Avon Players

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Meet the Avon Players

Avon Players is a nonprofit community theater group located along the winding banks of Stoney Creek in the quaint Historic District of Rochester Hills, Michigan, only about two miles from the heart of downtown Rochester.

The group was founded in 1947 by enthusiasts who loved the thrill and energy of live performances. Many of the original members had earlier been part of a church theatre group who wanted to share their theatrical enjoyment with the entire community.

Avon Players owns its own playhouse, a unique multiple A-frame design, built in 1965. The governing body for the group consists of a nine member Executive Board, elected by active members at an annual meeting.

The roster of Avon Players' season ticket holders, financial supporters, advertisers, members, and performers indicates that we continue to draw theater lovers from not only the Greater Rochester area, but also from all of Southeastern Michigan.

During a typical season, the troupe's multi-talented volunteers bring to the stage five full-scale productions. And full scale means just that... a computerized lighting system, sound effects equipment, costumes, live orchestra, completely constructed sets, and scenic backdrops painted by local talented artists. We will also engineer any special effects a show requires.

Our seasons have included award-winning dramas, British farces, Broadway musicals, and spine-tingling mysteries. We have talented performers who can sometimes be hard to distinguish from professionals, and some have in fact gone on to appear in national touring companies!

With our ticket prices set at a fraction of those at professional theatres… plus free parking and concessions on a donation basis… a family of four can experience a sensational live theatrical event for about the cost of one ticket at a "downtown" venue.

We continually look for ways to improve both our building and our production capabilities. In the past decade, we dedicated space to a new costume room, and we have recently refurbished our green room. We also installed a new sound system, automatic gel-changing lights, and new spotlights. But what hasn't changed is our closeness with our public. In our beautiful lobby, built in 1996, the cast, crew, and audience have a chance to mingle and celebrate after each performance. That's a spirit that any type of professional entertainment just can't match!

A Part of the Community

Avon Players has had close ties to the Rochester community ever since Rochester was a city located inside what was then called Avon Township—the township where our theater was incorporated and the inspiration for our name. When Avon Township became the City of Rochester Hills in 1984, we continued to strive to be an integral part of both the City of Rochester and our "new home" of Rochester Hills.

That means our role is not just to entertain or "provide some culture." We're actively involved with many of the area's civic efforts, by either entertaining or loaning the playhouse. We've done:

  • Music reviews for Appreciation Nights for Rochester's Meals on Wheels volunteer delivery people.
  • Singing during Christmas events such as "Langiappe Night" for the Downtown Development Authority
  • A concert for the Kiwanis Summer Concert in the Park Series at Rochester Municipal Park – consisting of Broadway show-stopping hits, with full costumes.
  • A movie premiere party for the Rochester-Avon Historical Society in our theatre and lobby. The movie, narrated by Mort Crim, chronicled the history of the Rochester area from our early pioneer days.
  • Performing at the annual Art & Apples weekend.
  • Singing at the annual Christmas Parade – and we're proud that one of our members did the co-hosting for several years.
  • Rochester Hills Public Library events such as "Spread the Cheer—Volunteer."

The contribution we're most proud of is our impact upon hundreds and hundreds of youngsters in the community each year. We have students who have appeared in local commercials, and some who have even moved to New York City to pursue their dream of performing that was fostered at Avon.

In addition to our five regular season offerings, Avon Players puts on a Youth Theatre production – either a musical or a large-cast play – for students in the sixth through twelfth grades.

Under guidance from Avon adult members, these young people also have the opportunity to learn the craft of the theatre. They'll actually get to build and paint scenery, and help with costumes, lighting, and sound, and students not acting in the production may find themselves as student directors or stage managers. It's a tremendous confidence-builder for them to know they're putting on the show themselves. And it's a great way for these young actors and their families to make friends with others throughout the community.

Finally, these budding actors get their big chance to show off all that singing, dancing, and acting talent when all of a sudden… it's opening night! Four performances are held on one weekend before packed audiences that include many youngsters seeing their first "real, live play."

In addition to the Youth Theatre program, Avon's mainstage productions often require child actors, and the first place we look is to those who have learned their craft in the Youth Theatre productions.

During the last decade, we have watched the community around us develop and grow, particularly the new homes and the new Stoney Creek High School that have sprung up around our playhouse. We are proud to have developed and grown along with them as a theater group, and to have been a "home" for so many talented individuals and theatre-loving patrons in our community. We happily intend to maintain both our presence and reputation in this community for many years to come… we're here to stay!

 


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