CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- After 22 years, the curtain may be closing for the Charleston Stage Company.During a stage company board meeting Tuesday, the board voted to dissolve the company. However, the community theater troupe's end is still uncertain.According to an email from Joshua Fix, treasurer for the organization, "As of right now, we are working through our options. Our participation in FestivALL and the location plays will continue as scheduled. In addition, our summer arts camps, which begin later this month and run through the end of July, will also continue unchanged."Following these annual summer activities, we are looking into what next [season] holds for us. Please expect an official announcement following our July meeting. Much of what is circulating on Facebook is inaccurate and/or premature."Other stage company board members were contacted, but were either not at the meeting or were reluctant to say anything pending an official release next month.Regardless, word that Charleston Stage Company might be finished has circulated and even reached the theater group's co-founder, Dr. David Wohl, who said it was "sad news."Wohl, the former West Virginia State University Dean of Arts and Humanities, and Geoffey Coward, a University of Charleston education professor, formed the group in 1991 with the mission to "perform high quality and innovative theater productions for West Virginia audiences."Wohl said the group began as a cooperative effort between the two universities that grew out of a desire to use the Capitol Theater on Summers Street to help contribute to the cultural climate of the area.
Coward left the company after only a year, departing for a job at Wagner College in New York. Wohl stayed for about 19 years, leaving three years ago to take a job as dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, N.C.Wohl said he was proud of his time with the Charleston Stage Company. He mentioned that over the years, the group had won several awards and even toured in Ireland and Aruba.Survival had always been a kind of a balancing act between performing what was popular (usually Shakespeare or musicals) and what was new and innovative."We'd always have one play a season we knew no one was going to come to but that we thought was important to do anyway."The crowd and the box office would be small, but Wohl said they tried to balance it with something that drew people in."Like 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show' or something," he said.Wohl said he was saddened by the news about Charleston Stage Company but not especially surprised, explaining that all things have a lifecycle, and that 22 years was a good run.
"I was lucky to be part of that life for so long," he said. "So, I mourn the loss but celebrate the memories." Reach Bill Lynch at email@example.com or 304-348-5195.