Rio Rancho (KKOB) — When Mel Sussman and his wife moved to Rio Rancho from the east coast, they noticed that something near and dear to their hearts was missing from their new home. “We saw that there were community theaters in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, but none in Rio Rancho,” said Sussman. So, in late 2019, despite a lack of rehearsal space and funding, he and his wife decided to start one of their own. They held auditions and cast roles in the Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “Our Town”, a production that dates back to the 1930s, following the lives of everyday people in a small town, not unlike Rio Rancho.
Unfortunately, the night the group was scheduled to go off-book, New Mexico went into a two-week lockdown. Sussman says he was defeated. “I cried a lot, I walked around in circles, but I knew there wasn’t anything we could do except wait,” he said. Once the state lifted some restrictions, they held more auditions, casting some original actors and some new ones. This time around, the actors we spoke with say it’s even better than the first time. That might be because of the play’s enduring message from its original author, Thornton Wilder. “The theme that he tried to get across and that he did so beautifully, is that life is fleeting and that we should appreciate every moment that we’re here. And with the pandemic where we see deaths all around us and life being taken away, I think people will be able to grasp the importance of every moment,” Sussman explained.
If you’ve ever experienced Community Theater, you know it’s special. It gives you the chance to see your neighbor, your kid’s soccer coach, or the elderly woman who frequents your local grocery store up on stage. It creates a family. And in this time where New Mexicans and Americans as a whole are starved for connection, Community Theaters are needed more than ever. You can catch a performance of Our Town starting Friday, October 1, 2021, at 7:30 p.m.
To support the Rio Rancho Community theater or to purchase tickets for the upcoming production, click here.