Eric D Potter
Our Town Theatre Group is celebrating their 20th anniversary. Pictured above is the cast from “Rumors,” a 2013 production.
NORTH CREEK — A local theatre group is celebrating 20 years of high quality performances.
Getting its start in 1996, the Our Town Theatre Group (OTTG) has been and continues to be a prominent force for the arts in the greater North Creek metropolitan area.
From mainstage plays to theatrical workshops for children to special Christmas holiday extravaganzas, this talented theatrical group continues to entertain in an extremely effective way.
Lyle Dye, the artistic director and “founding father” of the OTTG, came to the area and decided to stay, bringing decades of directing and teaching experience to the region.
For many years, the North Creek resident has directed plays — or invited professional directors from the theatrical world to direct — until 2003, when he handed over the reins to a group of supporters.
In 2012, Dye was honored when the theatre space at the Tannery Pond Community Center in North Creek was named the “Lyle Dye Auditorium.”
Prior to the opening of the center in 2002, when it became its official home, the OTTG managed well by utilizing various venues throughout the North Creek area for its theatrical events.
Its inaugural production was the first annual “Holiday Celebration” in December 1996. Their first actual theatrical production, “Love Letters,” was presented the following summer.
But the 1998 production of “Our Town” at the North Creek Methodist Church was the event that got many people in the community involved in theater.
With its cast of over 30 actors, this performance attracted large audiences and thoroughly established OTTG as an important part of the arts movement in the region.
Mary Beth Sclafani, who was part of the original production, has been an enthusiastic supporter of the group.
“Being a part of the OTTG has been a wonderful experience,” Sclafani said. “We’ve gotten to work with a diversity of wonderful directors over the years, and it has been an amazing experience. I was one of ‘the dead’ in the play, and I get to be part of the new Our Town production as a dead person once again.”
The OTTG has assembled over 40 “mainstage” productions along with numerous play readings, holiday celebrations, musical revues and other events over the years.
Many of the folks who were involved with the theatre group back in the early days are still active. One of these is Mary Ann Sauro, who has served as both president and secretary of the group.
“OTTG is a wonderful cultural addition to North Creek and surrounding communities,” said Sauro, who has appeared in numerous productions and is happy to continue her involvement. “Being an actor is something I’ve always wanted to do. When I say ‘this is my last show,’ I always come back to audition again.
Mary Ellen Dowling has been involved with the OTTG almost since its beginning. She became Vice President for Production after Dye stepped away and currently serves as Vice President for Administration.
“OTTG was a community group effort at the start and continues to focus on community,” Dowling said.
Dowling is very excited about the new production of “Our Town” at the Tannery Pond Community Center, which is being performed from Oct. 21-23.
“I played Emily back in high school, which as a great experience. Our Town is a community show. It has come together so well, with the director (Colleen Potter) doing a wonderful job. During the 1998 production of Our Town, I had the opportunity to play Professor Willard – for the upcoming show I am once again the professor!”
Director Colleen Potter has been involved with the OTTG for about a decade, and she and her husband Eric have played a large part in the success of the group over these years.
The experienced director has been involved in many theatrical productions.
“I’ve always loved Our Town. I’ve been interested in staging this play with OTTG for a number of years, and a few years back as we were looking toward our 20th anniversary celebration, it seemed to me that this was the perfect choice to celebrate all that OTTG has done in its lifetime so far.”
Potter is very happy with the people involved with the play as well as the North Creek community.
“Everyone is doing amazing things in rehearsals and creating a beautiful story all together. It’s special to be able to work with this spectacular organization in this supportive community on this gem of a show!”
Our Town will be performed on Friday Oct. 21 and Saturday Oct. 22 at 7:30 p.m. and on Sunday Oct. 23 at 1 p.m. at the Tannery Pond Community Center in North Creek. Sponsored by North Creek’s Heads in Beds, Thornton Wilder’s Our Town is a beautiful play about small town life with all its joy, drama, and death. Prices are $12 for adults and $8 for students through 12th grade. For tickets, visit ottg.org or call 406-8840.