Club to boost theater group

by Bob Gaetjens | editor Published:

After several years of fronting his own money and surviving on ticket sales to produce Streetsboro Theatre productions, director Jim Boardwine has some much-needed community support.

Streetsboro Theatre Booster Club had its first official meeting March 17 and aims to support Streetsboro Theatre productions any way it can, according to president Michelle Madden.

According to the booster club's Facebook page, its mission is "to support the theater program by volunteering, fundraising and purchasing items benefiting Streetsboro Theatre programs. The club raises and administers funds to supplement the … theater budget, as well as giving back through community service."

Currently, the Streetsboro Theatre Booster Club is helping Boardwine produce "Alice in Wonderland," which will be presented May 9 at 7 p.m. and May 11 at 2 p.m. at Streetsboro High School.

The production stars Streetsboro High School students, but includes adults and younger children from the community.

Madden said she got involved with Streetsboro Theatre through her son Zach, who has a prominent role in "Alice in Wonderland" as the White Rabbit. He and Maddie Oslejsek, who stars as Alice, are both seniors this year.

"They both have really grown with the program, which is really wonderful," said Madden. "Jim [Boardwine] does a really good job of making the kids earn what they have. It's been wonderful for the kids. It's not like musicals you've seen in the past."

For the past several years, Boardwine said Streetsboro Theatre has produced two live shows and one "signficant" video production each year.

Madden said a big fundraising initiative will launch May 9, the show's opening night.

On kickstarter.com, Streetsboro Theatre Booster Club is launching a crowdfunding effort to raise $3,000 to pay for a 75-minute feature film, based on "Alice in Wonderland" planned for this summer.

"We're not just doing this to raise money," said Madden. "We need it to do the production."

Boardwine said the movie was developed to help publicize Streetsboro Theatre.

"It's original. It's going to be 'Alice in Wonderland' meets 'Glee' meets 'Mean Girls' meets 'The Breakfast Club,'" said Boardwine.

Boardwine said nine-time Emmy Award-winning producer Shawn Rech of PinPoint Media will help during production of the movie.

"The movie is going to happen, but we do have to get funded on kickstarter to for it to happen," he said.

For the past several years, Boardwine said he's used ticket sales almost exclusively to fund shows.

"In the past, our goal was to put on a great show and have that fund the next one," he said.

Ordering costumes and other items through the school system for past plays has been "very convoluted," said Boardwine. For one thing, all purchases have to be pre-approved by principals. Other times, items are needed for a rehearsal after hours.

"They would give me an open [purchasing order]," he said. "I would have to front thousands of my own dollars and then get reimbursed."

He also said he's not able to purchase items online.

Madden said one of the goals of the booster club, which includes about a dozen active members and 170 Facebook "likes," is to provide funds to the theater program as they are needed.

"For the people we have, we've done very, very well, so far," said Madden.

Boardwine said he also wants to place an emphasis on producing shows like "Alice in Wonderland" that are appropriate for the whole family.

"I want to do shows that high school kids want to attend, but I also want to make it appropriate for all ages," he said, adding some of his previous productions included some "PG-13" material, while "Alice in Wonderland" is more family-friendly.

Boardwine said he came to that decision after the fall video release of "Welcome to Wonderland."

"I got a lot of Facebook messages from mothers saying their kids were still playing the CD much later," he said. "It struck a nerve."

Madden said there will be a silent auction during the first half of the play May 9 the proceeds of which will go to the theater.

For more information, contact Boardwine at jboardwine@rockets.sparcc.org or visit streetsborotheatre.org or Streetsboro Theatre Booster Club's Facebook page.

Email: bgaetjens@recordpub.com

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