For anyone who lives in or visits Sandy Springs, it’s immediately obvious that the city places a strong emphasis on the arts. From the fascinating sculpture walk on City Green at City Springs, to the artists market at the annual Sandy Springs Festival, there are dozens of opportunities to embrace the arts in Sandy Springs. Among the most dazzling experiences are world-class musical performances by the newly launched and widely celebrated City Springs Theatre Company. Four Sandy Springs residents founded this nonprofit in 2017 to bring high-quality theatrical experiences to their community. Jan Collins, Steven Hauser, and Peggy and Jerry Stapleton saw an opportunity to launch the company when the city announced the construction of the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center at City Springs.
Bringing Broadway to Sandy Springs
The performing arts center, which opened in 2018, is a beautiful state-of-the-art facility in the heart of Sandy Springs that hosts an array of events throughout the year. The 1,070-seat Byers Theatre is the center’s main event space, and its stage is now the home of the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center’s presenting partner, the City Springs Theatre Company.
When founders were laying the groundwork for the company, Brandt Blocker was serving as the managing artistic director for the Atlanta Lyric Theatre. He began consulting on the City Springs project, and in 2017 he came on as the executive and artistic director for the brand-new theater company.
“Our goal is to provide five full-scale Broadway musical performances each year,” says Blocker, whose work at the Lyric Theatre earned it the title “Best Theater Company in Atlanta” by CBS Atlanta.
Because the City Springs Theatre Company is so new, it’s currently focusing on offering well-known shows that will appeal to as wide an audience as possible. The 2019-2020 season will feature Mary Poppins the Broadway Musical, Holiday Inn, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Sister Act and Monty Python’s Spamalot.
Meeting High Demand
Blocker says that when choosing its performances, City Springs Theatre Company considers input and requests from its patrons. Although its current show lineup focuses on acclaimed musicals, Blocker is aiming to expand into more niche genres as the organization grows.
The company has achieved a promising level of success even in its infancy, as the Sandy Springs community has welcomed it with open arms. “We performed at 97 percent capacity in our first season,” says Blocker. “We have over 4,200 subscribers, which is an incredible number for a first-year organization.”
In fact, demand in its inaugural year was so high that the theater added two performances to each of its shows—an excellent start to its second year, indeed.
The theater places the highest standard on the quality of its performances, especially given that the majority of the actors are local. To supplement regional talent, Blocker and his team work with agents in New York to seek out established actors to join their shows. Blocker says this strategy allows emerging regional actors to work alongside, and network with, notable performers. It also enables the theater to take its performances to the next level while remaining loyal to local roots.
In addition to bringing Sandy Springs an array of Broadway-caliber performances, City Springs Theatre Company seeks to further enrich the community with a two-fold educational program for aspiring actors and musicians. The first component is a partnership with the city in which the theater manages all art education initiatives at the Performing Arts Center. Initiatives include master classes and enrichment programs for local students.
To bring arts education to the public, the nonprofit also operates the City Springs Theatre Conservatory, an internal program that offers dance training, vocal classes, acting lessons, and more.
“Education is one of the most important aspects of our organization, and both components are very exciting,” says Blocker. “Our goal is to train up the next generation of performing artists here in Atlanta.”
Ultimately, the goal of the City Springs Theatre Company is to draw in Broadway professionals and become one of the most prominent theaters in the Southeast. It seems it is well on its way to achieving that goal, given its remarkable success so far.
“Mayor Rusty Paul is a huge supporter of the arts and understands that the arts are important for the enrichment and betterment of our community, but it’s also an economic driver,” says Blocker. “You don’t find that support in every community. The fact that we’ve been able to achieve all this in one year speaks to the support of the city and the community.”
Tickets for the City Springs Theatre Company’s upcoming season are on sale now at https://www.cityspringstheatre.com/shows/.
Written by Madison Eubanks for Matcha in partnership with Sandy Springs GA.