Three chosen to lead newly-formed theater group
Published 12:05 pm Friday, July 22, 2022
As physical renovations continue on Elizabethton’s historic Bonnie Kate Theater, the organization responsible for leading the theater into the future is taking the next big step.
The Friends of the Bonnie Kate is launching its first-ever community theater group.
The newly-formed Bonnie Kate Community Theater (BKCT) will be led by Renee Christian, Marcia Ross and Robert Clark.
Plans are already underway for the BKCT to launch its first season this fall in October with the classic macabre comedy, Arsenic and Old Lace, by Joseph Kesselring. Auditions are set for the play at the Bonnie Kate Theater, 115 South Sycamore St., Elizabethton. Those who wish to audition may come on either August 8 or 9, at 6:30 p.m., whichever is most convenient. The play will run October 14-16 and 21-23.
A second play or musical, yet to be determined, will follow in February 2023.
The group is also reaching out to the community to anyone who has an interest in being involved. There will be an informational meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 2, at 5:30 p.m. at the Bonnie Kate for those who want to learn more.
“The community theater has been a goal since we started renovating the Bonnie Kate Theater,” said Friends of the Bonnie Kate President Kathy Campbell. “Our goal was always to have live plays and productions in the theater. This group will completely focus on that and will be a subsidiary of the Friends of the Bonnie Kate organization.”
There will be challenges, say BKCT leaders, as the group will exist and produce shows in tandem with major interior renovations which will also be taking place over the next several months.
“We hope to add more plays, musicals and opportunities for original performances, theater workshops for youth, as our group grows each year,” Christian said, adding “There will be growing pains. We will have to be flexible because we will be working to produce plays at a venue which also offers other types of entertainment — music, dance and movies — all of which enrich and entertain our community.
“Whenever you try something new and embark on a new venture, you have to figure out how things will get done and who will be responsible. We have received incredible support from the Friends of the Bonnie Kate.”
Both Christian and Ross have extensive backgrounds working with community theater, onstage and off, directing, acting and working tech. Clark has a strong background in education and construction, leading to his role in set construction and design.
Christian moved to Elizabethton last year, from Marion, Ohio. Soon afterward, she contacted the Bonnie Kate, and offered her help with any upcoming plans and events. Christian, a retired high school teacher, has 35 years of experience with community theater, having worked with the Bucyrus Little Theater, the Delaware Theater Association, the Marion Community Theater and Lake Huron Theater. She also did plays and musicals for high school and junior high students, engaging volunteers to work with OWjL — a program for gifted and talented students in junior high going into high school.
Her educational background includes a major in English and minor in theater from Ohio Wesleyan University.
Ross has been actively involved with theater productions and youth theater education at the Bonnie Kate since 2017. A retired art teacher, Ross is originally from Wilmington, Ohio. She received her art education degree from Milligan College and a master’s degree from East Tennessee State University. She and her husband, Tim Ross, minister at Hopwood Christian Church, served as missionaries in Kenya for ten years before returning to the area. Since then, she taught in Sullivan County and also worked in conjunction with the Elizabethton High School Drama Department, produced dinner theaters, musicals and plays at both her home church Hopwood and at the Bonnie Kate. She also organized and led summer youth theater camps at the Bonnie Kate. She is the former owner and operator of The Art Space at Building 518.
Clark grew up in East Tennessee, and has a long history in education and construction. A graduate of East Tennessee State University, he began teaching in Carter County in 1965 at the age of 21, teaching at both Happy Valley Elementary and Central Elementary before serving as principal at the former Southside Elementary School and Keenburg Elementary.
After retiring from teaching in 1992, he worked with Smith Driving of Arlington, Texas, where he was responsible for safety training. His work with Smith took him all over the world.
Clark also founded his own home improvement business, working in building and design. He will use his collective experiences as he works mainly with set design. He will also serve as part of the BKCT casting committee.