By Deborah Bostock-Kelley
Vivid Theatre Productions’ mission statement reads, “when likeminded individuals come together to make art, we truly create something honest, sincere, and thought-provoking. Through this and every aspect we allow our audiences to be not only engaged, but also immersed in the true magic and art form of theatre, through which we can truly experience every facet of the human condition.”
Conceived out of the desire to create a semiprofessional theatre company that is the antithesis of repeated themes of recent musical and nonmusical productions, founder Drew Eberhard has a vision. Like Kevin Costner’s famous, oft-repeated quote from “Field of Dreams,” Drew knows “if you build it, they will come.”
And building it, he is.
With a solid background working in theatre and Bachelor’s degree in theatre from Ball State University in Indiana, Drew is looking to take his company to the next level. Drew seeks only plays and musicals that create an extraordinary theatre experience, fostering a culture of collaboration with his cast and crew, creating theatre that resonates with timeless stories and universal truths.
“We don’t want to always do the same type of shows and cast the same people. It’s allowing a different perspective in theatre in Tampa Bay area,” he explained. “Vivid Theatre Productions is doing stories that are culturally-relevant, grounded in the idea of providing thought-provoking work and doing it in an artistic manner.”
A traveling company – one that does not have a set venue – Drew is excited to be able to bring theatre to a diverse groups of people throughout Tampa Bay, depending on the venue location.
In July, Drew gave Tampa patrons a taste of what is to come with the musical cabaret Broadway Miscast, a fundraiser for the inaugural season, hosted at Powerstories Theatre in Tampa. An entertaining mix of twenty-six different Broadway shows, a diverse variety from Pippin and Newsies to Hadestown and Hamilton, thecast from teen to adult sang parts for the opposite gender.
A testament to Drew’s recognition in the theatre community, joining Drew for the fundraiser on stage were the talents of Brilee Gold, Sean McKinley, Heather Mendoza, Kidany Camillo, Lena Morrisseau, Jason Ensor, Erica Garraffa, Topher Warren, Chonesty Montgomery, Sonali Balan, Bri Filippelli, some well-known voices in Tampa Bay musical theatre.
“We had a great night taking popular known Broadway songs and flipping them, giving a performer a chance to sing a role that they normally wouldn’t get cast in singing,” he said.
Vivid Theatre Productions’ season will consist of two musicals and four non-musicals. Following the theme of “A Season of Extraordinary Women,” Drew’s inaugural season will showcase and empower women, in strong contrast to the current political landscape of devoicing women. His second season speaks to revolt, revolution and standing up for what you believe in.
“In many stories women tend to be looked past in a male-dominated society. I don’t feel like women’s stories are being told in the right manner or being told enough,” he said. “It sets us apart from other companies because of the different variations of the shows we’re picking. I’ve talked to people in the area who have seen or heard my announcement of the season and of all of the theatres in the area, my theatre seems to have the most unique and well-rounded shows. I picked my shows to give for not only the relevance, but to give the audience something to take away and make them think.”
Opening with Yasmina Reza’s God of Carnage at Stageworks Theatre, 1120 East Kennedy Boulevard in the Channelside District on September 6-15, the season follows with In the Blood by Suzan-Lori Parks on November 8-17; Sweat by Lynn Nottage on March 6-15, 2020, and A Doll’s House Part 2 by Lucas Hnath on May 8-17, 2020. Two musical are planned in the schedule, but until licensed, Drew will not reveal.
Having worked in 2018 as an actor in an alleged semiprofessional company that took advantage of its talent, Drew has firsthand knowledge of what not to do when forming his own theatre company.
“I’ve been successful getting all the rights for all the nonmusical shows, have financials in order, working on sponsorships, and have our venues. I will announce my musicals once I have the rights. It’s the steps that one needs to take to succeed because I’ve learned from having been through the ringer from a new company I thought was headed in the right direction, but was not. We’re doing things the right way from the beginning to make sure this succeeds for the long-term.”
A prism logo represents Vivid Theatre Productions and Drew explained the significance of both the design and the company name.
“When you refract light from a prism, all different colors and aspects of light are reflected. The name Vivid was selected because we are pushing cultural relevance to the forefront of the spectrum. In doing so, we are inviting people from all backgrounds, all genders, and all walks of life to help tell these stories.”
To learn more about the Vivid Theatre Production’s first season and upcoming auditions, visit www.vividtheatreproductions.org or follow on Facebook.