Community Theater. How hard could it be?
It was really more of an idea than a plan. Steve and I weren't really thinking so much in terms of community theatre as we were in a musical production (albeit with live-action actors). We didn't start off by saying to each other, "Hey, let's start a theater company." We were really thinking more in terms of a concert. In Decatur.
But that's not where it all started. Please allow me to digress and explain how we got here...
My family had been drawn to Jesus Christ Superstar going back to the 1973 movie (based on the 1971 album). My older brother (Steve), older sister (Judy - now residing in the tangible glory of Jesus Christ in person), and I listened to the album innumerable times. We all three knew every lyric by heart. We were all three Christ followers and found this completely new way of relating to Jesus (and the Passion) invigorating. At that time, receiving the gospel of Jesus via a modern music genre (rock, in this case) was at least a decade ahead of its time. Well at those times, we had watched JCS (the movie) many times; also, in the meantime, we both had become fans of Broadway shows. (I've seen Phantom of the Opera four times - three times on Broadway).
I think it was Steve seeing Ted Neeley in the Broadway production of JCS that initially gave him the idea. Steve had decades of experience in performing in rock bands and producing rock concerts. He'd done opening gigs with the likes of Lover Boy and Quiet Riot and recorded over a dozen albums. He also had experience performing and emceeing at Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede (in Myrtle Beach, where Steve lives). He knew the show biz part, and I knew the management and legal/business side of things.
The conversation went kind of went like this - we know how to organize and stage rock concerts and create productions, let's do JCS (the musical). It would be cool if we did it at the Lincoln Theater here in Decatur.
Musical theater? For sure! I signed on immediately.
How hard could it be?
Thus, Decatur Theater Company was formed in 2010. (more on the name change to Decatur Underground Theater - DUT - in a later blog).
One note here - the idea of simply doing JCS was great, but there was more motivation behind it that just doing a show. We wanted to add to the Decatur community theatre scene (which was already great), provide high-quality entertainment for Decatur people at an affordable price, and give people who had zero community theater or acting experience the opportunity to perform on stage in community theater. We'd look for people who could sing. Teaching the acting and the things of theater (what's 'blocking'?) as we went along. That's part of why we describe ourselves as an unconventional theater company. It works for DUT.
We didn't know what we didn't know. But we did know we wanted to stage JCS at the historic Lincoln Square Theater, in Decatur, Illionois. Neither of us had any experience or knowledge of community theater, but that didn't matter. JCS was a block buster. JCS played to capacity crowds all three performance at Decatur's Lincoln Square Theater in March 2011.
It rocked. People were moved. We were hooked.
Miss Saigon, West Side Story, and many other great shows followed over the past 12 years.
Now here we are, in 2023, with another incredible show already in rehearsals - The Secret Garden Musical. Brad Barding will kill it with his directing. Cast vocals are off the chart. Secret Garden is going to blow the roof off of the Decatur, Illinois.
Don't miss The Secret Garden, at the Decatur Civic Center, the last two weekends of March 2022. It's going to be awesome. Don't miss it.
DUT is awesome. musical. theater.
Tim Revis, Co-founder Decatur Underground Theater
copyright 2023 Decatur Underground Theater