Act 3 Productions: Growing Into a Sandy Springs Destination
Act 3’s production of “Steel Magnolias” runs through Sunday.
It’s common for newcomers to Act 3 Productions theater to say, “I had no idea this was here.”
The award-winning playhouse is located on the backside of Sandy Springs Plaza.
“We want Sandy Springs residents to know that we are here and think of us as a destination place,” said Sandy Deebel, development director.
Act 3’s production of “Steel Magnolias” runs through Sunday. Twenty-three-year-old Sydney Mitchell who practically grew up performing in the production company, directs the show. Her mother, Johnna Mitchell plays Ouiser Boudreau, portrayed by Shirley MacLaine in the 1989 film.
Five Cobb County moms with a theater background or passion, including Johnna Mitchell, started Act 3 Productions around 1999.
“Act 3 was just moms, who were getting together because the middle school had no theater production,” said Mitchell, Act 3 Productions choreographer.
The self-described, “Drama Mamas” put on shows at various Cobb County schools and grew to where they needed a permanent home. They opened their Sandy Springs doors in January 2010.
Despite a down economy and the closing of the beloved Theatre in the Square in Marietta, Act 3 Productions – a non-profit- has had sold out shows.
Last fall, the playhouse won 11 Metropolitan Atlanta Theater Awards. The MAT Awards honor community and non-union professional theater productions. The honors included included Best Actress, Best Musical Director, Director’s Award and Best Overall Performance of a Musical. It was the first year Act 3 submitted works to be judged, and the organization won the most awards of any other Atlanta theater company in the competition.
“Coming into Sandy Springs, the support we have gotten from the community has been great, but we’re still not a known name,” said Patti Mactas, artistic director. “What’s happened now is we’ve become a true business and we’ve had to move from being volunteer-based to paying [staff]."
The goal is to bring in sponsorships and community support through shows, year-round educational programs, fundraising, and ice-breakers or team building events for businesses.
“You don’t make it in ticket sales [alone],” Mactas said.
Their Sandy Springs Plaza landlord and friend Jan Saperstein has been a big supporter, she added.
“He has given us the ability to stay afloat by just taking a percentage of what we make as rent, which is really what’s kept us alive in a lot of different ways,” Mactas explained.
Some folks are realizing they can have dinner and a theater in Sandy Springs. In April, Mactas noticed that practically all of Rumi’s restaurant patrons showed up at the performance of “The Vagina Monolgues.”
“So we are helping the economy around us but we need that support back,” Mactas said.
Proceeds from the “Vagina Monologues” performance benefited Sandy Springs’ Mary Hall Freedom House and Chaylil, Inc., which provides support and services for battered women.
“Our goal is to just become a resource to the community in every way,” said Sandy Deebel.