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OCP announces new season, future plans

The people at OCP are excited about a few things happening in and around the playhouse this coming season.
The Orange Community Players has announced its four scheduled performances for the 2015-2016 season. This is the theater group’s 58th performance season and it looks to be one full of laughter, tears, music and dancing.
“We have a wonderful season planned, and we think everyone will find something they enjoy,” said Diana Hill, president of the Orange Community Players Board of Directors. “It’s definitely an impressive list shows.”
The 58th season of OCP begins with “Lend Me a Tenor,” which will be presented seven dates from Aug. 13 through Aug. 23 and be directed by Rico Vasquez.
According to Broadway.com, world-renowned tenor Tito Merelli has signed on to play Otello at a Cleveland opera company in the fall of 1934. He arrives late and, through a set of crazy circumstances, passes out after mixing wine with a huge dose of tranquilizers. Believing that the divo is dead, the excitable opera manager taps his hapless assistant, an aspiring singer named Max, to suit up as the Moor and replace Merelli. Meanwhile, the tenor’s jealous wife, his ambitious female co-star, Max’s young girlfriend and the flirtatious head of the opera guild are on the scene fighting—sometimes literally—for the star’s attention.
The second production of the season will see Thomas May direct the classical musical, “Bye Bye Birdie” for eight performances from Oct. 25 through Nov. 1.
According to Broadway.com, Rock star Conrad Birdie is the biggest thing to top the charts. Women love him, men want to be him and teenage girls around the country scream with glee at the mere mention of his name. But when the United States Army drafts Birdie, manager Albert Peterson sees his meal ticket preparing to fly the coop. Desperate for a publicity stunt big enough to help them survive Birdie’s departure, Albert and Rose hatch a plan and mayhem ensues.
The arrival of the New Year will feature the third production of the season, “Steel Magnolias,” with Hill at the direction helm with eight performances from Feb. 11 through Feb. 21, 2016.
According to tcm.com, the story centers on a group of strong, funny and colorful southern women who regularly congregate in the local beauty parlor to trade gossip, laughs and tears. When the health of young newlywed Shelby is put in jeopardy by her determination to have a baby against her doctor’s wishes, the women come together to support Shelby and her worried mother M’Lynn through one of the toughest crises they will ever have to face.
The final production of the season will be “Into the Woods,” which will be offered for eight performances from April 14 through April 24, 2016. Codie Vasquez will direct, while Theresa Cronin will provide musical direction.
According to Fandango.com, the plot of this musical adventure centers on a baker and his wife who incur the wrath of a witch, while attempting to start a family. Subsequently cursed by the vengeful hag, the hapless couple find their fates linked with those of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Jack of Jack and the Beanstalk.
A variety of partnership and sponsorship opportunities are available to the public and area businesses.
The partnerships are limited, but partners with the Orange Community Players receive “top billing” for each production, plus there is a season partner package available. Along with the Season Partner, there are the Musical Partner and Non-Musical Partner opportunities.
There are three sponsorship levels, the “Saint,” “Benefactor” and “Angel,” all of which have names listed in programs and preferred seating opportunities. Each comes with a substantial ticket package as part of the purchase too.
Membership offers are available for “Family,” “Individual” and “Student” supporters and include a combination of tickets and identification in the program. Questions about the above opportunities can be directed to ocplayers@att.net or by calling the box office line at 409-882-9137 and leaving a message.
Along with the new season, both Hill and Paul Burch, the vice president of OCP’s Board of Directors, are excited about other possibilities.
“We want to start a service guild, much like the Lutcher Theater has, and have these people involved in each of our productions,” Hill explained.
““We want them to be our welcoming committee, in a sense, for everyone who comes to a show,” added Burch.
Hill is no stranger to patrons of the Orange Community Players as she has been involved with OCP for approximately 50 years. Burch, a seasoned thespian himself, got his start as a student in school under the guidance of OCP greats, Susan Tiger and Jeff Hatman.
Another project Hill and Burch hope to re-ignite to involve area youth in the theater even more could be the re-birth of the Junior Board of Directors, which would target teenagers and help give them a working understanding of all aspects of theater.
“It was a lot of fun for those involved a few years ago, and we think it would be a great way to regenerate some enthusiasm for our younger actors and those interested in other areas of the theater behind the scenes,” Hill said.
Recently, a long sought after goal of having a stage curtain was realized when the staff of the Lutcher Theater donated a no-longer used stage curtain to the community theater group.
“We’ve been trying to get a curtain for 50 years,” Hill said. “And the Lutcher Theater donated a beautiful orange curtain to us. That was a very generous gesture and we couldn’t be more thankful.
“The best thing to ever happen to OCP was the opening of the Lutcher Theater many years ago,” Hill continued. “It has been a great way to introduce people to live theater, and, as a result of that, once people find out about us, we have had more people coming to see our shows. We have more people come from out of town to see OCP than ever before.”
Along with the four shows for each season, OCP has two fundraisers each year to generate funds to cover operational costs. Those events, “Fun for Funds,” which is held in May, and “Yuletide,” which is held in December, go a long way in supporting the organization each year.
“Even with our season ticket sales, we still need the support of the community,” Hill said. “They do that by attending our fundraising events and sponsorships. Our ticket sales cover less than half of the cost of each production. That doesn’t include other expenses.”
Although things are going well with the Orange Community Players, there is no rest for the weary or for the members of OCP.
“Our shows are a labor of love,” Hill added. “Everyone is a volunteer and they donate their time because they love it, including the Board of Directors.”
Burch concurred.
“We have a working board (of directors),” Burch said. “That’s 18 boardmembers that really help and everybody has a job from lighting to sound to stage to publicity to box office and more.”
The members of Orange Community Players are no strangers to adversity. They take the bad with the good, roll with the punches and always come out on top.
“It’s a really strong playhouse,” Hill concluded. “And these volunteers have a passion for theater.”
Visit www.orangecommunityplayers.com or call 409-882-9137 for more information on the organization and its schedule.