As in past seasons, the Haines City Community Theatre loves a good mystery or a hilarious comedy. (Photo by Michael Freeman).
HAINES CITY – If there’s one thing about doing community theater that David Smith loves, it’s seeing the reaction you get from the audience.
For the Haines City Community Theatre – which typically specializes in comedies and thrillers – those reactions can vary, depending on the show, he added.
“I love the performing aspect, and getting people to laugh — or not laugh, if that’s the case,” Smith said. ”There was one show where I played the villain, and when I got up for the curtain call, the audience actually booed me. I took that as a compliment.”
The Haines City Community Theatre, which performs its shows in the Clay Cut Centre at 801 Ledwith Ave. in downtown Haines City, just announced the lineup for their upcoming 2012-2013 season.
Smith, who both acts in and directs shows for Haines City Community Theatre, predicted this would be a successful season.
In past years, the theater troop has become known for eerie mysteries and laugh-out-loud comedies – two genres that Smith called “our bread and butter,” and this fall season is no exception to that.
It begins in November, when from Nov. 9-18, the community theater company will produce “Murder at the Howard Johnson’s,” a play by Ron Clark and Sam Bobrick that combines both comedy and mystery into one show. It’s a light and funny suspense comedy about a love triangle in a Howard Johnson Motor Inn, with a dashing heroic man, a Femme Fatale, murder plots and more.
“We actually did ‘Murder at Howard Johnson’s’ a few years ago, before I came on, but nobody remembers how it went or what the audience’s reaction to it was, so we’re doing it again this season,” he said.
Next up, from Feb 15-24, is “Cliffhanger,” the James Yaffe thriller about a professor of philosophy at a small western college, looking forward to being appointed to an endowed chair so he and his wife can enjoy their golden years, who gets a shock when his successor informs him she’s not recommending him for the chair. The play has been described as one that combines the warmth and charm of “On Golden Pond” with the multiple plot twists of “Deathtrap.”
” ‘Cliffhanger’ is a thriller,” Smith said. “We don’t really get into the heavy dramas, like a lot of theaters, or the classics — stuff people have seen 45 times. We try to get new things in front of our audiences.”
The season ends from April 12-21, 2013 with Simon Williams’ comedy “Nobody’s Perfect,” about author Leonard Loftus decision to submit his novel to a feminist publishing house under a female pseudonym – which becomes a problem when he unexpectedly wins first prize.
Smith said this is one show offering belly laughs galore.
“Each year we set up a reading committee, with three or four people, and they read scripts and bring x-many of them to the board (of directors), and we vote on them,” Smith said. “We know what our audience likes, so that’s kind of what we aim for.”
In between those shows, from Dec 1-16, HCCT KIDS! – which produces plays performed entirely by area children – will perform “A Seussified Christmas Carol” by Peter Blodel, which reinvents Charles Dickens’ Christmas classic in wacky rhymed couplets.
The next big question for the Haines City Community Theatre will where they’re going to be performing shows in the future. That question is still up in the air.
That’s because they’re going to be losing the Clay Cut Centre, their long-time base, sometime in the near future because the city gave the building back to the Polk County School Board, which eventually plans to renovate it and make it part of the Daniel Jenkins Academy of Technology Middle School.
Finding a new location won’t be easy, Smith noted, since they’re an all-volunteer, not-for-profit theater.
“I think it’s season by season right now,” Smith said. “They (the school board) told us we’re good for this season, and that’s the latest we’ve heard. We’re looking for a new place, but we are a non-profit, so we don’t have a whole lot of money to pay rent and that kind of thing.”
In the meantime, he said, they hope to charm and entertain the audience for one more season at Clay Cut Centre.
For more information on the shows, tickets and making reservations, call the theater at 863-421-1893 or log on to the Website at

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  1. I can’t believe that we can’t get enough backup to keep the Theater available to the community for future plays. Is there no way we can work out an agreement with Polk County Schools so we can continue to perform there?. My little one is part of the play this year ” A Suesified Christmas Carol”. It has been a rewarding experience for her and for me. The theater deffinately needs renovation. Thank you.

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