By Molly McCarthy, Contributing Writer
Westborough – J. Parker Eldridge, a native of Westborough, credits much of his successful career as a music director, educator, and performer to the time he spent at Westborough High School.
“The class of “99 was an extremely artistic graduating class,” Eldridge said. “I wouldn's be doing what I do nowadays if it weren's for my teachers and my music teachers in the Westborough schools, no question about it. They were a huge support system.”
Eldridge left Westborough High School and went on to graduate from the Crane School of Music at SUNY-Potsdam (BMed) and Gordon College (MMed). Since then, Eldridge has been a part of close to 50 shows. He has worn the hats of director, performer and pit crew. He has toured Canada, the United States, and Europe as part of multiple vocal groups. Eldridge has been involved in several different theater groups, including holding the past vice president position of the Westborough Players Club. Eldridge will pull from this vast and varied experience as he takes on the role of executive director and co-founder of the Flyleaf Theater Company.
Eldridge and his fiancée, Amanda Casale, have been navigating through the paperwork necessary in founding an arts-and-education nonprofit for the past two years. Casale is the co-founder of the Flyleaf Theater Company, as well as the operations manager.
The Flyleaf Theater Company is a not-for-profit organization (501(c)(3) pending) based out of Berlin and Westborough. The mission of the Flyleaf Theater Company is to challenge the status quo of community theater by providing innovative performance and educational opportunities.? Through passion and collaboration, the group seeks to create productions that attract actors, production staff, and audiences desiring a venue for traditional and non-traditional theater.
Eldridge said the Flyleaf Theater Company is unique in that it is doing only small-cast performances and putting on shows that other theater companies aren's doing.
“We are limiting our stuff to very small-cast things, which opens up a whole gigantic library of small-scale musicals and small straight plays. They are risky and edgy. In a lot of the community theater now, they do the big shows and get giant casts involved along with big audiences to make cash in order to keep going. We are doing something very low overhead. Very small-scale cast-wise and there's just so much stuff that we can do that we don's see that often in the theater world in our area,” Eldridge said.
Bringing the Flyleaf Theater Company to Berlin is another aspect Elbridge is excited about and believes will help the company stand out.
“We are really excited we have our own little niche in Berlin where there isn's all that much theater going on in the Berlin or Clinton area that I know of,” he said.
As part of its mission to provide educational activities, the Flyleaf Theater is offering a variety of workshops in topics such as script reading, playwriting, improvisational acting, and burlesque dance.
“We want people to learn and to experience different styles of theater with us,” Eldridge said. “We are not just doing it for people; we are doing it with people. And I think that that's really important, and that hopefully is a little bit unique as well. We want people to be involved with the many ins and outs of our organization.”
The Flyleaf Theater Company kicked off its inaugural season with a six-cast-member performance of “Songs for a New World” June 8. For more information on the Flyleaf Theater Company,? visit http://www.flyleaftheater.com.