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The Firehouse Theater hopes to be become the venue for fun, new theater
By Michael Summers
Fort Wayne Reader
Those were Jannette Jaquish’s thoughts when she checked out Historical Enginehouse #10 on East State street earlier this year. The building had been in search of a tenant since BIG advertising had moved out, and Jaquish had been in search of a permanent, non-mobile venue for staging the kind of fresh, new theatrical performances she thought the area needed. “I want to do what the other theaters in town are not doing, which is edgy, new stuff,” Jaquish says. “I don’t want to do the old classics. I don’t want to do Arsenic and Old Lace and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever… though I’m considering writing one called The Worst Christmas Pageant Ever, because I like spoofs.”
Jaquish is primarily a writer, and as she says, she likes writing spoofs like Dr. Frankenstreudel’s Lemon Fresh Laboratory of Horrors and The Princess Brat. Her stories feature a lot of funny characters, absurd situations, slapstick action “…and I make sure every character has good lines.” Besides writing, her previous experience in theater has mostly been on the production side: a little directing, a little acting, and some stage management. “I wanted a place of my own,” she says of her decision to start the Firehouse Theater. “It’s such a burden to haul all your props and costumes and lighting and wireless microphones… set them up, strike them, take them home, put them away. It just kills you.”
The Firehouse Theater opened June 30th with a three-week run of one of Jaquish’s originals, the aforementioned Dr Frankenstrudel’s Lemon Fresh Laboratory of Horrors, about four squabbling urchins and their tangles with a crazy scientist and his lab assistant, a Frankensteinian monster, and a horde of zombies. Future productions include the depression era comedy Al Capone & Me by local author Ruth Baker and an adaptation of Sir Suthor Conan Doyle’s story Auditioning a Ghost. Jaquish explains that many of the comedies feature the kind of zany slapstick comedy that kids (and kids of all ages) really love. But the Firehouse Live Theater isn’t necessarily just a children’s theater; one of the productions planned for this fall is Cannibal — The Musical, a play from the creators of that bane of all concerned parents, South Park.
What Jaquish really wants to do is introduce something new to community theater in Fort Wayne. “The problem with community theater, and this is a huge problem in my mind, is that audiences… go see something that has already been approved, they go see things that have been done over and over again,” she says.
Gleeson doesn’t understand why people would want to watch “re-runs” when it comes to live theater. In her words, you would never go to a movie theater and ask to see (for example) the movie Grease again; why would you want to see the theatrical version again either, when it’s been done a zillion times already? “It’s a tough expectation to break, but I don’t want to do the old stuff, I want to do new stuff. Funny, weird stuff.”
Jaquish is currently pulling together a few people to help her organize the Firehouse Live Theater, and she’s also looking for more material to supplement her catalog of her own spoofs and work by local authors.
The Firehouse Live Theater is located at 1245 East State
For more information, visit www.firehouse-fw.com