When we featured attorney Mark Mixson as “One to Watch” in August’s Fall Arts Preview, he hinted about the creation of a new theater company that would shake up Charleston’s arts scene.
“I could put six plays on easily that would blow people’s minds, using regular people from the Footlights, PURE, and places like that,” he said at the time. “The shows wouldn’t be expensive, but they’d be awe-inspiring. Jaw-dropping.”
We’ll get our chance to see if Mixson can come through on that promise this week, as Threshold Repertory Theatre debuts with Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and then some!). The play opens on Thurs. Dec. 9 at 7:30 p.m. at the Memminger Auditorium.
Mixson founded the nonprofit company along with Pam Galle, David Moon, and Mary DeMartino, all of whom he’s worked with throughout his time in Charleston. Their goal is to reach a new generation of theater-goers.
“We would like to produce a professional quality theater that attracts a new audience, particularly an audience that may not be well-served by the theater companies that are here. Maybe folks that don’t have a lot of funds or aren’t typically that interested in theater,” says Mixson, who serves as the company’s artistic director.
Opening night of Every Christmas Story features $5 tickets for everyone. Normal ticket prices probably won’t go above $20, although Mixson says they’ll always have room for folks who can’t afford to pay.
“When you do buy a ticket at full price, you can be assured that you’re helping someone who could not afford to go to the theater go,” he says.
And although he admits that “it’s not a good time” to be starting a new arts organization, he’s willing to take a chance on Threshold.
“Nobody makes it by selling tickets alone, and that’s particularly true in the current state of the economy,” Mixson says. “But we’re willing to run very lean until we have the attention and the audience that we need, and then try to expand things out. We have big ideas.”
Some plans include expanding outreach efforts to allow students and interested people to learn about the inner workings of the theater. After their holiday production, Mixson hopes to branch out with more progressive shows, like The Glass Menagerie in March.
“My particular desire is to do classic American theater or classic world theater that has a new, modern spin on it. I’m also interested in what I would call epic theater — large-scale productions,” he says, mentioning Spoleto’s 2009 production of Don John. “I like big shows with small moments that are very focused.”
While Every Christmas Story might not be on the Don John scale, audiences can expect a unique spin on standard holiday fare. In the play, a theater troupe performing A Christmas Carol gets bored and decides to take on, well, every Christmas story ever told, from Dr. Seuss to Dickens. Frosty, Rudolph, and Charlie Brown will also make appearances.
“Our actors do an excellent job of recreating these characters from your childhood,” Mixson says. “Most people will find something to appreciate in this. It’s a very funny show and we have some talented actors.”
The play continues through Sun. Dec. 12. City of Charleston parking passes will be available in the lobby at the Memminger, good for two free hours of parking.
“I have a lot of hope,” Mixson says. “But I also recognize that it’s a climb, the way’s not easy. Finding those people, even if you offer them free tickets, they may not show up. And that’s the death of theater. It sort of becomes a situation where you ask what’s the point. We’re trying to find those people who want to actually come in and see theater.”