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Hanover theater company debuts nonprofit

There's no place like Hanover.

Pennsylvania Theatrical Arts has started a nonprofit called Vault Theater Company, a comprehensive training program designed to give back to the community.

The Vault Theater Company is several weeks into training, and it's going phenomenally, said Brittany Stevens, the owner and director of Pennsylvania Theatrical Arts, a 5-year-old theater education program in Hanover. They are preparing for a performance of "The Wizard of Oz" to be held on Sept. 24 and 25. The proceeds will benefit Guthrie Memorial Library, Stevens said.

The cast so far has 57 people, from a 9-year-old to adults, although most are high school students, Stevens said. The company meets twice a week to train, learn from instructors or volunteer in the community. The roles range from performers to stagehands to set designers.

It's "truly what you would see a professional theater company run like," Stevens said.

The guidelines for Vault are slightly different from the main theater company, with an emphasis on accomplishments and ability level. The standards are higher, Stevens said.

The idea for the company began a couple months ago for a nonprofit that would also serve as a pre-professional program that would train members in theater as well as life skills, Stevens said.

"We wanted to make sure we were preparing them to be successful in whatever career," Stevens said.

The board for the nonprofit includes Scott Roland, Theresa Haggerty, Justine Trucksess, Liz Johnides, Victor Sciukas and Dan Laudicina.

"I have always been a big supporter of theater," said Trucksess, the manager of Main Street Hanover. "I really do appreciate what [Stevens] is doing for the community."

Not all of the board members were necessarily regular theatergoers, but they all shared an investment in downtown Hanover, Stevens said.

"I think it could have a great community impact," Trucksess said. "It really introduces her students and her theater group to the community at large."

Although the main ensemble has been cast, those interested in joining the Vault Theater Company still have an opportunity to join until the end of May. Otherwise, the next chance to join is in September, Stevens said.

"It's a lot of hours," she said. "You really have to have a passion for the arts.

Stevens also emphasized the importance of teamwork in the group.

"It doesn't matter if you're not Dorothy," she said.

The Vault Theater Company provides an opportunity for Pennsylvania Theatrical Arts to branch out to the community even more.

"It's not for us anymore," Stevens said. "It's beyond us and our little world."

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