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New Theatre Company Comes to Leland

See “The Complete History of America” Featured at Leland Cultural Arts Center on June 27 at 7 PM
Lights, Camera, Action!


A new community theatre, Over the River Theatre Company, has opened in Leland. President Michael Schottle, a lifelong theatre enthusiast, noticed that many residents were traveling to Wilmington to see and act in community theater and asked himself why we didn’t have a community theatre company based in the Leland area. When he asked around and found that people were traveling as far as forty-five minutes away to participate in community theater, he decided to start one here.

Vice President, Jen Ingulli was the one who came up with our name,” Schottle said. “It’s called “Over the River” because we’re ‘over the river’ from Wilmington and we wanted the chance to bring more theatre opportunities to people in our county and show what we have to offer as a community.”

Schottle, a former resident of Illinois, Wisconsin and New Hampshire before he and his wife Diana settled in Leland, has been involved in numerous productions in the past, including 1776, Harvey, Love Letters, Father of the Bride and Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. He founded the nonprofit community theatre, Root River Theatre Company, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in hopes of engaging the public in watching and participating in theatre

When Schottle moved to Leland, he looked around for a community theatre to work with and found that there just weren’t many opportunities, especially in Brunswick County. Fortunately, he was able to connect with the Leland Cultural Arts Center (LCAC) who found his proposal intriguing and collaborated with Over the River Theatre Company, formed in January, 2024. The company’s first show is taking place in June and is a quirky, humorous romp through American history, entitled The Complete History of America. It will be shown at LCAC on June 27 at 7 PM and again on June 29th at 2 PM and 6 PM at the Historic Amuzu Theatre in Southport, in tune with North Carolina’s Fourth of July Festival. Tickets to this show are free to the public.

Unlike many theatres, Schottle is not looking only for the most experienced people to participate in Over the River’s productions; in fact, he encourages newcomers to audition, including people who have never acted before. “That’s the sprit of community theater,” he said. “To get people interested in theatre, whether it’s watching it, doing it, or working behind the scenes. The whole point of a community theatre is that it belongs to the community.”

Over the River Theatre Company has an interest in highlighting shows that aren’t often seen, exhibiting rare chances to catch a production of a play that is no longer in heavy circulation. Schottle connected with Port City Playwrights to explore the possibility of putting on plays written by local residents and underscored that what they look for in a play is not that it had to be written by an acclaimed playwright but the depth of the actual story the play is telling. Anyone interested in script-writing is encouraged to submit a potential script to Over the River Theatre Company for consideration.

Future shows are planned for October and November, with audition dates to be announced at a later time. In addition to acting opportunities, there are plenty of other ways to volunteer with Over the River Theatre Company including serving as an usher, donating set items, working on costumes, sets and props, and those interested in serving as a sound and light technician. Schottle’s wife, Mrs. Diana Schottle, stressed the need for more young people to get involved with Over the River Theatre Company’s productions, adding that there were plenty of volunteer positions and acting roles for high school students.

“This is a really wonderful community,” Schottle said. “I don’t want our residents to have to travel forty-five minutes to enjoy theatre, whether they’re participating or in the audience. I want them to be able to experience it right here in Leland.”


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