It’s easy to take things for granted… like Archbold Community Theatre.
An estimated 4,000 people have been involved with ACT at one point or another, putting on about 100 productions over more than three decades.
Many regard “community theatre” as the bottom rung of live performance.
Mike Salsbury came to Northwest Ohio to take a position with Pettisville Missionary Church in the early 1990s. He had an undergraduate theater degree and time on the stage as a professional actor.
Friends urged him to audition for roles with ACT, but professional actors “consider themselves a cut above” the community theatre ranks.
Salsbury admits, “I was a little reticent.
“But once I got involved, and saw the dedication and hard work of this group in Northwest Ohio,” he changed his mind.
Today, Salsbury is a professor of theatre at Southeastern University, Lakeland, Fla.
While with ACT, he was a student of sorts.
“One of the things I learned, and now teach, is community theatre can be every bit as excellent as any professional theatre,” he said.
“ACT is a model for the rest of the country of how it should be done.”
His time with ACT “gave me a healthy respect for the community theatre movement as a whole,” he said.
Salsbury’s daughter, Kate, has been a professional actress, worked backstage, and has been a stage manager in professional companies since about 2007.
She’s “done the New York thing,” and currently has a professional role on stage in Sugar Creek.
Her first onstage role was as a child in ACT’s 1996 production of “Cotton Patch Gospel.”
“I was (about) six,” she said.
When ACT put on “Children of Eden,” “I was so excited, because I was in the chorus,” she said.
“The adult chorus, not the childrens chorus. I was 13.
“The quality of ACT’s productions are better than some professional companies.”
Today, at 26, Kate, a 2005 Wauseon High School graduate, is getting her Master of Fine Arts degree from Virginia Commonwealth University in theatre performance pedagogy, which she described as “teaching theatre on the college level.”
Benjamin Rosebrock, formerly of Stryker, got involved with ACT in 1999, when he was a freshman at Stryker High School.
Michael D. Short, an ACT veteran, came in to help with some of the rigging for the school production of “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown.”
Not particularly interested in sports or other programs at Stryker, Rosebrock said, “I had never been on stage, and thoroughly enjoyed it.”
The next summer, he was in the ACT production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”
Working with ACT, Rosebrock said he felt supported.
“I found a close group,” he said. “It was an outlet to meet new people, local, talented people.
“One of the great things about community theatre is… for the summer shows, there are a lot of students from different schools.
“I was able to meet people from all over who wanted to do theatre. Amazing, very talented people from the same age group or just older than me.
“I was able to make lifelong friends I wouldn’t have met, or met in passing.”
Rosebrock accepted a scholarship from the Ohio Community Theater Association. While studying music education at Adrian College, he took theatre classes, which were among his favorites.
He went on to earn a master’s degree. Today, he works at the University of Michigan, where he directs a program for off-campus students.
While never landing a role as a paid actor, Rosebrock has kept up his ties to the theatre.
After a few years offstage, he most recently appeared in the Croswell Opera House production of “Shrek The Musical.”
“It was great to be back on stage and meet a whole new cast of characters,” he said.
But he still has a spot in his heart for ACT.
“They gave me a great experience,” he said.
“Archbold goes the extra mile. The people who are there put all their time and energy into making a show spectacular.”
Mike Salsbury, whose credits includes work in TV and an appearance in a movie, added, “I still have ACT on my resume, and I’m not ashamed of it.”