For the vast majority of the three communities two hundred years of existence there was a lack of local theatre in the area. That all changed in December 1996, when the Twinsburg Youth Theatre debuted with a production of Babes in Toyland. First conceived in 1994 by Meredith Shreve, the youth theatre started transforming into a multi-generational community theatre in 2001 after many adults approached Shreve with their desire to perform onstage. Previously to the 2001 production of Annie, adults only worked behind-the-scenes, building sets, dropping backgrounds, etc.
Shreve, originally from Cleveland, migrated to Twinsburg in 1993; soon after her arrival she started serving on the Parks and Recreation Commission, in part due to her realization that there was no community theatre. In particular, she recognized the importance of a theatre program for children. According to Shreve, “Theatre is a very great way for kids to have some activity and earn self-confidence and grow within themselves and express themselves.”
Thousands of adults and children have been involved in the community theatre over the first twenty years of its existence. Almost all of whom have participated solely for their love of the arts and the sense of community as there has never been any financial compensation. It is a non-profit endeavor that pays for all the necessities in putting on a top-flight musical production via ticket sales, concessions, program sales, and fees paid by performers. All of these proceeds go towards funding expenditures such as royalties, rigging systems, choreographers, costumes, and other related requirements.
The productions have often been produced on a grand scale, with as many as 120 people working on a single musical. World-renowned Hall Associates Flying FX supplying their exceptional effects for the flying sequences in Peter Pan. According to Hall Associates website: “From high schools to Broadway theatres, from Europe to Asia, from California to Maine, we provide whisper-quiet flying systems, which offer remarkable flexibility, the highest quality and unparalleled safety at a reasonable cost” (http://www.flyingfx.com/about-us/about-hall-associates/).
One of the drawbacks to the community theatre is that it is financed in part with a pay-to-perform platform, as all performers must pay a fee of fifty dollars to act in a production. This hinders the chances that under-privileged youths will have the means to participate in the community arts program. For those who have had the good fortune to partake in the community theatre it has brought great joy, a sense of achievement, and lifelong rewarding relationships with their fellow performers.
If there is any doubt as to the positive effect that the community theatre and Meredith Shreve’s devotion to it has had on Twinsburg it should be quelled by Mayor Katherine Procops’ proclamation that she couldn’t think of anyone who brought more joy to the community.
Twinsburg Community Theatre commemorates its 20th anniversary in 2016 with a musical revue, a first for the theatre. The production celebrates 20 years of Broadway, including fan favorites Wicked, Little Mermaid, and Phantom of the Opera.