Dennis O’Donovan, Karen O'Donovan and Ed Wilhelms

STUART – If you’ve ever thought about breaking into acting, now is your chance! The A.C.T. Studio Theatre in Stuart will be holding auditions for ‘A Christmas Carol’ September 25th and 26th at 7pm. Auditions for ‘Steel Magnolias’ will take place September 30th at 7pm and October 2nd at 1pm.

A.C.T. Studio Theatre- Fearless Theatre- has been in Stuart since 2012. Its founder, Ed Wilhelms, had the vision of making the A.C.T “the Treasure Coast’s version of Off Broadway”, according to current owner and Director Dennis O’Donovan.

Mr. O’Donovan, along with his wife Karen, bought the theatre from Mr. Wilhelms when he and his wife decided to move back up north after about a year of owning the theatre. About two years after taking over the A.C.T., Mr. O’Donovan applied for 501c3 nonprofit status, allowing him to do fundraising for the small theatre, which began in a single storefront. It now occupies three storefronts and continues to grow, thanks in part to the Martin County Arts Council and the generosity of loyal patrons.

Having the extra space has allowed the theatre to have two shows in rehearsal at the same time so that, as one show ends its run, the other is ready to open.

The theatre itself is a small, intimate venue with a 37-seat capacity.

Mr. O’Donovan states that he has tried to remain true to the founder’s vision of ‘fearless theatre’, taking on material that other small theatres might not attempt, material that is sometimes dark and edgy, but relevant and thought-provoking at the same time.

Like so many other theatres, large and small, the A.C.T. Studio Theatre went dark as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. But unlike many theatres, A.C.T. was able to survive thanks to grants, as well as the creative thinking and strategizing of the local arts community.

The ‘new theatre’ involved Zoom, YouTube, and other virtual platforms that produced full length plays such as ‘Night of January 16th’ and Anton Chekov’s ‘The Marriage Proposal’, as well as cabaret-style musical shows such as ‘A Blast from the Past’ and ‘It’s All About the Ladies’.

A.C.T. Studio Theatre will reopen for its 2021/22 season on October 8th with a three-weekend run of Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Importance of Being Earnest, directed by Heidi Condon. According to the A.C.T. website, this show is a “farcical comedy with false identities and lovers’ entanglements”, and “is probably Wilde’s best-loved play, an audience favorite more than a century after it was first written. As Jack's double life catches up with him, this comedy of manners offers a critique of Victorian society, weaving a complex and clever plot with the rapid-fire wit of its eccentric and charming characters.”

The show will run October 8th-10th, 15th-17th, and 22nd-24th. Show times and tickets can be found on the theatre’s website.

Unlike many theatres, A.C.T. runs shows year-round, not just in the typical October through April theatre season. Mr. O’Donovan explains that it’s necessary to do two shows a month to keep the doors open and the lights on.

On the 4th weekend of the month, instead of going dark between productions, A.C.T. offers other entertainments such as stand-up comedy, celebrity impersonators, and one-person plays.

Mr. O’Donovan reports that, while the level of attendance at the theatre is still somewhat below normal, it does appear to be on the rise.

The December production of ‘A Christmas Carol’ will be done as a live radio play rather than the traditional stage play format most theatre-goers have come to expect. Mr. O’Donovan admits to being a huge fan of radio theatre, with shows like ‘A Prairie Home Companion’ among his favorites.

A.C.T. Studio Theatre has offered acting classes in the past and is hoping to do so again, though there is still a fair amount of uncertainty about in-person classes being caused by the rise of the Delta Variant of Covid-19, but Mr. O’Donovan adds that they are always looking for acting instructors.

To find out more about the upcoming season, auditions for ‘A Christmas Carol’, or how to become a patron, visit the theatre’s website at www.actstudiotheatre.com or like and follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ACTStudiotheatre.

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