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'All Shook Up' Fredericktowne Players' new leadership shaking things up [The Frederick News-Post, Md. :: ]
[July 18, 2014]

'All Shook Up' Fredericktowne Players' new leadership shaking things up [The Frederick News-Post, Md. :: ]

(Frederick News-Post (MD) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) July 18--The Fredericktowne Players have some new leadership who are looking to not only put on shows, but to build a community in the process.

Matt Bannister, Katie Rictor and Rose Alexander, all Frederick residents, serve as the organization's president, development director and marketing director, respectively. They all met through the FTP production "See How They Run" in February.

At that point, FTP was going through leadership changes, Rictor said. The past president had resigned midseason, and the remaining board members believed the organization needed some new blood.

"They needed a new perspective, and I think some new energy," Rictor said.

Some of the previous shows had lower attendance, which Alexander said could have been attributed to not having the means to promote them. At the time, there was little fundraising, Bannister said, since the board at the time had to "wear too many hats." FTP does three shows a year, in the summer, fall and winter. Bannister said the large gap between the winter and summer was particularly difficult because they had to deal with rent and overhead costs without the income of ticket sales.

FTP also had the blow of no longer performing at the Weinberg Center for the Arts since the rent increased. They currently have studio space in downtown Frederick but use the Frederick Community College theater for productions.

They hope to eventually perform downtown again, Bannister said.

"We consider that to be our home and where our (performances) should be," he said.

FTP currently has what Rictor described as a "robust membership" who pay $10 a year, which goes to insurance for the actors. Their goal now is to enhance this membership with a more developed website, meatier newsletters and perks such as discounts on show tickets.

The price of membership will be kept at $10 for now, but it could be increased as membership benefits are added, Rictor said.

The membership fee is charged to everyone who is cast in an FTP show, though it is not charged to everyone who auditions, Bannister said. FTP is unique, he said, in that rather than seeing the same faces constantly, many of their members have never performed before and used the group to meet more people in the community.

"What we're hoping to do is create a tight-knit theater community in Frederick," Rictor said.

As another means of fundraising, Rictor said they plan to look into state performing arts grant opportunities.

Once the group's name becomes more recognizable, it might hold larger fundraising events such as cabarets, cocktail parties and even black-tie events.

"But the ideas are meaningless until we have people listening again," Bannister said.

To do that, FTP leadership is increasing its social media presence, redoing the website and enhancing the newsletter. Leaders are also attending such local community events as In The Street, Art in the Park and the Festival of the Arts.

"We're looking for interaction with people to get people talking, get people interested," he said.

This shouldn't be too tough to do in an area like Frederick, according to Bannister, who said the city in particular seems to embrace the arts.

"If we can't make it work here, we can't make it work anywhere," he said.

Their newest show, "All Shook Up," featuring the songs of Elvis Presley, opens at 8 p.m. today. It will also run Saturday, July 25, 26 and 27, with the Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.

Additional shows for this season are "Lucky Stiff" and "Harvey." Next summer's show will be "The Music Man." Being a part of the FTP has meant a lot to Rictor. She said she initially didn't know many people in Frederick.

"I found this great group of performers who not only love the stage, but love this town," she said. "I think the possibilities are endless with this organization." Follow Laura Dukes on Twitter: @LauraDukesFNP.

___ (c)2014 The Frederick News-Post (Frederick, Md.) Visit The Frederick News-Post (Frederick, Md.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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