Diane Kinsley loved community theater. She also wanted to serve the church. So she combined the two and created CenterStage for Christ, an organization that has given thousands of dollars to both local charities and abroad.
The community theater, located at Perry United Methodist Church, has been around for about 12 years, said Kinsley, founder and president of CenterStage for Christ. The theater puts on full-length plays twice a year.
"These are more adult plays. They are actually very timely. They are somewhat a little edgy, but they also show God’s grace for everyone because the characters are sinners," Kinsley said. "It shows the grace of God forgives us ... that human beings are not perfect ... and shows this by using humor, so people don’t feel beat down when they leave.”
The plays aren't just for regular churchgoers. They're a way to introduce people to church if they don't already have a church home, Kinsley said.
“It’s important to us to serve our community, not just our church,” she said. “We wanted this to be a community event. We use local actors, not just people in our church. It pulls in people from all walks of life.”
CenterStage usually has 15 to 20 people involved with each performance, including actors and crew members. There are no auditions.
Kinsley said she and her husband, Michael, generally take turns directing the plays that he writes.
“We always like to bring in new people,” she said. “We truly are a family, and it is very special. My favorite part of this organization is the variety of people who come together to bring this art to our community.”
The plays generally bring in 600 to 900 attendees for the five-night run. Tickets are $10 at the door.
“We always donate every penny to some sort of charity,” she said. “We don’t keep any of it. We typically give to a local charity, but sometimes to missions that are out of the country.”
Some of the donations have included $9,000 to buy a van for Family Promises and more than $10,000 over the years to Brian Bowen Snax Sax in Perry. The theater group also donates fairly often to The Methodist Home for Children and Youth in Macon, Kinsley said.
Elaine Moncrief, who is the stage manager and has been a member of CenterStage for Christ since 2015, said she enjoys working with the group.
“When you’re passionate about something and enjoy it, it’s not a chore,” she said. “I get to work with a lot of talented and seasoned actors. Every show we have new people. I love that.”
The next show, "St. Francis of Assisted Living," a comedy, will be Sept. 27-Oct. 2.