City springs theatre company brings broadway series and arts education to brand new stage lifestyle grade 9 current electricity test


Joining Blocker will be Tony Award-winning actor and Marietta native Shuler Hensley, who will serve as associate artistic director, and former Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre’s ArtsBridge Foundation director Natalie Barrow, who will serve as CSTC’s managing director.

“I am thrilled to join City Springs Theatre Company and become even further connected to the metro Atlanta arts community,” Hensley said. “Brandt and I will work to combine the immense local talent here in Georgia with stars from Broadway as we create New York-quality musical theatre in a brand-new, world-class venue.”

Hensley made his Broadway debut in 2000 as Inspector Javert in “Les Misérables,” won a Tony Award for his role as Jud Fry in “Oklahoma!” in 2002, and has starred in countless film, television and Broadway productions over the last two decades. He most recently starred as The Monster in Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein” in London and can also be seen in the current film, “The Greatest Showman” with Hugh Jackman. Hensley is also the namesake for the Shuler Hensley Georgia High School Musical Theatre Awards, held each year at CEPAC, which celebrates the state’s talented students in musical theatre. Barrow was over the Shuler Awards program as well.

CSTC will produce full-scale, well-known Broadway musicals at the City Springs Performing Arts Center. The theater’s first season will include the hit shows “42nd Street” (Sept. 14-23, 2018), “Elf the Musical” (Dec. 7-16, 2018), Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific” (March 8-17, 2019) directed and choreographed by Tony Award recipient Baayork Lee, “Billy Elliot the Musical” (May 3-12, 2019) and “Hairspray” (July 12-21, 2019).

As part of its mission, the theatre company will also create and produce arts education at the new facility, offering diverse and engaging programs for students of all ages. To support the programming, the theatre company has already raised over $750,000 in funding, including a $500,000 grant from the Sandy Springs Foundation.

“I absolutely had no idea I would be back in the theatre this soon, but when the right situation comes along, you have to know if it’s too good to pass up and this was,” Blocker said. “When I left, I left the Lyric in the very capable hands of (Lyric Artistic Director) Mary (Nye Bennett) and she will continue to expand on the excellence I think we created there. The Lyric will always have a special place in my heart and I love the Lyric. I will and I encourage other people to continue to support it; they will continue to do great work, and if you want to make the drive over, we’ll welcome you in Sandy Springs, too.”

Blocker said three of the Lyric’s original supporters — Jan Collins and Peggy and Jerry Stapleton — live in Sandy Springs and wanted the Lyric to move there from its midtown location in 2007 before it moved to the Earl and Rachel Smith Strand Theatre in Marietta. But Blocker said that while the support was there for a company, there was no venue to house it.

“Cobb County really supports the Lyric, we were doing tremendous numbers in ticket sales, we had a great theatre (at the Jennie T. Anderson Theatre) and I told them I thought it would be a mistake to move the Lyric to Sandy Springs,” Blocker said. “So I told Jan and the Stapletons that there was enough support in Fulton County with the loss of Theatre of the Stars that they should start their own company. I was moving to Hong Kong so my time here was done, but I told them I would be happy to be a consultant.”

Blocker was coming back to Georgia every other month to visit his son, so as he connected the group with people who could help the nonprofit get established such as attorney (and CSTC Board President Steven Hauser),Hensley and Barrow, his involvement grew and they finally offered him a contract as artistic director in September 2017.

“There is so much great theater in Atlanta; I tell people to support it all. It all deserves your support. We’ll just be one more mixing up a little bit. Theatre of the Stars created a win-win for artists and audiences because it brought New York talent to the area, so that’s what we’ll be able to do with City Springs. Shuler will really be that bridge for us,” Blocker said.

The performance venues at the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center, currently under construction, will include the 1,070-seat Byers Theatre and a 350-seat studio theatre. The Byers Theatre is a proscenium theatre with a large stage, fly system, and orchestra pit, and audio/visual infrastructure that supports music, dance, theatre, and film. The studio theatre is a 5,511 square-foot room with flexible staging and seating options. The performance and seating area consists of a cushioned hardwood performance floor, portable staging of up to 48 by 20 feet, and a system of telescopic seating platforms that provides 198 fixed theatre seats.

Blocker said the Performing Arts Center was under development before CSTC was created, so the company is an affiliate of the center. Currently, CSTC is the only organization providing a subscription series of entertainment for the venue so the company is a renter but is receiving reduced rent based on the number of days it will be renting the facility. Blocker said the offices will be in Sandy Springs. Auditions for the upcoming season are open to the public and will be Feb. 25 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the studios of Atlanta Ballet, located at 1695 Marietta Blvd NW, Atlanta, 30318.