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CAST auditioning new performance spaces

JSU theatre

The Jacksonville State University theatre at McClellan is closed because of water damage from a roof leak. CAST will be performing at the Bridge temporarily. Photo by Stephen Gross / The Anniston Star

Water damage has driven Anniston theater troupe CAST from its usual performance space and delayed a performance, but the show must go on. 

Community Actors Studio Theater has performed at Jacksonville State University’s auditorium at the school’s McClellan location for several years, according to Howard Johnson, CAST board president, but water damage to the roof has made the space unfit for performances. The troupe planned to start its performance of “Fences,” a 1985 play about family and race relations, this week, but now it’s on hold until Feb. 20. 

The show will be held at The Bridge at Anniston First United Methodist Church, which Johnson attends. He said the building was named The Bridge because it was meant to act as a bridge between east and west Anniston. The thematic similarity between the show and the building, he said, was “a wonderful irony to the whole thing.” 

“Here we have a play that’s all about a black family and an all-black cast, part of our effort to do something special during Black History Month, and it’s actually going to be more accessible to the folks in west Anniston than if we had it out in McClellan,” he said. 

The show will run for four nights. After that, Johnson said, it’s uncertain what CAST will do next. There are still four more shows in the spring season — “Clue,” “Shrek,” “My Fair Lady” and “Seussical Jr.” — but no venue has been chosen to host them. 

“I think this spring we’re going to assume the remaining shows of the season will also have to be moved out of McClellan,” Johnson said. 

Andy Green, JSU’s continuing education director based at the McClellan building, said the problem comes back to a leaky roof, though there’s not any severe damage. Folks watching a show might get a shower on a rainy night, though, and with the roof yet to be repaired, the space wasn’t right for rehearsals. 

“I would love to have them there … but to be able to give them access while that was being repaired, we weren’t able to do so,” Green said. 

He wasn’t sure how long repairs will take; right now the roof is being patched, but it will need more substantial maintenance for a lasting fix. Some of the same workers who have been repairing JSU buildings since the March 2018 tornadoes have inspected the McClellan rooftop, but a date has yet to be planned for repairs. 

“We know it will be able to have shows again,” Green said. “We want to make sure anybody paying to come to a show has the best experience possible.” 

Howard said CAST is in need of a new headquarters, one to address a litany of needs: a space for teaching, rehearsal and performance, with room to store props and costumes and to build sets. He’d like to see the group get its own small theater, he said, “so we have control of our venue.” 

“Fences” opens at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 20 at The Bridge, 1400 Noble St. in Anniston. The first night is a “pay what you want” night, Johnson said. Tickets are available at castalabama.com

Assistant Metro Editor Ben Nunnally: 256-235-3560. 

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