By Mark Bennett | Tribune-Star Jul 1, 2016

The combination of characteristics seems unique for a small Midwestern city.

A professional theater company, with a fully diverse cast, calling the historic Indiana Theatre its home and often staging productions written by playwrights with Wabash Valley roots, as well as classic plays, year-round. That’s the hope for the new Theater 7 company, announced Friday night by its co-founders Arthur Feinsod and Jeff Lorick, and the troupe’s executive committee members.

Within five years, Theater 7 aims to develop enough viability, popularity and excellence to give Terre Haute the reputation as a place “where artists and actors want to stay,” Feinsod, the associate director, said, speaking in advance of Friday night’s announcement activities at the Indiana Theatre. “That would be an incredible thing.”

Theater 7 plans to debut with a touring production of “Here in the Universe,” featuring a collection of poems about belonging, and not belonging, by Vigo County middle school students. It will feature an original music score, composed by Indiana State University student Bryant Clayton Jr. The company will perform the show this fall at Wabash Valley schools and institutions.

The main-stage productions at the Indiana Theatre begin in February 2017 with a play that celebrates  Harlem Renaissance author Zora Neale Hurston and directed by Lorick, Theater 7’s artistic director. Those shows are scheduled for Feb. 17-19 and Feb. 24-25. Feinsod will direct Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman,” performed June 3-4 and June 9-10.

Feinsod, Lorick and their support team want the company to reach people in the community unfamiliar with theater, as well as regular arts patrons. “We’re committed to expose the arts to under-represented audiences, who may not realize the value of the arts,” said Lorick. Their casting will reflect that goal, with an emphasis on racial diversity “while welcoming all diversities.”

Feinsod carries a long theater background, having served as both an ISU professor of theater, artistic director of Crossroads Repertory Theater from 2001 to 2014, a playwright and director. Lorick, director of human relations for the city of Terre Haute and a long-time barbershop proprietor, developed a passion for live stage productions in the past decade, directing plays at the Community Theatre of Terre Haute and serving as its president. “We both believe in Theater 7 and its mission,” Lorick said.

The co-founders emphasized that Theater 7 will supplement the existing, long-established theater organizations.

The group’s executive committee includes Judith Higgins Price, who will also serve as producing director and company manager; Cliff Lambert (senior development officer); and David Del Colletti (production manager and technical director). The company’s website is www.theater7.com.

Theater 7 will commit one dollar of every ticket sold for its Indiana Theatre productions toward local charities. “So it touches the entire community,” Lorick said.

Mark Bennett can be reached at 812-231-4377 or mark.bennett@tribstar.com.
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Mark Bennett

Mark Bennett has reported and analyzed news from the Wabash Valley and beyond since Larry Bird wore Sycamore blue. That role with the Tribune-Star has taken him from Rome to Alaska and many points in between, but Terre Haute suits him best.