Local theater programs continue to entertain and even expand their services.
Open since May of last year, Gandy Dancer Theatre and Conference Center, located on the Beverly Pike in Elkins, has recently expanded to include a full-service travel agency. In addition to the new travel service, it specializes in weddings, receptions, meetings and special events.
"We do packages for trips on cruises; we do just about anything. I'm actually the agent and I've been doing it for 22 years," says G'na Stephens, CEO of direct marketing sales.
‘The Sound of Music,’ a well-known traditional musical, is presented at West Virginia Wesleyan College Performing Arts Center.
Stephens used to own Cedar World Travel, where she obtained part of her 22 years of experience in the travel service. In addition, she has assistance from others at the Gandy Dancer Theatre and Conference Center when planning vacations or other travel services.
"I had so many people calling and needing assistance, so we decided to add that in to the Gandy Dancer," explains Stephens, "My rule of thumb is you look for a good deal and make an excuse to go there. I find really good packages and pass them on to our clients."
There are no monetary charges for assistance with travel accommodations and planning.
"We don't charge any service fees. There's no charge for anything that we do. If someone calls and they just need some information on what they can do, it's no charge," explains Stephens.
In addition to offering vacation planning, the travel service extends to area tours. As a certified West Virginia Specialist, Stephens can offer tours in the area for locals as well as visiting tourists.
The addition of a full service travel agency doesn't stop the entertainment.
"We're starting our new season and we have nothing but great reviews. It's extremely high energy. We have music going from the 1950s all the way up to the 1990s. Our conference center has stayed extremely busy. This year we did add in our own Gandy Dancers, we have a troop of five dancers who do an amazing job," says Stephens.
Some of the business and organizations that have made use of the conference center include the Elkins Women's Club, Columbia Gas and Ducks Unlimited.
Shows are held every Friday and Saturday night. Tickets may be reserved in advance by calling 304-636-4935 or 855-GANDYWV. Reservations also can be made online by visiting gandydancertheatre.com. Dinner is included in the ticket price.
In addition to Gandy Dancer Theatre and Conference center, other local theaters continue to serve and entertain across the area.
Also in Elkins, located at the historic railyard downtown, The American Mountain Theater is West Virginia's first "Branson Style" theater, hosting a variety of family-friendly music and comedic entertainment. The theater also has its own gospel trio composed of owner Kenny Sexton, his wife, Beverly, and daughter, Jamalyn Sexton-Beck.
The American Mountain Theater features the "Premier 2-Hour Show" with live entertainment that mixes the musical styles of country, gospel, patriotic and pop.
"My favorite is our premier show; it's really big as far as attendance goes. Our premier show is a variety show where we do country, pop, blue grass, gospel and comedy skits. Impersonations of artists is probably the most popular thing in our show. We impersonate folks like Micheal Jackson and Johnny Cash. They're meant to be funny. Everything is G-rated and family friendly. You can bring your grandma or a 4-year-old, nobody will be offended," Sexton said.
On Jan. 1, the theater began broadcasting on a national television channel, RFD TV. The broadcast airs on Sunday nights and the channel reaches 41 million homes.
"That's how many homes have access; our weekly viewership is 1.5 million. More people see us on television now in a month than would see us in the theater in a year. It's keeping us hopping," Sexton said.
For more information, go to americanmountaintheater.com, or call (304) 630-3040.
The Buckhannon Community Theater has upcoming performances in various locations, showcasing local talent, whether seasoned or new. The theater is always looking for actors and musicians.
"We perform all over the community in found spaces, as well as at WVWC's Performing Arts Center," says Laura Meese, secretary for the Buckhannon Community Theater.
At 8 p.m. on April 7 at the Clarksburg YWCA, the Buckhannon Community Theater will be performing "The Odd Couple", directed by Meese. The play will be performed again at 8 p.m. on April 20 and 21, as a dinner theater production at the 88 Restaurant & Lounge in Buckhannon.
"The Secret Garden," will be performed from July 19 to July 22 at West Virginia Wesleyan College Virginia Thomas Law Center for the Performing Arts. The production will be directed by Jeremiah Smallridge, membership coordinator.
"Night on Broadway", an annual concert performance, will run September 29 through 30 as the last performance of the year scheduled thus far. Much of the proceeds from "Night on Broadway" are donated to the Upshur County Parish House.
"A large portion of our board is brand-spanking new, and we hope to bring BCT into the now while still maintaining the tradition of 'community' in community theatre," says Meese.
For more information go to bctonline.org.