By Lee Noles
WAXHAW – The summer blockbusters are starting to wrap up their run at the box office, but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on quality performances.
Plenty can be watched right here in the area, including the Storefront Theatre, which is kicking off its 12th season with four 10-minute comedies on Aug. 4 at 6 p.m. at the Waxhaw Entrepreneurs, 216 W. N. Main St.
“It’s summer and it’s hot, and people like to laugh, instead of going home thinking ‘woe as me,’” said Storefront founder Judy Simpson Cook. “We just want to be lighthearted about it.”
The theater is the brainchild of Cook, a Union County native who’s appeared in several Hollywood and television productions. She’s portrayed the iconic Blanche Dubois from “A Streetcar Named Desire” on stage and acted as Brad Pitt’s mother in a made-for-TV movie from the 1980s.
“Very serious about his work… but sweet,” Cook said of Pitt.
The theater is where Cook has spent most of her professional writing and acting career. She started writing in the 1970s and has since created nine full-length plays, including “Nuptials,” which had its professional premier at the state’s official theater, The Flat Rock Playhouse, in 1992 and won The Thompson Award from North Carolina State University.
Several years ago, she was asked to come to Charlotte to participate in a readers theater. Following the performance, she heard one of the audience members mention how much they enjoyed the style.
“It was kind of like a light bulb,” said Cook of opening the Storefront Theatre. “I thought about readers theater. It’s on a small stage and it’s really inexpensive.”
Readers theater doesn’t involve props or costumes and has the actors standing in front of the audience reading from the script. Cook describes it like going back to the 1930s and 1940s when the golden age of radio featured scripted productions that left a lot of the visualization to the imagination of the listener.
The theater brings together veterans who have participated in the region’s theatrical community for more than 20 years, as well as newcomers to the area acting scene. Catherine Smith has been in several productions for Storefront Theatre and was a founding member of the Charlotte Shakespeare Company.
“It’s fast and easy,” Smith said of working with Storefront. “With a (normal) production, you can spend months getting it on its feet and running through the shows. With this, you literally rehearse it Saturday afternoon and then perform it Saturday evening… It allows you a chance to be creative without spending months getting it up and going.”
Smith said she usually gets her script a week or two in advance to learn her lines and stage direction, but the actors don’t rehearse together until the day of the production. A situation which can get the adrenaline flowing.
“It’s just the pure joy of the words and the audience and the other actors on stage,” Smith said.
Cook didn’t want to give too much away on the plays being performed on Aug.4, but said one comedy, ‘I was fine until you came into the room,’ is about a couple going through the ups and downs of marriage in a lighthearted way.
Storefront Theatre’s season runs from September to April, with the performances being held at the Waxhaw Presbyterian Church, 8100 Old Waxhaw-Monroe Road. Visit www.storefronttheatre.org or call 704-243-7283 to find out more about Storefront Theatre.