For its third year, the Bethany Area Repertory Theatre (BART) will be gracing the stage at Millville’s Dickens Parlour Theatre.
BART began in 2012, as a non-profit with the goal of bringing local theater to the Bethany area and, through the Encore Foundation established by theater owner Rich Bloch, providing scholarships to local high school students who seek to pursue a career in the arts, either on or off stage.
“We hope to provide scholarship money for kids in high school who want to go on to study the arts,” said Bethany Beach playwright Bob Davis, who formed BART with Bloch. “There are all kinds of arts, from music to drama. It’s a pretty broad scope.”
In its third season, BART hopes to provide weekly entertainment to area residents and visitors in the shoulder season and winter months. Every Wednesday, patrons may attend BART’s wide variety of productions for $25 per person, in the intimate 50-seat theater.
Next month, Davis’ play “The Time Collector” will be presented at Dickens on Oct. 16-18 and Oct. 23-25.
“It’s a very interesting story. It’s about a guy who took pictures of brides over 47 years. When they closed the bridal shop they asked him if he wanted the pictures back, and he said sure,” he explained. “It was a very different way he took pictures. He used diffused lighting and bounce back lighting. The pictures are stunning when you see them.
“His daughter told me the story of her father, how he tried to contact the brides to see if they wanted their pictures back. A lot of them remembered him and contacted him. He became sort of a celebrity in Buffalo, N.Y.”
Davis said when he first heard the real-life story, he thought it would be perfectly presented as a play.
“It’s all about brides receiving their pictures back and what has happened to them over the years. It’s three separate plays tied together,” he said.
A reading of “The Time Collector” debuted at the Dramatist Guild of America on Broadway in May.
Nov. 13-15 and 20-22, Davis’ original “Good King Succotash” will be performed at the theater. Auditions for that production will be held Sunday, Sept. 14, at 4 p.m. and Monday, Sept. 15, at 7 p.m. at the Dickens. The cast will include seven females and six males, with roles ranging from 20 to 70 years old.
“Southern Comfort,” Bloch’s one-man play about humorist Mark Twain, will be performed the first Sunday of each month beginning Oct. 5. Other showings of the play will be held on Nov. 2 and Dec. 7. The program will continue on Jan. 4, Feb. 1, March 1, April 12, May 10 and June 7, 2015.
In January, Davis said, the group will also be starting a new program, called Winter Wednesdays.
“We’ll be having play readings. We’re going to invite the public to come in for $5,” explained Davis. “We’ll read one every week. The people who come can either sit and listen or participate. We’re going to do some really great stuff.”
On Wednesday, Feb. 11, for Valentine’s Day, the group will perform Bernard Slade’s romantic comedy “Same Time, Next Year.”
“It’s a very funny play about two people in a relationship,” said Davis.
For the first time in its history, BART will be putting on a musical, “A Greater Lesser Moment,” running April 16-18 and 23-25.
“It’s the first time we’ve done a musical of any kind. Next year, we hope to do more energetic,” Davis said, who also wrote the musical.
On Feb. 27 and 28, “Music to Warm a Cold Winter’s Evening,” featuring national touring artists Eileen Stamnas and Jim Gibney, will be performed.
“We hope to augment some of the script reading with old scripts and old radio shows to make it more interesting,” added Davis. “It’s a nice full season this year. There are some good things coming down the pike.”
Davis said BART plans to begin fundraising efforts to help raise money to finance other theatrical endeavors.
“We are a nonprofit, and we are trying to do good things for the community,” Davis emphasized.
Davis said BART and Dickens hope to bring entertainment to residents and visitors during the not-so-busy months of the year, so they don’t have to travel out of town.
“There’s a song from the play ‘Grey Gardens’ — “It’s Winter in a Summer Town” — and it is. We have winter in a summer town, and a lot of times there’s not a lot of things to do here. We’re trying to fill that in,” he said. “We have a building population now. Look at Bay Forest, Millville By the Sea. The place is growing very rapidly. Here we’re providing things for people to do in the winter months.”
For more information about BART or to reserve tickets, call (302) 829-1071 or visit dptmagic.com. Dickens Parlour Theatre is located at 35715 Atlantic Avenue (Route 26) in Millville. Anyone who is interested in getting involved with BART can email a letter of interest to Bob Davis at RDavis6018@aol.com.