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New East Brainerd Community Theater ready for inaugural production

Singing, dancing and deceased nuns are coming soon to the stage of East Brainerd Community Theater.

With its inaugural production of “Nunsense” set for April, the new theater group is now in full swing.

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Stephanie Pearson sits on the stage at Christ United Methodist Church where future community theater productions will be held.

In the humorous off-Broadway play by Dan Goggin, 50-plus nuns in Hoboken, N.J., are accidently poisoned by the convent cook, leaving only a handful of lucky survivors. Five of the remaining sisters scramble to raise funds to bury the last of their fellow sisters, putting on a show full of solos, dance routines and general entertainment.

“[Goggin] wrote that he wanted to show the humor of the nun,” said East Brainerd Community Theater founder and director Stephanie Pearson. “He definitely achieved that.”

The real story, however, lies in the beginnings of what promises to be a fresh, creative and, best of all, local community theater group. Based out of Christ United Methodist Church, Pearson said the theater group is meant to awaken the creativity within East Brainerd individuals, young and old.

“They get on that stage for the first time and there’s some kind of theater magic that happens,” she said. “People just find themselves.”

Pearson, a movie buff, book lover and self-proclaimed band geek, didn’t discover her affinity for the dramatic and a good solo opportunity until she participated in a community theater in Atlanta, Ga. She spent 10 years starring or appearing in plays and musicals, including “Hello, Dolly!” “A Chorus Line,” “My Fair Lady,” “Guys and Dolls” and “The Wizard of Oz.”

For the past seven years in Chattanooga, she has directed the youth drama team at CUMC, growing it from five students to 30. Sensing the need for a more locally based community theater in the East Brainerd area for all those that don’t have time to go downtown on a regular basis, she partnered with CUMC, where she has been a member since 2000, to bring the theater group to fruition.

“I want the experience to be user-friendly,” she said. “I would love to have more people hear about it and come join us.”

Pearson stressed that the theater group is open to any and all community members, whether they are members of CUMC or not. The group is not meant to be exclusive and there is no pressure to join the church, she said. Instead, it is meant to be a place for drama and music lovers to come and share their passion.

“It’s scary to go up on stage and to put yourself out there, but there’s that community,” Pearson said. “Relationships grow out of it, and in my experience those relationships never really end.”

While Pearson said she wanted to start small with the production of “Nunsense,” she hopes to bring larger scale productions to the CUMC stage, such as “Sound of Music” and “Oklahoma,” plays that could include both genders and all ages. Productions will take place at CUMC in the multipurpose room, and admission will typically be charged to cover the cost of royalties of the productions presented.

For more information or to get involved, contact Pearson at 902-1797 or eastbrainerdct@gmail.com, or visit the East Brainerd Community Theater’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/eastbrainerdcommunitytheater.

Email Kelsie Bowman at kbowman@timesfreepress.com

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