Enter Stage Right Executive Director Regina Spain talks about the Citadel Stage. <span class='image-credits'>Chamira Young</span>

Growing theater company features shows that encourage open dialogue

The mission to entertain, educate, and improve the community is an undertaking Enter Stage Right takes very seriously. With every production, Executive Director Regina Spain's goal is to both inspire and spark a dialogue within the area.


From Shakespeare's "Hamlet," to a musical version of "Alice in Wonderland," Enter Stage Right's impact in St. Clair County isExecutive Director Regina Spain is excited about the future of Enter Stage Right. growing by leaps and bounds since settling in Port Huron in 2016.


While their shows are well received by the community at large, their impact even drills down to the individual level of their participants, or "players.”


"Some people literally get into theater because they want to expand their leadership and communication skills," Spain says with an enthusiastic grin. "You have many introverts who come into theater. Whether they are involved onstage or backstage, doing tech or working the concessions, it's all part of the same collective that puts on the production. It changes the way you move in the world.”


While Spain attended performing arts high school and later minored in theater, it wasn't until she became involved in her children's Marysville youth summer theater program that she was pulled back into the performing arts world. After heading up the Marysville Recreation Department's theater program for three years, she teamed up with Elaine Schatzline-Behr and started a new venture.


In 2007, they decided to make Enter Stage Right a proper entity.


A recent run of "12 Angry Jurors" just concluded at The Citadel Stage."We had a group of kids that literally were following us and coming to the rec program to work with us," says Spain, "so we started Enter Stage Right in 2007, and became incorporated in 2008. For a long time we were just gypsies working the schools and basically any place we could find.”


Their first show as Enter Stage Right was "Reveries of Oz," which combined the story of "Wicked" and the story of "Wizard of Oz." They also soon became known for the annual Shakespeare festival they put on in St. Clair each year.


In 2015, the Port Huron EDA approached Enter Stage Right about establishing a presence in the area in order to fulfill the need of the performing arts community. Spain jumped at the chance, and soon began scouting out a building.


Together with Dave and Georgina Witt from Sanctum Contracting, they found their current location, the Citadel building at 609 Huron Ave in Port Huron. The Witt family purchased the building, and Enter Stage Right leased the property.


The next step was extensive rehab of their newly acquired space.


While they salvaged what they could, the building required extensive demolition and renovation. Enter Stage Right rolled up their sleeves and got involved in the early demolition stages. Later on as contractors renovated the space, Spain had a direct say in what the new space would look like.


Grant work allowed them to fill some of the gaps in the equipment they needed, such as lights.

Fast forward to August 2016, and they were able to open their new "Citadel Stage" space with "Hamlet," in line with their reputation for Shakespeare productions.


They now do about nine productions a year. Recent shows include "Frankenstein," along with "Tales from Grimm," in which they put a real running stream through the theater space. Sometimes they do "talk backs," in which they give the audience the option stay after the show to give their feedback.


"Theater at its core should be a safe place for participants and for the audience. With every production, you build a community," says Spain.


While Enter Stage Right does a wonderful job attracting participants with existing theater backgrounds and interests, Spain isThe Citadel Stage features several shows each year. trying to encourage more cultural diversity within their company so they more accurately represent the community at large


"We currently bring with ourselves diversity with different physical abilities and capacities, but I'd love to see more people of different backgrounds come in and make a home here. We want it to represent our entire community," says Spain. "You can name any theater title in the world, and there should be diversity in the cast, backstage, tech, and everywhere.”


Future plans include further building modifications, such as completing a wheelchair lift in order to improve accessibility. They also want to make even more of a name for themselves within the community.


Upcoming shows include "It's a Wonderful Life in December," "Beer for Breakfast" in January (tied into the Chili Fest in downtown Port Huron), and "Treasure Island" in February.


They are also holding auditions on Nov. 20-21 for next season's productions.


For a full schedule of their upcoming shows, visit EnterStageRight.org. You can also contact 810-334-6415 or esrtheatre@gmail.com.

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