SALEM – The new Indigo Family Theater in Salem is staking its claim by specializing in family-friendly plays and musicals.
Founded last year, Indigo is based at Salem Community Theatre but is not affiliated with it. The new company presented its first show, a radio play production of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” in December at Main Street Theater in Columbiana.
Up next is “The Odd Couple,” which opens March 10 at Salem, and will run for six performances over two consecutive weekends. Dan Hudock, president of Indigo, says the theater intends to produce six plays and musicals per year, operating on a January-December season.
“Little Women” will be presented over Mother’s Day weekend and Indigo is currently attempting to secure the performance rights to two more shows – one of them a musical.
Hudock got the idea to launch Indigo after Crown Theater Company, the area’s only family-based outfit, announced it could not reach a deal with the new operators of Main Street Theater and halted operations. His 26-year-old son, a high functioning autistic, had been involved with Crown Theater for years.
While dropping off his son at a rehearsal in 2019, the director of the show asked Hudock if he wanted to be in it as well.
“It was a chance to be on stage with my son,” says Hudock, who had no prior theater experience. “I said yes, but to give me a small part. They gave me a humongous part, and I found out that I loved it.”
The Columbiana resident would land roles in more shows after that, until the pandemic brought a temporary end to live performances.
Indigo also launched the Double I improv comedy troupe last year and has presented shows at Liebe Wein and Kast Iron Soda, both in Salem.
Finding a home for theater performances was the first step for the Indigo board of directors, and they believe they found a perfect situation at Salem Community Theatre, which already is a hub in the downtown area.
While Indigo is limited to family shows, Hudock stresses that it is not a youth theater and is not geared toward children. He expects many Valley
theatergoers will appreciate its approach.
“There are many options for people if they want more adult-oriented entertainment, but not so many where you could take your family and not cringe every time,” he says. “We decided as a board that, as our mission, we want it to be family friendly. That means a family can go and not have to worry about what they will see and hear.”
The Double I improv comedy troupe is also family-friendly, which makes it tougher because the humor has to be earned. “Others can just drop a swear word and get an easy laugh,” he points out. Hudock performs in both the theater and the improv troupe.
The name Indigo was chosen for its connotations.
“I know that when you associate a color with a name, it sticks in people’s minds,” says Hudock.
“Indigo is an interesting color,” he continues. “For a while, it was a royal color and associated with people of high esteem and wealth. I view theater that way. People who step on stage are of high esteem. They are royalty. They are doing things that most would never do. Because of that, there is worth there and it extends to the people in the audience.”
Hudock, a Grove City College graduate who started as a metallurgical engineer, owns a Sandler Training franchise near Pittsburgh. The company provides sales manager and
customer service training for its clients.
‘THE ODD COUPLE’
Indigo’s production of “The Odd Couple” is being directed by Melissa Kuttler, who is giving it a fresh
The comedy, which was turned into the hit 1968 film starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, is set in the 1960s, but Indigo’s version takes place in the present.
“We tweaked some things,” Kuttler says. “We added references to Facebook and cellphones to modernize
The biggest tweak, however, is making one of the poker-playing buddies a woman. “It adds a little dynamic to the group, which is fun,” Kuttler says.
The cast consists of Amy Winner, Athena Tausch, Mike Benner, Dan Betts, Hudock, Holly Hanna, Jaden McFarland and Kaleb Lovewell.
The action takes place in the apartment of Felix and Oscar. Because the stage at Salem is currently in use, the Indigo cast is rehearsing in a separate room at the theater. The sets are also being built off-site. “It’s been a challenge,” Kuttler says. “We’re building it like a giant puzzle and will move it in the week of the show.”
Kuttler was active in theater when she was in high school but had long since given it up. When her children auditioned for “A Christmas Carol” at Salem in 2019, she joined them. They all got parts, and Kuttler was bitten anew by the theater bug.
She would go on to direct her first play, “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe,” at Salem in 2022.
Kuttler is a member of the board of directors of both the Salem Community and Indigo theaters and finds it an interesting mix. “I wear two hats,” she says. “One theater is well-established and has been around for 40 years and the other is not even a year old.”
She was instantly sold on Indigo’s family focus.
“I’ve always thought of [the cast of] each show as a second family,” she says. “There’s a wonderful sense of camaraderie when you walk into a theater. You feel at home. And we want to do shows that you could bring your 6-year-old to.”
In addition to Kuttler and Hudock, the Indigo board includes Amy Winner, Athena Tausch, Connie Benner, Dan Betts, Jaime Dray, Kristine Caporale and Rachel McClaughlin.
The board is exploring ways to get more community members involved as actors and also in marketing, set building and other tasks. To volunteer or for more information, go to IndigoFamilyTheater.org.
Curtain times for “The Odd Couple” are 7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $15 ($12 for senior citizens, students and veterans) and can be purchased in advance at the website. Tickets will also be sold at the door.
Pictured at top: The cast of Indigo Family Theater’s “The Odd Couple” includes (seated) Mike Benner, Jaden McFarland, Dan Betts and Athena Tausch; and (standing) Dan Hudock and Kaleb Lovewell.