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Emerald Coast Theatre Company Captures Time

October 15, 2017 by Manny Chavez

This past year has flown by for most folks, but Nathanael Fisher has figured out how to capture time, even for a moment, with every production of the Emerald Coast Theatre Company.

Now into its 5th season, with Nathanael as the Producing Artistic Director, over 7,000 people have attended performances at the “560 Grand Boulevard, Upstairs” location. Seated alone in the curtained main stage area, Nathanael seems content and “at home” in the ECTC environs.

“We are seeing the fruition of many of our dreams,” says Nathanael. “We already have over 900 elementary or middle school kids scheduled to come to the theatre to see either the Theatre for Young Audience shows or educational matinees of our professional shows. Exposing our community youth to the theatre has always been a priority for us.”

Another of Nathanael’s dreams was to bring professional programming to the community and he has done so in spades. Audiences have packed the house and now with the addition of musical theatre (I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change just wrapped), he is happy to witness the draw for local audiences.

Nathaniel exclaims, “We were hopeful that the musical genre would be a hit and it has been!”

Rounding out the Emerald Coast Theatre staff are Anna Fisher, Associate Artistic Director; Corey Tucker, Technical Facilities Director; and Bridgett Bryant, Program Manager. The staff and dedicated volunteers and community partners, have transformed the 17,000 square feet of open space into three stage areas, a green room, a wine bar area, a VIP Member Lounge area, and “pop up” art space occupying the walls throughout the various venues.

The artists featured on the walls are curated by Lori Drew (Lowkylzart) and Sherry Londe who have worked since ECTC’s first professional season to showcase local artists. As the themes of the performances change, so do the pop up galleries and the list of participating artists. An average of 30 artists and 80 works of art are displayed on the gallery walls. Proceeds from purchased art are then donated to ECTC.

“Grand Boulevard giving us our ‘Home’ has really impacted the theatre and our community,” explains Nathanael. “I’m really excited about our next professional show, A Wrinkle in Time, which will run from Dec. 7-23. We have 400 middle-school students coming to see the educational matinee of the show. This is a great family-oriented production occurring during the Christmas season.”

Upcoming 2018 professional theatre productions include The Amish Project, Jan. 18-28 and Sylvia, Feb. 15-March 4.

This year’s Lip Sync Battle, a crowd favorite, will be held Oct. 19 at 8 p.m. This is your chance to break out your moves and have fun either performing or just go and be entertained. Register or purchase tickets at www.ecbattle.com. 

Concerning ECTC’s future and past, Nathanael points out that “we’ve had four years to figure out who we are and how we serve the community best and we are very aware of the programming we have and how we can continue to serve the community better within those established programs.  Educational programming…how are we investing in kids who want to be a part of shows, how is that changing their lives in helping in reading or social skills, or self-confidence on stage. How can we better partner with schools. On a professional level, we want to speak to our audience, our community.”

Listening to Nathanael, it's apparent he is dialed-in to offering an “unplugged” experience for kids. "When you’re on stage, you are away from your phone, your iPad, or tv…I believe this is healthy for All ages, sometimes it is just good to pick up a BOOK with PAGES!”

Certainly, the Emerald Coast Theatre Company is bringing it…they have created opportunities for kids and adults to be on stage and added a cultural venue apart from the beach.

“It’s just exciting,” continues Nathanael, “we’ve seen our professional audience grow…growth in many ways. That’s powerful. Our community’s work has risen along with our continuing relationships with the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County, Grand Boulevard, etc.”

Seems like the theatre has been embraced by the community and the stage stands ready for interested thespians and audiences!

For more information, to volunteer, join, or donate, please call 850-684-0324. Web: www.emeraldcoasttheatre.org. Address: 560 Grand Boulevard, Upstairs (enter on lower floor, Hwy. 98 side, opposite side of Brooks Brothers), or visit on Facebook. For artist gallery info, call Lori Drew (Lowkylzart), 850-585-7689.

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Manny Chavez

Manny has been a working photojournalist his entire career and is now writing stories/taking pix for SoWal.com. He and his wife Kris live in Seagrove and have “seen a lot come and go.” Lots of stories have been told, with lots more to come!

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