Bravo to community theater group!

Patrick Meehan, right, and John Hnat stage a reading of "Wife for a Life" at O'Neill Healthcare Bay Village on Aug. 27. Photo by Candy Sanson

What a great idea! A new theater group is offering free live theater readings of short classic plays at various Bay Village outlets. In August, the members began offering readings of plays that are in the public domain and therefore can be offered free. So far three excellent readings have taken place to full-house audiences.

Patrick Meehan, a trustee of the Citizens for Bay Village Community Theater, said, “Our 'All the World’s A Stage[d Reading]' series monthly live readings began at the generous invitation of Mojo’s Coffee House; and now include a second venue, O’Neill Healthcare on Bradley Road. Manager John O’Neill has also offered free space for auditions and rehearsals.”

On Saturday, Aug. 27, I attended, and truly enjoyed, the excellent reading of Eugene O'Neill’s “A Wife for a Life” at O’Neill Healthcare's newly renovated facility.

Last summer a group of Bay citizens, under the leadership of longtime Huntington Playhouse member and theater enthusiast John Hnat, formed in response to the annouced closing of the playhouse. Hnat, who has acted and directed local theater for many years, said, "The goal was to keep live theater in Bay after the demise of the theater that had been offering seasonal plays for more than 60 years. The group was developed to further engage the community and help build an audience in the hopes of returning live theater to Bay Village.”

The playhouse building is owned by the Cleveland Metroparks but management and maintenance had been contracted out and were under the control of a local board, Meehan said. “When we first inquired about another group taking over and saving live theater in Bay, we learned that the playhouse would need extensive and expensive repair to meet safety and other legal requirements before even considering re-opening.”

In the meantime, the group decided to keep theater alive and well in Bay Village. After speaking to John Hnat and learning of his broad theatrical experience, I know that this community theater will benefit Observer readers, the live theater audience and the many people that it takes to make theater come to life on stage.

The September reading will be "The Proposal" by Anton Chekhov, on Sept. 11, 6 p.m., at Mojo's, 600 Dover Center Road; and on Sept. 17, 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., at O'Neill Healthcare, 605 Bradley Road.

If you haven’t enjoyed it yet, it is an entertaining afternoon or evening out; a time to laugh at a comedy, be entertained by a musical or challenged by a drama or mystery. It’s true, all the world is a stage and it never grows old or stale so long as those who are good at it keep on performing for the rest of us.

Under the leadership of Hnat, the group has applied for 501(c)(3) non-profit status, established a Facebook group and developed a website, Auditions are open to all and private financial contributions are welcomed.

Eileen Vernon

Trustee of The Bay Village Foundation. Retired lawyer. Resident of Bay Village Foundation for over 32 years.

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Volume 8, Issue 17, Posted 11:04 AM, 09.07.2016