With the blossoming of a new summer, so too blossoms a new season for the local theatre community. One group in particular has some very exciting possibilities in store for the community. They are the River Valley Players.

The River Valley Players are a local nonprofi t theatre troupe consisting entirely of volunteers who perform in order to support local charities. 07-06-11-erin-crider.jpg

“We are striving to help other people that need help. Local charities that need an extra boost, and if we are able to help them in any way this is what we try to do,” says Gerry Cruse, founder and director of the Players.

When asked about which charities they choose to support, Cruse responded with, “We just get together and our board decides which one we want. We try to keep it local. Occasionally something comes up, like maybe a cancer research, or something of that sort, because we have all been involved in one way or another with that kind of an incident. But mostly we try to keep everything local if we can.”

Most recently the Players have supported Wounded Warriors with a musical tribute to the military, and are preparing to hold auditions for a performance to benefi t the Fayetteville Urban Ministries. Cruse describes the upcoming performance as, “a series of four short plays, all comedies, all very, very funny.” It will be preformed August 19-20 at the Haymont Grill. They also will have a Christmas performance, but that has yet to be decided upon.

The River Valley Players started several years ago in response to the disaster in New Orleans caused by the infamous Hurricane Katrina.

“I was working at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center at that time and we had a show group in there and we decided to do a show to raise funds for the children that had been displaced by Katrina, and we actually raised about $3,000 on that occasion,” said Cruse.

The biggest new project Cruse has in the works however, is a permanent home for the players and a community theater.

“There is an opportunity for the River Valley Players to obtain a building on Trade Street in Hope Mills that will make a perfect little community theatre,” says Cruse excitedly. “It will be a community theatre; there will be rooms that could be rented for functions. The theatre itself will be small but can be dressed up as a wedding chapel, and people can have receptions there. It’s just a good scheme, and we think it would do great. We would like to have, during the summer and continuing if necessary, theatre camps for young people. And also really involve the youth of Hope Mills in the performing arts, because there is nothing live in Hope Mills other than what’s in the schools,” Cruse explained.

The River Valley Players face the same issues most non-profit organizations face, however. They need support, and they need volunteers. When asked if she had enough volunteers, Cruse responded simply and firmly with a single word, “No.”

With the opportunity of obtaining a building, the group needs support from the community more than ever. “If we could get that going I would be totally delighted. It’s two buildings; they are about a hundred years old. So they are going to have to have some work done to bring them up to code before we can even start to think of putting stuff in there, let alone a gathering place for people. So, we have to make sure all of that is correct, and compliant with ADA rules. But I’m hoping we can get enough support to do this,” said Cruse.

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