Theater alive and well at community college

Fulton-Montgomery Community College strives to lead our area in cultural and intellectual enrichment. The FM Theatre is a great showcase for students and the community to take part in and see live performances, both new and classic.

This past spring, the college produced “Bat Boy: The Musical.” This show isn’t your normal Broadway musical. It was inspired by a series of tabloid headlines published in 1992 by the satirical newspaper The Weekly World News claiming that a terrifying creature, half-man and half-bat, had been discovered in a cave, leading to pandemonium in the fictional small town of Hope Falls, West Virginia. Just as the character of Bat Boy is a hybrid, so too the show is a hybrid: a comedy/horror musical that is just as much a metaphor for persecution as it is a cycle of entertaining songs.

For the past several weeks, the FM Theatre has been transformed into Victorian London as Foothills Family Productions, a local children’s theater company, had been preparing its production of “Mary Poppins.” This is the seventh summer that FFP has been in residence at FM. Their first production at the college was “Sleeping Beauty.” Since then, the company has produced “Cinderella,” “Annie,” “Alice in Wonderland,” “Peter Pan” and “Beauty and the Beast.” Some of the young actors who have grown up on the FM stage performing these shows have now chosen to attend FM as they reach college age.

Coming in December, the FM Theatre will be presenting “Dead Man’s Cell Phone” by Sarah Ruhl, one of the most promising young playwrights in America. In this play, a young woman picks up and answers the ringing phone of a recently deceased man. In doing so, her life becomes tied to his in unusual and funny ways. “Dead Man’s Cell Phone” examines the idea of how technology can bring us together, but also isolate us at the same time.

In addition to serving as performance venue for productions such as these, the FM Theatre serves as a teaching facility for courses in acting, directing and stagecraft. It is also a comfortable and accessible setting for visiting lecturers and performers.

Thornton Wilder, the author of such classic plays as “Our Town” and “The Skin of Our Teeth,” once said: “I regard the theater as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.”

Over the years, Fulton-Montgomery Community College has been known for its commitment to theatrical productions on campus, producing all manner of classic and contemporary plays and musicals. Whether with college productions or community groups like Foothills Family Productions, the FM Theatre provides a home and a hub for people in the community to see things both unfamiliar, like “Bat Boy” and “Dead Man’s Cell Phone,” as well as familiar, like “Mary Poppins.” Theater is alive and well at the college, providing a way for people of all ages to take part.

Jason Radalin is assistant professor of theater arts.