Chase Kniffen, an actor and director for Theatre IV and Barksdale Theatre with Broadway credits, decided to start his own company, Stage 1. How does this group stand apart from the others? Stage 1 will perform contemporary works and Richmond premieres of productions ranging from fresh-off-the-page to recent off-Broadway shows.
"I've come to find that Richmond is a culturally diverse place," he says. "There are companies doing this kind of theater ... but there's work falling through the cracks."
The inaugural season is all musicals, but Kniffen plans on offering non-musical shows, too, emphasizing works written in recent years. Kniffen explains, "The cultural community here is extremely strong, and the more you have of this kind of theater, and the more diverse, the stronger all the theaters are going to be."
Kniffen is realizing his dream in a 99-seat black-box theater at 9130 Dickey Drive, near Chamberlayne Avenue and Atlee Station Road. The building also serves the Shuffles Dance Center.
Stage 1's ambitious beginning, with Jonathan Larson's tick, tick ... BOOM! (Nov. 7 to 22), will be followed by Children's Letters to God (Feb. 6 to 21) and then nor'mal, "a new musical of hope and survival" with a book by Yvonne Adrian and the lyrics of Cheryl Stern set to music by Tom Kochan (April 3 to 18). This will be the show's first production outside New York City. The season ends on a nostalgic note with Summer of '42: The Musical by David Kirshenbaum and Hunter Foster (June 19 to July 11).
For more information, call 427-7548 or visit stage1-theatrecompany.org .