As a hit television show declares in its title, “America’s Got Talent,” and those in the Kanawha Valley are invited to demonstrate theirs, for potential fame and fortune (in the way of cash prizes).
“Anything Goes,” a variety show for local contestant performers, will be held next month at the Black Root Theatre, 2700 Dupont Ave., #3C in Belle.
“We thought it would be a fun thing to do,” Blackroot Theatre founder and director Cathy Deobler said. “Since we’re a nonprofit, everything we do goes to the theater. All money earned goes right back to pay the rent, keep the lights on and for the royalties for future shows.”
“Anything Goes” preliminary competition will get underway at 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 15, at the theater, which is the former Fastenal location in Belle.
Audience response via an “applause-o-meter” will be used to determine who advances to the competition finals, which will begin at 8 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 16.
“Anything Goes” is open to ages 18 and older. Soft drinks, beer and snacks will be available for purchase.
“We thought this would be a good first impression for adults in the community,” Deobler said, “and to introduce ourselves to others in the community.”
She said the Blackroot Theatre has been in existence, “on paper,” since January and opened officially on June 1 at the Quincy Center, at the center’s north end from the Shoney’s restaurant.
“I’ve been here in West Virginia since Aug. 1 of last year,” Deobler said. “I came here from Los Angeles specifically to open a community theater. I did the actress thing in Hollywood for several years ... and the older I get, the more I like directing rather than acting.”
On a movie set in L.A. one day, she recounted, she was discussing with a fellow actor her teaching/directing goals.
“I told him I wanted to teach public school and work with kids after school in drama. I wanted to go to a small town outside of California. I didn’t want the Texas heat, the Florida humidity or the New England snow. He told me he was relocating to West Virginia to open a factory, so I moved here on the basis of that.”
Thus the retired school teacher and erstwhile film actress came to the Mountain State last year and began volunteer-teaching drama classes at Riverside High School. She said she will also teach drama classes this year at Riverside.
She said Blackroot started with three children’s shows at the London Community Center before opening the Belle/Quincy location. A summer camp was presented in collaboration with the Kanawha Players to launch the theater.
Deobler said she has invited stand-up and improv comedians, dancers and other performers to take the stage in the “Anything Goes” program.
“It’s pretty much open to anybody; you don’t have to have a theater following. We were torn between calling it ‘West Virginia’s Got Talent’ or ‘Anything Goes.’ I told someone, ‘It looks like we’ve got everything but a sword swallower or a juggler,’ but it is anything goes,” the Belle resident said.
“Thursday’s show is for anybody who wants to show up. The best 10 or so will go through to Friday night. There’ll be a small panel of judges.
“If it goes over well,” she said, “we’ll do it again the next weekend or some of the following weekends.”
Deobler said she hopes the Blackroot Theatre will fill a creative niche and need for community theater in the Upper Kanawha Valley as word and interest spread.
“Belle is a nice bedroom community to live in. We’re close to the high school and student involvement,” she said.
Earlier this year, the Black Root Theatre hosted stage performances of “Willy Wonka Jr.” and “The Wizard of Oz.” A “Tales from the Campfire” kids’ drama club gathering, for youths ages 7 to 17, will be held Monday and Thursday evenings from 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 26-27, with public performances Oct. 18-20, or Tuesdays and Fridays from 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 27 through Oct. 11, with public performances Oct. 11-13.
For further information about “Anything Goes” or other ongoing or upcoming Blackroot Theatre endeavors, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org, call Cathy Deobler at 304-220-2278 or visit the organization’s website, blackroottheatre.org.