Show will go on for Black Swamp Players

Ethel (Fran Martone) greets Bill (Tom Edge), as Chelsea (Stephanie Truman) lookson.

By DAVID DUPONT

BG Independent News

The Black Swamp Players Board of Trustees voted Wednesday night (April 25) to stage a 51st season, reversing an earlier decision to suspend operations..

Earlier this year, the Players announced it was suspending productions because of lack of personnel to help stage shows.

Lane Hakel, president of the Players board stated the earlier decision “was reversed last night due to an influx of enthusiastic, energetic people who have stepped forward to join together to revitalize the Players.”

Hakel said details of what shows will be produced next season are not settled. “We do know that they will likely be in November, February, and April.  We also have several experienced and talented directors that have offered to take on a show.”
The directors will select the shows they wish to stage.
In announcing the suspension in February, Hakel said that it was a lack of technical help that was really hindering its operations. But after press coverage, including a letter published by long time Player Bob Hastings, people began to step forward.
“We are really excited by the infusion of talent and energy that we have received and hope to continue performing quality live theater for the residents of Bowling Green and Northwest Ohio for another 50 years,” Hakel said an e-mail Thursday morning.
Later in an interview, he said two dozen people have stepped forward to help. The board he noted has been short a vice president and five board members. In the upcoming elections, there will be contested seats for the 14-member board. Hakel said he is running for another term as president.
Many of those who have come forward are new to the troupe. A few former board members have also returned. That includes Tom Milbrodt, a stalwart who saw the troupe through rough patches in the past, and has continued to do lights and sound for productions.
When it suspended productions, the board was also suspending its fundraising for a new home. Since 2000, the Players’ home has been in the fellowship hall at First United Methodist Church. While grateful for the church’s generosity, the space has limitations, both physical and operationally. The troupe for example cannot sell 50-50 raffle tickets or alcohol. Those are ways of raising funds that other theater use.
Hakel still believes for the troupe to reverse its decline in audience finding a new space is essential. “There are a couple intriguing possibilities that the new board is investigating for a permanent location.”
One would involved sharing a space with a business.
The 50 for 50 campaign, which was raise $50,000 in the Players’ 50th anniversary, has $23,000 in pledges and donations.
Elections for officers and trustee will occur at the Players’ annual banquet and membership meeting. Also, the next season’s offerings will be announced.
“Rather than a sad occasion,” Hakel stated, “our annual Swampy Banquet and General Membership Meeting to be held on Wednesday, May 16,  at Bowling Green Country Club will be a happy one. “
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