Setting a strong stage

Published 9:19 am Thursday, August 13, 2009

Niles Daily Star

The Niles Four Flags Players has been delighting audiences with live performance community theater for years.

Now, as its 2009 season edges ever so close to its end, the people behind Niles’ community theater are putting their heads together to build momentum as they head into 2010.

According to the organization’s history, the Four Flags Players began as a youth oriented theater program in 1973 and ran successfully that way for about 10 years.

The organization was then “reestablished in January of 2001 when one of the original players began to assemble a group of interested people to create a civic theater,” for the area.

Since then, the theater group has garnered attention for itself with live, murder mystery, dinner theater productions, as well as performing musical reviews during the summer arts series at the Riverfront Park Amphitheater.

It was in 2004 that, “the players mounted their first full scale theater production…”
What came of that full scale production was a sold out performance of C.O.D.’s (Cuties of Decater).

As the group’s history shows its foray into community theater, now, president of the Four Flags Players’ board of directors said that the group will be looking into the future for an even stronger relationship to the community during its meeting of members Wednesday night.

“I think the season has gone really well,” said Dale Banks, president of the board of directors for the theater group. “We’re kind of getting restarted.”

Banks said some of the objectives for the theater group’s future include finding a dedicated space for performances. Currently, he said, the Four Flags Players have benefited from the accessibility of the First Presbyterian Church in Niles which has served as the location for their performances. But Banks said the group is interested in looking for their own home.

“We’re also looking to get a nonprofit status from the State of Michigan,” he said. “(We) would like to look for a permanent location … and start a fundraising process.
“We’re just trying to become better known,” Banks said.

Some of the challenges the theater group has encountered include issues with updating equipment due to a lack of funds.

Increasing their performance schedule to four regular performances a year, Banks said, has helped in bringing in more revenue.

That kind of set schedule is another objective for the future.

“You have to go to your community,” Banks said, and establish a schedule. “You have to have some consistency.

“I don’t think it can happen, boom – all at once,” he added. “It’s a slow process.”
In the meantime, Banks, who said he hadn’t always wanted to run a theater group, but found it something he enjoyed, will continue to steer the Niles Four Flags Players in the direction to the tune of a fruitful future.

“I’d like to try to push us in the direction of doing a musical,” he said. “I think that’d be kind of fun. Niles has the necessary performers in the area, both musical and vocal. I think we could put that together.”

The next production by the Niles Four Flags Players will be a performance of Escanaba in da Moolight in October.

And it seems there will be plenty more to come from this community’s theater group. “Always keep your eyes open, your ear to the ground,” Banks said.

For more information on the Niles Four Flags Players or to inquire about becoming a part of the group, visit them online at