The Miami Theatre Players originated from a small group of friends who originally performed shows in the lounge at Scudder Hall. The talented members of this musical theatre group are based on the SUNY New Paltz campus, but operate outside the Department of Theatre Arts in an entirely student-run organization. Through the combined passions of a few people, the Miami Theatre Players provides self-proclaimed humorous and heartfelt theatrical displays for its audience of community members and college students.
Currently, the group is in the process of producing their upcoming show, “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” a musical based on the Peanuts characters. The 11 members of the players’ cast are rehearsing Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 7 to 9 p.m. each night.
Director Annette Storckman, third-year English major, is impressed with the dedicated efforts made by all those in participation, especially since they began rehearsing only a few weeks ago. They have been learning the music and will soon begin practicing choreography and blocking.
“Everyone involved is so talented and great to work with,” said Storckman. “I couldn’t be happier with my cast, [Executive Board] or creative team. I can’t wait to see how it all turns out.”
Since the Miami Theatre Players are not associated with the Department of Theatre Arts, they receive all of their funding through the Student Association. The members said it can be difficult for them to determine show dates or find performance space for specific times in respect to main stage shows, but they receive an immense amount of support from the theatre department.
There are also several theatre majors involved with the productions, but it is not a requirement in the audition process. They encourage students from all majors to try out for their shows to provide a broader spectrum of diversity to their group. The players also have opportunities for students interested in choreography, costumes, joining the pit or building the sets.
“It gives people of other majors, who would otherwise not get the chance to act, a chance to still be involved with theatre,” said Storckman.
Samantha Grossman, a third-year secondary education English major, is the assistant director of the Miami Theatre Players and has been involved since her first semester at SUNY New Paltz. Although Grossman is not a theatre major, she hopes to eventually teach drama with her degree in education. She has learned a lot about the production process by assisting in blocking, choreography and all other aspects of making the show happen.
“Being a part of Miami has been one of the most amazing experiences since I’ve been at New Paltz. It has allowed me to make so many great friends and amazing memories and also taught me a lot about theatre,” said Grossman.
Jenna-Kate Karn, a first-year theatre major, has been doing school, community and regional theatre since she was nine years old, but the Miami Theatre Players is the first student-run company she has been a member of.
“I love Miami because you are free to create and explore in an environment with people and a creative staff that you can relate to,” said Karn. “Everyone takes their job very seriously, but we also have a lot of fun.”
Previous plays performed by the Miami Theatre Players include “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” “Once Upon a Mattress” and “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.” Their next show, “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” stars Greg Gondek, a second-year undeclared major, as Charlie Brown. It will premiere on Nov. 19 and run through Nov. 21 at Parker Theater. For more information on the Miami Theatre Players visit their website npmiamitheatreplayers.weebly.com or their Facebook fan page.