Hendricks Civic Theatre, a community staple since 1979, is celebrating its 40th anniversary season. Hendricks Civic Theatre has grown from an idea by Marianne Mowrer in 1979 to the large, all-volunteer organization it is today through the generosity and support of the Hendricks County community through the decades.
The 40th Ruby Anniversary season begins this September and is slated to include “Noises Off,” “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” “Leading Ladies,” “I Hate Hamlet,” “Matilda: The Musical” and “Mamma Mia.” The season kicks off on September 27 with the comedy “Noises Off,” directed by Ryan Thompson. “Noises Off,” dubbed “the funniest farce ever written” is a play within a play, following the frazzled cast rehearsing for their flop of a production called Nothing’s On.
Hendricks Civic Theatre keeps each of its six show seasons diverse, including everything from comedies to dramas, musicals to children’s shows, offering something for everyone in the community.
Hendricks Civic Theatre President, Karla Janning, has served as a longtime volunteer and Board Member and is excited for what the 40th anniversary season will bring.
“I would love for the theatre to reach even more people in the community that not only have never come to see a show but that have always wanted to be a part of community theatre and haven’t,” Janning says. “We love to have new people join us every year and join our ever-growing community and family.”
Ryan Thompson, Hendricks Civic Theatre Board member and Secretary, hopes that this 40th anniversary season offers “even more people the chance to experience this — either on stage, in the audience or backstage.”
Both Janning and Thompson served as volunteers for various productions before becoming involved with Hendricks Civic Theatre’s Board of Directors. For Janning, volunteering began in 2013 as she supported her two daughters’ interest in the theater. Since then, the entire Janning family has appeared on Hendricks Civic Theatre’s stage in multiple productions and has served behind the scenes for even more.
“We all had such a great experience that I knew this was where I wanted to plant my feet and get back to my love of theatre,” Janning says. “I have never regretted that decision. It truly is our extended family.”
For actor Jeff Sankey, Hendricks Civic Theatre has also been a family affair. His daughter was in “Beauty and the Beast” in 2017 and he has been in “The Foreigner” and most recently in “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.” Sankey says that Hendricks Civic Theatre’s Rising Star Productions for all youth cast is what originally drew them to Hendricks Civic Theatre.
“Hendricks Civic Theatre is a place where families come together to develop theatre, and theatre, in turn, creates a bigger family,” Sankey says. “I have so many more people in my life now that I have started doing theatre that I would never have met if not for Hendricks Civic Theatre.”
Hendricks Civic Theatre prides itself on its family atmosphere, encouraging everyone to come and “play a role” whether on stage or off stage. Previous experience is not required, and hands-on learning happens with every production. Hendricks Civic Theatre was recently awarded a grant from the Indiana Arts Commission to aid its 2019-2020 season, allowing them to expand their arts education offerings to include workshops, camps and more opportunities for underserved communities. They hope to attract new actors and volunteers, offering them opportunities to get involved with the theater in new ways and to give them the tools to feel confident both on and off stage.
“I am always amazed at the new talent that we get every year,” Janning adds. “I have loved that especially this last season we welcomed a lot of new faces to our stage. Most of them had never been on stage before and they were amazing.”
Sankey also noted the increased involvement in Hendricks Civic Theatre,
“It seems like the interest in each show just continues to grow and there seem to be more and more people who are interested in auditioning for each show,” Sankey says. “There seem to be more and more people who are excited about watching them, too.”
Hendricks Civic Theatre has definitely felt the impact of the increase in actors, volunteers and patrons of the shows. Many shows this past season sold out or were at near capacity. Longstreet Playhouse in Maplewood is the home of Hendricks Civic Theatre and is a small, 80-seat theater offering an intimate atmosphere, fully engaging the audience in each production. Hendricks Civic Theatre anticipates continued growth in the next few years and hopes to continue engaging the community.
Despite having a home theater, Hendricks Civic Theatre regularly rents the auditorium at Avon Middle School South for its larger productions that can’t be accommodated at Longstreet Playhouse. “Noises Off,” the first production of the 2019-2020 season will be at AMSS and run September 27-29 and October 4-6. Their upcoming children’s production of “Matilda: The Musical” will also take place at AMSS in March 2020.
Longtime Board Member Matt Roberts is excited about the future of Hendricks Civic Theatre and this 40th anniversary season.
“My hope for the season is to see us continue on this trajectory and see Hendricks County come together to support Hendricks Civic Theatre and the whole arts community,” Roberts says.
Individuals and businesses can support Hendricks Civic Theatre financially through season sponsorships and program advertising as well as in donations of time and talents. The most valuable donations aren’t monetary.
“Our biggest need continues to be people, sharing in our vision and mission through volunteering of time, resources, skills or donations,” Roberts says.
“We are always in need of season and show sponsors,” Janning adds. “We are a non-profit and so without the support of local businesses and community donors we would not have a season. We also need volunteers that can help with our shows on a regular basis, be it parking cars, being ushers or working concessions.”
There are roles for everyone, on stage and off stage, and you can sign up to volunteer at hendrickscivic.com. You can also follow Hendricks Civic Theatre on Facebook for information about upcoming shows and further information about the organization and ways that you can “play a role.”
Hendricks Civic Theatre is located at 4998 North County Road 100 East Danville or you can give them a call at 317-943-3126 for more information.