(Photo: Rebekah Purcell)
This fall the doors opened at the DC area’s latest theatre company, the NextStop Theatre Company, out in Herndon, Virginia.
However this isn’t the first rodeo for the group located out in the Dulles Technology Corridor. Known for over 25 years as the Elden Street Players, the former community theatre is setting out to do something that is rarely ever done when it comes to Community Theatre: go professional.
The transformation started with NextStop’s newly installed Artistic Director Evan Hoffman. Hoffman was an Elden Street fixture, having been a part of ESP productions since he was ten years old. After spending many years acting and directing productions in community theatres all around Washington DC, Virginia, and Maryland, he hoped to start his own theatre company and realize his dream of becoming an Artistic Director. At the same time the Elden Street Players was considering where they wanted to go after a quarter century of productions and wanted to take the next step, whatever that maybe. It became clear that Hoffman and Elden Street could both achieve each other’s goals with a transformation of Elden Street into a professional theatre with Hoffman at the helm.
In an interview this past summer before the opening of their inaugural season, Hoffman explained to me that even though the board, artistic identity, and venue at the Industrial Strength Theatre will remain the same, the group under a new moniker will present an inaugural season featuring professional directors and talent that have previously performed on other professional DC stages.
The season kicked off with a production of The 39 Steps, a tongue-in-cheek adaptation of Alfred Hitchock’s film. The show directed by Hoffman featured a talented cast (James Finley, Emily Levey, Evan Crump, Nick Rose) with credits from American Century, Keegan, Signature, Studio, and Woolly Mammoth. After laughing my way through the show it looks like NextStop will certainly have the capabilities to produce quality work on par with DC’s other small professional stages. Because after all it’s not about the Equity asterisk in the program that defines what is professional and what is not according to Hoffman.
“Professional is not about talent- it’s about commitment.”