WHO WE ARE… Our story
Circle Theatre Company’s story began in the hearts of two moms, Becky Saunders and Jeanne Richardson. Two moms who desired to see nine little thespians continue to grow in their creative gifts, two moms who were following their hearts, two moms who had just enough courage to step out of their comfort zones, two moms who began following a shared dream. A dream that started the incredible journey known as Circle Theatre Company.
During the summer of 2004 we were introduced to Allen McCoy, Tracy McCoy, and Morgan Russell. Three talented artists, teachers, and directors. Tracy McCoy joined us as our first teacher/director. The nine thespians grew to thirty. Mrs. McCoy’s passion for theatre, her enthusiasm, and her desire for excellence was infectious to the creative team. Circle Theatre produced its first fully mounted musical, Oklahoma! to the awe of the students, the parents, and the community.
In the fall of 2005, Circle Theatre offered one semester classes in Movement, Voice Articulation, Improv, Character Development, Musical Theatre, and Shakespeare. Allen McCoy and Amy Michelle Smith joined our team. Rejoice, a show written by the cast and based on their favorite memories of Thanksgiving and Christmas, was produced. The season ended with our highly acclaimed production of Hello, Dolly! at The Orlando Repertory Universal Theatre.
The dream had become a reality as our 2006-2007 season began our commitment to arts education with the development of our core theatre classes: Drama I, Drama II, Drama III, and Drama IV; and the addition of Circle Theatre Kids, production classes for kindergarten through fifth graders. Christi Griffith joined us as our musical director for Annie Get Your Gun performed in the Edyth Bush Theatre of The Orlando Repertory Theatre.
During our 2007-2008 season, Anna Fisher, Nathanael Fisher, and Christi Griffith joined Tracy McCoy and Circle Theatre Company grew from producing two shows to five shows in a single season. Circle Studio Players was birthed as a first semester, introductory production class for seventh through twelfth graders. Our first school wide production, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever was directed by Tracy McCoy as Studio Players were joined by our Munchkin Players (K-2) and First Stage Players (3-5). Company members had the opportunity to perform our first tragedy, The Women of Troy and our first Shakespearean comedy, The Taming of the Shrew under the direction of Christi Griffith. The spring of 2008 found us returning to the Edyth Bush Theatre for the amusing and absurd musical, Once Upon A Mattress.
We started our 2008-2009 season with the largest enrollment in our history and the largest enrollment of boys — 15 boys in Company! Morgan Russell joined us in the fall to direct Company members in A Midsummer Night’s Dream while Cathy Cox and Nathanael Fisher directed Studio Players in the somewhat true Canterbury Tales. Christi Griffith directed our spring musical of Guys and Dolls with Lee Monroe as our musical director.
In 2009-2010, the dream grew bigger with Circle Theatre Company’s launching the Family Series in addition to our regular season of shows. Allen McCoy joined us as our Artistic Director and Tracy McCoy returned as our Company director. The Family Series provided four additional productions for Company members to continue to grow in their craft while providing family friendly entertainment to the Central Florida community. You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown (directed by Tracy McCoy); A Tuna Christmas (directed by Allen McCoy); Romeo and Juliet (directed by Morgan Russell); and The Glass Menagerie (directed by Allen McCoy) were all performed in the the intimate Black Box Theatre at The Orlando Rep. Our season ended with not just one, but two sold-out performances during our run of Bye Bye Birdie under the direction Tracy McCoy, musical direction of Lee Monroe, and choreography by Mary Cole.
