The Studio E team’s film “Cell Phone Opera”, (above) was entered in the 2013 Austin 48-Hour Film Project. The film won awards for Best Choreography, Best Sound Design, Best Musical Score and Best Directing, and was runner-up for Best Film.
by Ann Fowler
Oak Hill residents may soon have the opportunity to shine on or behind the stage if a local acting studio reaches its goal of starting a community theater. Local residents are invited to a variety show on April 22 to help raise funds for that community theater. Students from Liz Reeder Neubauer’s Studio E will show off their talents as part of the fundraiser.
Neubauer promises “an amazing night of entertainment.” She has coached hundreds of students over the past nine years—from housewives seeking a creative outlet to up-and-coming actors now featured on network series.
The classes at Studio E range from singing and acting to comedy and voiceovers. Neubauer told the Gazette: “There’s not one department that we have that we have not had some level of national success coming out of this tiny little classroom in Oak Hill.”
When a large room next to Studio E in the Plaza 71 shopping center (on Hwy. 71 just past the ‘Y’) became vacant, Neubauer received the landlord’s permission to use it for occasional performances. “I cannot tell you how many people have come to see our shows and said, ‘I cannot believe that this was free.’ We know what we’re putting on has value.”
The popularity of those shows gave Neubauer the idea for a community theater: “We want to be a community theater in the absolute strictest definition of the word. We want the people in the neighborhood to find their inner performer or their inner technical person or their inner volunteer who’s trying to help people learn and grow and expand and ultimately entertain.”
She added, “We just want more people involved and want to keep growing. We’ve got to raise money to do it.”
Studio E student Richard Romeo calls Studio E a “staple of the Oak Hill community.” He said, “It’s important to keep the charm of Oak Hill and what makes it so attractive to so many people intact. And I think Studio E is a good example—and the theater center that we’re trying to build is a good example of being able to nurture local talent and show exactly what Oak Hill has to offer in the artistic community.”
The goal for the April 22 show is to raise $3,000—enough money to file for non-profit status and make it easier to get local corporations and areas businesses financially involved.
Student James Lee Burke said, “We have a vision of a multi-use space—not being narrowly focused on ‘we’re a theater company’ but an arts company. We would like to have a space that welcomes everything” —including space for art shows.
Romeo calls Studio E “transformative”—allowing students to grow and transform as artists. He said, “Liz does a very good job of guiding us to who we really are as artists.”
Added Burke, “Liz has a genuine passion in fostering young talent and seeing people grow and seeing people succeed—in fact almost to the point of putting her own success to the side.”
He added, “I’m astounded at how far back she goes in this community and how many people she’s been working with since they were little kids. And now they’re growing into adulthood, and Liz has been working with them the whole nine years that they’ve been operating. She really has a heart in seeing people grow, and really has a heart in seeing people succeed—which fits a not-for-profit model perfectly.”
Neubauer hails from Shreveport, Louisiana, where she became the youngest on-air personality at KCOZ-FM at the tender age of 14. Her career as actress, singer, comedian and dancer has spanned 30 years, and includes starring in the title role of a touring company of “Snow White” to performing as a dancing tomato in a national television ad.
Neubauer and her Studio E team participated in the 2013 Austin 48-Hour Film Project, winning awards for Best Choreography, Best Sound Design, Best Musical Score and Best Directing. The film, Cell Phone Opera, was runner-up for Best Film.
The majority of Studio E students are not from the Oak Hill area. Said Neubauer, “That has always surprised me. We want the community to get involved.” And a community theater might be just the ticket.
The would-be theater is currently just a big empty room—enough for a stage and about 100 seats. Looking around, Burke sees possibilities: “There’s a lot you can do creatively with a space this big. Allowing for different configurations. But all that takes money.”
He sees it as a community arts center. “We would love to have a high quality facility, a high quality space that other people can use. Our idea is to have concerts on the weekend, Friday and Saturday night, for local bands, local musicians. We would build out a space nice enough that we could have art exhibits—artwork on the wall for local artists.”
Burke believes there is a need for theatrical space in Southwest Austin for local performances and film projects. “People can see quality work without driving downtown,” he said.
Neubauer added, “It’s a really versatile space. We want the community to know that it’s here so that we can start getting some involvement from the community and figure out ways for them to be able to present things in this space.”
She added, “We know the community will get something from it. It’s a win-win-win for everybody involved.”
Performers at the fundraiser will include Studio E talents: Richard Romeo, Stacey Glazer, Chloe Clark, James Lee Burke, Genevieve Dullum, Julia Atkins, Tori Jimenez, Sierra Edmundson, Seamus Bolivar Ochoa plus some surprise comedy guests.
A silent auction promises to feature “some very cool prizes.”
Said Neubauer, “This is the first time in the history of Studio E that we’re charging for a show.” Advance tickets are $10, $12 at the door.
The event will be April 22 at 7 p.m. at 7612 West Highway 71. For information, call 512-301-1600. Tickets can be purchased online at http://actorsresourceproject.com/show-tickets-.html.