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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, July 12, 2018 1:00 am

50th season chance to see past, present

COREY MCMAKEN | The Journal Gazette

First Presbyterian Theater begins its 50th anniversary season this weekend with “My Dead Clown,” a new comedy that takes a look at the human condition.

“That's why a church has a theater,” says Thom Hofrichter, managing artistic director who is marking 22 years with the theater. “Our shows, although entertaining, also hopefully try to speak to what's going on in the human soul.”

Though First Presbyterian Theater productions might not always outwardly look like faith-based pieces, Hofrichter says he seeks works that delve into the idea of how humans treat each other “because I think that's part of what living a Christ-following life means.” He also wants pieces that connect audiences to God or their idea of what lies beyond.

“Presbyterians value digging into issues, and they understand that the complexity of the world demands complexity of thought inside religion,” he says, adding that that's one of the reasons it makes sense the arts are supported at First Presbyterian Church, which also includes an art gallery.

When filling the 2018-19 season, Hofrichter says he was mindful of the theater's anniversary. It is a season that features the past and the present, beginning with a play that has never been produced but also including classics like Noel Coward's “Present Laughter” and William Shakespeare's “Twelfth Night.”

Another new piece this year is “Tom and Thom's Christmas Songs and Stories” where Hofrichter will be joined by Tom Didier to share music and tales of what makes Christmas special.

As a project for its anniversary, First Pres is digitizing its archives, and theatergoers can see photos from past productions in this season's programs. A weekly series of posts on social media will look back at productions from different eras.

On April 6, the theater will have a public party to celebrate the anniversary.

cmcmaken@jg.net