Thursday, November 2, 2006
By Lisa O'Donnell
Norm Birdsall has been an actor and director in community and professional theater for more than 35 years.Recently, he took on a new role – theater founder.
Birdsall and his wife, Reba, have formed the Clemmons Community Theatre. Its first production, Little Ruthie, will debut Nov. 30 at New Hope Community Center on Harper Road.
The show also will run Dec. 1-2 and Dec. 7-9.
Birdsall has worked as a performer and director in theaters around the area, including the Little Theatre in Winston-Salem, the Stained Glass Playhouse and the Kernersville Little Theatre. He has also acted in dinner theaters throughout the country.
Birdsall is a member of New Hope Church, which recently built a building that doubles as a church and community center. When church leaders asked Birdsall if he would like to start a theater group, he agreed. "The theater is another outreach program to get into the community," he said.
Birdsall was fresh from a trip to Danbury, Va., where he was filming a nonspeaking part in The Key Man, a full-length feature that stars Hugo Weaving (The Matrix) and Jack Davenport (Pirates of the Caribbean).
Auditions for Little Ruthie began yesterday. The play, which is loosely based on the Old Testament book of Ruth, is a 45-minute musical. Brad Williams will direct.
Birdsall said that the new theater group plans to stage two productions a year.
"Even though the first one is biblically based, we will definitely do mainstream theater," he said.
Anyone in the community is welcome to join the group, and participation is not limited to people with a desire to act. The group needs people who can help with costumes, sets, sound, lights and marketing.
"We're literally starting from ground zero," he said.
Birdsall has incorporated the group and serves as president. His wife is the secretary. A board of directors has also been chosen.
"One of the things I have noticed personally is that funding to high schools and grammar schools has been cut more and more," Birdsall said. "I got my little taste of theater when I was in high school. The bug hit me and I've been scratching it ever since. We need to have more venues like this so people can come and learn the craft itself."
• Lisa O'Donnell can be reached at 727-7420 or firstname.lastname@example.org.