There was no stage. There was no sound booth. There was no theater to call home. For now, the cast of New Stage Players’ “Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding” had to imagine their own set inside the gymnasium of Immaculate Conception.
Director Rick Myers stood in the middle of the gym, waving his arms around to command the attention of his actors and actresses. “Listen up,” said Myers, his voice echoing throughout the gym. He spoke briefly about what the cast would do -- he also scolded his performers about their incessant cellphone usage -- before retreating to an empty chair, keeping a close eye on the ensuing action.
“Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding” is the first production of the brand new theater troupe called New Stage Players, of which Myers serves as the group’s president. The troupe is currently “homeless.” That is to say, there is no physical location for the New Stage Players to regularly meet. But that hasn’t stopped Myers and his group of veteran actors and theater enthusiasts from doing what they do best.
New Stage Players’ board of directors include: Kristy Tremayne, vice president; Christine Wolf, secretary; Michael Skaff, treasurer; and directors Wayne Blum, Erica Bowman, Christy Henjes, Tim Hess and Shelly Uhing.
The idea for New Stage Players emerged about a year ago. Although the troupe has recently been practicing in Sioux City, New Stage Players actually intends to bring theater entertainment to those living in northeast Nebraska -- mainly South Sioux City.
Tremayne said the area is underserved and hopes New Stage Players creates opportunities for those living in that region.
“The goal is to get more and more people involved in performing arts, especially in northeast Nebraska,” said Tremayne. “We see there’s a need for performing arts. There are several theaters here in [Sioux City], but there’s nothing across the river.”
There are three community theaters in Sioux City -- Lamb Arts Regional Theatre, Shot in the Dark Productions and the Sioux City Community Theatre.
Each Sioux City theater has its own niche. Lamb caters to students with a passion for the subject, Shot in the Dark prefers darker and more avant-garde-type shows and the Community Theatre has a history of organizing grandiose productions thanks to its much larger stage.
Tremayne said, in time, New Stage Players could develop its own niche.
“I can’t speak for all the others, but I think our niche is going to be a brand new facility that covers all the performing arts -- dance, theater and music,” she said.
Since New Stage Players has no physical location yet, the troupe has decided to produce “Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding” at the Marina Inn Cardinal Room in South Sioux City. The play is described as “immersive theater” set around an Italian-American wedding and the subsequent wedding reception.
Guests who have purchased their tickets to the show will be treated to a dinner theater-esque experience. The audience is essentially part of the play and can witness the bickering families up close and personal.
“This show was hot, hot, hot for a long time,” said Tremayne. “When the rights came out, we jumped on it.”
Though she is closely involved with New Stage Players, Tremayne said that she is still going to participate in other theaters in Siouxland. She’s slated to direct “Urinetown” and help with costuming at the Sioux City Community Theatre. But as a Homer, Nebraska, native, Tremayne is excited to see what will come of New Stage Players.
“We have a lot of South Sioux residents that are starting to get involved,” she said. “I see no dance classes in South Sioux City or music classes. That’s why the performing arts center is a good idea, I think. When you’ve been in theater for so long, it seems like you need something exciting. It’s something all of us can just start to work on from the ground up and just create.”
As far as finding a place to move into in South Sioux City, Myers said there’s nothing set in stone just yet. But members remain hopeful.
“Eventually, we’d like to find a home and space that we can call ours,” said Myers. “Our short term goal is to find a home and start producing a season, whether it’s a five-show season or a three-show season -- whatever we can do.
“We want it to be open to the people of northeast Nebraska who don’t normally get the chance [to experience theater]. We want to offer workshops and youth classes and things like that. I think New Stage Players will create opportunities.”