Tonawanda News

Local News

June 2, 2013

Acting ... in good company

Non-profit group aims to make theater accessible to kids

Tonawanda News — They’ve lived a hard-knock life with “Annie.” They’ve danced and sung through a “High School Musical.” They’re been “Once on This Island.” And this year, they’re going “Back to the ‘80s.”

In Good Company Productions will kick off its ninth year of producing free shows in North Tonawanda with auditions Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday at Grove Street Christian Church, 85 Grove St., Tonawanda. After weeks of rehearsals, set and costume production and the other behind-the-scenes tasks of running a theater company, the show “Back to the ‘80s” will be presented in late July and early August at the bandshell at Niawanda Park,

The group has grown from a experiment of sorts with about 30 members to an annual production with roles for more than 100 participants in multiple generations, said Melissa Tober of Sanborn, the City of Tonawanda native who serves as IGC president and director. Cast members have ranged from ages 2 to 50 and a variety of abilities and acting levels ... because even with auditions, no one winds up without something to do up on that stage.

”We take everybody, we don’t turn anyone away. We always try to make everyone feel special and included somehow,” Tober said. “I don’t know how we always manage to, but it always seems to come together. The kids always have a great time. We’ve got kids who have been there for nine years ... usually until they get to college. And we have the most loyal parents in the world.”

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The roots of IGC go back, perhaps appropriately for this year’s production, to the 1980s, when Tober’s mother, Deb Wanecski, was involved with local theater groups including Tonawanda Community Theatre. It was a family affair; Tober remembers taking part in a variety of shows with her siblings at the bandshell at Niawanda Park, from “Godspell” to “Willy Wonka” and “The Sound of Music.”

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