Alabama Community Theatre Festival

It’s that time of year again. Time to begin planning for this year’s community Theatre Festival, celebrating the best of Alabama’s community theatres.

The Alabama Conference of Theatre (ACT) will hold its Annual Community Theatre Festival (ACTFest ’17) on October 28-29, 2016 at the Wetumpka Depot Theatre, Wetumpka, Alabama.

And you want to be a part of this event!

A festival typically presents three to five shows per day, each one limited to sixty minutes or less. Each cast and crew have ten minutes to get their set out of a 10×10 square of backstage storage, and get it ready for “curtain.” After the performance professional adjudicators give their analysis to the cast, director and crew.  Thus, everyone in the audience gets to see excellent theater, followed by positive, enlightening and engaging critiques.

Festivals have an awards party where the show that will go on to the next level is announced, and awards for acting, directing and producing are given.

The winners of the Alabama state festival advance to regionals at the Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC) in March, 2017. To help with travel expenses,  ACT awards a stipend the Alabama productions advancing to SETC. Two productions from SETC will advance to the national festival, AACTFest ’17, in Rochester, Minnesota, June, 2017. SETC offers a stipend to its winners to help with the expenses of traveling to the national festival.

Great reasons to enter a festival

  • Fire up the imagination and interest of your group, and motivate them to think in new directions.
  • See some of the best theatre around, and get great ideas for your next season.
  • Meet terrific people who are doing exciting theatre.
  • Stimulate creativity in your group, and get them to reach for higher ideals.
  • Make the festival experience fun by producing and watching great shows, meeting wonderful people, and attending great parties.

Festival Forms:


AACTFest Entry Info Form T1

AACTFest Warranty of Co. Compliance Form T2

AACTFest Affidavit of Actor Eligibility Form T3

AACTFest Technical Info Form T4a

If you would like more information, please contact Festival Chair, Sue Ellen Gerrells, at



ACTFest’16 was held October 24, 2015 at the Whole Backstage Theatre in Guntersville. The festival was led by Festival Chair Mary Anne Garret and Vice-Chair Sue Ellen Gerrells.

Congratulations to the following for their awards at ACTFest’16.

Best Actor - Nicholas Diprima – Whole Backstage Theatre

Best Actress - Andrea Holliday – Auburn Area Community Theatre

Representing Alabama at SETC in the Community Theatre Festival in Greensboro, N.C.  March 3-6, 2016: Auburn Area Community Theatre – “The Blooming of Ivy”



ACTFest ’15 was held October 24-26, 2014 at the Whole Backstage Theatre in Guntersville.  The festival was led by Festival Chair Kristy Meanor and Vice Chair Mary Anne Garrett.

Congratulations to the following for their awards at ACTFest’15. What an awesome weekend of theatre!!!!

Excellence in Ensemble – Millbrook Community Players the “Marvelous Wonderettes ’58”

Excellence in Acting – Whole Backstage Theatre – Christpher Carter & John Barrow – “1984”

Excellence in Acting – Leeds Theatre & Arts Center – Cliff Keen Jr. & Ashley Richarson – “ Echos”

Excellence in Acting – Wetumpka Depot Players & South City Theatre – Sue Ellen Gerrells & Kristy Meanor – “Night Mother”

Representing Alabama at SETC in the Community Theatre Festival in Chattanooga, TN, March 4-7, 2015:
Leeds Theatre & Arts Center – “Echoes”
Wetumpka Depot Players & South City Theatre – “Night, Mother”


ACT Announces ACTFest ’14 AWARDS

ACT congratulates this year’s winners for their talent, dedication, and commitment! Led by Festival Chair Cliff Keen, Jr. and Vice Chair Kristy Meanor, this year’s festival drew entries from across the state to witness four shows and participate in workshops and parties.

SPIRIT OF THE ROAD AWARD –  “The Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda” and “The Big Bang” – Theatre Downtown

Given to the company that demonstrates the most professionalism and cooperation during the rehearsal, load-in and load-out. The Spirit award is chosen by the backstage crew, led this year by Stage Manager Mike Gerrells (South City Theatre) and Technical Director Tom Salter (Wetumpka Depot Theatre).

