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Vero Beach Theatre Guild looking for would-be actors for new series

Philip White and Jill A. Hargrave participated in Readers Theatre’s “A Night To Remember.” The program now is called the Apron Series

So you’ve never been enticed by the bright lights of Broadway but you’d like to try your hand in local theater if it didn’t involve such a big commitment? Well, has Vero Beach Theatre Guild got just the thing for you!

Formerly known as the Readers Theatre, the new Apron Series has four “front of the grand drape” readings scheduled. (The grand drape is the curtain typically opened and closed during performances to reveal or conceal the stage and scenery from the audience.)

Jon Putzke, president of the board of directors, and a frequent director of Vero Beach Theatre Guild shows, considers the series “a great way to get your feet wet."

He recognizes it can be intimidating at first because there aren't a lot of rehearsals, "but having the script in hand helps build the confidence one needs to perform on stage.”

Even with the easier production requirements, things don’t always go according to plan. Greg Harris, a teacher at Storm Grove Middle School, was in last season's "Jerry Finnegan's Sister." He recalled the scene in which his character was helping the female lead, played by his wife Caitlin, get on the cheerleading squad. She was to throw herself at him in a cheerleading move and knock him flat on the floor, where he would read his next line, hoping for a laugh.

When show time came and they got to that scene, Caitlin threw not only Greg, but the script they were carrying. They brought down the house as they scrambled to gather the pages and bow their way off the stage. Both actors perform with Theatre-Go-Round Dinner Theatre and have been in many Vero Beach Theatre Guild shows.

Two cast members with the director from Readers Theatre’s “A Night To Remember” l to r: Jill A. Hargrave, Jon Osterholm and Clara McCarthy. (Photo: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO FROM JILL HARGRAVE)

Jill Hargrave has been with Vero Beach Theatre Guild for five years, with onstage and backstage roles. Last year she was in the Readers Theatre performance of "A Night to Remember." Her Edwardian costume was pocketless, so she neglected to carry her reading glasses onstage, making her very thankful the script was in large type.

Whether in one of the larger-scale musical shows or a limited-role Readers Theatre performance, Hargrave has fun. “You get to know other people who enjoy performing too, so it adds to your quality of life.”

Last season’s "Judgement at Nuremberg" was Steve Budkiewicz’s first experience with the guild. He said the audition was not what he expected.

“Usually, the director will describe the play and outline the various parts. Once the actor has a reasonable idea of the character're on your own," he said. "You might pray not to be called first so you can see how others handle the characters, but then you pray to be called again...and maybe again.”

Budkiewicz will be in the guild's "Yankee Tavern" this September and also performs with Melbourne Civic Theatre.

"12 Angry Men" opens Oct. 12, followed by "Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol" Dec. 7, "A Night in the Theatre" Feb. 8 and "Things You Shouldn’t Say Past Midnight" April 12.

Willi Miller writes about Indian River County. Contact her at

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