Dayton’s Human Race Theatre has been around for almost three decades but continues to bring fresh and innovative performances to its audiences.
Perhaps Shakespeare said it best in his play when he wrote, “All the world’s a stage.” At least that’s what the folks at the Human Race Theatre would have you believe.
In the middle of its 27th season, Human Race has provided a stage for local talent and Broadway productions in Dayton. Human Race is the area’s only professional theatre company and has persevered thanks to strong community support and high-quality performances that keep audiences coming back.
Prior to finding a home at the Loft Theatre downtown, Human Race held productions in whatever space was available. Now it offers cutting edge dramas, American classics, regional and world premieres, along with educational programs like in-school touring across the Miami Valley.
“After 27 years, and the ups and downs of the economy and the region, we’re still here,” says Kevin Moore, artistic director and founding member of the theater.
Moore adds that Human Race has very active and very smart patrons who appreciate the staff’s ability to tighten their belts without losing quality. He believes changes in funding, particularly in Dayton, can be contributed to a major change in corporate giving.
“There is a lack of corporate leadership in Dayton now. Trying to get the CEO who lives and works in New Jersey to care and sponsor a theater organization in Dayton is a real challenge,” he says.
Human Race, which serves as a home for many local artists and actors, also provides a welcome test atmosphere for brand new or seldom performed material. For example, their upcoming musical Play It by Heart is based on a book by Brian Yorkey with music by David Spangler and Jerry Taylor. Yorkey is an American playwright, lyricist and theater director known best for writing Next to Normal, and he’s also currently working with Sting on his new adventure – the Broadway musical The Last Ship.
“Yorkey is trying out the show with audiences right here in Dayton,” shares Moore. “It’s a sort of research and development and a great way for our audience to be a part of the process of creating a brand new show.”
According to Moore, the job of Human Race is to make people think, and he encourages those who have never attended a theatrical performance to take a chance. “We want our audiences to come away accepting a new point of view or reevaluating their original perceptions [and] consider other opinions. Theater is the original 3-D, reality TV experience.”
He believes their cozy environment at the Loft encourages closeness and allows the audience to get involved in the productions. Audiences agree.
“The Human Race Theatre is more than just great storytelling: it’s also provocative and original,” shares Beth Whelley, a former Human Race board member. “It’s never ‘the same old.’ It’s addictive.”
The Human Race Theatre has three performances left this season: Torch Song Trilogy, Other Desert Cities and Yorkey’s Play It by Heart. The group will also perform with the Dayton Philharmonic as a part of the Broadway Pops series.
For more information, go to their website at HumanRaceTheatre.org.