St. George and the Dragon at Christmastide: Community theatre at its best

The upcoming production of St. George and the Dragon at Christmastide, with performances the first two weekends in December, is a showcase for all that is wonderful about community theatre in general and the Rappahannock Association for Arts and Community Theatre in particular.

The cast of thirty comprises people aged six to over eighty; male and female; newcomers to the area and long-time residents. The adults represent an enormous variety of present or former vocations and avocations. The young people represent unlimited energy, potential, and talent.

Some people seek out the opportunity to be involved in the theatre, but almost as many “have it thrust upon them.” Ryan Allred, who has lived in the county for four years, is a case of the latter. With no previous acting experience, he only tried out for a part after being urged by friends.

“Acting is definitely outside my comfort zone,” says Ryan, who is married to newly elected Stonewall-Hawthorne supervisor Christine Smith. “Initially I was terrified, but now I enjoy it. I’m normally quiet and soft-spoken, so being cast as Blunderbore the scary giant has been a stretch. At the first rehearsal I was told, ‘You’re much too nice!’ When I finally managed a convincing ‘Fe Fi Fo Fum’ the entire cast cheered.”

Blunderbore (Ryan Allred) does not appear impressed with the lamentations of the Dragon (Camilla Gaudioso). Courtesy photo

Ryan’s day job is carpenter and in the evenings he heads for his workshop where he builds ukuleles. Being in the play has cut into the ukulele time that he cherishes, but he still says, “Yes, I’d do it again. I’m not sure what kind of role I’d like to play — we’ll see.”

Camilla Gaudioso, who plays the dragon, has done a lot of acting through the years.

“I’ve acted as men as well as women, in musicals, British farce, and many other types of play,” says Camilla. I’ve lived in the area for ten years and had wanted to get involved in the RAAC Theatre, but things just hadn’t come together. Cynthia Stamps, who is active in the theatre, urged me to try out for St. George.

“I am having a great time participating in St. George and the Dragon. I love community theatre and I love the atmosphere in this production. We have people of all ages, all backgrounds, working seamlessly together. There are no cliques and nobody with a big head.”

Camilla has more than enough activities to keep her busy, including being a mom and practice administrator for several local medical concerns. She definitely intends one of her activities to be continued involvement with acting and the RAAC Theatre.

“Next I’d love to do a mystery. Maybe Ten Little Indians or the like.”

When Mike Mahoney moved to Rappahannock in 1986, he was quite a few years from his previous (undistinguished, he says) amateur acting experience in Chicago while in his 20s. A few years after the move, the late Julie Portman, the prime mover in local theatre at the time, cornered Mike and cajoled him into playing the friendly innkeeper in the then annual production of The Shepherds’ Play.

St. George (Mike Mahoney) tries to encourage a calm approach to the problems of the village. Courtesy photo

After playing many roles ranging from the Professor in Uncle Vanya to the toga-wearing explosives maker in You Can’t Take it With You, Mike found that his first love in the theatre is directing. He most recently directed Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia.

“I love working intensely with the words the playwright has provided — what is the meaning or meanings, superficially and at a deep level.”

Nonetheless, Mike still enjoys being an actor and has fun whatever task he has in the production. In the current production he plays what he claims to be “the oldest St. George on any stage anywhere.”

There are as many ways to enjoy being involved with the Theatre as there are individual interests and talents. Camilla Gaudioso sums it up well.

“To anyone who has ever thought about giving theatre a try, I would say it’s a great way to get to know the community, it’s personally fulfilling, and it provides a service to the community. Just give it a try. Once you get past your initial terror, it’s wonderful.”

Come and enjoy the RAAC Theatre production of St. George and the Dragon at Christmastide and imagine that the next time it might be you on the stage having the time of your life. St. George and the Dragon at Christmastide, December 1, 8 at 8 p.m.; December 2, 3, and 9 at 3 p.m. at the Rappahannock Association for Arts and Community Theatre, 301 Gay Street, Washington, Virginia. Reservations If without internet, call 1-800-695-6075.