Some think it’s better to give and some better to receive, but one Leesburg woman got to do both this Christmas season.
“I looked at my husband and said, ‘I’m so tired of talking about how we’re going to do this,’” said Leah Daily. ” ‘Now we’re actually going to do it.’ “
What Daily did was establish a new theater company, Curtains Up!, that debuted “A Christmas Story” Nov. 30 to robust ticket sales, positive fan reaction and stronger-than-expected attendance.
Daily registered Curtains Up! as an LLC in the spring and joined the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce in March. By the fall she was holding auditions.
“It was great,” said Daily. “We had no money, no budget. I think I paid for two ads out of my own pocket, but it worked. A stage manager and set designer I knew volunteered their time. We pooled our resources and put together an amazing show. Everyone pulled together.”
That teamwork was important when a lack of performance space nearly derailed the effort.
“I knew it would work, but we had no financial backers,” said Daily. “I was looking at property in downtown Leesburg and I thought, ‘I can’t afford this. Then the Leesburg Community Church jumped in and kind of saved the day. [Worship pastor] Doug Wall knew about my dream, so I approached him. They had a stage, I had an idea and we decided to try it out. It was such a positive experience. The church administration just made it happen.”
Over the course of its run, which went from Nov. 30 to Dec. 16, “A Christmas Story” about 600 attendees who paid anywhere from $10 to $15 per ticket. That success left even some of the actors surprised.
“I didn’t really know what to expect here,” said Jeff Moen, who played The Old Man. “Usually when a new theatre company takes over a space it’s replacing another one. That wasn’t the case here. This was pretty much advertised on Facebook and through word-of-mouth, but on opening night alone there were about 75 people. That was way above expectations.”
Daily, who aspires to eventually own a dinner theatre, will put on a production of “Steel Magnolias” in May.
For her, this is the fulfillment of a long legacy.
“From the time I was a kid my dad talked about opening a dinner theatre,” she recalled. “So theatre was a passion of mine from pretty early on back home in Tennessee. I’ve worked in dinner theatres for years; I’ve acted and directed and waitressed and taught. It’s kind of been an all-of-the-above sort of thing.”
Daily and her husband were attending a production of “A Christmas Story"at the Blue Moon Dinner Theatre in Johnson City, Tenn. in December 2011 when Daily made the decision to pursue a lifelong dream.
A year later she’s not only brought her vision to life but has been honored as No. 18 on a list of 200 “Moms in Business” compiled by StartUpNation.
And that, she said, provided her with a simple, but important lesson.
“I know this is going to sound corny, but don’t give up on yourself. Don’t hold yourself back. That’s really what I took away from it.”
To learn more about Curtains! Up’s visit http://www.curtainsuptheatrecompany.com
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