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school students help conduct the camps.
“A lot of times they go through our camps and come back as helpers,” she said. “To see them start as little kids and go through our theatre, that warms my heart so. That’s building our future.”
In fact, though not a child at the time, Jones got started in TOTS when she was in the the production of “The Trial
of the Big Bad Wolf ” in the 2000-01 season, when the theatre was still on York Street. They moved to their current location in 2004.
“I’ve still got the program at home,” she said.
And while no alumnus
has reached Broadway yet, several from TOTS have gone on to perform professionally, particularly in Fort Worth and Dallas, Jones said.
Taking Chances
other theatres is they aren’t afraid to take chances. For example, they have one show each season that comes with a warning for parents that
it contains language and/
or material that is not family friendly (which the vast major- ity of their shows are).
“That’s the biggest chance we took, putting that play out there,” Jones said. “But people want diversity, and the theatre is all about taking chances.”
The annual production, which began in 2016, is not included in the season ticket package, which covers eight shows.
“That way if people don’t want to come they don’t have to feel like they paid for some- thing they don’t want,” Jones said.
As TOTS prepares to cele- brate its 20th anniversary next year, the theme of the season is “Everything old is new.” It will feature several new shows along with several old shows
that have been given a new twist.
“It’s going to be interesting, very interesting, that’s all I
can say now,” Jones said with
a grin.
The theatre at 114 N. Denton Street has undergone some renovation on the out- side. Now Jones said the focus is on the inside, including such things as new stadium style seating and raising the ceiling level.
Becoming a part of TOTS is easy, Jones said. It doesn’t even require theatrical expe- rience, just a love of the stage arts.
“I have people all the time ask how to volunteer,” she said. “I tell them just come up here. We have many jobs they can do, even if they don’t want to be in a show.”
And, Jones added, they become part of a family. No one gets paid at TOTS, includ- ing the actors. They are all volunteer, and the organization does not depend on state or
federal funding, relying on the generosity of donors who con- sistently come through.
Keeping the theatre going on is not a cheap venture, either. Regular expenses include utilities, insurance, costumes, etc. (about $400 per show), rights to each show (about $900 for plays, about $2,500 for musicals), main- tenance, advertising (post-
ers, brochures, etc.), and the purchasing of scripts, among others. There are many volun- teers, which includes 20 mem- bers on the board of directors, Jones said, and all the work is well worthwhile.
“There’s a closeness between all the people who volunteer, and because we all volunteer it’s so meaningful,” Jones said. “I think a good community theatre increases the quality of life in our com- munity - and we’re just getting better and better.”
- Rick Mauch
Another thing that Jones said separates TOTS from
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 The Community News Your Parker County
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