The Street 70 Theater production of "Brigadoon" has 85 people in the chorus, a cast of 100 and a multitude of elaborate sets. Jim Taylor, a 47-year-old Silver Spring resident who was just another unemployed urban planner five months ago, is in charge of it all.
Taylor is a CETA employe - one of several people employed by Street 70 through a $86,000 grant received by the Montgomery County Receation Association in April.
Taylor calls his job as a stage manager "absolutely a gift from heaven."
"I had been a city planner studying urban neighborhoods through a Department of Commerce grant and when the grant was not renewed, I decided to take some time off and think about what I was doing. I had saved some money, and I could go one year without a job."
Taylor, who is divorced and supports only himself added, "They say that at age 44 you begin to make career changes, and that's what I did. I started doing volunteer work for the New Playwrights Theater in Washington, working on sets and backstage and later on productions as assistant stage manager."
After several months of this a rumor came through the theater grapevine that Street 70 had the money to hire a stage manager.
"New Playwrights knew Street 70 was going to hire someone, so they gave me the opportunity to work, taught me what to know, what to read, how to do a prompt book," Taylor said.
Street 70, a company of professional actors produces several shows, each season through the auspices of the Montgomery County Department of Recreation. During the year, the company also offers apprentice programs for young persons and an in-school theater training program.
Through the CETA grant, Street 70 was able to hire several dancers, a dance technician, a costume designer, costume manager and Taylor, as stage manager, this year.
Taylor said he was one of seven people who applied for the job. "I looked back on my time with New Playrights as really exicitng, and I wanted to stay in the theater. I had been out of work nine months and I knew I could make it for three or four more, but that's all.
"For the CETA job I had to go to the employment office in Silver Spring first. After a fairly simple and easy process, they sent me over here for interviews.
"I didn't think I had a chance.Most of the applicants were much younger, with college training in theater."
Taylor said he was not looking for CETA employment when he found this job and would not have applied for any other CETA position but this one. "I was only interested in this, and if I had to get it through CETA, okay."
But also because of CETA, Taylor's position at Street 70 is tenuous at best. When he was hired in April, he was told funds for the job would last one year. Recently he heard the program funding could end in September.
"I would really like to see Montagomery County pick up this position in their budget," Taylor said of his $9,300-a-year post. "That would make it more permanent, of course, for me, but also give me more experience.
"I don't know what I would do if the program ends. It would probably be some time before I could get a job like this again."