The Arena Fair Theatre, Delaware’s community theatre, is celebrating its 10th year of production with a lineup of classics coming throughout the remainder of the year. First up will be its reproduction of the hit musical, “Working,” which was first produced in Chicago in 1977 before making its Broadway debut in 1978.
Arena Fair Theatre will put on four productions of “Working” from June 14-16. The June 14 show will begin at 7:30 p.m., and there will be two shows on Saturday at 2 p.m. and again at 7:30 p.m. The final show on Sunday will begin at 2 p.m. The shows will be held in the Chappelear Drama Center on the campus of Ohio Wesleyan University.
“Working” is a musical based on oral historian, actor, broadcaster, and Pulitzer-winning author Studs Terkel’s book, “Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do,” which was published in 1974 and includes interviews with people of different regions and occupations in the working class.
“The show is inspiring, the show is funny, and the show is sad,” said Gregory Patterson, the artistic director for Arena Fair. “There are some songs that still bring a tear to my eye, due to some of the chorus people. That’s because this show is about people you know, people in the working world.”
Tickets are $15 and can be purchased either online at www.arenafair.com or by calling 740-302-TKTS. Some tickets will be available at the door prior to each performance. Tickets at the door must be purchased by check or cash; card transactions are not an option.
Following the summer production of “Working,” Arena Fair will begin working on its September performance, which will be its adaptation of author Harper Lee’s Pulitzer-winning story, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
To close out its 10th anniversary season, the community theatre will bring the timeless holiday hit, “A Christmas Story,” to the Delaware stage just in time for the Christmas season.
Patterson said he began Arena Theatre a decade ago after moving to Delaware with his wife and seeing there was no community theatre in town.
“I feel every city the size of Delaware — and the county, actually — needs a music theatre outlet for the young people, as well as the adults, who have talent and want to perform America’s theatrical selections for the city of Delaware,” he said.
At the beginning of its conception, Patterson said there was a search for people with similar talent and mindsets. Now, he said the entire community can be depended on to help in producing the shows.
While the pool of people who assist in Arena Fair’s productions has increased significantly over the past decade, one pressing need still remains: securing a home theatre.
Patterson said he has tried many different locations, adding Delaware lacks that classic, old theatre straight out of the movies that can be fixed up and reopened for new performances.
The lack of a home theatre has forced Arena Fair to be creative in where they host shows, he said. They have partnered with the county and utilized various churches to both perform and host rehearsals. Patterson said shows have even been held in the old courthouse, and the group’s production of “Steel Magnolias” was held in a hair salon studio, a setting that is central to the plot of the story.
“It’s kind of created a little mystery with the community,” Patterson said. “That is, ‘where will Arena Fair perform next?’”
As Arena Fair Theatre celebrates 10 years in Delaware, Patterson said the top priority moving forward is to find a permanent home for the theatre. He said there have been some proposals made not only to secure a home for the theatre but also to lock down administrative offices.
In addition to finding a stable home, Patterson said he would like to expand the theatre’s community outreach with things such as play-writing contests where Arena Fair would perform the winning play.
Although the lack of a permanent home remains a significant hurdle, Patterson said the theatre is celebrating its 10th anniversary with perhaps its strongest lineup of shows to date, suggesting there are even better days to come. He didn’t mince words in talking about where Arena Fair can go from here.
“The future is bright,” Patterson said.