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Community Theatre launches $10K sign project

Maybe it’s because of the building improvements and growing popularity of downtown. Maybe it’s because of the growing art scene in the historic district. Or maybe it’s just the proud fact the Excelsior Springs Community Theatre has its own home for the first time in its 33 year history. Any of these reasons validate the local acting troupe’s goal to add a sign to their Slightly Off Broadway Theatre, and that’s exactly what they’re going to do.

The official announcement came earlier this week as the all volunteer community theatre organization announced plans to add a neon lit sign on the corner of its home at 114 N. Marietta Street, just “slightly off Broadway” in downtown Excelsior Springs.

“This is a big project and one we are finally ready to tackle,” announced board president Colonsay Selby. “We’re finishing our third season in our new home. We’re proud of the improvements we’ve made to the building, but we’re far from finished.”

Since purchasing the former church building in 2010 and holding its first performance there in early 2011, the Community Theatre’s Slightly Off Broadway Players have patiently and steadily made major improvements to the building.

Starting with bathrooms and the stage itself, other improvements include all new electrical and lights with the help of local electrician Gary Sanson, repair to the concrete steps by Bruce Collins, painting of the building by Nick Johnson and Marvel Painting and a lot of internal improvements through the volunteer labor of theatre family members.

“Everything we do, we do locally,” explained Artistic Director Tanya Duncan. “We’re a small community and it’s important to support local businesses. That’s something we’re especially proud of.”

The new neon sign will be the crème de la crème of these massive building improvements.

Designed by local artist Shawna Mull of Ambassador Sign Company, the neon sign will stand just over 12 feet tall and three feet wide and will hang on the southeast corner of the building, easily visible to the Broadway and Marietta Street traffic.

Duncan noted the neon sign has been approved by the Excelsior Springs Historic Commission, matching styles from an era in Excelsior Springs’ past similar to signs seen on Ray’s Diner and the Oaks Hotel.

All that’s left to do is raise the funds.

“We need $10,000 for the entire project and so far we’ve collected $2,000,” Selby said.

Being a volunteer organization, funds for every improvement come directly from ticket sales of their performance. With utilities, a mortgage and other monthly expenses, profits from the shows leave little left for larger projects like the sign. That’s why the theatre is turning to the local performing arts supporters for donations.

“We raised $2,000 just from word of mouth. We know the support is out there and we hope a community wide campaign will help us reach our goal,” Selby added.

As the community theatre is launching its 2014 season in November, they would like to see the season start with a new sign brightly marking the Slightly Off Broadway Players in their permanent home in the heart of a restored downtown art district.

After humble beginnings in 1980 and a 33 year journey taking them from school stages and church basements to local restaurants for their performances, this community theatre group has proven they can endure any obstacle and overcome any adversity through their love of live theatre. Their remarkable tale and their level of talented performances such as “Sweeny Todd,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” and most recently “South Pacific” is proof the community theatre will be an indelible fixture in Excelsior Springs history.

Help the theatre celebrate their accomplishments by donating to their sign project.

Donations of any amount can be made to the theatre now through November by visiting the box office or mailing checks to 114 N. Marietta Street, Excelsior Springs, MO 64024. A PayPal account will be active soon and can be reached through the theatre’s web site:
ESCTheatre.org.

By Brian Rice • brian@leaderpress.com

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