WESTBOROUGH, Mass. ‒ Westborough native Jonathan Eldridge and fiancé Amanda Casale are trying to rewrite the book on Massachusetts theater with their fledgling Flyleaf Theater Company.
"The initial big hurdle to jump over was to find our own little area and our own little niche," said Eldridge, executive director and co-founder of the Flyleaf Theater Company.
Eldridge said he and Casale "caught the theater bug" about 2 ½ years ago and decided to open one of their own.
"I've always been a theatrical and performing person," he said. "We thought it would be fun to create a theater company ourselves."
They worked with the town of Berlin, Mass., to open within the 1870 Town Hall building.
With the help of a board of directors with backgrounds in theater, including performing, fundraising and finance, the Flyleaf will complete its first year with a final performance of "Circle Mirror Transformation" at the end of January.
"The people of Berlin have been so open and generous to us. They thought we would be an asset to those very important aspects of the town," Eldridge said. "We've been very fortunate and very lucky to have been so successful in getting this project up and running."
Eldridge said the theater's small scale and cast size have allowed them to tackle less mainstream, edgier plays. He said the largest cast size so far has been seven people, and performers from all over New England have come to audition.
The theater has staged both plays and musicals, including Jason Robert Brown's "Songs For a New World" and "Next to Normal," based on the book by Brian Yorkey.
"We feel like we've done a very good job of getting our theater out there," Eldridge said. "We've been overwhelmed by the amazing talent that comes out to audition for us."
Eldridge, who is a full-time music teacher in the Weston school system, said the extra workload has been difficult for him and Casale, and he "looks forward to summer vacation." But even with the extra work, Eldridge said, he hopes the theater can continue to grow in its second season, with emphasis on increasing educational workshops.
"For Season Two we want to keep that going, keep pushing what we're trying to do," he said.
The inaugural season's final performances will run from Jan. 25 to 27. Tickets can be purchased through the Flyleaf Theater Company website.