On any given weekend, the church can be playing host to community group meetings, music rehearsals, weddings and so on; the initial idea was that those using the downstairs rooms would enter through the back. To accommodate neighbors, Henrich says, Spooky Action and the church are coordinating their schedules to avoid conflicts and share the front entrance.
The black-box space is usually set up for 50 seats during a Spooky Action production; Henrich estimates the average audience size to be 25 to 30 people. Their work, usually with spare sets, is heavy on movement and light on naturalism.
“We try to do things that are intellectually stimulating with . . . something vigorous, fun and on the physical side,” Henrich said.
Spooky Action has used the church as its home base since 2010, when it relocated to the District from Montgomery College in Maryland. “Spooky Action feels that we’re really a better fit with an urban, sophisticated young kind of audience as we find in the Dupont Circle area,” Henrich said.
Spooky Action is operating under a temporary certificate of occupancy. Should a decision not be reached by the end of the year, the theater would need to negotiate an extension to cover the first six months of 2013, as productions are slated to run next spring.
“No one is complaining or opposing our presence,” Henrich said. “They need to decide if a small theater like ours is appropriate in this location. And it’s not a cut-and-dry issue where the law really lays it out. It’s a question of judgment and balancing different issues.
“If they decide they don’t want us here, we’ll look for alternate space,” he added. “Our preference is to stay in the District.”
Theater Alliance replaces ‘Nativity’
Theater Alliance has canceled its annual production of “Black Nativity” because its director, Stephawn Stephens, joined the cast of Signature Theatre’s “Dreamgirls.” In its place will be “Soulful Sessions,” a four-week series of gospel concerts.
Stephens, a member of the Theater Alliance Board of Directors, has directed “Black Nativity” at Theater Alliance for the past three years. The popular show — according to Theater Alliance Artistic Director Colin Hovde, last year’s run was sold out for its final 21
2 weeks — was to be held at the Lang Theatre in the Atlas, a significantly larger space than its previous home, the H Street Playhouse.
When Stephens was cast in “Dreamgirls” three months ago, he had to bow out of “Black Nativity.” “It’s a big step forward for him” as an actor, Hovde said, but it meant pulling the plug on “Black Nativity.”
Robert E. Person, another Theater Alliance board member, will host the four “Soulful Sessions,” cabaret-style shows featuring both traditional gospel and seasonal music. “Soulful Sessions” will be held at the H Street Playhouse along with Theater Alliance’s other holiday shows, “The Night Before Christmas” and “Wonderful Life,” a co-production with Hub Theatre.
Because “Black Nativity” has sold well in the past, Hovde said, “it’s definitely going to change the outcome of what we projected for the season” financially, but “I think the offerings that we have for the holiday season are really exciting options.”
Signature’s ‘Dreamgirls’ sizzle