By Heidi Masek firstname.lastname@example.org
• Football action: The Manchester Wolves play on the Acting Loft Field at the Verizon Wireless Arena this season.
How does an educational theater nonprofit become a naming sponsor for a minor-league arena football team? Good question.
Acting Loft board chair Charlie Basbas said it started when the Acting Loft wanted to find a way to thank a very generous donor. The board enlisted help from a supporter with access to Keyspan’s luxury suite at the arena, and took the donor to a Wolves game. He was so impressed he decided to help both organizations. Basbas said the anonymous donor now sponsors the Wolves in the name of the Acting Loft.
It’s not unusual for grants or donations to be earmarked for a specific purpose, or for a donor to help two organizations at the same time this way, Basbas said. However, he does end up explaining the situation while fundraising.
Stephanie Bike, general manager for the Wolves, and Basbas say the team and theater have a symbiotic relationship. Both organizations are in the business of family entertainment. Last season, the Acting Loft was an endzone sponsor.
Basbas freely admits that a child who is dragged to a show might be happier at a Wolves game and vice versa. Both organizations benefit from exposure to the others’ patrons, yet they don’t compete the way a match-up of the Acting Loft and another theater would. Wolves game events aren’t far off from what the Acting Loft does. Bike said half-time can include a kids’ touchdown dance contest among other activities to get kids onto the field.
Acting Loft volunteers staff an information table at games. Bike’s daughter will attend Acting Loft camp this summer. The ArenaFootball2 league season runs from March through July with playoffs in August. The Wolves have been in Manchester for six years, and the 25-team AF2 league is 10 years old.
How have league members reacted to a field named for a theater? Some owners and general managers of visiting teams have asked “how the heck” it happened, Bike said. But a field-naming sponsor is a big deal, it’s a “hard thing to come by throughout the league,” Bike said. The fact that it’s a nonprofit is huge, she said. The owners brought the Wolves to the community for the community, Bike said.
A few Wolves players and the coach have said they’ve acted, Bike said.
Acting Loft night at the Wolves is July 24. Theater campers can invite their families, and the Acting Loft is providing the national anthem performance and possibly other performances.
• The end: Phoenix Academy is no longer. The performing arts school had existed for about two years at 25 Front St. in Nashua, part of that time as All Access Productions. Student enrollment had dropped from 80 in January to 24 in May, as the economy took a toll on Phoenix families and students, director Brandon Mallard said. About 10 students from northern Massachusetts had to leave Phoenix after layoffs at a company that had employed members of each of their families.
“It got to the point that most of the kids there weren’t paying for classes,” Mallard said. Some cleaned the space in exchange, and adult students sponsored a few teens.
Phoenix ended up two months behind in rent, and then Mallard got a call from StageCoach Productions, which had been using the place to rehearse Alter Boyz, reporting a padlocked door. The landlord eventually allowed Mallard to retrieve other people’s items inside, but won’t let him take Phoenix property. “It’s nobody’s fault,” Mallard said.
“There was so much positive that came from [the school],” Mallard said. He doesn’t want the negative ending to overshadow that. Friendships were formed, and students who couldn’t get into ensembles before are now leads in local shows, he said.
• Making a comeback: Yellow Taxi Productions isn’t staging a park performance this summer, but its members are busy.
The Nashua professional company brings back its courtroom-drama version of Jodi Picoult’s The Pact, this time at the Capitol Center for the Arts, 44 South Main St. in Concord (225-1111, ccanh.com). It’s part of the Spotlight Café series Thursday, July 23, and Friday, July 24, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $20. The Pact is set in a New Hampshire town where a teenager stands trial for shooting his girlfriend. YTP commissioned Jeannette Angell to adapt the novel and the resulting April shows sold out. It has a great ensemble cast.
Also, YTP produces a free staged reading of The Devil Gets Her Say, a new piece by Boston playwright Meron Langsner, Friday, June 19, at 8 p.m., at their millyard venue in 5 Pine St., Extension in Nashua (791-4558, www.yellowtaxiproductions.org). A modern scientist summons Dr. Faustus but gets Mephistopheles too. A talk with the playwright follows. Actors include YTP artistic director Suzanne Delle and Casey Preston, who played Pale in Burn This for YTP in May. Phil Allen directs.
• Cause: The Friends of the Concord City Auditorium are raising money to update their system of ropes, pulleys, etc. that are used on stage. Summer Theatre in Meredith Village presents Forever Plaid on the Concord stage, Friday, June 19, at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday, June 20, at 2 and 7:30 p.m., at 2 Prince St. in Concord to benefit the Audi Fly Space Project. Tickets cost $15. Uno’s Chicago Grill on Fort Eddy Road in Concord (225-7474) hold “Forever Plaid Day” Monday, June 15. Visit wearing plaid between 11 a.m. and midnight for a chance to win show tickets, and tell your server you are there for the “Dough Raiser.” Cast members will be there between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., and 5 and 7 p.m.