Paxton Theatre creates foundation

The historic Paxton Theatre in Bainbridge is launching The Paxton Theatre Foundation, a non-profit organization that will serve as the umbrella under which all events at the theater will operate, and which will lead a fundraising drive designed to “ensure the long life of entertainment within The Paxton Theatre.”

Tim Koehl, who purchased the theater in 2014, said the new foundation will be “the working group for all performances out there.” He said the building itself is not part of the foundation.

Koehl said the idea for the foundation came about after he realized that potential donors and patrons needed a more defined vision of what the theater is all about.

“When I sat down and talked about sponsorships, I realized people want to know, ‘How do I know who this is going to?’” He said that establishing a foundation with a board of directors helps patrons feel confident in supporting the endeavor.

Among the directors are David Scott, facilities director for Ohio University-Chillicothe, Bob Brown, former manager of Ohio Means Jobs at the Fayette County campus of Southern State Community College, and Maggie Horst, a longtime government affairs representative who has served on a variety of organizations and who will serve as secretary for the foundation.

Koehl said the Paxton is not a competitor with Southern State Community College and its theater productions. In fact, Koehl said the Paxton serves as another step in the career of actors who want to stay involved in the theater but have few local options beyond school, other than going to the “big city.” He said the theater experience is unique in the camaraderie and networking it provides.

“Theater brings people together from all walks of life,” said Koehl. “It brings people face to face.”

The Paxton Theatre generated buzz in 2015 by expanding its stage offerings to include theatrical productions and a children’s theatre camp, alongside the venerable institution that is the Paint Valley Jamboree, the theater said is a press release.

The Paint Valley Jamboree returns for its 52nd year, “continuing the tradition of Ohio’s longest running country show. New Master of Ceremonies Mike Hutchinson and Bandleader Jim Bristley will continue to showcase the best of traditional country music throughout the year. The Paint Valley Jamboree, presented by The Rockhold Brown and Company Bank, opens on Friday, March 4, at 7 p.m., and plays every other Friday throughout the 2016 season. Tickets are available for $15 at the door and $12 online.”

The theater announced that the Jamboree Sings! Competition is returning.

“The PVJ is looking for the next great traditional country vocalist, and is offering people a chance to show off what they’ve got, with the winner gaining $200 and headlining their very own PVJ,” the theater announced. “Guest judges will help the audience in narrowing down the winner, but ultimately the audience decides. Registration begins online on Friday, February 26. The first round begins April 1.”

A second season of theatrical productions will include God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza, translated by Christopher Hampton, which tells the story of a playground altercation between 11-year-old boys that brings together two sets of Brooklyn parents for a meeting to resolve the matter.

“At first, diplomatic niceties are observed, but as the meeting progresses, and the rum flows, tensions emerge and the gloves come off, leaving the couples with more than just their liberal principles in tatters.” God of Carnage plays May 20 – 22. Auditions will be held on Saturday, March 19 at 6 p.m.

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Jr., with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, and a book by Linda Woolverton, continues the summer children’s play series.

“The classic story tells of Belle, a beautiful young bookworm in a provincial town, and the Beast, who is really a young prince trapped under the spell of an enchantress. If the Beast can learn to love and be loved, the curse will end and he will be transformed to his former self. But time is running out. If the Beast does not learn his lesson soon, he and his household will be doomed for all eternity.”

Disney’s Beauty and Beast, Jr. runs July 29 – 31. Auditions, open to students 18 and under, will be held on Saturday, June 11 at 12 p.m.

The Pillowman, by Martin McDonagh, “centers on a writer in an unnamed totalitarian state who is being interrogated about the gruesome content of his short stories and their similarities to a series of child murders. With echoes of Stoppard, Kafka, and the Brothers Grimm, the result is an urgent work of theatrical bravura and an unflinching examination of the very nature and purpose of art.” The Pillowman plays October 21 – 23. Auditions will be held on Saturday, September 3 at 6 p.m.

Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol, by Tom Mula, returns by popular demand during the holiday season. “Marley was dead, to begin with…”—and what happens to Ebenezer Scrooge’s mean, sour, pruney old business partner after that?

“Chained and shackled, Marley is condemned to a hellish eternity. He’s even given his own private tormentor: a malicious little hell-sprite who thoroughly enjoys his work. Desperate, Marley accepts his one chance to free himself: To escape his own chains, he must first redeem Scrooge. So begins a journey of laughter and terror, redemption and renewal, during which Scrooge’s heart, indeed, is opened; but not before Marley—in this irreverent, funny and deeply moving story—discovers his own.”

Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol runs December 2 – 4. Auditions will be held on Saturday, October 1 at 6 p.m.

Tickets for all plays will be available for $15 at the door and $12 online. Season tickets for the theatrical productions are available now for $40 (a savings of up to $20). Audition dates for all plays are subject to change.

The PTF also announced the return of The Paxton Theatre Camp. The children’s camp will be offered June 6 – 10, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Directors of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Jr., Jeff and Jenna Horick, “will instruct students entering grades one through twelve on acting techniques, make-up, stage combat, costumes, acting games, and explore what actors and crew members do while onstage or backstage.”

All participants will receive a free Paxton Theatre Camp t-shirt upon completion of the camp, and be guaranteed at least a minor role in the summer production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Jr. The children’s camp registration will begin online on Monday, April 4, for $80 per student.

The PTF will also be holding a camp for adults this spring, March 7 – 10, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. Theatre director and general manager of The Paxton Theatre, Benjamin Gullett, among others, will educate adults 18 and older on items explored through the children’s camp, and students will also learn techniques on choosing monologues and auditioning for plays and musicals. Participants will also receive a complimentary Paxton Theatre Camp t-shirt. Online registration is available now for $80 per students.

The Paxton Theatre will be once again offering memberships to The Paxton Theatre. Two levels of membership will be available this year; the Single Membership, for $30, and the Joint Membership, for $50. Memberships include the following benefits: $3 off the lowest ticketed price at every event (one ticket per Single, two tickets for Joint), reserved seating for The Paint Valley Jamboree, and the ability to purchase seats for special events two weeks prior to general public sales.

The PTF is looking to staff various roles at The Paxton Theatre with a volunteer staff. “Anyone looking to volunteer their time, enrich their community, and see The Paxton Theatre schedule of shows for free, should visit the ‘Get Involved’ section online,” according to the press release.

The theater will be announcing its slate of special events on Monday, January 25. For those who are unable to purchase their tickets online in advanced, The Paxton Theatre will be offering the public the ability to purchase tickets, via phone (740.634.3333) or in person at the box office, on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

To stay up-to-date on all of Paxton Theatre’s events and to begin purchasing 2016 Theatre Season Tickets, visit The Paxton Theatre is located at 133 E. Main St., Bainbridge.

Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.
Non-profit will serve as umbrella for events

By Gary Abernathy