We found ourseleves with the largest group of students for the 2010-2011 season and producing the largest musical in our history. For the first time ever, Studio Players had the opportunity to perform their fall production at the Orlando Repertory Theatre. Their production of The Orphan Train under the direction of Allen McCoy received rave reviews for our first time theatre students. Company continued the fall tradition of performing in the Black Box Theatre at the Orlando Repertory Theatre. The melodrama, The Rogue of the Railway had audiences in stitches under the vision and direction of Tracy McCoy. In January of 2011, Joe and Janette Obermueller, joined our creative team as directors, along with Susan Eissele, Musical Director, and Circle Theatre Alumni/Choreographer Olivia Richardson for our spring musical, The Music Man. With a cast of 52, a crew of 30, an orchestra of 10, and numerous parent volunteers, The Music Man became our most attended show in our history! What a way to end our 10th season!
2011-2012 kicked off the inaugural year of Circle School of the Arts. Circle Theatre Company became an audition only group of talented students wishing to pursue theatre while in high school. Company members kicked off the season by taking our audience to the world of Neverland. Peter Pan, directed by Aradhana Tiwari, filled with pirates, lost children, mermaids, and Tinkerbell experienced sold out crowds in the Black Box Theatre at The Orlando Rep. In the spring we found ourselves back in the Black Box Theatre for Circle Studio Players performance of the 1950’s television classic, Our Miss Brooks, directed by Rob West. Rehearsals began in January, under the direction of Tracy McCoy, for our most challenging show to date, Singin’ In The Rain. Company students purchased tap shoes and rehearsals were filled with the sounds of “tap”. Lea Andrew joined us as our choreographer and brought a new level of excitement and excellence to our cast. The orchestra pit was opened for the first time in the Edyth Bush Theatre at the Orlando Rep with Susan Eissele returning as Musical Director. The production included the film projection of both silent and talkies on a 15 ft x 12 ft screen. But, the most loved technical feature of the entire production was the rain! The audiences went wild with applause at seeing it rain on stage! An incredible production and opportunity for our students made possible by a team of creative and highly dedicated individuals.
Another series of firsts for our 2012-13 season. The first time a full-length musical was performed in the fall. Kilroy Was Here, directed Katie Land, was a stirring musical that brought our audience back to the 1940s. With all the music and dances of that era, comical scenes, and a patriotric salute to the men and women of WWII it had audiences on their feet! In December, Circle Studio Players performed their first Christmas show, A Christmas Carol Radio Play, under the direction of Rob West, that included all the students performing the sound effects live on stage. Arts Night 2013 was another night celebrating the arts with our students showcasing their incredible talents. Then came our spring season of shows — a set of shows where lessons were made to be learn. Circle Studio Players delighted us with their retelling of the beloved classic, The Wind in the Willows, under the direction of Rob West. Toad finally learned his lesson, then we were off to Circle Theatre Kids! production of The Taming of LaRue. LaRue, under the direction of Dawn Flood, was a twist on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, giving our younger actors an introduction to the Bard. Our season finale ended with the sleeper hit, Me and My Girl. This little unknown show had our audiences in stitches as we were transformed back into the 1920s England to Hareford Hall where the long lost heir had been found — the only problem was he was not a gentlemen. That is where the comedic talents of our cast shined the brightest under the talented directing team of Katie Land, Susan Eissele (Musical Director), and Angela Damato (Choreographer).
Our 2013-14 Season brought the Family Series back with a twist. All three Family Series shows were directed and stage managed by students under the CSA Advisors mentorship. You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown directed by Sidney McCall; Every Christmas Story Ever Told directed by Jenny West; and The Marvelous Wonderettes ’58 directed by Alexandra Chapman were received with highest praise and our student directors exceeded not only the expectations of their CSA Advisors; but our patrons as well! The fall Company show, The Somewhat True Tale of Robin Hood entertain audiences with its Monty Python style humor under the direction of Susan West. In December of 2013, Circle Theatre Company was name Best Theatre Group by the Orlando A-List and in February Arts Night 2014 brought our first Theatre Awards. Students were recognized for their talents and leadership in our Family Series and Jackie Summers was awarded the 2013-14 Excellence in Theatre Award. In the spring, we found many of seniors receiving college scholarships and the first CTC grad to be accepted into NYU Steinhardt Musical Theatre program. Circle Studio Players performed The Wizard of Oz under the direction of Rob West while Circle Theatre Kids performed The Jungle Book under the direction of Dawn Flood. Our K-3 group, ARTrageous, had their first night time performance, complete with set and costumes, entertained the crowd with E-I-E-I Oops! under the direction of Jocelyn Bartle. To mark the 50th anniversary of Hello Dolly and to celebrate Circle Theatre Company’s 50th production, Hello Dolly, returned to the Circle stage under the direction of Susan West; musical director, Susan Eissele; and choreographer, Lea Andrew. During Hello Dolly tech rehearsals, Circle Theatre Company was interviewed and filmed for an upcoming PBS episode of Artisodes.
