May 29, 1981
Remembering our roots and our supportive community.
On May 29, 1981, Amelia Community Theatre presented its very first production, the comedy Butterflies Are Free, at the Fernandina Beach Woman's Club. Then in September 1990, as part of our 10th anniversary season, we did the show again at Fernandina Beach High School, now the middle school, with a new cast. We've caught up with three of the cast members to reminisce about the show and ACT. Mary Hurt played Mrs. Baker, the overprotective mother, and Elisa Hurt Carlson was Jill Tanner, the hippie girlfriend, in the 1981 show, and Joseph Bermes was Don Baker, a young, blind guitar player, living on his own for the first time in a New York apartment, in the 1990 production.
Who knew how many people would come see ACT's first production? There was so much support for art and music on the island, and we hoped there would be a strong welcome for theatre, also. The Hurt family certainly welcomed the ACT idea. Husband Ashley worked on the set, and I had the chance to perform for the first and only time with my darling daughter, Elisa. Director Ellen Green and the cast (which included Bill Mason and Carl Merkle) all had "butterflies" as the pink curtains opened, and we welcomed the audience with a sharp, professional production that set the tone for ACT's future shows. - Mary Leonard Hurt
Mary was ACT's Artistic Director from 1985 to 1998, before moving to Macon, GA where she has performed in local theatre productions. She also continued to write plays for ACT's Peppermint Players.
My fondest memories of this show are working with my mom, and learning from her poise and presence. I was on a gap year from studying theatre at college and thankful to have a role. The experience gave me much needed confidence when I entered FSU in the fall. I also remember the friendly camaraderie of everyone, both onstage and off. I've been a professional actor since college at regional theatres (Guthrie, Alliance), as well as a voice and dialect coach, and a dialect/historic voices coach for feature films (Selma, First Man, Baby Driver). ACT holds a special place in my heart! - Elisa Hurt Carlson
Elisa is now a Professor of Theatre at the University of North Georgia and based in Atlanta.
I'm pretty sure the main reason I was cast by director Jean Bos was because I could actually play guitar. Anne Livingston played Jill, and Kevin Kasser played a rival for Jill's affections. Barbara Bean played my mother and became such an important person in my life. She kind of adopted me into her family, invited me to play music at her church and in the band for ACT's production of Bye Bye Birdie. That may be the story of ACT in a nutshell. A community of talented people pouring their creative energies towards the common goal of producing the highest quality theatrical productions they can, all the while forming bonds of friendship that resonate with me to this day. - Joseph Bermes
Joe, an architect, lives in Seattle now and enjoys backpacking in the mountains, playing guitar, singing and going to the theatre.
ACT is grateful to the talented volunteers and the community that have supported us for 39 years....going on 40!