Cuenca’s Azuay Community Theater is back in action following the Covid-19 pandemic, presenting the Broadway comedy “It Had to Be You”, opening Friday, September 23.
Although the two-year-plus shutdown was disruptive, ACT Vice President Rick Snyder says the theater’s actors are eager to return to the stage. “We feel good taking the step of introducing an entire season for 2022-23. The decision has produced some exceptional new volunteers, including some younger actors, who we heartily welcome.”
Snyder credits the theater’s survival during the pandemic to “angels” who provided donations as well box office proceeds from the handful of productions staged since early 2020.
“It Had to Be You” will include six performances beginning Friday and running through Sunday, October 2. The play was written by the performance team of Joseph Bologna and Renee Taylor, a married couple who wrote and acted in “Lovers and Other Strangers” on Broadway and on film, as well as the film “Made for Each Other”. Taylor is known for her role in the TV series “The Nanny”, in which she played Fran Drescher’s mother.
In “It Had to Be You”, Theda Blau, a failed actress, health food nut, and would-be playwright, wants to find love and success in New York. She meets Vito Pignoli, a hugely successful TV commercial director. By holding him hostage in her apartment on a snowy Christmas Eve, she somehow manages to convince him to be her partner both on the page and off.
Cuenca resident Cody Hamilton, who plays Blau in the ACT production, has combined a career as an international school counselor while maintaining her Screen Actor’s Guild membership since 1986. She has appeared in TV, commercials, voiceovers and industrial films.
Ray Lewis, who plays Pignoli, a 10-year Cuenca resident, has performed in over 30 plays in the U.S. where he also built a reputation as a singer-songwriter. He occasionally sings publicly in Cuenca.
Other productions in ACT’s 2022-2023 season include: “It’s a Wonderful Life” in December; “An Evening of Short Plays” in February; “The Prisoner of Second Avenue” in April; and “Love Letters” in June.
Acknowledging the changing demographics of Cuenca’s expat community, Snyder says the theater is taking steps to appeal to a broader audience, including younger remote workers. “This season, we are presenting comedies about love that we believe will appeal to a broad age range,” he says.
He adds that ACT is upgrading its marketing program to reach a wider audience. “Besides placing posters, we are expanding our outreach through social media and other digital outlets that expats read. We have also introduced a credit card ticketing platform, www.actseats.com, as a convenience to our audience.”
In addition, ACT plans to increase its visibility in events popular with expats, such as crafts and food fairs, Common Ground’s gringo nights and with co-working organizations. “We are also partnering with five restaurants located near the theater on Av. Ordoñez Lasso.”