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Arts & Culture

Actors' Summit Founders Working Through the Summer to Wind Down After 17 Years

photo of Alexander, Thackaberry

Actors' Summit Theater in Akron is closing after 17 years and more than 140 productions. WKSU’sKabirBhatia spoke with the couple who founded the non-profit theater.

Artistic Director MaryJo Alexander ran the theater for the past year after her husband, Neil Thackaberry, retired last year. Now she’s following suit. Her retirement prompted the theater's board of trustees to announce this week that it would close, rather than find a replacement. Alexander says she hopes audiences had meaningful experiences while visiting the theater.

“That those plays left them with questions and they would seek out answers, and that those questions and answers might have the teensiest influence on their life.”

Thackaberry says the decision comes after long talks with Alexander.

“Do you want to go out and hire another artistic director? Does the board want to go out and find another theater group that wants to come in and take over? And the board simply looked at the amount of work it was going to take [and] the amount of fundraising it was going to take and said, ‘you know, it’s just not in the cards for us to do that. Let’s go ahead and finish on a high note. The bills are all paid. Let’s turn out the lights and go home.’”

Alexander and her husband will be working through the end of August trying to find a home for Actors’ Summit’s archive of scripts and programs, as well as its theater equipment and props. They do not yet know if another company will take their place in Greystone Hall.

The couple says they plan to travel and enjoy retirement, but they'll also continue working on both sides of the curtain in local theater. The company’s final production – the musical revue "Tintypes" -- closed earlier this month.

Hear the complete conversation with MaryJo Alexander and Neil Thackaberry