Children from the in-house Alban Arts Academy cut their theatrical teeth in the community. In addition to the summer show -- which acts as a final project for the classes -- the students of two of the subjects offered, "Improv Troupe" and "Alban Acting Troupe," go out into the community where they get their feet wet in the acting world.
"Those classes are designed to get kids in front of an audience," Bryan said. He stressed the importance of exposing children to a "rigorous" arts program that not only fosters their development, but also exposes them to constructive criticism to help hone their skills. This isn't a just-for-fun summer camp program, it is an educational opportunity to mold young actors and provide real-life skills, Bryan said.
Last year, the acting troupe partnered with the YMCA, and also performed a full-length anti-bullying play for a summit in Ripley.
The improvisation students open for the family-friendly shows preformed by the No Pants Players. The improv troupe claims the Alban as its home base. The No Pants Players put on four shows a year at the Alban, in addition to their active touring schedule.
Stage performances are not all you will find at the Alban, though. Bryan's vision of the theater as a hub for community activity has seen the building host fundraisers, birthday parties and social events. The walls of the Alban also act as a local art gallery, where everything from pencil sketches to oil canvases are on display and for sale by local artisans.
Bryan said he believes the growth of the Alban is making the town a tourist destination and that he hopes to see that vision continue to grow as more and more shows and services are offered.
"This city is supporting of arts, of growth and culture," Bryan said. He believes the support of Mayor Dick Callaway, an avid theater enthusiast, and a visionary city council will continue to allow the Alban to flourish.
To check out the Alban for yourself, it is staging a production of "Dracula," with the tongue-in-cheek billing of "love bites." Bryan said this is a traditional telling of Bram Stoker's classic, it just happened to work into the schedule in February. You can catch it Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. or Feb. 21, 22 and 23. Tickets are $15 adults, $10 seniors and youth.
Reach Autumn D. F. Hopkins at autumn.hopk...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1249.