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Theater deal gives home to ‘Annie,’ Olmsted arts group

Annie, played by Elizabeth Gonzalez, is welcomed into Oliver Warbucks, played by Steve Windahl, and is instantly treated to a life of luxury. (West Life photo by Meagan Steed)

By Meagan Steed

Olmsted Falls

In July 2012, Olmsted Performing Arts (OPA) purchased property at 6941 Columbia Road in Olmsted Falls to use as a new and permanent location for the theater and dance company. OPA’s performance of “Annie” debuts this Friday, and will be the first performance in the building since OPA’s official purchase of the facility.

The OPA has been utilizing the Olmsted Community Center since the company’s creation nine years ago. Unfortunately, the space was not large enough for the dance, fitness, gymnastics and theater classes the company offers. Now, with itsrecent purchase, it can hold all the classes under one roof.

“We started by renting rooms from the Olmsted Community Center, and eventually we were using the whole building,” said Chuck Ingrassia, executive director of the OPA. “We just outgrew it. We’ve done performances and special events at our location for eight years, so this worked out real well for us.”

The 42,000-square-foot building is located on 35 acres of land and has passed through the hands of many owners since its erection 10 years ago. The building was most recently owned by Worldview Church, which rented the facility to Journey Church – which subsequently used the building as a second campus to its Fairview Park location and will continue to rent space from the OPA.

The production of “Annie” will showcase the 90-member cast in the auditorium, which seats more than 1,300 guests. The auditorium has both a sound and light booth and a projection screen on either side of the main stage, which is used to display sponsors prior to each performance as well as to promote upcoming performances.

“Structurally, this building is perfect,” said Ingrassia. “I don’t think we could have designed it any better. The facility is just gorgeous.”

The actors in “Annie” come from as far as Sandusky and Highland Heights, and range in age from 4 to 58 years old. Auditions were held in May, and the actors have been hard at work with three rehearsals each week.

“Since we are growing, the competition is getting more challenging, and we strongly suggest that kids train,” said Angela Boehm, artistic director of the OPA. “We don’t usually cast 90. Our normal is cast is 45.”

Beacuse it’s based in Olmsted Falls, the OPA takes great pride in the city and gives back at any opportunity it is are given. OPA’s dance team has performed for City Mission, a homeless shelter in Cleveland, and the OPA gives women of Laura’s Home in Cleveland, a shelter for battered women, the opportunity to attend performances.

Tickets for “Annie” cost from $12 to $18 and can be purchased at the door or online at www.olmstedperformingarts.com, or by calling 440-465-3355. Performances are at 7 p.m. Friday, Saturday, Aug. 3 and Aug. 4. In addition, matinee performances are scheduled at 2 p.m. this Saturday and Sunday.

 

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