Baldwin County’s stage just grew a little larger.
Chase S. Morrisette, whose production of “Magnolia” made its world premiere in 2019 to standing room only audiences, will open the doors to Exit Stage Left this spring, a new theatre troupe born, he said, out of love for the artform and friendships crafted around the stage.
A group of five friends, including Morrisette, director of Exit Stage Left, and Jude McCoy, CEO, forged the organization after working together in various productions throughout the county over the years.
What they enjoyed more than the productions, was the bonding of people across all walks of life to make it happen.
“It was more than just acting, what we really enjoyed was seeing all the different ways people could plug in,” McCoy said. “Chase with all his experience didn’t look at me any differently than anyone who had been on Broadway. You’re part of this show, you’re part of the family. The inclusion of the theater world really struck me.”
That focus on inclusivity is at the core of Exit Stage Left’s purpose.
“Ultimately this is about building a safe place for all,” Morrisette said. “We’re not exclusive. We don’t hold anyone back. Over the years I’ve had a lot of friends who faced a lot of issues because of ethnic background, gender identity, religion - it’s time for a change. Theater is about inclusion.”
The organization plans to offer acting classes and productions for both adults and children, summer camps as well as classes in other aspects of theater such as stage design and script writing.
This weekend the organization will host its first event, a fundraising gala at the Magnolia Hotel in Foley. The “All that Jazz” themed party will feature heavy hors d’oeuvres, signature drinks from the 1920s, a silent auction and musical performances by Morrisette, Savannah Litton, Lacy McFadden, Kaelee McCoy and a skit by Jennifer McBrayer. Tickets can be purchased at www.exitstageleft.org.
Baldwin County is already home to a handful of theater groups, including several focused on promoting children’s acting. Morrisette said he isn’t worried about the competition since Exit Stage Left has a goal of expanding beyond the county and even Alabama.
Morrisette said Exit Stage Left’s five-year plan is to open its doors in cities across the southeast.
“I like to dream big and put things out there. In a lot of ways, you’ve got to put your money where mouth is and we’re going to give back more than we’re going to take,” he said. “This industry serves everybody. It doesn’t matter your background, education or politics. Theater is a level playing field and we want to make it as available to everybody as possible.”