With a renewed focus on the arts in Atlantic City, the timing is right for a new community theater company to make its debut, the theater company president says.

The Atlantic City Theater organized this past December without much fanfare, but now is ready to announce auditions for its upcoming productions, said President Paul Herron, who is also executive director of the Bay-Atlantic Symphony.

Founded in partnership with Dante Hall Productions and the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, the Atlantic City Theater's goal is to bring a greater theater experience to Atlantic City, Herron said.

Although it is brand new, the Atlantic City Theater includes members who have decades of experience and have performed, directed, designed and produced shows with South Jersey Regional Theater, the Gateway Playhouse, Richard Stockton College, Fool Moon Theatre, the Ocean City Pops, Margate Little Theatre and Showmakers, among others.

"We are very excited to begin this partnership with Dante Hall Productions and Richard Stockton College," said Herron, who has worked in conjunction with Dante Hall's Stephanie Clineman to make the theater a reality. "The Dante Hall people are tremendous partners. We couldn't be happier."

Based at Dante Hall, located in the heart of the historic Ducktown section, the theater company is seeking people for the cast of two shows, "Steel Magnolias," to be performed in July, and "The Dining Room," scheduled for October.

Auditions are set for 7 p.m. April 9 and 10 at Dante Hall. All roles are open. Auditioners are asked to prepare a short audition piece. Headshots are appreciated.

"We're looking for anyone interested in performing on stage, experience doesn't really matter. You can be a college student or a senior citizen," Herron said.

For "Steel Magnolias," the comedy/drama that chronicles the lives and friendship of six women in Louisiana, Herron said they need a cast of six women.

"The Dining Room" is another six-person cast, but calls for three men and three women. Described as a comedy of manners, the play looks at the American family experience and takes place over several decades. Therefore, the actors have to play more than one character and so they should have some diversity, Herron said.

While the cast is being created for these two shows, the theater company will stage its debut show in mid-May with Neil Simon's comedy "The Sunshine Boys."

"I've actually staged that show before elsewhere, so we're bringing back an established cast for that, which I think is really cool," Herron said.

Herron said the area used to have more theater groups, but many factors made it hard for them to keep going.

"Being involved in community theater is like running a full-fledged business in your spare time. Between finding funding and promoting, it takes a lot of sacrifice from many different people," Herron said. "But for me, this is more fun than owning a boat. This is how I fill my spare time."

Herron said he realizes it might take a while to build a following for local theater, but the group feels there is a market for it. And Dante Hall is an ideal neighborhood venue, he said.

Besides Herron, Atlantic City Theater is made up of William Busch, Esq., who is vice president, Caren Fitzpatrick, treasurer, and Patricia Herron, secretary.

Other board members are Kenneth Christiansen, Joseph Lazurus, Duane Leeds, Pat Moore and Constance Swanson.

The group is still working out details such as ticket prices, which will be set by Dante hall. But Herron said he expects prices to be reasonable.

"We're looking to build an audience," he said. "We want people to come out for community theater again and I think it will be a success."

For audition information call 609-385-8493 or visit the website at atlanticcitytheater.org

Contact Lucia C. Drake:


If you go


Atlantic City Theater presents Neil Simon's 'The Sunshine Boys'


May 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18; Friday and Saturday shows 8 p.m., Sunday shows 2 p.m.


Dante Hall Theater of the Arts/Stockton College, 14 N. Mississippi Ave., Atlantic City

More info:

Purchase tickets at Dante Hall Theater box office, 609-347-2162