Amherst Community Theater is dedicated to producing high quality musical theater to engage children, adults, and families, both as participants and as audience members. We strive to provide opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to perform and to work creatively behind the scenes to bring a show from concept to reality. Amherst Community Theater is truly a team effort. It is community.
“The stage is not merely the meeting place of all the arts, but is also the return of art to life.” – Oscar Wilde
It is this spirit which, each year, draws some 150 members of our community together as one in a creative endeavor that we see as nothing less than a miracle. Every January we present a full-scale musical at Bowker Auditorium, a beautiful 600 seat auditorium at UMass. We strive for a multi-generational and multi-ethnic cast of approximately 65 from across the Pioneer Valley, ages 7 and up. We have a reputation for elaborate, beautiful sets, impressive choreography, live orchestra and stunning costumes. Our auditions are in September and rehearsals begin in early October. The fall months are filled with set building, costuming and all aspects of preparation for this major production.
Since 1993, Amherst Community Theater has presented – and reprised – war horses like Peter Pan, Oliver!, and The Music Man. But we have also taken risks and excelled artistically with lesser-known shows such as Anne of Green Gables and The Secret Garden. While our eye must always be on the bottom line and our ears tuned to your applause, we are mindful of the delicate balance between popularity and artistic worth.
Each spring, we sponsor a week-long children’s theater opportunity in conjunction with Missoula Children’s Theatre (www.mctinc.org ), a non-profit theater group out of Missoula, Montana. A pair of young actors/directors arrives in town with all the sets, costumes and scripts to produce a one-hour show. In the span of one week, they hold auditions, select a cast, rehearse and put on 2 performances on Saturday. It is a truly amazing process to observe. The participants (children and teens in grades K-12) love it and it is a fantastic way for young kids to begin to explore the theater. It is an amazing and fun filled week.
Amherst Community Theater receives no funding from the Amherst town budget, and our organization is staffed by a dedicated group of volunteers, many of whom receive no payment or stipend for their efforts. In this spirit we invite our audience to join us in supporting Amherst Community Theater with a financial contribution. You may also donate to our Theater Access Program to ensure that our shows can be enjoyed by all members of our community.
We, the Board, are committed to the survival of Amherst’s community theater. We intend to build on this its reputation for excellence while keeping it an affordable entertainment.
Your financial support will allow us to continue to bring you high quality live theater, provide our young actors and actresses with outstanding opportunities to perform and to continue to provide access to our shows to those who cannot afford it. If you want to support this vital and uplifting work, click here to learn about donating to Amherst Community Theater.
If you would like to be a part of the creative team for a future Amherst Community Theater production, please send an email at any time of year to email@example.com
We thank you for your patronage and your ongoing support!
Amherst Community Theater acknowledges, respects, and celebrates the diversity within our organization and local community. We seek to create theater that enables people of different genders, races, cultures, sexual orientations, levels of physical ability, ages, beliefs, and socioeconomic backgrounds to be represented in our productions.
Amherst Community Theater Board
- David Mullins, Chair
- Barbara Pistrang, Vice-Chair
- Fran Goodwin, Treasurer
- Sam Karlin, Secretary
- Sue Dunbar
- Dave Grout
- Phoebe Hazzard
- Paul Healey
- Betsy Mullins
- Lee Nerney
- Wendy Plummer
- Susan Raker
- Barbara Skolnick Rothenberg, Founder
Auditions and Casting:
Auditioning for a show can be stressful – even for experienced performers! It is our goal at Amherst Community Theater to make the audition process as fun and relaxing as possible. Of course, not everyone who auditions will be offered a role in the show. This is a natural result of having many more people audition than can be included in the cast.
Our cast size is limited to approximately 65. This is the number that makes a production on the Bowker Auditorium stage safe and manageable. In a typical year there are well over 100 people auditioning for 65 roles. Simple math tells us that a large number of them will not be offered a role in the show.
After general auditions are complete a modest number of those who auditioned are invited to callbacks. Callbacks are generally limited to lead roles only; a role in the ensemble would not typically require a callback. In some cases the audition team does not need to call back multiple people for a particular lead role if they are able to make a decision about that role during general auditions.
Auditions are hard. It takes courage to be vulnerable and put oneself out there. That’s why we put a lot of thought into our audition process. Our casting team works carefully to consider what will make a cohesive and balanced cast for our show. It is not an easy job, but we are confident in our process.
Casting decisions are made by the casting team and not by the Amherst Community Theater board. The director, musical director and choreographer have the primary responsibility for casting decisions. Also on the team are the rehearsal stage manager who is responsible for managing the process and the producer whose role is to represent the Amherst Community Theater board while casting decisions are being made, ensuring that Amherst Community Theater casting philosophies are respected and followed. These philosophies include, among other things, a commitment to ethnically diverse and multigenerational casting as well as the desire for a mix of returning and new members of the cast. In some years there may also be an assistant director and/or assistant stage manager present during auditions.
Casting is a thoughtful process that requires a great deal of give and take among the casting team members and it is similar to putting together a complex puzzle. Often there are multiple strong candidates for a given role, and the audition team must consider numerous factors as they make their decisions. For example, one candidate may have fewer scheduling conflicts than another or may have a better chemistry with an actor they will be playing opposite. One might be a stronger singer than another but a weaker actor or dancer. It is the mission of the casting team to put together the best possible cast from the group of actors who have auditioned, and great care is taken to achieve that goal. All casting discussions are confidential and are not shared with the Amherst Community Theater board or anyone else after casting is complete.
Each year approximately 40% of our cast members are new to Amherst Community Theater, creating a nice mix of new and returning cast members. Occasionally, someone who has been in a previous Amherst Community Theater show is not offered a role in the current show. This can be disappointing but is a necessary consequence of our desire to include new cast members each year.
If you are not cast in our show, we encourage you not to lose heart. Many of our cast members did not get into a show the first time they came to audition, so try again next year. We also invite you to become involved with Amherst Community Theater behind the scenes in the areas of set building, costuming, ushering and other volunteer tasks, many of which are done each year by volunteers who do not have a family member in the cast.
Parents, helping kids process their audition experience is an opportunity. Your children will learn from your example to know how to react. They’ve done a great thing by stepping out to take this risk—compliment them for their efforts! It can be helpful to treat the audition as an event in itself—regardless of the outcome, auditioning has been lots of fun! There will be another opportunity next year, and in the meantime, take a look together at the many opportunities for performance in our area. Additionally, each spring Amherst Community Theater offers an opportunity to young people in grades K-12 to participate in a weeklong performance workshop with Missoula Children’s Theatre. Information about this program can be found at: https://amherstacts.org/childrens_theater/index.html
We know that not getting cast can be hard to accept, especially for our younger community members. It can also be very exciting to get the part that you auditioned for. One of our goals as a community theater company is to create and foster community. To that end, we encourage members of the community to reach out to our producer with any concerns or questions about auditions. Please remember that public negativity, particularly on social media, can unintentionally hurt other members of our community. Our producer welcomes your feedback and can be reached at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.