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Mission & History
Authentic Community Theatre, Inc. exists to educate and enrich the community through classes and theatre performances.
- Develop original work to address significant and relevant social issues.
- Offer educational opportunities for students to explore the creative arts and processes.
- Provide artistic outreach programs to underserved segments of our community.
- Encourage artistic growth in amateurs and professionals by providing professional and social opportunities for local artists.
ACT is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization registered with the Internal Revenue Service. If you would like to make a donation, visit our donation page.
ACT began as a creative collaboration between Hagerstown native Niki Perini and English drama educators Tony Goode and Warwick Dobson. The trio met at an educational drama workshop run by Tony and Warwick in New York City. ACT became an official not-for-profit organization in the spring of 2005, and its first undertaking was the 2005 Summer Institute for the Arts (SIFTA). SIFTA was designed to bring together like-minded artists and arts educators committed to the development of community music, arts and performing projects throughout the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States.
The organization has participated in everything from variety shows to art shows and from small showcase performances to the best known Broadway classics. The organization continues to grow and develop their programs by adding relevant productions and classes available to all ages.
In 2005 the organization started its Summer Institute For The Arts (SIFTA) program which includes a week long performance camp at the Maryland Theatre in downtown Hagerstown as well as a Visual Arts camp located at Doubs Woods Park. Each camp hosts 80+ campers and are still running today.
In 2009, with the amazing support of the Nora Roberts Foundation, Authentic Community Theatre, Inc.’s Creative Arts Team brought an original “storytelling” to parks in Washington County. ACT eventually partnered with the Washington County Free Library System to present these original storytelling performances in several library branches to promote their Summer Reading Program! The program has grown to include outreach days with the local Meal Machine program and provides free books to all who attend the performance for summer reading as part of their outreach efforts in Washington County.
ACT has offered classes in voice, dance, and acting over the years and has changed and developed its classes to include a wide range of theatre based knowledge for its students. In 2012 they started a theatre program for students in grades 1-8 called ACTjr. The students in this group have an educational experience by learning the in's and out's of theatre from a performance perspective. ACTjr performs two productions a year and in 2018 partnered with the Maryland Theatre as their home for their productions.
In 2014 ACT started developing their Community Theatre program for teens and adults. After performing Annie at the Maryland Theatre they continued developing the program and finally in 2017 they partnered with the Maryland Theatre and started their full Community Theatre program with The Wizard of Oz. The Community Theatre program performs 3 shows a year at the Maryland Theatre and is open for ages 13 & up.
After the addition of the Community Theatre program, ACT began to grow quickly. In 2018 the organization relocated to a larger facility that provided them with a larger rehearsal space, more classrooms, and more overall space for the organization. With the demand for more productions on the rise the organization started developing more programs to meet the need.
In 2019 ACT added a Teen Theatre Group that will perform 2 shows a year and is specifically designed for ages 13-19 and a third ACTjr show as part of their SIFTA program that puts together a full show in just 2 weeks in the summer. The organization is also developing a Mentor Program that will give the ACTjr students a chance to work with the seasoned actors of the Community Theatre program in the same character roles to learn character development for a specific production.
- Bugsy Malone
- Bye Bye Birdie
- No Strings Attached
- You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown
- Cyrano De Burger Shack
- Schoolhouse Rock
- Lion King Jr
- The Wizard of Oz
- Elf Jr
- Aladdin Jr
- Dorothy in Wonderland
- Willy Wonka Jr
- Beauty and the Beast
- Beauty and the Beast Jr
- West Side Story
- Alice in Wonderland Jr
- James & The Giant Peach Jr
- Sound of Music
- Shrek Jr
- Little Mermaid Jr
- Sweeney Todd
Barry Cuozzo, Yvonne Rottler
The Davidson Family, Nicole Kendall
The Kwok Family, Kathy Gilbert
Hope Wolford, Lindsey Sullivan
The O'Connors, Ryan Smetzer
Patricia Spellar, Chad Gilbert
Sarma McCafferty, Cindi Pettit
Diane Graham, The Downeys
Sierra Saunders, Krissi Bainbridge
Zayna Burnham, Stephanie Scales
Bryan Brown, The Halls
Teresa Dick, Michelle Steshoski
The Soto's, Stephanie Heward
Tara Nunes, Kayla Wharton
Bienna Salazar, Timothy Vinson
Adam Blackstock, Lawren Hill-Palmer
Gerry McCarney, Tatiana Bradshaw
Shannon Hess, Juliana Bowen
Middletown Valley Bank
Salvatore & Morton
Berkshire Hathaway Bowen Realty
The Schurz Foundation
The Nora Roberts Foundation
Meet the Board
Robbie Soto: President
Community Theatre Program Manager
Robbie Soto has been involved in the theater community in Washington County for over 15 years. After attending college at Full Sail University for film, he made the switch from stage to screen. Robbie was a partner in a successful media company where he was a writer, film director, podcast host, production manager and wore many other hats. Robbie made the return to theater in 2014 when his late uncle (Ralph Mauriello) was in need of some actors for a show he was directing and has loved every minute of it. He joined the board of ACT in 2015 and currently serves as president and Program Manager for our Community Theatre!
