A second ‘act’

By on January 14, 2015
Mary Martin (on stage, right) auditions for the upcoming CAFÉ Variety Show to be staged at Ephrata Main Theater on Feb. 8.  Looking on are (left to right) Terry Kreider, David Dierwechter, Karen Brown and Steve Brown.

Mary Martin (on stage, right) auditions for the upcoming CAFÉ Variety Show to be staged at Ephrata Main Theater on Feb. 8. Looking on are (left to right) Terry Kreider, David Dierwechter, Karen Brown and Steve Brown.

For the trio of Steve Brown, Terry Kreider, and David Dierwechter, making the Ephrata Main Theatre a center for arts for the entire community is more than just a vision. Their new mission is to reinvigorate the desires of Brossman Building benefactor Anne Brossman Sweigart and her passion for theater, live entertainment, and community involvement.
Recently, the group has formed as a board for a 501(c)3 non-profit organization taking what was formerly Ephrata ACT and transforming into CAFÉ-Community Arts Foundations of Ephrata. Their three pronged mission: bring professional acts into Ephrata at an affordable price, be available and affordable for arts groups to use the space, and produce theater and performance art.
“We have many things on the wish list,” said Kreider sitting down to speak of the space at 124 E. Main St.
Essentially home of all three of Ephrata’s original movie theaters, the Ephrata Main Theatre houses two seating venues, The Grand and The Roxy. The Grand includes a 24-by-18-foot proscenium-arched stage perfect for live entertainment. Although it makes a run by showing major motion pictures (along with The Roxy), The Grand was meant to be more.
“If the Ephrata Main Theatre is alive and used for more than just movies, it benefits the community. If this becomes a hub, a destination, it’s only going to create more benefits,” said Kreider.
Becoming a more supportive part of the community is part of the goal. So far, in the past month the Ephrata Main Theatre has hosted a benefit showing of “The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies” for the Ephrata Library and showings of “The Christmas Dragon” to aid the Ephrata Area Social Services food bank. Already, producers of “The Christmas Dragon” have shown interest in returning for further philanthropic events with possibly different films. Talks are taking place with a local historical playwright to feature new works on The Grand’s stage.
“We want to be broader than a theater company. We want to be theatre, dance, music, comedy, film,” explained Kreider. “Part of our mission is to provide opportunities to participate in the arts.”
The first “official” event for CAFÉ is a variety show for students in grades 5 through 12; Auditions were Jan. 11 at the Ephrata Main Theatre. The inaugural CAFÉ Variety Show welcomes all types of performers, groups or individuals. Singers, musicians, dancers, actors, standup comedians are all what Kreider is eager to see. The creative force behind CAFÉ will also audition student produced short films and individuals to serve as master of ceremonies. For those wishing to audition, each act must be self-contained and accompanied with a length less than five minutes.
One master of ceremonies and 10 acts were selected for the show and each performer or group will be asked to prepare two numbers and perform a number in each of the two acts of the show. There is no fee to audition and participate in the show.
Tickets for the Feb. 8, 4 p.m., show are $15 and are on sale now by calling 733-9098, or emailing terry@ephratamain.com.
As for a main stage production, Kreider is in negotiations for the rights to a family-friendly, major musical with a possible production date in March or April. Also, comedian John Peters will be returning in May, after a successful October love-offering performance.
“Live theatre is what this was built for,” said Kreider, who joined the Ephrata Main Theatre in June as theatre manager (and now as managing director for CAFÉ) in order to help create a non-profit. “We want to be a financially stable institution.”
To become financially responsible, Kreider looked to the recent history books and ledgers of Ephrata ACT and contacted Marcia and Dave Martin, who operated the troupe at the time of its cessation. The contact led Kreider to a storage facility at the old Donecker’s complex, which turned out to be a treasure trove of sets, props, costumes, and even a spotlight.
“Everything you could possibly need to start a theater company … as for the nuts and bolts of things,” recalled Kreider. “Of course, there was also the paperwork we needed [for the 501c3 organization]. We found that in the very first tub we opened.”
She estimates the equipment will save the fledgling group more than $50,000. The paperwork allowed the group to easily transform the non-profit from Ephrata ACT to CAFÉ. Although it saved Kreider a lot of time and energy, the process actually took several months while tracking down the original, defunct yet still elected, Ephrata ACT board of directors. Official CAFÉ meetings were held. Resolutions were signed. Bank accounts were changed (with help of CAFÉ Treasurer Karen Brown).
“We are fine with the state. We can now accept donations and expect paperwork for the Federal government to be completed in the spring,” said Kreider.
As a second act, through CAFÉ, theater and live performances will soon return to the stage of The Grand. Kreider — and all her CAFÉ companions — see the present as the time to involve the entire community in a legacy of the arts.
“We’ve seen what Ephrata merchants can do. It’s time for Ephrata to have its renaissance. This is just one piece of that renaissance,” said Kreider.
Michael C. Upton works as a freelance writer specializing in arts and leisure covering subjects ranging from funk punk to fine wine. He invites your comments and suggestions at 354-0609.
Photo by Stan Hall
Mary Martin (on stage, right) auditions for the upcoming CAFÉ Variety Show to be staged at Ephrata Main Theater on Feb. 8. Looking on are (left to right) Terry Kreider, David Dierwechter, Karen Brown and Steve Brown.

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