‘No theater can survive on box office alone’
July 18, 2007
Before the house lights dim for "Little Shop of Horrors," Terrence Goodman, dressed in a suit and tie, almost always introduces himself to the audience as the Egyptian Theatre Company’s new artistic director.
His face might look familiar to some theater-goers. Since the 1970s, Goodman has earned steady work in television shows like "Three’s Company" and "Newhart" and "Everwood."
But Goodman’s heart, it seems, belongs to the stage. For three decades, he has been cast in everything from "Jesus Christ Superstar" and "Damn Yankees" to the first national touring company for "Titanic," in the leading role as Captain Smith. This month, he is directing a play at Logan’s Old Lyric Repertory Company, called "The Member of the Wedding," about a girl’s coming-of-age in the South following the end of World War II. This fall he will appear in a Utah Broadway tryout for the revival of the musical "Paint Your Wagon."
Goodman left Hollywood, in fact, to earn a masters degree in directing from Utah State during the writer’s strike in the mid-1980s.
He notes he is in good company. Fellow professional actors have likewise devoted their creative smarts to running community theaters: Jeff Daniels founded "The Purple Rose" theater in Michigan, and Kevin Spacey now runs the "Old Vic Theatre" in London.
Theater is deeper than television or film, Goodman explains it has more texture.
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"It’s the richness of material," he says. "And from an actor’s point of view, there’s a narrative arc every night you live that part from beginning to end I’ve always loved theater."
From his involvement in more than 100 stage productions of musicals, Goodman has gleaned a few tricks of the trade. One he shares with Park City audiences on performance nights: theater subscriptions.
Season subscriptions give a theater the budget to plan for bigger and better shows, Goodman explains, and the majority of theaters depend upon them. "No theater can survive on box office alone," he says, and while the Egyptian has offered subscriptions, at $195 for six shows, in recent years, they have not been promoted much.
As Goodman tells the audience moments before "Little Shop," he often gets the response, "I’d subscribe, but no one’s asked."
"A loyal subscription base can make a difference, financially, on how we plan a season," he told The Park Record. "We can plan for better productions [with subscription funding], which is what the audience wants and what we want to give the audience it’s hand in glove."
Goodman’s appointment came mid-season, and he plans to finish the current Egyptian lineup as scheduled, with Jane Talley’s youth-theater production "High School Musical," "Sweeney Todd" in October and "Peter Pan" in November. "For now, we need some stability, so we’ll stick to the formula," he says.
But next season, new subscribers hopefully in hand, Goodman has more than a few ideas to bring to the table. He’s considering opening with "Cabaret" and continuing with "Chicago," "The Music Man," and the regional premiere of "Altar Boyz." He also wants the Egyptian to be the first company to produce "Joe!" a new musical satire about an out-of-work actor who finds himself trapped in a musical, written by David Rossmer and David Lipton.
Since moving to Park City two years ago with his wife and son, Goodman says he always supported the Egyptian. He can remember visiting town decades ago, wondering if perhaps he might someday be a part of it.
When Goodman welcomes "Little Shop" on a stage built in 1881, he says he sometimes looks out at the audience, imagining what it might have looked like 120 years ago. He’s learned the Egyptian has been through ups and downs, was once spared by a community-wide effort to "Save the Stage. He appreciates the history, and Park City’s ties to it. He calls it the town’s "crown jewel."
"I took this job because people who work at the Egyptian love theater," he says. "There’s a great spirit here."
The Egyptian Theatre Company performs "Little Shop of Horrors" on Wednesdays through Fridays at 8 p.m. through Aug. 18. Call (435) 649-9371 for more information.