Adjudicators Brenda Caradine (Mississippi), Stephen Krempasky (Kentucky) and Fulton Burns (Alabama) chose the following awards for this year’s festival:

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSICAL DIRECTION:  Marilyn Swears-”The Fantasticks” – Wetumpka Depot Theatre

BEST TECHNICAL PRODUCTION:  ”The Fantasticks” – Wetumpka Depot Theatre

BEST DIRECTION: Kristy Meanor: ”The Fantasticks” – Wetumpka Depot Theatre

BEST ENSEMBLE: “I Don’t Want to Talk About It” – Whole Backstage Theatre


 Lexie Scarborough & Nicholas DiPrima — Whole Backstage Theatre

 Howard Green & Jane Caswell — Theatre Downtown

 Lee Bridges — Wetumpka Depot Theatre

 Bill Allen — Leeds Theatre and Arts Center

 BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Patty Holley -”The Fantasticks” – Wetumpka Depot Theatre

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Bill Nowell – ”The Fantasticks” – Wetumpka Depot Theatre

BEST ACTRESS: Ashley Richardson – “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” – Leeds Theatre & Arts Center

BEST ACTOR: Jared Max Wright – “I Don’t Want to Talk About It” – Whole Backstage Theatre

BEST IN SHOW — Advancing to SETC in March, 2014 to represent Alabama:


  • “I Don’t Want To Talk About It” — Whole Backstage Theatre
  • “The Fantasticks” — Wetumpka Depot Theatre


The Alabama Conference of Theatre (ACT) will hold its annual Community Theatre Festival (ACTFest ’14) on October 25, 26 and 27, 2013 at the Wetumpka Depot Theatre, Wetumpka, AL.  Productions will be adjudicated and awards given to acknowledge exceptional theatrical work in a variety of areas both on and off stage! 

For ticket information contact, Kristy Meanor at

DOWNLOAD ACTFest Schedule for Public


Note that competition performance times are APPROXIMATE and will depend on the actual running times of the shows and their adjudication; therefore, companies should be prepared to begin earlier or later than times scheduled.

All workshops will be held in the Wetumpka Depot Lobby.


8:15-9:35 p.m.

“The Big Bang” by Theatre Downtown, Birmingham
9:35: 9:50 Adjudication


8:30 a.m. Registration Opens at PCP lobby 

9:00-10:30  Workshop One: Stephen Krempansky, Proprietor of MASSKUS Productions, a performing arts administrative and production service, in Knoxville, TN offers
BEYOND THE BOX OFFICE – Methods to increase revenue and engagement. We will explore partnerships, sponsorships, underwriting and other strategic methods to develop new revenue streams, put butts in the seats and make friends.

10:30-12:00 Workshop Two: Brenda Caradine
The founder of the Tennessee Williams’ Tribute (Mississippi’s Williams’ Festival) discusses past festival events and the ups and downs of making a community aware and involved in a festival for America’s greatest playwright.

12:00-1:00 p.m. Break for Lunch

1:00-2:00 DIRECTORS PANEL DISCUSSION — All invited–Lobby. Sue Ellen Gerrells, ACT Executive Director and director of “Sylvia”, one of last year’s winning productions, leads a panel discussion with festival directors (both past and present) about their process.

2:00-3:20 Workshop Three: Fulton Burns, Director of Acting and Performance, University of South Alabama
The Expressive Actor Workshop gives the actor the tools to create an Expressive Action, which is action of thought and feeling through integrated voice and movement. Through the usage of the Expressive Action the performer is able to play and embody any piece of text with a variety of approaches to unlock any walls facing a performer. Come play and have fun with this exciting technique created by Michael Lugering.

3:25   Introductions and recognition by Festival Chair
3:30 – 4:50  “I Don’t Want To Talk About It” by Whole Backstage Theatre, Guntersville
4:50 – 5:05  Adjudication 

5:05-7:00 Dinner Break

7:00-7:05  Introduction/Greetings by Festival Chair

7:05-8:25  “Baby It’s Cold Outside” by Leeds Arts Council Theatre
8:25-8:55  Adjudication

9:30  After Glow Party – Lobby

Sunday, October 24

8:30 a.m.  Registration Opens-Theatre Lobby

9:30-10:30  Theatre Games- All invited – Lobby

10:30 – 11:30 Break for lunch 

11:30 – 11:50  Doors Open/Introductions
11:50- 1:10  The Fantasticks by Wetumpka Depot Theatre
1:10- 1:25  Adjudication
1:40  Community Division Meeting/Election of Officers, followed by reception and awards presentation at theatre


Festival Chair Clifton Keen, Jr. ACT ED Sue Ellen Gerrells
(205) 641-0975 (205) 936-9162 


ACTFest ’13: ACT and the Wetumpka Depot Players Host Alabama’s Largest Community Theatre Festival!

After completing two days full days and nights of enlightening workshops, inspiring and entertaining performances, after glow parties, a silent auction, a children’s theatre competition, and a brief divisional meeting, participants at ACTFest ’13, Alabama’s  2012 Community Festival, agreed the event was a smashing success and one of the smoothest festivals ever!

The Wetumpka Depot Players were warm and gracious hosts with their excellent facility  Many folks reported that the workshop idea exchanges and performances were highlights of the festival, encouraging them to raise the bar at their own theatres.

