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Breaking ‘‘glass’’: Stained Glass Playhouse celebrates 30th season

by Mark Burger

This year marks a milestone in Piedmont Triad theater circles, as Winston- Salem’s Stained Glass Playhouse celebrates its 30 th anniversary season, kicking off with the July 22 opening of the Rodgers & Hammerstein classic, The Sound of Music under the direction of Alvin Tyndall, the artistic director of the Stained Glass Playhouse.

So named for its production venue — shows are staged in the old sanctuary Marvin United Methodist Church (4401 Indiana Ave., Winston-Salem) — the Stained Glass Playhouse does not confine itself to religiousthemed productions, encompassing every genre in the spectrum: comedy, drama, musical, mystery.

“Our productions have grown from amateur original scripts to professional ‘Broadway’ productions,” noted Tyndall. “Our actors have grown from children and a few adults to a large group of community actors who are involved in multiple shows throughout the community.”

There were eight founders of the playhouse, which was formed “in an effort to expand on the performances of a musical group at Marvin United Methodist Church called ‘Resurrection Joy’ — a musical group of guitars and drums with vocalists,” recalled Tyndall.

Although Tyndall is not one of the original founders, David Webster, the Stained Glass Playhouse’s current board chairman, was. “I’ve not quite been with the playhouse for the entire 30 years, but almost,” Tyndall said.

Since its humble beginnings, “direction has improved, costumes are outstanding, properties are specifically chosen and appropriate for the historical era, equipment has expanded and rates with other production companies in the area,” he said. “We’re still a ‘black box theater,’ unique to most audiences who don’t know what to expect when actors are directly in front of them as part of the production.”

Having directed over two dozen Stained Glass productions and overseen countless others, Tyndall counts among his personal favorites 1776, Jesus Christ Superstar, Brigadoon and A Raisin in the Sun (which will be revived later this season). Of course, not every show went smoothly.

“I remember that during 1776 one of our actors — who must not have been awake — came to me just before the end of our first weekend and said ‘Goodbye, I’m off for Los Angeles.’ In a panic, I reminded him that we still had two weekends to go. He apologized, but was still leaving. We were fortunate to find another actor, who turned out to be a direct descendant of the character. The replacement was a better actor!” Other mishaps weren’t so humorous, including the time a lead actor suffered a heart attack, or the time that a lead actress came down with laryngitis and has to be replaced by the show’s stage manager.

To describe the Stained Glass Playhouse as a labor of love would not be an understatement, and after 30 years the accent would still be on both “labor” and “love.”

“Some of our productions were quite simple, but we involved a large number of community volunteers,” said Tyndall. “That was one of our original goals and still remains a chief function of the playhouse.”

The playhouse’s 30 th season will include such classics as Arsenic and Old Lace, A Raisin in the Sun and The Miracle Worker.

This week marks the release of the final film in Warner Bros.’ phenomenally popular Harry Potter franchise based on JK Rowling’s bestselling series of fantasy novels, and Mixed Tape Productions will host a special Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Tailgate Premiere Party beginning at 6 p.m. This Thursday in the parking lot of the Carmike Cinema 18 (4822 Koger Blvd., Greensboro).

The revelry, which will include facepainting, a dunking booth, games, a costume contest and more,with a special screening of last year’s blockbuster smash Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 1 at 9 p.m., followed by the premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2 at midnight.

Tickets are $10.75 each (or $13.75 if you see the 3-D version – those glasses cost money!) and can be purchased in advance via www.Fandango.com. For more information, call 336.662.5691 or e-mail movieshowjoe@ gmail.com.

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