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March 28, 2014

Luke Experience: the show must go on

Carissa Latham, civilian, and Lacey Quattlebaum-McCalmon, 56th Force Support Squadron Library technician, practice dramatic poses March 20 during rehearsal for “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” at the Luke Air Force Base theater.

The movie theater on Luke Air Force Base has not hosted a movie in more than seven years. But that doesn’t mean the theater has nothing to offer the base. Its hallowed stage is still in use, even if the screen isn’t.

The Luke Experience theater group puts on live performances for Luke Thunderbolts. Consisting of active duty Airmen and civilians, retirees, dependents, and base guests, the group provides entertainment for the base.

“We are an all-volunteer, nonprofit group,” said Lacey Quattlebaum-McCalmon, 56th Force Support Squadron library technician and Luke Experience president. “We pay for everything ourselves. We do this because we love to perform.”

The theater group is even now preparing to debut “Bram Stoker’s Dracula.” The play is a conglomeration of the book, the movie and several stage scripts. There have been a few changes to the traditional casting of characters, giving those who came to audition a chance to show their acting chops.

With no room for error or extras, the cast of “Dracula” is comprised of veteran members of the Luke Experience. But one of the core actors, Tech. Sgt. Cristoforo Ceroni, 607th Air Control Squadron Standardization and Evaluations Flight chief, decided to try his hand at sitting in the director’s chair, ensuring that the show is brought to life.

“I’ve been with the Luke Experience four years now, and this is my first time stepping off the stage and behind the scenes to try managing everything,” Ceroni said, gesturing to the stage where the actors are continuing to build sets and hammer down lines. “It’s been a blast. I was afraid of taking on this role for most of my time here. For one, I prefer to be on stage and acting. I also didn’t think I had what it would take to put it together.”

Ceroni chose this play as his directorial debut, and said he had his work cut out for him.

“‘Dracula’ is a different type of production for the group,” he said. “Normally we do comedy or off-the-wall-type productions such as ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ or ‘Little Shop of Horrors.’ ‘Dracula’ allows the actors to show their dramatic skills.

“Drama is arguably supposed to be easier than comedy since everyone has a different sense of humor,” Quattlebaum-McCalmon said. “But if you don’t do drama right, if you don’t engage the audience, it can be very boring. I do feel this will be one of our most successful shows.”

Everyone is welcome to audition for the plays. There are always other positions available. Luke Experience is always looking for lighting and sound technicians as well as stage managers, stage hands and costume people.

“Dracula” has its first showing at 7 p.m. today with Saturday, April 4 and 5 to follow at the base theater located across from the Base Exchange. Doors open at 6 p.m. The show is rated “PG-13” for horror violence and strong themes.

For more information, call the Luke Experience at 623-670-4675.




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