When it comes to theatre and the performing arts, Ormond Beach has a variety of options — and people who want to make the most of it.
There’s nothing Cindy Lescarbeau loves more than putting on a show. And while most artistic directors and choreographers chase their passions in the big city, Lescarbeau wouldn’t want to do it anywhere but the small town she calls home.
“Everyone knows everyone,” she said. “I love how it’s just all interconnected, and how there’s this family feeling. If I have a need, I can call another studio, and they help out anyway they can."
Lescarbeau is the founder of FREED Performing Art Inc., a nonprofit organization that teaches Bible education through creative arts and storytelling. Launched in 2000, they typically put on two musicals a year based on spiritual themes or biblical stories, and perform regularly throughout the community.
Her favorite thing about her company is that they put on these professional, Broadway-style shows for free, spreading the message that people shouldn’t have to shell out tons of money to enjoy the performing arts.
“Since we turned nonprofit, we had families and businesses who donated quite a bit of money,”Lescarbeau said. “We want it to be like a Broadway show. We want families who can’t pay $60 to see a show be able to see something that’s professional, creative and inspiring. We never want someone to not come to a show because they can’t afford it.”
Visit freedperformingarts.com for more info.
Expect more jazz ensembles, oldies and a pet circus for OBPAC’s upcoming season
Ormond Beach Performing Arts Center Supervisor Marc Schwartz believes he has a good idea of what kind of theater the locals want to see.
“There’s a strong love for community theater here,” he said. “People also love big band jazz orchestras and oldies rock ’n' roll. I think I’ve been able to stay well on the pulse of that, based on our tremendous community support and ticket sales.”
For the upcoming season, people are getting more of what they love like "Johnny Petillo Doo Wop Days,” and “The Rat Pack — Together Again.” Schwartz is also excited to announce a different kind of production that will hit the stage in April 2017: “About World Famous Popovich Comedy Pet Theater."
“It features rescue dogs and cats, and they’re trained to do amazing tricks,” he said. “That’s something different. I'm always keeping a lookout for family friendly entertainment, that’s our real purpose of being here.”
Other than being a rental space for producers to bring shows to Ormond Beach, the OBPAC is also home to three community theatre groups: the Ormond Beach Follies, the Kopy Kats and the Children’s Musical Theatre. It’s Schwartz hope that when he eventually retires, there is enough money to keep the center going.
"What I love best about our auditorium is that there is no bad seat,” he said. “It’s a very intimate feel. The one dream I have is that I would like to retire with a $1 million dollar endowment so for any bills or equipment they need to purchase, they would always have that money. Because I never want to see this place disappear. It’s a jewel in the community.”
Teaching the next generation of drama
Seabreeze High School is home to not one, but two theatrical bodies: Center Stage and the Musical Theatre Department.
The Musical Theatre Department hosts one musical every school year, Center Stage hosts one nonmusical, comedy performance every school year in addition to the smaller shows they put on in their Black Box Theatre.
“It’s like a theater lab,” said John Mirabile, who runs the group. “It’s a little space that holds about 50 people and can be configured any way at all.”
While some kids in Center Stage do it to boost their self-confidence, some plan to chase careers in a performing arts field. Mirabile said a few of them are already involved in professional modeling and acting.
“There's some opportunity out there,” he said. “A lot of kids come to us by Children’s Musical Theatre, but if you nudge just outside of Ormond, there's a lot of opportunity at places like the Daytona Playhouse, which is right down the street. I would like to see more community theater in Ormond. Someone with a lot of time and money should get on that."