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TOLEDO MAGAZINE

Toledo theater has nurtured love of the stage since 1933

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    From left: Meredith Hague-Rogers as Frances Black, Jim Rudes as Sidney Black, Frank Trecot as Colton Fitzgerald, and Georgia Brock as Stella, in "Light Up The Sky" in 1953.

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    David Crow, left, as Lord John Russel, Louis States as Viscount Palmerston, and Ruth LaFrance as Lady Emily Cowper in a performance from March 1950.

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    Toledo Repertoire Theatre's performance of "Driving Miss Daisy" with Madge Levinson and Ray Jackson in 1991.

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    Jerry Keefe, left, and John Cox in Toledo Repertoire Theatre's performance of "The Subject Was Roses" in 1967.

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    "A Christmas Carol" with Jim Rudes, left, as Ebenezer Scrooge and Jim Godbey as The Ghost of Christmas Past in December 1991.

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    Georgia Brock and John Dippery, president of the Rep at the time, in a scene from "Glamour Preferred" in 1947.

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On April 16, 1933, Fred S. Emmett wrote to six others with a big idea, the creation of a “little theatre” here. The group got together on April 23, and the Toledo Repertoire Company was born.

By June 8, 1933, the group was presenting its first production, Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, and the company’s first full season began Sept. 21 with The Shelf, a 1926 comedy/drama. In 1935, the Rep moved into its home at 16 10th St., and the show has gone on ever since. 

“It’s a privilege to be part of a theater with such a long history, but even more than that, it's an honor to be part of a theater that is still relevant and enriching so many people's lives in our community today," said Chris McAnall, president of the Rep’s board of trustees.

The Rep’s goal is to entertain but also to educate. Through its Rep Ed programs, it offers a series of performances, classes, workshops, and summer camps for children and teens in acting, singing, dance, and more.There also are adult classes in acting and improv.

The learning continues, says Amy Spaulding-Heuring, president of the Rep’s board of trustees from 2013 to 2015 and an actor and director. She is directing A Christmas Carol, to be presented Dec. 1-3.

“When I first became a Rep board member in  2008, I didn't realize how much I would learn about directing, leadership, and performing,” she said.  “As a director, I have had the pleasure and honor to work with some amazingly inventive designers, choreographers, and costumers and dedicated stage managers and technical crews, and I have found great joy working with accomplished performers.

“I have seen first hand the joy of children going to the theater for the first time. I have heard the raucous laughter of a thoroughly entertained audience. I have watched in wonder as a bare stage is transformed into a diner in rural Canada, a castle in Transylvania, and the wild streets of ancient Rome.”

Paul Causman, Rep artistic director from 1986 to 1991, says, “The Toledo Rep exemplifies the best of what community theater has to offer: People coming together with the intent of creating a meaningful experience for the audiences and themselves. I often hear people say, ‘Community theatre should be fun.’ Sometimes it is, but it can be difficult, too. Juggling the hundreds of hours required to produce a theatrical event with a full-time job makes creating theater an activity not for the faint-of-heart.

“I have had the honor of portraying Scrooge in the Rep’s annual production of A Christmas Carol for the past 15 seasons. The efforts of the directors, designers, crews, and performers come together in a community event that is much greater than the sum of its parts. For me, the Rep embodies my proudest artistic moments intertwined with a large network of longtime friends.

“These are the kind of life-shaping experiences and memories that are nurtured by the Toledo Rep.”

Contact Sue Brickey at sbrickey@theblade.com.

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