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Theater company cancels rest of season

One of our community’s oldest troupes has canceled the remainder of its season to take time out to do some thinking.

The 18-year-old Theatre-in-the-Valley — Henderson’s only drama company — was scheduled to do a Shakespeare play recently, but board president Rick Bindhamer said the director didn’t have enough people audition to cast the production. Tryouts for their planned musical revue “Side by Side by Sondheim” fared even worse: No one turned up.

Shortly afterward, two of four board members resigned due to “burn-out,” and the 51-year-old Bindhamer figured, “It’s time to forget the shows until we get some people involved. We are far too short-handed to provide the logistical needs that our productions have in the past required.”

The organization members have suffered a string of setbacks. Several years ago, they lost their home when the Valley View Recreation Center decided it needed the performing area for other programs. They’ve been doing shows at different locations, which often require sets to be constructed and, sometimes, taken down in a single day. They had a difficult 2010 (“We made no money all year,” Bindhamer says), and their last production — “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” in October — often had audiences of less than five people. Two senior communities that frequently host the players to sold-out auditoriums turned down the Edward Albee drama.

“We made a mistake doing that,” Bindhamer admits. “The people that come to our shows don’t like that kind of edgy material. We need to listen to our audiences.”

But Bindhamer is firm in rejecting the rumor that the troupe has permanently disbanded.

“We have decided that we will attempt to rebuild the company from the ashes. Considering that we still have quite a lot of leftover assets (sets, money, light and sound equipment), we won’t exactly be starting from scratch. We are going to be making some changes to the company, its mission and how it operates.”

Like several other organizations, Bindhamer is also hoping to start an educational outreach program with Nevada schools.

“We want to tour areas of Nevada and hopefully plant seeds of interest in theater. Artists have received serious, perhaps fatal blows by this recession, and our company has been struggling for survival along with the rest.”

Theatre-in-the-Valley’s predicament is a reminder that a troupe can’t survive if it’s not able to attract collaborators.

“I can’t figure out why we can’t get actors. I know a lot of them say it’s tough to make the drive to Henderson to rehearse. But then, where are the people in Henderson? Our whole purpose was to be a part of the city.”

It’s not just actors, though, that Bindhamer is trying to recruit. The theater’s website (theatreinthevalley.org) notes, “Especially needed are volunteers experienced with entertainment business management, grant writing, accounting, fundraising, set design, carpentry, costuming, lighting, sound, and choreography.”

Bindhamer obviously has his work cut out for him. And he knows it.

“I try to be optimistic,” he says convincingly. “Whatever it is, I don’t panic.”

Anthony Del Valle can be reached at vegastheaterchat@aol.com. You can write him c/o Las Vegas Review-Journal, P.O. Box 70, Las Vegas, NV 89125.

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