— HUMMELS WHARF — For two men who had a dream back in April, this Friday their dream comes true.
At 7 p.m. The Courtyard Theater, located just outside of J.C. Penny at the Susquehanna Valley Mall, will open its doors for the first time.
“It’s been such a huge gamble of time and money,” said Art Lieberman, the theater’s producer and manager.
“Bob and I have invested huge sums of money and sweat to see this project through to this moment in time. We have trusted our instincts, many other individuals and, of course, the possible theater-goers in our area to prove a theory correct. That theory is that there are several thousand people in neighboring towns who want live theater to exist at reasonable prices here.”
Bob Taylor, the artistic director of the theater, and Lieberman have chosen “Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” as their first play for the venue. They auditioned local talent in August and believe they have an outstanding cast of performers. A few of them are seasoned performers but most are up-and-comers in the theater; a few have never performed in a play before.
“They have come together and worked extremely hard,” sometimes struggling to find time from their jobs or schooling to rehearse this most difficult of musicals, Taylor said. “Of course Art and I have a vested interest in seeing the theater succeed, but these kids, who range in age from teenagers to mature folks, are doing it for the love of the theater, the music and the experience. It has helped that early on we found Nick Buckman, an experienced technical director, to set up our lights, sound and helped to construct our sets and we also were fortunate to have the talents of Michael Blaustein as our musical director.”
Lieberman and Taylor are charging $15 a ticket for all shows held at the theater. “In this economy, we want people who don’t have lots of disposable cash to be able to attend our productions,” they said.
But establishing the facility in the mall took a great deal of cooperation from the mall association and dozens of local businesses, they said. “Now the stage is set, the sound is set up, the lights are hung, the carpet is on the floor, the concession stand is open and the house lights are about to dim.”
There are nine performance of “Sweeney Todd” over the next three weekends. Friday and Saturday night shows begin at 7 p.m. and Sunday matinees start at 2 p.m. Tickets are available at www.thecourtyardtheater.com, by calling (570) 374-0060 or by stopping at the theater.