Lakeside Theatre Company is strong for Toledo
Mary Boyer and her best friend, Mary Aufman, have spent more than 40 years acting, directing and teaching in New York City. Both have numerous stage, film and TV credits, including Boyer’s recurring role as Pat Warren— aka Crazy Eyes’ mom— on Orange is the New Black.
So how did they end up in Toledo?
“We’ve always said we wanted to start a regional theater,” Boyer said. “For years we were so busy in New York, and we finally said ‘time is moving on so if we’re going to do this, we’ve got to do it.’”
A year later, they’re launching The Lakeside Theatre Company, which will stage its first production at the University of Toledo’s Center Theatre in July.
You’ll do better in Toledo
They chose Toledo as the home of TLTC based, in part, on their roots in the region. Aufman grew up in Pittsburgh, and Boyer is a Toledo native who graduated from St. Ursula Academy then went on to the University of Detroit, where the two met. Boyer, who is one of 10 children, said proximity to family appealed to both women.
“We’d been away from our families for a long time,” she said. “And coming from such a big family I thought, well, they could fill the theater for one night.”
Ultimately, the strength of Toledo’s arts community was the deciding factor, Boyer said, citing the city’s community theaters, symphony, opera and ballet company.
“The arts thrive here,” she said, “So we settled on Toledo.”
The company’s first production is The Heiress written by Ruth & Augustus Goetz and inspired by the Henry James novel Washington Square. Made into a movie starring Olivia de Havilland in 1949, the story is driven by the tension created when a child’s choices conflict with parental expectations.
“Even though it takes place in the 1850s,” Boyer said, “it really is universal.”
Rather than waiting until they had their own performance space to get TLTC up and running, Boyer and Aufman, artistic director and managing director, respectively, decided to stage productions at different venues around the area. They’ve been so successful at securing performance dates that they have a total of three productions scheduled yet this year— The Heiress at UT, then two more at the Maumee Indoor Theater— and three more plays chosen for 2020, with locations pending. The venue changes are an interesting twist that can help keep the experience fresh for theater-goers, Boyer said.
“Try different pieces in different spaces and everything changes,” she said. “We’ll be jumping from a big spectacle with The Heiress to a very intimate piece at the Maumee Indoor. That’ll be a leap for our audience, and we’re excited by that.”
Working with the pros
TLTC has a contract with the Actors’ Equity Association, the union for live-theater professionals, which means it can draw on existing relationships with professional actors including students at Boyer’s MTB Studio in New York.
“MTB is a great platform to launch on, but we want TLTC to be its own entity,” Boyer said, noting that as it becomes established the company will increasingly draw on local and regional actors to fill roles and work alongside the professionals.
“That takes the level of the work with the local actors to wonderful new heights,” she said.
The Lakeside Theatre Company’s production of “The Heiress” runs Thursday-Sunday, July 25-28 and August 1-4, at the University of Toledo Center for Performing Arts’ Center Theatre.
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