Move Over, Mickey and Deana

Remember when movies were in black and white and teen star Mickey Rooney as Andy Hardy would turn to Jane Withers or Deana Durbin and say, “Hey! Let’s put on a play!”? And after four reels of comedy and pathos, they’d succeed in a triumphant presentation to a barnfull of happy playgoers.

That’s sort of reminiscent of what’s happening in DeLand, Florida, and the Sands Theater Center, except instead of a barn, they’ve got a real theater with two venues, the Main Stage and the more intimae Stage II, the Sands’ black box theater, both under the same roof. So there, Mickey and Jane and Deana!

Plus they have a choice of 232 brand new play scripts to choose from. I sense an undiscovered smash hiding in the wings, awaiting stardom in the first annual DeLand Theatre Festival, running January 10-28 next year.

Since word got out about the Festival, submissions have arrived from playwright wannabes throughout the United States as far west as California and Washington and as far north as Maine.

Leading the team of judges are Festival Producer Jeffrey Ault from Orange City, Florida, and Deltona, Florida, resident Gary Norris, the Festival Coordinator. The team’s backed by Associate Producer Stephen Wilber of Los Angeles, Al Valletta of San Diego, and Stewart Zully of New York. Both Zully and Valletta also will direct plays for the Festival. Rounding out the team are Sands Theater Center business manager Jenny Barbieri and Storybook Artistic Director Darlene Stewart. Final selections will be announced the first week of September.

The submissions run the theatrical gamut: drama, comedy, musicals and satire covering, as you would expect, an amazing array of subject matter.

Several one act scripts will be selected for production, probably between eight to eleven, depending on the length of the plays. In addition, four full-length plays will be chosen for a staged reading competition. One of those scripts will be chosen for a full production in the Sands Theater’s 2007-2008 season.

The DeLand Theatre Festival 2007 will be ten days and nights of theatrical celebration showcasing original plays, presentations, performances, seminars and workshops for aspiring actors and accomplished professionals.

Depending on progress in renovation and negotiations, future Theatre Festivals might even be in DeLand’s historic 1921 almost renovated Athens Theatre.

For more info see Curtain’s up – break a leg!

- Rich Steck & Judi Janofsky

PHOTO: The Sands Theater Center, venue for the DeLand Theatre Festival.

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