AWARDS: Two productions were chosen “Best in Show” and will  represent Alabama at the Southeastern Theatre Conference in Louisville, KY  March, 2013 during AACTFest ’13.

  • “Living Together,” Theatre Downtown, directed by Mary Anne Garrett
  • “Sylvia,” South City Theatre, directed by Sue Ellen Gerrells

Should one of those two shows not be able to represent,  the alternate production will represent Alabama: “William the Bard,” Park Players, directed by Clay Boyce

  • Best actor: Douglas O’Neill, Jr. — “Living Together”
  • Best actress:  Ashley Richardson — “Sylvia
  • Best supporting actress: Beth Ashton — “Living Together”
  • Best supporting actor: David Coker — “William the Bard”
  • Outstanding Achievement in Direction: Clay Boyce, “William the Bard”
  • Outstanding Achievement in Set Design: “A Southern Exposure”
  • Outstanding Achievement in  Choreography: Jared Max Wright, “Freckleface Strawberry”
  • Outstanding Achievement in Ensemble: “Freckleface Strawberry”
  • Spirit of the Road Award: Red Door Theatre

All Star Cast:

  • Barbara Davis (Ida Mae) — “A Southern Exposure”
  • John Collier (Piney) — “A Bad Year for Tomatoes”
  • Juanita Smith (Leateen Saunders) — “The Passing of Pearl”
  • Brittain Bright (Jean) — “Dead Man’s Cell Phone”
  • Hannah Francis (Sarah) — “Living Together”
  • M. Bates Redwine (Tom) — “Living Together”
  • Thomas William Shaw (Tom/Leslie) — “Sylvia”
  • Howard Green (Edmund Malone) — “William the Bard”
  • Grant Lackey (Jake) — “Freckleface Strawberry”
  • Baylee Saint (Strawberry) — “Freckleface Strawberry”

Thanks to all who made it possible: our hosts–Kristy Meanor, Carol Heier, and Tom Salter and the Wetumpka Depot Players’ superb volunteers; our backstage crew: Bill Richardson, David Bailor, Karen Black; Festival Chair John Chain and Vice Chair Cliff Keen, Jr.;  Silent Auction Coordinator Nell Richardson; Theatre for Youth Chair Kelleybrooke Blackwell; AACT Festival Commissioner Thomas La Foe and our adjudicators: Ginger Heath (North Carolina), Lynn Nelson (Mississippi), and Sam Wallace (Auburn University, Montgomery). A special thank you to the competing companies who brought such entertaining and engaging productions:

  • Wetumpka Depot Players: “A Southern Exposure”
  • Millbrook Community Players: “A Bad Year for Tomatoes”
  • Red Door Theatre (Union Springs): “The Passing of Pearl”
  • Auburn Area Community Theatre: “Dead Man’s Cell Phone”
  • Theatre Downtown (Birmingham): “Living Together”
  • South City Theatre (Columbiana): “Sylvia”
  • Park Players (Birmingham): “William the Bard”
  • The Whole Backstage Theatre: “Freckleface Strawberry, the Musical”

Mark your calendars now for October, 2013 and plan to participate in our next community festival! Watch ACT’s website for dates and details.


ACTFest ’12

The dust has settled; the lights have dimmed, and the reviews are in. Alabama winds up another successful Fall Festival! From workshops to the Silent Auction to the talent competition to productions, this event fostered a learning experience for all involved and created network opportunities for those who participated. Thanks to Kevin and Mary Ann Garrett, John and Susan Chain, Mike Gerrells, Terry Kelley, Bill Richardson, Karen Black, David Bailor, and all the community theatre participants who supported our festival in so many ways.

Four shows competed on October 15 at Jacksonville State University, Jacksonville, AL  from Wetumpka, Alabaster, Opelika, and Guntersville. Adjudicators April Marshall (North Carolina), Fulton Burns (Mobile, AL), Beth Harvey (Florida) chose the following to advance to Southeastern Theatre Conference in March, 2012:

  • “Agnes of God” by South City Theatre (Alabaster)
  • “Crafty” by Auburn Area Community Theatre (Opelika)

One Act Awards:

  • Best Actress: Andrea Holliday, Auburn Area Community Theatre
  • Best Actor: Not Given
  • Best Supporting Actress: Kristy Meanor, Wetumpka Depot Players
  • Best Supporting Actor: Jeff Langham,Wetumpka Depot Players
  • Best Ensemble: Whole Back Stage Theatre (Guntersville)

Talent Competition:

Adult Division: Lisa Ponder

Student Division

  • Best Musical Theatre Duo: Lexi Scarbrough and Grant Lackey
  • Best Monologue: Jared Wright
  • Best Musical Solo: Laura Kate Smith
  • Best Acting Duo: Laura Kate Smith and Jack Mullins