Community Theater 'A Family'

Mar 5, 2015

Members of the Stage Coach Players rehearse the opening number of "9 to 5: The Musical"
Credit Guy Stephens / WNIJ

The Stage Coach Players open their 2015 season March 12 at the Stage Coach Theater in DeKalb with "9 to 5: The Musical.  This musical stage adaptation of the 1980 hit movie will open the Stage Coach Players’ 69th straight season of performances. 

David Hyde is the director for the show. He says the members of the community theater company run the gamut.

“It’s a variety of people. All the way from people who that are just walking in off the street, that decide, ‘I want to try this one time,’ all the way to people that are actually, well, what they call Equity players, who actually get paid for doing what they do - not here.”

Hyde says getting the best talent from all that together for rehearsals presents a challenge, especially since most are dealing with job or family concerns.  School is a big one, he says.

"We have students at NIU, we have employees from NIU.  One of our leads is a locksmith, and I just got a text from him that he’s on the south side of Chicago - ‘be here as soon as I can’ – so that’s exactly the type of thing work around.  And we have to.  If you said, ‘you’ve got to be here for every single rehearsal,’ we’d lose a lot of people, so we try to be just as flexible as we possibly can.”

Hyde credits his producer, Jan Kuntz, with mentoring him through the process.  Kuntz says she always loved theater, and wanted to expand on her experiences at her “day job.” 

“As an English teacher, I was usually the person that they chose to direct the high school plays, which I absolutely loved. And then I decided I wanted to branch out into the community theater, and I started about seventeen years ago with a very wonderful show called ‘Death of a Salesman.’ Because I’ve always loved music, I started directing musicals, and I’ve been directing musicals for Stage Coach ever since.” 

In the past, Kuntz has also served on the play reading committee.  She says it goes through innumerable scripts, in hopes of striking a good balance each season. Kuntz says it also looks for ways to expand the Stage Coach audience.  That may explain a season that includes “9 to 5,” Monty Python’s “Spamalot,” the 1940s comedy “Harvey,” and an adaptation of the 1960s cult classic horror movie “Night of the Living Dead.”  Kuntz says it's all about getting people in the door.

“What we hope is that we can get people in the door to see a certain show that they might love, say a ‘Spamalot,’ and then, maybe they’ll see that we do a wonderful job, and they’ll buy season tickets, and they’ll come back and see all the shows.  We might have a different group of people that see ‘Night of the Living Dead’ – I’m sure we will.  We’re really trying to appeal to all those different people, so that we can create a love of theater in this community.”

It’s a lot of very different productions, each with very different needs. And every season brings new challenges.  But Hyde says Stage Coach works, and has for all these years, because, unlike the characters in "9 to 5," everyone wants to be there.  

“We’ve got people that come build our sets, work costumes, work props, work concessions, and they never want to be on stage, and the people who do want to be on stage, the people that want to direct, the people that want to do tech work, like the sound and lights.  Everyone does it because they love the theater. And they do love each other here.  I mean, we are a family.”

The Stage Coach Players' production of "9 to 5: The Musical" runs Thursdays-Sundays, March 12-22, at the Stage Coach Theater in DeKalb.  The season continues with "Play On!," "Monty Python's Spamalot," "Harvey," "Do Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?," " The Graduate," "Night of the Living Dead" and "Miracle on 34th Street."