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Old ‘Friend’ Revisited

Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / May 4, 1998

RESERVE – Interested in local theatre? Fascinated with the smell of the greasepaint and the roar of the crowd? The Friends of the St. John Theatrewants you! Karen Duffy and Fege Boe are spearheading an effort to gain 300 new members for a regenerated theatre support group from among St. John theBaptist Parish residents.

The only community theatre with its own facility – it’s owned by the parish government but operated by local citizens, St. John Theatre onceenjoyed the attention of a Friends group. However, as years went by,interest faded and membership dwindled.

Now, the current drive is to restore that interest in local theatre with involvement in local productions and social events at the Reserve facility.

“We’ll be happy to welcome back older Friends as well as new people who may not have been aware St. John Parish had its own theatre,” Duffycommented.

The next production planned is “The Wizard of Oz,” with open auditions set May 18-20 and production dates of July 17-19 and July 22-25 scheduled.

This fall, the theatre will present its second annual haunted house, Duffy said.

Jack Snowdy has been managing director of St. John Theatre since 1981.He recalls that the first Friends group was organized by Dr. Jack Harveyand his wife, Joyce.

“They had oodles of families,” Snowdy said, “but it gradually petered out.”Boe and Duffy have reported strong initial interest in a newly-revitalized Friends group. The official membership drive continues through June 15.The St. John Theatre, located at 115 West Fourth St., has its origins in theMaurin Theater built in 1931. After the parish bought the building,renovations began and the first production, “South Pacific,” inaugurated a renaissance in local theatre arts.

Productions presented at St. John Theatre include “Grease,” “Bye, Bye,Birdie,” “Hello Dolly,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “The King and I,” “Annie,” “Little Shop of Horrors” and “Peter Pan,” among many others.

In addition to top-quality productions of stage classics, the theatre also makes itself available for events such as dance recitals, pageants and school plays.

It has 571 seats, a large backstage area with four dressing rooms and a separate makeup room, a balcony area and newly-renovated restrooms.

Plans call for work on the air-conditioning system and the stage lighting system, Snowdy added.

Plans also call for a wine and cheese party after “The Wizard of Oz” opening night for new members of Friends of St. John Theatre.Duffy said many people get involved with the Friends group as their children become involved. Such has been the case with both Duffy and Boe.Duffy’s daughter, Dianna, has sung and acted in several productions and Boe’s son, Buddy, is a professional-level actor whose start came with St.

John Theatre. Her daughter, Bridget, is also active at the theatre.Membership levels and prices are: * Regular membership – $15 per person or $25 per couple. Benefits includea presale ticket purchase opportunity on productions and an invitation to the wine and cheese party on opening night.

* Patron membership – $35 per person or $50 per couple. Benefits includea presale ticket purchase opportunity on productions, discount tickets and an invitation to the wine and cheese party on opening night.

* Angel membership – $60 per person or $75 per couple. Benefits include apresale ticket purchase opportunity on productions, discount tickets, an invitation to the wine and cheese party on opening night and two free tickets to “The Wizard of Oz.”For more information on joining Friends of the St. John Theatre, contactDuffy at 652-3343 or Boe at 652-7919.

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