The curtain is rising once again for Shane Sedlemyer.
After taking some time away from the theatre while pursuing higher education, the Cambria County artist is directing the upcoming Altoona Community Theatre production Peter and the Starcatcher.
The play, which runs February 14-17 at the Mishler Theatre, marks Sedlemyer’s first time directing on a professional level and his first time working with ACT.
Engaged in theatre since about age 10, Sedlemyer was involved in productions at Northern Cambria Middle School and High School and while he was pursuing an Integrative Arts degree at Penn State Altoona.
Over the years, he ventured into many aspects of theatre including directing, writing, props, sound, and acting.
So what does he like the most?
“I enjoy directing,” he admitted. “I think it is a lot of work. It’s very hard to direct a show because it’s a leadership role. You have to balance many visions and align them with your own. It’s the ultimate practice in team work.”
Now 26, Sedlemyer earned a master’s degree in English from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and is pursuing a PhD in English with emphasis on theatrical or dramatic literature. He hopes to be a college professor.
He was last involved in theatre in 2014 for a production at Cresson Lake Playhouse.
Since then, he has focused on his studies and had great experiences.
“But along the way, although I was studying and writing about theatre, I missed participating in it,” he confessed.
When he heard ACT was seeking a director for Peter and the Starcatcher, he went after the gig.
“I just got right back into it,” he said. “I just love theatre. It’s what my heart wants.”
For those unfamiliar with the play, Peter and the Starcatcher is a “prequel” to the legendary story of Peter Pan.
“It’s a family appropriate show, but it’s not kids’ theatre,” summarized Sherri Elle, administrative assistant at ACT.
Billed as a “rollicking tale of friendship, daring, and the search for the leader in us all,” Elle noted what she called the sophisticated humor in the production.
The original Broadway cast, Sedlemyer mentioned, featured only one woman.
He is putting his own twist on the cast for the local production.
“I wanted to be a little more open with a mix of men and women playing the roles,” he said.
Overall, it is a younger cast.
And a younger director.
“We’re really glad Shane is joining us,” Elle stated. “We always need to be developing and recruiting new talent.”
Sedlemyer plans to remain active with ACT, and he encourages youth who enjoy the arts to not stay on the sidelines.
In fact, he hopes young people who see Peter and the Starcatcher willbeinspired to engage in theatre and gain some of the same benefits he did as a young thespian.
“Many of those values carried over with me and shaped my work ethic,” he said. “It’s important youth have opportunities like that.”