High Energy Theatre in Downtown Rehoboth Beach
Founded in 2004, the Clear Space Theatre Company is a non-profit organization ensconced in the former Epworth Methodist Church at 20 Baltimore Avenue in Rehoboth Beach. It brings together a terrific team of full-time, part-time, and volunteer actors, directors, stagecraft pros, teachers, and administrators.
Their ambitious show calendar, combined with their kids’ camps, classes, late-night comedy, and other projects bring live theatre and entertainment front and center in Rehoboth.
Clear Space has a professional acting company, with well-known local performers as well as imports from the New York audition circuit. The Arts Institute educational program works with more than 500 students every year and provides plenty of performances for proud parents to attend and the local community to support.
This summer, Clear Space is offering three Broadway musicals in repertory. All cast and rehearsed in the spring, they are being performed on a rotating basis through the summer. In addition, there are late-night comedy shows and children’s productions.
For the month of August, the revolving performances include the hilarious and naughty Rocky Horror Show (and if you aren’t a movie groupie, experience the show here and learn all about the zany audience participation!), Footloose, a joyous dance extravaganza, and Mary Poppins, which will clearly provide a much-needed spoonful of sugar to balance the August traffic and the tourism crush.
Letters asked three of the Clear Space performers about their experiences at the theatre and got these gleeful replies.
Letters: What do you love most about participating (or performing) with Clear Space?
David Button—Artistic Director and actor: I love this company through and through and it’s been my life for nearly 13 years. Clear Space has allowed me to use all of my talents—onstage to directing to teaching to guiding the aesthetic. Most of all, I love the community supporting Clear Space. They open themselves up to different types of art and go on the journey with us. From the big splashy musicals to the risky plays they know very little about. The idea that Clear Space is offering so many options and giving audiences a multi-faceted theatre experience is tremendous.
Erin Bobby—actress—playing the title role in Mary Poppins: I love the professional atmosphere, the people, and despite the small backstage area, I love the thrust stage. And, of course, having the beach less than a block away is pretty special, too.
Andrew Cuccaro—actor—appearing as Dr. Frank N. Furter in the Rocky Horror Show: Clear Space is a wonderfully supportive company of professionals. They work as a team throughout the crazy three-show repertory season, and are not afraid to take artistic risks in their unique performing space.
Letters: When did you first become involved with the theatre company? In what capacity?
David: In 2006, I auditioned for Hello, Dolly! and played the role of Barnaby. Later that year I was asked to start teaching and then, by the end of 2007, was offered a full-time position.
Erin: I became involved in 2006 when Doug Yetter and Ken Skrzesz (the company’s co-founders) were looking for someone to play Belle in their original version of A Christmas Carol. I’ve been a member of the company ever since.
Andrew: Three years ago, Clear Space auditioned actors in New York City for their summer season, and I was hired to play Mark in Rent, The Cat in the Hat in Seussical, and Eugene in Grease.
Letters: What do you most want readers to know about the productions at Clear Space?
David: The company provides opportunities for students of all ages in its programming, and works to fulfill its mission with works of integrity and risk.
Erin: The most interesting aspect of the summer shows is the manner in which they are produced. Three shows are rehearsed simultaneously and put together in about three weeks. That’s sort of astounding when you think about that—three full-length musicals being rehearsed and produced in only three weeks! I think what’s also really great about the summer shows in particular is that you very well may get to see a future Broadway actor or actress in the making. Many of the hired actors over the summer are still in school or new graduates who are just starting their careers. I think that’s pretty exciting.
Andrew: David Button, Clear Space’s artistic director, is a magician when it comes to putting three full length musicals together so quickly. As an actor, you typically are rehearsing and performing in one show at a time. This fast-paced process helps develop an amazing sense of companionship and trust among the cast, crew, and creative team very early on.
Letters: What’s the funniest experience you’ve had with the theatre?
David: One of the funniest productions we’ve worked on is Avenue Q and not just because it was funny but because the director, Sydney Gray, was pregnant with her first child at the time. Every time we said a cuss word or something inappropriate, all the cast members’ heads would turn to Sydney like we were corrupting her unborn child. The funnier part is that she gave birth the week after we opened! Who knows, maybe he was in there laughing as hard as we were, and he decided it was time to see what all the hubbub was about.
Another funny moment in that show was having sex with my best friend (Erin Bobby)—as a puppet! She is a straight, married women, and we knew we’d only ever be friends, but the idea that we were talking about sexual positions and rhythm and making it look real with the puppets was just something we couldn’t get past. Every time we’d come to that scene and my puppet was behind her puppet, pulling her puppet’s hair or her puppet “put her finger there” as the show says, we lost our minds. Thank goodness we got it together by the time the show opened.
Erin: One thing I love about live theatre is that anything can happen, and you have to be ready. My favorite funny moment, however, might be last summer in Legally Blonde, when the actor playing Callahan completely blanked on his lyrics and struggled for what felt like eons to try to recover. Many of us were in the scene with him, but none of us could help him out in that moment, so we all just had to try to hold it together while we watched him trying so hard to figure out what to do! I still laugh out loud about it.
Andrew: The funniest experience I’ve had at Clear Space was definitely when a bat was flying around the theatre during a performance of Rent. I remember rushing through dialogue on stage to get off as fast as I could. It was a little scary in the moment, but pretty hilarious in retrospect.
Letters: Clear Space is a cherished part of our artistic community here in Rehoboth and a big draw for all of Southern Delaware and beyond. Check out the show calendar. ‘Cause that’s entertainment! ▼