The City of Fairfax Theatre Company is marking its 10th anniversary this year. Founded by two Fairfax High School drama teachers and a team of volunteers in 2009, CFTC underwent what Artistic Director Amanda Herman called a “rebirth” three years later with a new artistic director and board of directors. Under this new administration, CFTC expanded its season to three shows per year and launched a successful summer camp program.
“CFTC enriches, educates and connects our community through theatre programming for all ages,” said Herman, who is completing her first year as the company’s artistic director. “We believe in providing a multitude of opportunities, including performances, camps and workshops, for young people and adults in the City of Fairfax and also surrounding communities.”
CFTC is also geared toward families, both on stage and in the audience. “Our mission is to bring entire families together as not just audience members, but as theatre makers onstage or backstage,” said Herman. “Frequently we see inter-generational participation in our productions.”
CFTC’s seasons open with a family-friendly show. Past offerings include “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” and last fall’s “The Little Princess.” Herman said, “Our fall productions are when we typically work with early career directors and the cast is mostly comprised of children, which makes for an incredible learning experience for everyone involved. For many of the kids, it is their first time on stage, and then some of their parents are playing the adult roles or working on the design team, so the whole family is getting involved in the creative process.”
The spring show is devoted to challenging adult works like “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” and “Doubt.” This May, CFTC will mount Madeline George’s 2013 Pulitzer finalist “The (Curious Case of the) Watson Intelligence,” directed by Chuck Leonard.
Summer brings CFTC’s large-scale musical. Past productions include “Hairspray,” “Footloose,” and “The Music Man.” This summer, Herman will direct an inter-generational cast in “Beauty and the Beast,” with Kirsten Boyd as music director. Auditions are in mid-May for the July production.
Unlike some other non-professional companies, CFTC does not close up shop after striking the final show of the season. CFTC runs an annual summer camp, which this year will include a four-week performing arts camp, culminating in a student production of “Seussical JR.” Throughout the season, additional offerings include staged readings and improv comedy nights.
CFTC is quite ambitious for a non-professional company, and this can present challenges. “We’re a non-profit and we only have one part-time administrative assistant on staff. Everyone else is a volunteer,” said Herman. “So we can’t afford to rent a rehearsal room in even the municipal buildings in the area for the two months needed to rehearse. It would cost double our entire production budget in some cases!” CFTC has partnered with Truro Anglican Church and Lanier Middle School for rehearsals and performances and mounts the annual spring play in the Old Town Hall in Fairfax as part of the City’s Spotlight on the Arts Festival.
The challenges have not stopped CFTC from taking on larger and more complicated technical elements each year. “We have our largest-ever set for a spring play in Old Town Hall being built right now for ‘Watson,’ and are already planning a rotating set and magical special effects for ‘Beauty and the Beast’ this summer,” Herman said.
In its decade in operation, CFTC has won a devoted local audience. “We have a core audience of people who live in the immediate area, who know they don’t need to travel to see great theatre,” Herman said. “We are proud of the reputation we’ve been able to build with our audience and our participants as part of the CFTC family.”
For more information on the City of Fairfax Theatre Company, visit FairfaxCityTheatre.org.