A long dream of incorporating parents and students on stage together was realized during our 2014-15 season. I’m Just Wild About Harry had Circle Theatre parents (Matt Clark, David Theriault, and Erin Theriault) sharing the stage with their sons (Bailey Clark and Sam Theriault) in our season opener student directed by Allie Novell. The fall had us back in the Black Box Theatre at the Orlando REP where Circle Theatre had the privileged to premiere a new musical from the UK, Through The Looking Glass. Audiences couldn’t get enough of the beautifully musical score and the touching story line. We ended 2014 with Mark Brown’s dramatic comedy, The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge, student directed by Erica Honka and being named by the Orlando A-List BEST THEATRE GROUP for the second year in a row. The new year brought a huge comedy on stage, also written by Mark Brown, Around The World In 80 Days. The playwright mentioned Circle Theatre in a couple of his blogs and we couldn’t have been happier with the publicity and the kind words he shared about Circle Theatre. Around The World In 80 Days challenged five actors to portray 39 characters as student directed by Karissa Dumbacher. From our adventures around the world, we then found ourselves back at the Orlando Repertory Black Box Theatre for Circle Studios Player’s production of the classic tale, Treasure Island directed by Dawn Flood. Our Circle Theatre Kids and ARTrageous classes grew with two locations and both locations had the opportunity to perform their shows, A Bagful of Fables (directed by Jocelyn Bartle) and At The Bandstand! (directed by Sydney Norberg). Our fourteenth season ended with the musical, Calamity Jane, performed at the Orlando Repertory Edyth Bush Theatre under the direction and choreography of Linda Mementowski and musical direction of Susan Eissele.
Our 15th season brought yet more firsts for Circle Theatre Company as we had Circle Theatre alumni direct two of our Family Series shows. Our season opener, The Marvelous Wonderettes Caps & Gowns ’58 was directed by Circle alumnus Sam Stewart (CSA ’15). Christmas time brought the comedy The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate’s Townswomen’s Guild’s Dramatic Society’s Production of A Christmas Carol directed by Jake Theriault (CCS ’12). Circle Theatre Company was once again thrilled to premiere a new work, Sasquatched! The Musical, in the Black Box for their fall show. Sasquatched! was honored to receive 13 Applause Awards nominations, and one student – Paige Norberg – went on to be named “Outstanding Lead Performer” at the 2016 Dr. Phillips Center Applause Awards for her portrayal of Pat the Park Ranger. 2017 brought a beautifully moving production of Little Women and the always crowd-pleasing Winnie the Pooh Kids, performed by Circle Theatre Kids and First Stage Players. Our fifteenth season wrapped up with She Loves Me, once again performed at the Orlando Repertory Theatre under Linda Novak’s expert direction along with the musical direction of Susan Eissele.
Circle Theatre Company can’t wait to bring it’s 16th season to the Central Florida community. Sharing our love and passion of theatre with you.
Circle Theatre Company is committed to educating the next generation of young artists and enriching their lives and our community by providing the very best in family friendly entertainment. All as a result of two moms whose greatest desire was to provide a place where children could experience the beauty of theatre, to discover their God-given talents, and to develop relationships with other like-minded artists.
Two moms. One dream. One journey.