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Though The Oregon Community Theatre has always put on quality shows, the group has often had difficulty getting the word out to people who might be interested in seeing live Theatre close to home. But after numbers were tallied at a meeting last week, it seems like that’s starting to change.

“This (past) season, we had record setting attendance,” said Reed Steel, president of the Oregon Community Theatre.

Steele attributed the increase in attendance to many factors, one of which would be some new approaches to promotion.

“A lot of it comes down to spreading the word that we’re here, (and) our advertising person, Nancy Ice, has just been doing dynamite work,” he said.

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Shows like M*A*S*H have helped Oregon Community Theatre break attendance records.
(Press file photo by Ken Grosjean)

The choice of shows also plays a big part in the attendance record. This previous season’s shows, Les Miserables, M*A*S*H, and On Golden Pond, all have popular film or television versions, and are well known to non-Theatre going audiences. The Theatre also goes after shows that other Theatre groups in the area haven’t done yet.

“We like to be on the cutting edge with our show selection, especially with our musicals,” Steele said. “We like to do shows that have just been made available to community Theatre.”

Other factors are taken into consideration when choosing shows, including cast size.

“We like shows with large casts,” Steele said. “They allow a lot of people to experience community Theatre that never got a chance before, or didn’t even know about it.”

Having a lot of people in a show also has the benefit of widening the scope of people who know about the production.

“All the cast members have friends, family, and colleagues that come to see the shows,” Steele said.

The Oregon Community Theatre’s fall musical is always its biggest draw, and did well this past season as it often does. It was the winter show, however, that surprised everyone with its large turnout.

“Despite the fact that it was one of the worst winters on record, we had about twice our normal attendance for our winter show, M*A*S*H,” Steele said.

Selecting what shows to produce isn’t everything, though, and Steele believes that the quality of all aspects of the Oregon Community Theatre’s productions is what’s helping to increase attendance.

“There are a lot of very talented people working on these shows, not only with singing and acting, but also with set design, lighting, special effects, and producing, It really does help when the audience does arrive in the Theatre,” he said. “They’re impressed by the whole thing. That’s where we start to get more people coming.”

Steele hopes that because of the positive reactions of those that came to see shows like Les Miserables, next season will break even more records for attendance.

“I’ve heard several people say, ‘I didn’t know you guys did this, this is fantastic. I’m buying season tickets for next year,’” he said.

This new season begins this fall with a large musical, Spamalot, and Steele and the rest of the Oregon Community Theatre are ready to get the word out.

“We don’t want to be the best kept secret,” Steele said. “We want everyone to know that we’re here and that we’re putting on great shows.”

For information on the upcoming season, visit www.oregoncommunitytheatre.org

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