in Philadelphia when we both worked at the Walnut Street Theatre. A native Clevelander myself, I was floored when I found out Scott was moving here and even more amazed when I saw him again years later at the kick-off event for last year’s Jump Back Ball. Through Scott, Jump Back Ball and our mutual love of blogging, I found that Amanda and I have quite a bit in common.
I’m here today to tell you a little bit about one of my favorite places, Near West Theatre. You may not have heard of Near West Theatre – lots of theatre-loving Clevelanders haven’t, and it’s truly a shame as Near West Theatre has been putting on high-quality production and fostering their mission of community engagement for over 30 years.
I feel the need for a bit of a disclaimer at this point. I used to work for Near West Theatre. Upon my return toCleveland after working at the Walnut, I was hired there and spent 4 amazing years as their Marketing Associate and Office Manager. That said, I don’t work there anymore, and wouldn’t be promoting them to you CiC readers, if I didn’t love what they do.
Near West Theatre started in 1978 with a teen’s summer theatre production of Godspell. Founder and Executive Director Stephanie Morrison-Hrbek was given an $800 grant to put on the production in the 3rd floor ballroom of St. Patrick’s Club Building with 13 teens from Urban Community School. The program was an outlet to keep kids off the street during the summer and show the adults of the neighborhood that they could do something productive. Each summer since (including this summer with their 34th Annual Summer Youth Theatre production of Miss Saigon) an ever growing and changing group of teens make the trek up the stairs to that ballroom and audiences flock to see them perform.
Since that first summer, Near West Theatre has been growing … quietly. Expanding their season and programming (they now have 3 main stage productions with casts that range from age 7-70!), attracting new talent and setting a standard as not only a location for exceptional theatre but a place where actors go for a completely unique experience. That’s because at Near West Theatre, you don’t just put on a play. You explore the content, connect with your fellow cast members and build community through your work. Entire weeks of the rehearsal process are dedicated to team building – something practically unheard of in the theatre world – and this process (perfected over 20 years by Artistic Director, Bob Navis Jr.) is what draws actors and audiences in and, ultimately, what keeps them coming back.
Today, after 33 seasons, Near West Theatre is still at St. Patrick’s Club Building – a space they outgrew years ago. However, they are currently in the process of raising money to build a new space at W. 68th St. & Detroit Ave. in the Gordon Square Arts District. This new space will allow them to expand programming, serve more of the community and explore new works.
Want to get in on the act? Near West Theatre’s 2012 Benefit, “Consider Yourself One of Us,” is right around the corner! Taking place January 28th at Trinity Cathedral, this is an event that you are not going to want to miss. The night includes an energetic performance by Near West cast members, fabulous drinks, delicious food (provided by Euro USA and prepared by Spice of Life Catering Co.), desserts by Gypsy Beans & Baking Co., dancing with a live DJ and silent auction & raffle highlighting the best that Cleveland has to offer. Oh and I’ll be there so that’s cool too, right??? Tickets are $85 and can be purchased by visiting the Near West Theatre website.
BUT WAIT… THERE’S MORE!
Wanna win free tickets? Near West Theatre has given me 2 tickets to give away to a very lucky Clue Into Cleveland/Finding the Time reader! There are two easy ways to enter:
- Hop over to this post on Finding the Time and say “Hi!” Be sure to let me know that Clue into Cleveland sent you!
- Like Near West Theatre on Facebook (and leave an additional comment on that Finding the Time post to let me know you did!)
The winner will be selected by Random.org and announced on Finding the Time on January 13th so be sure to check back in and see if you’ve won!
Disclosure: I (Sara) was provided by Near West Theatre with 2 tickets to give away and 2 tickets for myself for promoting the event. All opinions are 100% my own.