The Kokomo theater troupe will host a benefit show this weekend | News
The cast gathered around a black folding table to discuss costume and prop ideas. Although their next production is set in a larger venue, they were already in the building they were trying to save.
Black Box Benefit Productions will perform “A Very Bad Day for Brandon Butterworth” Friday night and Saturday night for a dinner show to raise funds for the Curtain Call studio at 2114 N. Armstrong St.
In the one-act play, Brandon Butterworth’s three girlfriends discover each other’s existence and devise a plot to get revenge on their cheating boyfriend.
The actors will perform the play at the Elite Banquet & Conference Center, 2820 S. Lafountain St. on both nights. An Italian dinner, including julienned chicken and rigatoni with Alfredo or marinara sauce, will be served before the show at 6:30 p.m.
Jeremy Leazenby Bruce, the show’s executive director, explained that the Curtain Call Theater for Children didn’t have a home before the COVID-19 pandemic. When the pandemic hit, the organization was unable to continue rehearsals at churches and schools that had once provided space for Curtain Call.
To keep the production company afloat during the pandemic, a donor who wishes to remain anonymous purchased the building at 2114 N. Armstrong St. to serve as a studio for smaller productions and practice space. However, the non-profit organization does not own the building – it rents it out and needs to raise $125,000 by 2024 to buy the studio.
Profits from this weekend’s performance will be added to the Curtain Call studio fund.
So far, they are on track to meet their 2024 deadline. Leazenby Bruce added that the organization needed to make a profit of $1,800 every month to stay on track.
The children’s theater organization was established in the fall of 1987 as part of the Kokomo Civic Theater. Then, in the spring of 2001, it separated from the Civic Theater to become its own entity.
Leazenby Bruce highlighted the need for a children’s theater in Howard County. Although young people interested in the performing arts can hone their skills in high school, he noted a lack of theater programs for middle and elementary school students.
“Theatre provides emotional support,” said Leazenby Bruce. “It gives you the soft skills you need in life.”
Leazenby Bruce said one of his long-term goals is to see a performing arts center in Kokomo that could serve as a hub for organizations like Curtain Call, the Kokomo Civic Theater and dance studios.
The cast began rehearsing for “A Really Bad Day for Brandon Butterworth” in early January.
Leazenby Bruce said he considered plays that had romance or relationship themes to coincide with the dinner theater’s proximity to Valentine’s Day. He chose “A Very Bad Day for Brandon Butterworth” because he had previous experience producing the play.
The playwright, Scott Haan, lives in West Lafayette and has gotten his foot in the door by sending plays to schools. He plans to attend Saturday’s performance of his play.
When Leazenby Bruce taught at Northwestern Middle School, he often produced shows written by Haan so students could meet the playwright and ask questions about the show. At one point, Leazenby Bruce said, he had done more plays written by Haan than Haan.
Leazenby Bruce said the cast of volunteers for this week’s production “just fell into place”.
Although the fundraising dinner theater supports children’s theater productions, Black Box Benefit Productions regularly performs for adult audiences with adult actors. Leazenby Bruce said he chose Black Box, part of Curtain Call, for the weekend show instead of a children’s cast due to the adult themes of the production.
The cast of six was handpicked by the executive director. Some had performed in Curtain Call productions when they were younger, while others were selected for their stage work with other theater companies in Kokomo and Peru.
“I think the show will be amazing,” said Leazenby Bruce. “The writing is hilarious. It’s a great show.