By Joe Bachman
CHAMPAIGN, Ill — The very best in regional community theatre took center stage this weekend, and two local theatres were among them.
Wisconsin Rapids Community Theatre (WRCT) and Central Wisconsin Area Community Theatre (cwACT) of Stevens Point won a statewide play competition in February, advancing to regionals. Hosted by the American Association of Community Theatre, (AACTfest) the regional festival in Champaign, Ill. saw nearly a dozen theatres from Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, who joined Wisconsin’s best for a weekend of live performances.
Representing WRCT, “The Gin Game”, starring Bev Ross and Greg Konz-Krzyminski, put on a well received performance about a tale of two people that use a game of gin-rummy as a metaphor for their lives. cwACT’s “The Diary of Adam and Eve”, starring Wisconsin Rapids’ natives Joshua Panter and Amber Fait, and directed by Scott Price and Tana De Lonay, took in a similar reaction from the dozens on hand, as their one act play told a comedic story of Adam and Eve, and their trials and tribulations, written by Mark Twain.
However, not all that glitters is gold, and the two theatres fell short of advancing to nationals. This did not deter the spirits of the groups, as WRCT won an award for fellowship and loyalty, and according to the judges, cwACT’s performance of “The Diary of Adam and Eve” was “entrancing.”
“I thought it was a very competitive festival,” said Secretary and Tech Don Matthews. “I’ve been to other festivals, and this one was much more competitive — all the shows could have went to nationals.”
A similar sentiment was shared by Rapids native and performer Amber Fait, who played the part of “Eve” during “The Diary of Adam and Eve”.
“What an amazing experience overall — just the fact that we got to perform along side of such spectacular actors is an achievement on its own,” said Fait. “A lot of great memories were made and it was wonderful getting to meet and mingle with the other theatres. The sense of community was strong, and what an honor to feel so welcomed by other troupes.”
“Community” was a word thrown out a lot, as while in many forms of competition, conflicts can become heated, and enemies can be made — however, in this large group, all competition was rooted in friendship and comradery, no matter the outcome.
“It was a really thrilling weekend,” said Konz-Krzyminski. “It’s really inspiring to know that there is all this grass roots effort going on with theatre in the United States.”