Company Carolina reorganizes

Aims for success with fall shows

Correction (Sept. 21 12:59 a.m.): Due to a reporting error, an earlier version of this story and its accompanying graphic misstated Company Carolina’s organization from 2003-2008. Productions were mounted during this time. Additionally, Company Carolina is currently rewriting its mission statement, not its constitution. The story has been changed to reflect the correction. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error.

A 15-year-old student organization should have rich, documented history, but this isn’t the case for student-run theater group Company Carolina.

When senior Stephanie Waaser became a producer for the group two years ago, she found the company was a little more than disorganized.

The group lacked a basic mission statement and had no clear goal, Waaser said — and members weren’t even aware of the company’s website.

“They handed me a key ring with about thirty keys on it, and they only knew what one was for,” Waaser said.

Since then, everything has changed, senior co-producer Jordi Coats said.

Not only do Company Carolina members now know what their keys open, they are also working on revamping their website and taking on big, Broadway hits like “RENT.”

Company Carolina was founded in 1995 as a division of the communication studies department.

With large, popular productions like “RENT,” which went up last November, the company is trying to get back into the spotlight.

About 2,200 people attended the production of “RENT,” performed in the Forest Theatre.

“At the end of every night, I had so much cash in the cash box that I had to have a cop take me home,” Waaser said.

“RENT” was the biggest production in the company’s history, members said.

Unlike other campus theater groups, Company Carolina allows anyone from the area to participate in its productions.

“I think it lets our shows be of a higher quality,” Coats said. “We have a bigger talent pool to pull from.”

But even after organizing its key rings and mounting a successful show in the fall, Company Carolina still suffered a major setback.

Last spring, the company’s production of “Cats” was unexpectedly canceled.

A week before the scheduled opening date, Waaser found out that the application for the rights to perform Andrew Lloyd Weber’s splashy musical had been denied.

After months of rehearsal, the production was canceled and shelved.

The producers and other Company members remained positive through last spring’s disappointment.

“Those involved with ‘Cats’ are still active members who remain optimistic about the future of the Company,” Waaser said.

This fall the company is producing two musicals — “Once On This Island” and Elton John’s adaptation of “Aida”.

Coats and Waaser said the company is excited about the upcoming season and hopes the shows bring the same success that “RENT” did.

The company is also focusing on finishing its mission statement, outlining the specificities of each leadership role and planning shows for the spring semester.

“We need an established organization, not a ring of keys,” Waaser said.

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