Alabama Community Theatre Festival


The Alabama Conference of Theatre will hold its annual Community Festival on 10/24/2015 at the Whole Backstage Theatre, in beautiful Guntersville, AL. Mary Anne Garrett serves as Festival Chair and Sue Ellen Gerrells is Vice Chair.

This year two productions will vie for the honor of representing Alabama at the Southeastern Theatre Conference in March 2016 in Greensboro, N.C. The productions will be adjudicated by a panel of experienced theatre artists who will choose the winner and award other prizes as they see fit. The adjudicators speak directly to each company at the end of each performance offering feedback. This part of the festival is often a highlight for the audience who get to observe each adjudication. Before the award presentations are made, the Community Division of ACT will hold a brief meeting to elect officers. Any Community Division member of ACT is eligible to vote. Audience members may choose to join ACT at the festival but membership is not required to attend the festival.

Tickets are available at the door.

Auburn Area Community Theatre presents “A Blooming of Ivy.”
Ivy Taylor (Andrea Holliday), a widow of twenty years, and George Thomas (Terry Kelley), a widower for a year, have always been farm neighbors and friends. But one spring morning George awakens to the sound of Ivy’s tractor, and realizes that this is the first morning he hasn’t “woken up mad” since his wife died. He spruces up a bit and pays Ivy a call…

The Whole Backstage Theatre presents “Guardian of the Sidewalk” by Bill Cleavelin– a gripping play for anyone who has ever dared to believe in miracles. This is the story of Peter, a bitter, haunted young man who is trapped in the barren wastelands of purgatory. With him is Ariel, a bright, energetic young angel who is assigned to help Peter redeem his soul. Together, this unlikely duo must sift through scenes of Peter’s life in order to heal the cause of all his pain – the loss of his one true love. But there’s a catch – Peter has a time limit in which to save his soul, otherwise he will become lost forever in his own bitterness. This is a bold, exciting play that shows the true power of love and redemption.

ACT’s Adjudicators are HOLLY BROCK CAHILL who holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Drama from Jacksonville State University (1980) and who earned a Master of Arts in Theatre Arts from the University of Mississippi (1982). Holly taught theatre and speech at both the University of Mississippi and Eastern Wyoming. She began her theatrical life working for the National Park Service as a costumed interpreter performing first person historical monologues. Holly founded the Dogwood Players of Chickamauga, Georgia and has worked with Community and Little Theatre groups across the country as she followed her Park Ranger husband from posting to posting, working as a director, costumer or actor. Recently, Holly has served as Studio Theatre and One Act judge for the Trumbauer State Secondary Theatre Festival.

GARY WEATHERLY is currently a Teacher, Designer, Technical Director, and Manager of Mountain Brook High School’s Fine Arts Center. Before discovering the challenges of teaching in secondary school, Gary designed professionally over 300 productions in almost every state in the southeast for over 25 years. He worked as the resident designer for Birmingham Children’s Theatre, The State of Alabama Ballet and the Miss Alabama Pageant and worked for most of the Birmingham community and university theatres as a guest designer. He has a B.A. degree from University of North Carolina at Greensboro with emphasis in design and technology. Gary is finishing up his thesis to earn a M.S. in Theatre Education from Southern Oregon University. Since beginning his teaching career, Gary has been very involved with ACT, judging at Walter J. Trumbauer Festival and many of his students have won multiple awards in acting and technical events at the district and state competition. Gary also chairs the Polly Holliday Scholarship Award for the Southeastern Theatre Conference and serves on the Board of Directors for the DPTheatre Series in Birmingham.

KRISTY MEANOR is the Executive Director for the Wetumpka Depot Players. Her theatre career spans 35 years as an actor, director and designer. Kristy is a past recipient of the Marian Gallaway Award and serves in leadership positions with ACT and SETC. Directing credits include Big River, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, The Fantasticksand Tuesdays with Morrie. On stage work includes Sister Amnesia in Nunsense, Dotty Clacket in Noises Off, Rosemary in Picnic, Melissa in Love Letters and Jessie in Night Mother. Scenic design credits incudes A Southern Exposure, Night Mother, The Fantasticks, The Miracle Worker, Boeing Boeing, and Blithe Spirit. Kristy’s favorite role is playing mom to three amazing young adults.

For more information, contact Festival Chair Mary Anne Garrett at





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