Stars of Our Own

Act3 Productions Community Theatre Troupe

Tucked behind the Trader Joe’s in Sandy Springs Plaza, down a small unassuming alleyway is the award-winning, Act3 Productions community theatre. Like all great local finds, the exterior of this black-box theatre doesn’t do justice to the consistently sold-out shows performed inside on its stage.

From the moment you walk into the theatre you feel the neighborly vibe. Administrators and staff offer warm welcomes, and friendly conversations. Patrons often become involved as actors, and actors become patrons. The family feel is evident, and the talent undeniable.

Act3 Productions offers full season Broadway musicals and dramas, with casts of professional and amateur actors ranging in age from three to 78. The youth division, Act3 Arts Academy, offers classes, workshops and performance opportunities for local students in grades kindergarten through college.  The theatre is the recipient of numerous awards too, including 52 Metropolitan Atlanta Theatre Awards and three acting awards at the Junior Theater Festival (one for each year of participation).

It’s that high level of professionalism from the staff and the attention to details in all areas of the production that attracted Dunwoody resident Liane LeMaster to Act3 Productions. As many people do, she found Act3 through her children. Her daughters were cast in the Arts Academy production of Godspell in the summer of 2012. In addition to being a magical experience for her girls, it was just plain fun. Liane graduated from Northwestern University and was a founding member of Chicago’s Amicus Theater, so community theatre is in her blood. She started acting in the main stage productions at Act3, and then joined the staff as Director of Youth Improv in 2013. She now teaches literature and composition at Georgia Perimeter College/Dunwoody and is a published award-winning short fiction writer. In addition, she serves as Director of Education for the Act3 Arts Academy and is directing the production company’s latest show Dogfight.

What drew Liane to Dogfight was the gorgeous music and the writing. “The writers have taken great care to tell the story of a pretty cruel tradition (the Marines hold a contest to see who can find the ugliest girl to bring to a dance) without reducing the characters to either victims or villains,” says LeMaster. “There is a complex emotional tension between these characters, which reflects the time period (the cusp of the Vietnam War) and the structure of the play allows the audience to experience a profound gift of empathy and compassion, despite the unlikely context.” “Plus,” she adds, “this cast is an incredibly gifted group of performers, who I think we will see great work from in the future on a national level.”

Dogfight is set on the eve of three young Marine’s deployment to a small but growing conflict in Southeast Asia. The young men set out for one final boys’ night of debauchery, partying, and maybe a little trouble. But when Corporal Eddie Birdlace meets Rose, an awkward and idealistic waitress he enlists to win a cruel bet with his fellow recruits, she rewrites the rules of the game and teaches him the power of compassion. In addition to LeMaster’s direction, the show features Sandy Springs resident John Coombs as Stevens, and Abbie Holland as Rose. Dunwoody resident Alyssa Jackson serves as the costume designer, and is also a founding member of the North Fulton Drama Club.

Dogfight isn’t LeMaster’s first time directing. Before moving to Dunwoody, she directed large contemporary productions (Balm in Gilead), intimate ensemble pieces (Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune), musical premieres (Golem and the Yeti), and children and youth productions in Chicago. Last February she directed How I Learned to Drive at Act3.

Dogfight runs from February 5 – 20 at Act3 Productions, 6285-R Roswell Road, Sandy Springs. For tickets visit Act3Productions.org.