Acting Out

Madison theatre troupe
continues long legacy of
drama in Madison

Madison Community Players
prepare for ‘Zombies’ play

(September 2013) – Proving that no town is safe from the threat of outer space aliens, the Madison Community Players are offering up an evening of laughs and chills with their upcoming play “Zombies from the Beyond.”
The troupe’s treasurer, Stephanie Hellmann, describes the play as something of an old B-movie brought to life. She explains the show as a musical combination of comedy and horror – “A spoof of the 1950s horror movies, UFOs, aliens, and the cold war race to the moon.”


Photos courtesy of Kristen Clevenger

Madison Community Players actors practice their parts during rehearsal for the upcoming “Zombies From the Beyond.” At left are Jack Clevenger and Drew Geerts. At right, is Kelley Hoagland (foreground) with (from left) Nichole Elam, Dakota Phillips, Jenny Collins, Lindsay Obendorf.


The play starts off at a Milwaukee space station, and the city soon faces the “buxom alien aviatrix” Zombina who “has come to get men to repopulate her planet,” recounts Hellmann.
She says that while the show is outrageous good fun, “It’s done seriously, it’s all deadpan, like they did in those old movies.” She believes that the play will particularly appeal to those who grew up watching movies where the strings on the flying saucers were visible on screen, enthusing that “it’s perfect baby boomer material.”
Director Kristin Clevenger explains that the troupe’s board was drawn to the play for a number of reasons. “With ‘Zombies,’ the growing fascination in recent years for the undead and the timing near Halloween, it seemed a very logical choice. And it certainly helps that the script is hilarious.”
“Zombies from the Beyond” will be presented at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Sept. 20-21, and again at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 22, at 124 E. Main St. Ticket prices are $10, or $8 for students.
Clevenger says the show will be a hit with a wide rage of audience members. “This truly can be enjoyed by all ages. True there are references that are more PG-13, but maybe won’t be understood by our younger audience, who will enjoy the music and choreography. For our baby boomers, these may be scenes all too familiar from their childhoods. But all in good humor.”
The Madison Community Players initially began as Spectrum Productions back in 1998. Founding member Hellmann explains that, “We took a little hiatus in the mid-2000s, gathered our energy and came back.”
The group supports itself through ticket sales, with the programs being paid for through ads. Hellmann reports that the Players have also applied for a grant. “We’re pretty self sustaining.”
She says that part of the way the group keeps down costs is the fact that rather than leasing a site throughout the year, “We rent a space as we go.” “We’ve formed partnerships with different venues.” She notes that their holiday dinner plays at the Elks Club and the Livery Stable have become eagerly anticipated traditions.
Hellmann stresses the welcoming nature of the MCP saying, “We’ll find a spot” for anyone looking to get involved. Hellmann particularly invites men who are interested in performing to consider trying out since at times the male roles have proven more of a challenge to fill than female ones. Actors and stagehands come to the group through a variety of different paths.
“Some people have been in a show in high school, some in community theater, and for some it’s on their bucket list,” Hellmann says.
Clevenger encourages teenagers to consider becoming active with theater saying, “It is a great activity that helps build so many skills like confidence, team building, culture, the ability to express themselves and the interest in many different levels of artistic expression.”
The group is always looking for new talent, whether on stage or behind the scenes. “We don’t want to become a select little group,” says Hellmann firmly. “We’ve got so many new people showing up it’s exciting. We’ve grown to have such wonderful friendships with this group.”
Clevenger explains her own introduction to MAC saying, “In my position with WIKI (radio), I receive many public service announcements, so when I got the one for auditions for last winter’s ‘1940s Radio Show,’ I decided to audition. I was blessed to have a role and from there was asked to join the board of MCP.”
Her own theater background includes high school and community theater, and a theater major from the University of Indianapolis. She said she is excited to be making her directorial debut with “Zombies” since her previous years of experience have had her typically “on stage or backstage.”
Coming back to theater after taking a break for a few years, Clevenger said she is pleased to be making a difference in the community in a way that she finds personally rewarding. “I am very proud to be a part of the players. I share the same beliefs, including the importance of the arts, plus MCP does a lot for the community, in ways of donations, summer camps, scholarships and much more.”
And, of course, Clevenger also sees the rewards of MCP extending to the audience. She believes that “having a local opportunity for great affordable entertainment is beneficial to the community as well. Being able to see quality performances with hometown people you know, without breaking the bank is a huge benefit.”

• For more information, call (812) 493-3357 or visit: www.madisonplayers.org.

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