Friday, August 16, 2013


Community Theater Thrives in Alabama

By Doc Lawrence

UNION SPRINGS, Alabama-The arts in this Deep South state seem to aspire to be on equal footing with college football. When traveling in Alabama, I've beheld a rich tradition of writing, acting, music and dance along with other impressive examples of visual and performing arts. This beautiful community near Montgomery, home to the Red Door Theatre, has earned the right to be known as a performing arts destination, a worthy place for travelers to enjoy the miracles from the live stage.

The Red Door’s most recent production, See Rock City is both a play and the iconic name introduced to the world by a sign painter named Clark Byers, who painted “See Rock City” on the roofs of barns as far north as Michigan and as far west as Texas.  The play is concerned with the small events and the major blows that befall a young couple in the first year of their marriage. The story is gentle and not lengthy but deeply focused on the cares and concerns of a family dealing with the joys and limitations of their lives as best they can while taking pleasure in small things. This quiet masterpiece confirms Arlene Hutton as a playwright to be reckoned with.

Do you have to move to find happiness? Is there contentment through acceptance? Taken together, these suggest an exploration of that universal query: How deep is your love? See Rock City, set in the last days of WWII, is an Appalachian tale loaded with challenging and relevant issues that stick with you.

The Red Door Theatre is located in what once was an Episcopal church. Most everything regarding the original from the exterior, the stained glass and stage remain. Actors and sets have replaced preachers and pulpits. Some very creative locals have made it into a fine example of restoration and preservation, a warm place to connect souls with the magic of an entertaining production.

Union Springs and the Red Door Theatre offer an enchanting opportunity to experience a small Southern town while taking in a professional theatrical performance. The productions offer audiences the opportunity to enjoy the wonders from the live stage in an intimate 160-seat venue. And, there’s a big bonus: Union Springs is well known for its beautiful countryside and many stately antebellum homes and historic buildings.

Close your eyes and listen. You might hear Atticus and Scout talking.

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