Gerry McCarney: Vice President
Gerry McCarney has been involved in Theatre/Performing for over thirty years. Gerry’s experiences are in theatre, television, movies and working for Jean Ann Ryan for Norwegian Cruise Lines. Gerry is the father to Angelique and grandfather to Alice. Gerry works in the mental health/addictions arena and has a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology. Gerry teaches the acting portion of music theatre for the younger children with ACT. He has performed in several productions with ACT. Most memorable are Cogsworth in Beauty and the Beast, Andrew Carnes in Oklahoma, and Wilbur in Hairspray. You may have also seen his baton skills in Grease!
Britney Soto: Treasurer
ACTjr Productions & Art in the Woods Program Manager
Britney Soto performed in shows as a teen but found a way to express her artistic ability by helping behind the stage! She has costumed shows for ACT including Lion King Jr, Wizard of Oz, Oklahoma, Dorothy in Wonderland and Willy Wonka Jr and loves to work with creative and visual arts. Britney serves as the office administrator for Authentic Community Theatre and has been a member of the ACT Board of Directors since 2016. She looks forward to the continuous growth of the organization in the coming future!
Michelle Steshoski: Secretary
ACTjr Classes/Productions & Performing Arts Academy Program Manager
Michelle Steshoski is excited to be part of the ACT Board of Directors. Michelle is a graduate of Shenandoah University where she received her BFA in Theater for Youth and Liberty University where she received her MAT in Elementary Education. Michelle has been part of ACT since 2014 when her daughter performed in a community theater show with ACT. In 2015 she joined board and began teaching ACTing classes. Michelle currently teaches classes, is an acting coach and is the program manager for ACT’s Summer Institute for the Arts, Performing Arts Academy. As her full time job, she is a teacher for Berkeley County Schools.
Timothy Vinson has been performing in the Franklin/Washington County area since he was 6. He has also worked as a School Photographer/ Freelance Photographer since 2015. Timothy joined the ACT family in 2018 when he joined the cast of Hairspray. After High School, he devoted his time to growing as a performer in numerous ACT shows including Grease (Doody), Beauty and the Beast (Lumiere), West Side Story (Action), and many more. He is excited to not only continue performing on stage, but to grow as an instructor through directing, program managing, and teaching ACTS homeschool class. He is most excited to get to capture the magic of ACT’s day to day life as one of their historians.
Director of Community Relations
Chad-Michael Gilbert has been performing through dance, singing and acting for twenty years. He has grown from a Williamsport Sophisticat Alumni to a returning performer on the Maryland Theatre stage in his debut with Authentic Community Theatre in 2019 as Angel Dumott Schunard in RENT. Chad has made many appearances with Authentic Community Theatre and is excited to take the community by storm in his next adventure with ACT!
Scott Ruble is no stranger to the stage as he has spent the last 23 years in theatres across the nation in such roles as The Emcee in Caberat, Carmen in The Producers, Eugene in Grease, Sebastian in The Little Mermaid and Belle's father Maurice in Beauty and The Beast to name a few. He has also served as Company Manager, Director and Artistic Producer for various other theaters and equity houses across the states. Scott is excited to assist in the growth of ACT and honored to serve on the board as Artistic Director
Director of Public Relations
Jon Hall has leant his voice to the entertainment industry for much of his professional life. After being accepted to Shenandoah University’s Musical Theatre program, Jon changed majors to study Radio Production and Public Relations. He went on to work for Winc fm, and Real Classic Rock, and parlayed that into a career in the casino industry where he worked with public relations, event planning, and as a gameshow host. Jon has done commercial voiceover work, and is currently studying to become an English teacher. Memorable performances of his include singing the National Anthem at Camden Yards, performing at the White House, awarding a grand prize winner with a house, and hosting Arnold Schwarzenneger at an event.