There are a lot of good reasons to go to the two-act comedy, “Elvis Has Left the Building.” It’s a great play, it’s clever, amusing and it’s about Elvis.
It’s also a production that will be directed by Thomas “Tommy” Krob, a 19 year-old student at Viterbo University of La Crosse whose love of theater was born in this neck of the woods.
Krob said he began participating in musicals at Drummond High School when he was in sixth grade and quickly moved to acting in the summer shows at the Chequamegon Children’s Theater (CCT), a nonprofit organization created in 1987 that has achieved remarkable success and reputation for its summer productions.
In April 2017 Krob said he was introduced to Serendipity Productions when they performed “The Wizard of Oz,” in which he played the Tin Man, an experience he describes as “an absolute joy.”
That fall he attended Viterbo University, majoring in both theatrical acting and music.
“While there I learned a lot more about the ins and outs of bringing a performance to life, taking classes about not just what happens on stage but also what goes on behind the scenes, leading up to the performance,” Krob said. He already knew he was interested in directing a show and knew Serendipity was in need of a director. All of this was percolating in his mind when he decided to take four months off to backpack across Europe with two friends.
“About a month into my travels overseas I began reaching out to pals of mine who had participated in many shows with me, including a couple that were in ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ to see if they would be open to the idea of being in a show I directed in the summer,” Krob said.
They were, and Krob began his search — from Europe — to find a comedic play that would be perfect for the Park Center back home in Hayward. He was looking for a good match for the stage at the Park — a small cast, stationary set and a reliance on the antics of the actors.
He researched night after night from his bunk bed in the Copenhagen hostel where they stayed, until, he said, “I found the perfect show: ‘Elvis Has Left the Building.’”
He reached out to Serendipity and they agreed to “greenlight” the project, so Krob spent the next stretch of months preparing for the show — printing director forms from Amsterdam, scanning documents from Paris, plotting the set during train rides across Spain and setting the show dates from London.
Krob and the production crew and cast are now in their last week of rehearsals at the Park Center, just days away from the first show.
He’s been busy collecting set pieces and props, painting, constructing and recording custom Elvis music along with his own drums and keyboard.
He said Serendipity has been a terrific help in gathering all sorts of things for the show, as well as finding volunteers to assist with it.
Connie Finch, treasurer of the board at Serendipity Productions, said, “When Tommy came to Serendipity with the idea of trying his hand at directing, we were excited to welcome him on board.
“He is doing an amazing job and has cast a group of vibrant young actors and actresses to perform on the Park’s stage. I have attended some rehearsals and this is one you don’t want to miss!”
Krob said his primary goal is to encourage and inspire people in the area to involve themselves in theatre and to play a part in growing the opportunity for people to participate in productions.
“If this show can inspire even one person to delve into a new passion of the performing arts, then that is a greater success to me than all the experience in the world. With that opportunity in mind, I knew I had to give this directing thing a shot.”
Show dates and times are June 29 and July 7 at 7:30 p.m. and July 1 and 8 at 2 p.m. Tickets are available at the door ($12/$8) or in advance at Art Beat of Hayward.