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THE EARLY YEARS (1992 - 2000):
Acme's first season (1992-1993) included productions of Shirley Valentine and The Rainmaker. Due to Acme's lack of a permanent performance space, Shirley Valentine was performed at a neighboring community theater's high school auditorium in Harvard, MA, and again as a Dinner Theater production in Sterling, MA. The Rainmaker was performed as a full length play in the Leominster, MA Town Hall auditorium. In addition, a cutting of The Rainmaker was performed as an entry at the 1993 EMACT Community Theater Festival. The production was chosen out of a field of 22 shows as one of 4 Finalist Productions, and the production was nominated for 6 performance and technical awards.
Acme's next season (1993-1994) began in the summer with a production of Eleemosenary which was performed at the Emerson Umbrella auditorium in Concord, MA. In the fall of 1993 Acme produced The Odd Couple at the Acton Junior High School. The proceeds from this production were donated to the Acton-Boxborough Student Activity Fund, which had experienced a funding shortage due to budget cutbacks. In February 1994 Acme produced Godspell at the Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School. Both Eleemosenary and Godspell were successfully marketed to attract a young adult audience. In addition, Godspell was marketed to various local church youth groups and every performance was sold out.
In May 1994 Acme produced Sexual Perversity in Chicago as a full-length play at the Charlestown Working Theater and again as a cutting for entry in the 1994 EMACT Festival. The performance location was selected to attract a more mature theater-going audience. Acme was proud to receive the Best Supporting Actress Award at the 1994 EMACT Festival.
During the 1994-1995 season, Acme produced the musical, Closer Than Ever at the Harvard, MA high school auditorium. The show was successfully marketed to local and regional dating services. In addition, with the success of the show, Acme donated $1,000 to Harvard Community Theater's fundraising effort to attend the 1995 AACT National Theater Competition in Texas.
Also in 1995, Acme produced an unknown one-act play, Maggie and the Bird Go Fishing, specifically as an entry for the 1995 EMACT Festival. The set (a rickety dock) was built outdoors and left there to "weather," and most rehearsals were held outdoors. With this entry, Acme was selected as a Finalist, received the Best Director Award (Dave Sheppard), and was nominated for 7 other performance and technical awards. In addition, for the first time, Acme was considered a viable and successful community theater by other local groups. One of Acme's best loved productions, Maggie and the Bird Go Fishing, set the standard by which all of Acme's subsequent EMACT entries are compared.
In 1995, Acme Theater Productions adopted the moniker, "Home of the Misfit Toys", to represent the unusual mix of talents that Acme continuously attracts.
During the 1995-1996 season, Acme produced You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. The show, cast with adult performers, was a big hit with family audiences. The show was recognized with 3 performance and 2 additional (choreography and musical direction) achievement awards from EMACT. In January 1996, Acme continued with an original musical, Life and Times, which was a compilation of songs and dance numbers which highlighted women from various Broadway musicals. The show was performed at the Harvard, MA high school auditorium. After the production, two of the six women in the show soon left to pursue professional work. At the end of the season, Acme produced, Jerry Finnegan's Sister, a comedy written by a local playwright. The full production was staged at the Northeastern University Little Theater. Audiences were small due to the difficulty in finding the theater and the distance from Acme's audience home base. In May, a cutting of the play was entered into the 1996 EMACT Festival, and was selected as Best Production. In addition, 6 performance and technical award nominations were received. Later that summer, Acme earned the right to perform at the New England Regional Theater Competition in Southington, CT. The show was selected as Best Production Runner-Up, and received awards for Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Actress.
Due to the lack of an affordable rehearsal and performance space, Acme did not produce shows during the 1996-1997 season. Acme's Board of Directors dedicated the time to researching and contacting surrounding towns to try to find a viable space. In May 1997, as the winner of the previous Festival, Acme Theater Productions hosted the annual EMACT Festival. Using a Mardi Gras theme, Acme endeavored to enhance the "Festival" aspect of the competition, and provided the competing groups with opportunities to meet each other and share ideas.
By 1997, we became known as TEAM ACME as the group grew and attracted members from many other established theater groups. The team approach continues to be successful especially for competition settings where attitudes can make or break a show's performance.
In 1998, Acme combined resources with Harvard Community Theater to produce 2 one-act plays at the Harvard, MA high school auditorium, both for entry in the 1998 EMACT Festival. Acme's production of Stiff Cuffs, an unknown romantic comedy set in a laundromat on New Year's Eve, was selected as Best Production of the 1998 EMACT Festival. In addition, the show was awarded Best Director (Dave Sheppard), and earned four other award nominations. In August 1998, Stiff Cuffs performed at the New England Theater Festival in Springfield, MA and won Best Production. Acme also earned the Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Actress Awards, and was nominated for two other awards. With the New England Regional win, Acme earned the right to enter the AACT National Theater Competition in Memphis in July 1999. The remainder of 1998 was dedicated to significant fundraising in order to get the Stiff Cuffs cast and crew to Memphis.
In the spring of 1999, Acme produced a night of 2 one-act plays in Stow, MA. The first one-act play, The Breaking of Bread, was a drama about two civil war soldiers who meet on the battlefield. The Wall was a moving drama about the pilgrimage of a soldier's family to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. 18 years after his death, was also Acme's entry, and a Finalist Production, at the 1999 EMACT Festival in May 1999. The Wall received critical acclaim and several nominations and awards. As the 1998 Festival Winner, Acme also hosted the 1999 EMACT Festival.
In July 1999 a group of twenty-four cast, crew, and supporters made the trip to Memphis, Tennessee to represent the New England Region at the AACT National Theatre Competition. Over the 5-day festival, eleven groups from around the United States performed outstanding productions to a sold-out crowd. Beyond the thrill of the national theater competition, Memphis was also an exciting and vibrant city to visit. Stiff Cuffs went on to a 5th place showing at this highly competitive festival, and was subsequently invited to Nova Scotia, Canada for their International Theater Festival in May 2000.
In mid-May 2000, fifteen members of Team Acme made the trek to the Canadian province, Nova Scotia, to represent the United States at the Liverpool International Theatre Festival. Acme again produced Stiff Cuffs, which was an overwhelming audience favorite. More than just a theater festival, the Nova Scotia experience was an opportunity to meet and share experiences with community groups from Canada, France, Ireland, Germany, Denmark, Venezuela, and China in a warm and inviting atmosphere.
Also in the Spring of 2000, Acme produced a one-act play, Lone Star, which was set in west Texas. Lone Star was Acme's entry into the EMACT Festival in May 2000, where it was selected as a Finalist amongst a highly talented field of competition. Acme was nominated for several Festival awards, and received the award for Best Supporting Actor.