Boyertown's State Theatre again welcomes the Talisman Players of Kutztown to present “The Wizard of Oz” on Feb. 2 and 3.

The Feb. 2 show will be at 11 a.m. followed by a free luncheon and Meet the Cast at St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church, 45 N. Reading Ave., Boyertown. The Feb. 3 performance will be at 2 p.m. followed by a free cookies and ice cream and Meet the Cast at the Boyertown State Theatre.

“The Wizard of Oz” kicks off the State Theatre’s 2019 initiative, “The State Theatre, More Than Movies,” which includes children's live theater.

“The children in the Boyertown community experienced the thrill of a live stage show in February of 2018 as the Talisman Players performed ‘Pinocchio’ at the State Theatre,” said State Theatre President Charles Haddad. “The headline in the Berks-Mont News shortly thereafter read, ‘Talisman Players wow audience with Pinocchio.’ Many parents expressed their appreciation for having the Talisman Players.”

For many of the attending children, this was their first time experiencing a live stage show.

“It is this ‘wow’ experience of a child experiencing a live stage show that we hope the Talisman Players will bring to Boyertown,” said Haddad.

The State Theatre is in its second full year of being a single screen movie theater featuring first run movies, which means the theater must agree to show the featured movie sent by the major movie studios every day and at regularly scheduled matinees.

“This arrangement has been very successful for the State Theatre as to the number of people attending the movies as scheduled. However, this arrangement has limited the State Theatre to be a Community Theater with a broader itinerary of events as live theater, music performances and other special events,” said Haddad. “For that reason, the Board of Directors of the State Theatre has adopted an initiative for its second year of operation.”

The 2019 initiative, “The State Theatre, More Than Movies,” includes children's live theater, teenage only premier movie showing and pizza party, Classic Movie Program, and having the State Theatre available for non-profit organizations for fundraisers.

“The Talisman Players contribute a finished first class live stage show for a community theatre directed to the age of the audience. By having a live stage show presented by a theater group as accomplished as the Talisman Players, the State Theatre is able to meet its contractual requirements with the major film studios and still meet its self-imposed obligation of being a theater for the community featuring a broad venue of shows,” said Haddad. “The cast is superb, but the children and adults can relate to them as, ‘Just like us’ and makes the audience, young and old feel, ‘I can do that.’"

Haddad likes that the Talisman Players are a community theater group.

“Just identifying themselves as a community group is so important since they, as a community group, are presenting themselves to another community group, the Boyertown area community.”

He also likes that the cast, still in costume and makeup, are available for a Meet the Cast social after taking their curtain call and applause.

“Additionally, even though they are from a neighboring community, Kutztown, their auditions for being in the cast is open to all who wish to be on stage,” said Haddad.

He also appreciates that there are three generations of family involved, Tom Nardone, the founder; his daughter Christine Storch, director and Brandi, Christine's daughter.

“Boyertown is a strong family community that welcomes and appreciates a family working together so successfully. The State Theatre is proud to partner with the Talisman Players.”

Haddad credits the State Theatre’s partnership with the Talisman Players to a fall 2017 article published in Berks-Mont Newspapers about the Talisman Players performing “Pinocchio” in Kutztown. That brought the Talisman Players to Haddad’s attention and a phone call lead to the Talisman Players performing Pinocchio at the State Theatre.

“The success of that single performance has led to our second year of partnering with the Talisman Players and Tom, Christine and Brandi. It is this partnership that is enabling the State Theatre To Be More Than Movies,” said Haddad.

“Well, how wonderful is it that Mr. Haddad has pressed to make the State Theatre more than just movies?” said Nardone. “If only more people would be willing to look at their resources from his point of you we could easily expand the connections of art in all its forms to a greater audience at affordable pricing. Our biggest challenge is to find rehearsal space and performance venues that are affordable so that we can keep our costs down. Anybody have a barn they want to give us?”

Bringing “The Wizard of Oz” to the Boyertown aligns with their mission.

“The Talisman Players' mission has always been to bring quality theatre to all communities at accessible prices, so this joint venture between the Boyertown State Theatre, the congregation of St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Talisman Players is exactly what my daughter Christine and I want to accomplish,” said Nardone. “Our last presentation, ‘Pinocchio,’ was so well received and appreciated it strengthened our commitment to continue this partnership.”

Nardone also sees a benefit for the cast.

“As a growing community theater I can't say enough about the confidence growth this kind of traveling experience has on the actors involved. I'm very secure in the ability to present an excellent theatrical production, but when actors succeed with an audience other than family, friends and local residents, then they too are convinced of their ability to create the magic of theater.”

The Talisman Players feel very fortunate to have this opportunity to expand their craft and audience.

“We hope it encourages people to join us and volunteer their talents to the Talisman stage and/or to seek that connection with any and all quality art organizations in their area,” he said.

For more information about the Talisman Players, visit https://talismanplayers.com/. To purchase tickets, visit boyertownstatetheatre.com.

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Lisa Mitchell is an editor for Berks-Mont Newspapers, covering news and events in the Northeast Berks County area.

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