By Claire Van Zee | Reporter
With over eight theater companies throughout the area, the theater scene in Waco is alive and well. Or at least it is according to Beth Richards, director and owner of the Brazos Theatre of Waco.
Richards said she decided to open the theater back in 2013 in hopes of creating a space for fun and carefree entertainment.
Growing up in Temple Richards went on to study vocal performance with a minor in theater at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. Ever since, she has been involved in theater. Up until seven years ago, she worked mostly as a volunteer until she decided it was time to branch out on her own.
“There are lots of really great theaters in the Waco area, but you often see these huge productions and serious works,” Richards said. “I just wanted a place where people could come to laugh and have a good time, and hopefully leave feeling better than when they arrived.”
This emphasis on fun is exactly what makes the theater stand out among the eight other companies in Waco, Richards said. “We just want to create a fun atmosphere with good quality entertainment.”
The Brazos Theatre of Waco will host a Valentine’s Day Murder Mystery event titled “Death by Chocolate: A Murder Mystery Dinner Event” at 7:30 p.m. tonight at 7524 Bosque Blvd.
Murder mystery events are just one of the many types of productions the theater puts on.
As a repertory theater, they produce two to three different pieces a month ranging from comedic improv sessions to murder mysteries to fun melodramas.
Richards directs the productions herself and pulls talent from a troupe of actors who have auditioned for the company. The company is open to the community, and experience isn’t necessary.
“I would say the ratio is about 70 to 30% of those who have acting experience as opposed to not,” Richards said.
Inaugural troupe member Melora Roach has been a member of the group since its inception in 2013.She said she loves working with the company due to the interactive audience atmosphere and the fact that the group acts as a family and is genuinely invested in one another’s lives.
“Beth [Richards] will stretch your acting abilities to places you never thought it could go. She really has a vision to see abilities in yourself that you don’t necessarily believe you can do,” Roach said.
The theater has grown a lot since its inception seven years ago, back then they didn’t even have a space for themselves. At that time, they would travel from space to space, or restaurant to restaurant providing quality entertainment during meals.
Eventually they found a space downtown, until 2016 when they quickly outgrew it and moved to their current location on Bosque Boulevard.
“I just love the wide variety of things that I am able to do with my own space. It’s never boring and always different,” Richards said.
Richards said she wants the Brazos Theatre of Waco to give their audience an escape from their stresses.
“I just a place where people can come and have fun, forget about their work week or problems at home, and just make new friends,” Richards said.