Stages of Life: Hammond Community Theatre partnership with Beatniks a thriving performance force

2013-12-26T00:00:00Z 2014-02-12T12:05:35Z Stages of Life: Hammond Community Theatre partnership with Beatniks a thriving performance forceBy Philip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

Earle Howe, vice President of Hammond Community Theatre, is proud of the support and dedication of both the collected talent on stage and the eager audiences who make his productions a success.

His says the group's mission statement, proudly displayed on their web site, is simple: "To foster, promote, and increase the public knowledge and appreciation of the arts and cultural activities in the City of Hammond, Lake County, Northwest Indiana and surrounding communities for the enjoyment of the organization's membership and audiences."

This month, anchored at their familiar partnership performance venue Beatniks on Conkey at 418 Conkey Street,  just blocks east of Hohman Avenue in Hammond, they just completed a successful run of "Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol," written by Tom Mula and directed by Howe and his wife Betty.

"We presented this same play in the past and we've had audiences asking for us to bring it back," Earle said.

"So the time seemed right to make it our holiday stage offering."

Billed as a "coffee house and black box theater," Beatniks, located in Hammond's Hyde Park neighborhood, is a great fit for Hammond Community Theatre according to Earle.

It was the Howes, and the active membership of their theater group, working together recently with the Hammond Community Corporation for assistance with the new seating risers for the audience area at Beatniks in addition to new seats courtesy of help from office of Hammond's Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr..

Earlier this month, Hammond Community Theatre hosted auditions for Agatha Christie's "The Mousetrap," the longest running play in England. It will run at on the Beatniks stage for two weekends, Feb. 7 to 9 and 14 to 16.

The play involves a group of strangers stranded in a boarding house during a snow storm, one of whom is a murderer. The suspects include the newly-married couple who run the house, a spinster with a curious background, an architect who seems better equipped to be a chef, a retired Army major, a strange little man who claims his car has overturned in a drift, and a jurist who makes life miserable for everyone. Into their midst comes a policeman, traveling on skis. The cast includes three women and five men. The Hammond production is being directed by Valerie Wotkun.

"What makes this play even more interesting is how popular it has remained throughout the decades," Earle said.

"The film rights to the stage story were sold long ago, on the contingency that the film couldn't be made until after the stage run. We'll, this is a play that has been running ever since it started, so no film has yet to be made."

Hammond Community Theatre is a 501(c)3 non-profit Indiana corporation

For more information or to become involved, visit hammondcommunitytheatre.org or Beatniksonconkey.com or call (219) 852-0848.

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