New Hope for Community Theater in Greene County | Entertainment


Last December, when the Denny House held a Christmas program of carols and dramatic readings at its Carriage House, Bret Moore sat in the audience enjoying the performance.

Soon he began to ponder the idea of ​​possibly staging live community theater productions in the Waynesburg Hall.

Greene County has a history of community theater dating back to at least 1968 when the Greene Theater Players performed “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” with Waynesburg Central High School English teacher Charles Berryhill.

With the idea of ​​resurrecting community theater in the county, Moore, a theater principal at McGuffey High School for 30 years before retiring in 2015, thought the Denny Carriage House would be a good venue. For one thing, he said, the acoustics are excellent and the space can accommodate around 100 people.

“We could do a number on a simple small stage with simple sets, simple lighting and modern costumes,” he said.

Moore’s idea for live theater became a reality on April 30 when he and the new Carriage House Players staged “An Evening of Dinner and Entertainment”. Seated around tables in the Carriage House, the public dined on a full menu of foods prepared by Aladdin Food Service, food supplier for Waynesburg University.

Hosted by Edward L. Powers, professor of theater and director of Waynesburg University’s theater program, the event featured four lovably absurd vignettes, two dramatic readings, and a musical interlude.

Several of the performances were by playwright David Ives, works that Moore called “a bit quirky.” Powers also performed two readings.

“We hope that when people see us, they’ll support us,” Moore said. “If all goes well, we would like to make this a regular event a few times a year.”

After retiring from teaching, Moore began working as the Greene County Community Services Director for the Courts. Since 2000, he has been the county director of recreation.

As a student at Waynesburg High School, Moore went on a coed outing with Berryhill, his teacher, to a one-act theater festival in Bucks County. Later, as a theater manager at McGuffey, he took his students to the same event several times, where the group won Best Play once and Best Actor and Actress several times.

With the support of the Greene County community, Moore hopes to continue the county’s theater history. With 10 theater friends already on board, the Carriage House Players hope to bring live community theater back to Denny Carriage House.

Considered a relic of the Victorian era, the 1836 Denny House was painstakingly preserved and refurbished last October by Kent and Pam Marisa. Part of their renovation project was to transform the Carriage House into a venue that could host several types of events, including live theatre.

The Carriage House has retained its Victorian atmosphere with chandeliers, original brick walls and a new door with old wood and antique hardware.

“It’s a good fit for what we hope to do in the future,” Moore said.

While live theater continues to be produced by the Waynesburg University Theater Department and local high schools also perform plays as an extracurricular activity for students, the latest community theater production in the county by Greene was a 2000 staging of “Little Shop of Horrors”.

It’s a void that Moore hopes to fill in the future by advancing the legacy of live community theater in the county.


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