News Column

Play on: Clayton Center hosts community theater festival

July 27, 2013

YellowBrix

July 27--Five plays performed by area community theater groups comprise the third annual Community Theatre Festival hosted Aug. 2-4 by the Clayton Center for the Arts. Four shows are musicals and family-oriented. The fifth is a comedy for adults about adults behaving badly.

All but one of the theatrical troupes have participated in at least one of the prior community festivals at the complex on the Maryville College campus. Theatre Knoxville Downtown and the Athens Community Theatre have been part of both past festivals. The WordPlayers based in Knoxville performed in last year's festival; the Maryville-based Foothills Community Players performed in the first year's event. New this year is the Maryville-based children's group Free Spirit Performing Arts.

Each play is performed more than once during the festival that makes use of the center's three differently sized theaters.

This year's festival doesn't include a Clayton Center-produced play. Former Clayton Executive Director Robert Hutchens, who founded the festival and retired earlier this year, directed a play for the event's first two seasons.

The festival opens Aug. 2 with "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown" and "Fiddler on the Roof."

The WordPlayers presents "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown" at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 2 in the center's Haslam Family Flexible Theatre. It also will be presented at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Aug. 3. The Knoxville-based troupe of Christian theater artists earlier performed the musical based on the beloved "Peanuts" cartoon characters in Knoxville.

The Foothills Community Players' musical "Fiddler on the Roof" plays at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 2 and again at 1 p.m. Aug. 3 in the Ronald and Lynda Nutt Theatre. That space is the Clayton's largest theater.

Set in Russia in the early 20th century, "Fiddler" tells the story of a poor man named Tevye who tries to keep his family together and uphold the traditions of his Jewish faith. The musical includes such songs as "Sunrise, Sunset" and "Matchmaker, Matchmaker."

The Foothills Community Players are premiering "Fiddler" at the festival. The group will continue performances of the musical after the festival through Aug. 11 at the center.

The Athens Community Theatre brings the musical "Always, Patsy Cline" to the Ronald and Lynda Nutt Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 3 and 2 p.m. Aug. 4 The musical is based on the real-life friendship between the legendary singer and a Houston housewife. "Always, Patsy Cline" includes such Cline hits as "Crazy," "Sweet Dreams," and "Walking After Midnight."

Theatre Knoxville Downtown reprises the play "God of Carnage" for the festival. The company performed the play in January at its downtown Knoxville theater. "God of Carnage" plays at the Clayton's Haslam theater at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 3 and 2 p.m. Aug. 4. With adult language, the 90-minute play is not suitable for small children. "God of Carnage" is a comedy about what happens when two high-strung couples meet to discuss a playground conflict between their two sons.

New to the festival and making its debut with "Children's Letters to God" is the Maryville-based children's group Free Spirit Performing Arts. "Children's Letters to God" will be performed in the center's Lambert Recital Hall at 4 p.m. Aug. 3 and 2 p.m. Aug. 4. The musical is based on a book by Stuart Hample; five young child performers will perform.

Tickets to a single play are $15 for adults, $10 for children. A festival ticket for all five plays is $40 for adults, $25 for children. Tickets are available at the box office, 865-981-8590. Tickets to individual plays also may be purchased through the center website www.claytonartscenter.com.

Attendance to last year's festival was 3,000, said Clayton Center Director of Marketing Cheri Compton.

Clayton Center for the Arts' Community Theatre Festival

What/when/performers:

-- "Fiddler on the Roof," Foothills Community Players, 7:30 p.m. Aug. 2 & 1 p.m. Aug. 3;

-- "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown," The WordPlayers, 7:30 p.m. Aug. 2, 10 a.m. & 2 p.m. Aug. 3;

-- "Children's Letters to God," Free Spirit Performing Arts, 4 p.m. Aug. 3 & 2 p.m. Aug. 4;

-- "God of Carnage," Theatre Knoxville Downtown, 7:30 p.m. Aug. 3 & 2 p.m. Aug. 4;

-- "Always, Patsy Cline," Athens Community Theatre, 7:30 p.m. Aug. 3 & 2 p.m. Aug. 4

Where: Clayton Center for the Arts, Maryville College campus

Tickets: Any single play $15 adults, $10 children; pass to all five plays $40 adults, $25 children. Single and festival tickets sold at box office, 865-981-8590. Individual play tickets also at www.claytonartscenter.com.

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(c)2013 the Knoxville News-Sentinel (Knoxville, Tenn.)

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