CENTERVILLE – The stage may be small, but the 2013 season at Connie Leishman Performance Hall has room to grow.
The hall, which is located in the same building as CenterPoint Legacy Theatre’s main stage, will move into its second season with a trio of new plays. The productions serve as both a complement and a counterpoint to the plays performed on the theater company’s main stage, and organizers continue to explore the hall’s potential.
“It’s a work in progress,” said CenterPoint Executive Director Jansen Davis. “I think we’ve got a nice feel to what we’re doing, but there’s still a lot of tweaking to do.”
Part of that tweaking includes getting the word out about the hall. Located to the south of the main theater, it was tucked in so neatly behind the concessions counter that many people didn’t even know it existed. The first two shows in the hall struggled a little, and the theater focused on breaking even.
“Many of our patrons didn’t even realize it was there,” said Davis. “One of our goals last season was to create more awareness about the space.”
That awareness paid off with strong ticket sales for “5 Carols” and “Jingle Jacks,” inspiring the theater to demand more out of the hall’s upcoming season.
With their first show of the year, February’s “Blithe Spirit,” organizers wanted to explore avenues that don’t naturally fit on the main stage.
“We’re primarily focused on non-musicals at Leishman, and we were looking for a nice strong comedy with a lot of women in it,” he said. “On our main stage, the musicals usually skew toward male casts.”
June will bring “12 Angry Jurors,” a gender-mixed version of “12 Angry Men.” Davis got the idea from a previous version of the play he directed.
“We tried to keep a very open mind during the casting,” he said. “It ended up that my main antagonist and protagonist were women. It was a great production С everyone really delved into their character motivations.”
Davis also feels the show can have a strong impact in the hall’s smaller space.
“It’s a great opportunity for tension,” he said. “It’s almost like the audience is a fly on the wall. For me, it’s a really exciting thing to do.”
Next December, the theater’s holiday production will be “The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society’s Production of ‘A Christmas Carol.’” The show is one of a series of plays featuring the Farndale women, but Leishman Hall will only showcase one.
“Ladies in a small town try to put on the masterpieces,” said Davis of the series. “It’s a wacky comedy that pulls in and out of the fourth wall.”
Tickets for the Leishman Hall and Main Stage seasons are available online at centerpointtheatre.org or by calling 801-298-1302.