Growing arts scene will bring commerce opportunities to downtown Fishers
By Beth Taylor
Creating a show for this year’s holiday Celebration of Lights caps a year of success for professional entertainer Ashton Wolf.
Wolf is putting his professional experience as a musician, actor, writer and director to use as the executive director of Nickel Plate Players, Fishers’ newly-formed community theater company. He and his wife, actress and director Sandy Thorne, co-founded Nickel Plate Players to help cultivate creative opportunities for local theatrical talent with the added benefit of providing quality entertainment choices for Fishers residents.
In July, Wolf directed the Nickel Plate Players in their first production, “Beehive.” The show’s concert-like style was seemingly a perfect fit for the Nickel Plate Amphitheater outdoor venue. Over 1500 people attended the performance. Following the success of the summer production, the Nickel Plate Players partnered with Ji-Eun Lee Music Academy for six fundraising performances of “Beehive” in October, the proceeds of which helped the company with start-up costs.
With the new development in downtown Fishers, Wolf and Thorne think the timing for their creative endeavor couldn’t be better.
“Where there’s culture, there’s commerce—when you have the two, the city will thrive,” said Wolf.
He thinks that the theater can help support economic development.
“People will want to go shopping or out to eat while they’re downtown to see a performance,” he said. “It’s culture and commerce working together to benefit everyone.”
Thorne’s wish is to develop new projects and lesser-known productions.
“Although shows like “Oklahoma” and “Les Miserables” are always wonderful, we really want Nickel Plate Players to open the door for people in the community to create new material,” said Thorne. “We’re interested in the unknown.”
Thorne and Wolf want to develop theatrical artists of all types, including songwriters and playwrights.
“I want to help people develop their work and look for licensing opportunities and success,” said Wolf.
Residents of Fishers since 2006, Thorne and Wolf are grateful for all in-kind sponsors, including Town of Fishers Parks and Recreation, Fishers Arts Council and Fishers Music Works.
“We felt very blessed to get so many sponsors and support,” said Wolf. “The arts community and the town really embraced the idea of having a community theater organization.”
Wolf hopes to see Fishers become a model for how the arts can benefit a growing city.
“Not only do we have a great town, as a city we can climb even higher,” he said. “Having a unified vision for the arts helps to cultivate a well-rounded city, which attracts businesses to the community.”
The Nickel Plate Players use rehearsal space at The Ambassador House, another in-kind sponsor. Wolf and Thorne are working with other interested parties to find a permanent, community-friendly home for the organization.
“We’d like to develop classes for all ages,” said Wolf. “Kids, teens, and adults. The theater arts don’t have age limits, because you need all ages in plays. Theater needs all qualities and types.”
“Some of our actors haven’t performed since high school, but they now have the time and want to bring out their artistic side,” said Thorne.
She believes that returning to performing helps people step out of their daily routine.
“Community theatre allows for this artistic challenge,” she said.
Wolf’s enjoyment from writing plays extends to what his work brings to performers’ lives.
“I believe the theatrical experience lifts people out of the grind of work,” said Wolf. “They may not have a passion for their job, but must do it to support families or take care of themselves–but it might not be something they enjoy doing. There’s nothing I enjoy better than doing something that makes people happy.”
Thorne and Wolf want those with an inclination to perform to get involved with Nickel Plate Players
“Don’t be shy. Get involved,” said Wolf.