BURRILLVILLE – An experienced director of young thespians is coming to town for several productions in the upcoming months, and she hopes to see what Burrillville kids have to offer, noting she has room for talent of every stripe.
Gladys Cole, artistic director and founder of GCole Productions, will be putting on several performances at the Assembly Theater staring local children ages five and up.
Cole studied arts at Rhode Island College and started her own company in 2013 with a production of Brighton Beach Memoirs by Neil Simon at the Artistic Exchange in Cranston.
Soon after, she decided to focus on children’s theater. and has since built an impressive resume of performances, working with kids across Rhode Island.
In 2017, Cole was at the Stadium Theatre in Woonsocket, directing Annie Junior and Milan Junior, and running a theater camp session.
Currently, Cole is working on five different productions with more than 120 kids, including the upcoming Adventures in Storybook Land, scheduled to open at the Assembly Theatre in Burrillville on Friday, April 26.
And that’s just the start of Cole’s work in Burrillville, thanks to a relationship forged with Patrons of the Assembly, the new volunteer board running the theater.
Cole says she learned of the venue through a town employee and met with Councilor Stephen Rawson, who works on the Assembly’s Board of Administration.
“We needed to diversify to reach a broader demographic,” said Rawson, noting that Cole’s productions will attract new families. “When I got to meet her and talk to her I saw she knows what she’s doing.”
For Cole, it’s an opportunity to do what she loves in a unique, historic venue.
“I love theaters like this,” she said. “I had been looking for a home for my shows in northern Rhode Island.”
In May, she’ll put on The Wizard of Oz, with casting set to take place this weekend. Cole will hold open auditions for children ages 5 and up on Friday, March 1 from 6-9 p.m., and Saturday, March 2 from noon to 4 p.m.
Cole says the play, scheduled for May 17 and 18, includes space for a lot of kids with some 30 speaking roles.
“My job as a director is to utilize a child’s talent,” said Cole, noting that in the past, she’s incorporated skills such as juggling into a performance if a child expresses interest. “I love doing that. There’s room for kids even if they don’t get a speaking role. No kid is turned away”
“Not every kid can sing, but there’s probably a place for them,” said Pat DiLorenzo, chairwoman of the Patrons.
Several eight through 12-year-old Burrillville kids, Cole says, have already expressed interest including Joseph Juneau, Jasmine Rabideau and Cameron Paquette. But casting, she notes, is open to all of northern Rhode Island.
“I’ve had some new parents who have reached out to me,” the director said.
Cole also plans to hold a theater camp for kids in Burrillville during the second week of July, leading up to a performance to be held on Saturday, July 13. Details of the week-long program and performance will be released soon.
Whatever the show, locals can expect plenty of lively entertainment. Cole notes that all of her plays are musicals.
“I’ve always been into song and dance,” she said. “Whenever I’m involved in a play, it turns into a musical.”
Cole says she’s already cast the roles in Adventures in Storybook Land, scheduled for Friday, April 26 at 7 p.m. and Saturday April 27 at 2 p.m. For ticket information and reservations for the April production call 401-710-9015 The cost is $15, or $12 for children five and up, with children five and under free.
Both the Patrons and Cole expect to continue the collaborative effort to bring theater roles to local kids well into the future.
“When I saw this place, I thought ‘I love it,'” Cole said.