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Like many commu- nity theatres, Weatherford’s Theatre Off The Square (TOTS) operates out of a modest building on a modest budget.
But the ideas just keep get- ting bigger.
Since the first production of “Arsenic and Old Lace” in 1998, the production company has been a staple in Parker County. They are the premier example of theatre in the area, and TOTS Board President Laurie Jones said it is because they never stop thinking of ways to stay ahead of the con- ventional.
“We see the need for fine arts in Weatherford, and to make it better,” she said. “We strive to be current in the the- atre world, and we have some board members in a younger generation, which helps. I do not want this theatre to ever become stagnant.”
TOTS performs nine shows each season, along with a children’s show each summer. Their repertoire includes an annual musical. For 2018,
that was “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” The show was a big hit on Broadway.
The shows include the annual Shakespeare Festival, which was Macbeth in 2018. It was the second year for the production in the Heritage Park Amphitheatre.
“It’s been very well- received,” Jones said. “Edwina (Himes, director) worked real- ly hard, and it shows.”
Jones said they hope to have outdoor sound equipment for next year’s Shakespeare production as a patron has vol- unteered to help provide it.
The theatre has a strong relationship with the famous play-writing group of Jones Hope Wooten - Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten. In December of 2017 TOTS hosted the group’s world premiere of their new play, “A Doublewide, Texas Christmas.”
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RICK MAUCH/THE COMMUNITY NEWS
Theatre off the Square Board President Laurie Jones recalls many of the volunteers she has worked with over the years.
They also presented the group’s show “Farce of Nature” in March of 2018.
“Out of all the theatres for their world premiere they picked us, and that’s quite an honor,” Jones said. “We also did a southwest premiere for them a few years ago. They know if they give us a play we’ll do it right.”
Unlike many other the- atres, TOTS still puts its pri- mary focus on plays instead of musicals. They are considering adding more musicals, but Jones said they will never turn their back on plays.
“It kind of separates us,” she said. “When we do a musical, we do it right and it’s always good, but there are so many other theatres around and that’s almost all they do. Plus, they are much more cost- ly – about three times what it costs to do a regular show.”
TOTS didn’t even perform musicals before 2012. The first one was “Dracula Baby.”
“They have improved tre- mendously since then,” Jones said with a laugh. “But we had fun with that one. We always have fun.”
That is another reason folks are participating. TOTS has no trouble finding the right person for the right part as they have plenty of folks audi- tioning for each show.
Community Involvement
TOTS’ community involve- ment includes a children’s camp each summer, which they started six years ago. This is different from the children’s show put on each year. One camp is for children in grades 1-2, and another for grades 3-9.
In the younger camp chil- dren learn the very basics and even put on a short play at the end. In the older camp, chil- dren learn a plethora of theatre knowledge, such as musical theatre, technical theatre,
improvisation, costuming, fight choreography, readers theatre with different directors, mono- logues and scenes, and even sign language. They also have
a talent showcase presentation at the end.
“Our camp is very different. If they attend they are going to learn about theatre and they are going to discover things in a hands-on way,” Jones said.
Jones said they are con- sidering the addition of adult theatre camps.
And speaking of sign lan- guage, Jones said TOTS has teamed with Tarrant County College to have students from the schools sign several shows throughout the season.
“We’re going to try to get them for more shows, what- ever shows the college will let them do,” she said. “We’d love to have them for every show.”
TOTS also has an intern program for high school stu- dents. They can apply to help directors, stage managers, or technicians. Also, some high
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