Behind the Stage Door


Natalie Browning / used with permission

Stage Door’s cast of “Aladdin” performs “A Whole New World.”

Stage Door Productions, a theater company founded by Lindsay Mitchell and Brandon Kelly in 2014, provides a creative space for skill development in the newest generation of theater devotees. The company views the process of learning as the product rather than just the shows they perform.

The most recent Stage Door show was “Aladdin,” a musical adaptation of the Disney film, which ran from Feb. 23 to March 5. Zoe Brewer (9) played a shopkeeper in the production.

“The music and dancing is by far my favorite,” Brewer said. “Brandon, our artistic director, has done a wonderful job choreographing ‘Aladdin’ so that the numbers are really creative.”

Because skill development is one of Stage Door’s major aims, the company ensures that its actors obtain a full experience.

Brewer believes participating in the show has made her more confident in acting, singing and dancing. Many of Stage Door’s members are very young, so learning is a primary objective, and the company strives to create a supportive environment.The cast and crew even call themselves the SDP family.

“Jason [Gerhard], Brandon [Kelly] and Lindsay [Mitchell]— our directors— make sure everyone feels welcome when they walk into the theatre,” Brewer said. “I have never been a part of such a large closely knit group than when I am at Stage Door.”

Joining the company has led to new adventures for Brewer. As part of the Junior Theater Festival, she spent four days in Atlanta with Stage Door and 5,800 other theater enthusiasts. She even performed 15 minutes of “Annie” for famous musical theatre judges, saw the world premiere of “Newsies” and listened to musical theatre stars, like Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flahtery, Jeff Calhoun, Christopher Gattelli and many more.

“I’ll never forget how on our first day of touring the conference center we ran into a group who was doing Mary Poppins,” Brewer said. “They were just standing out in the lobby, but as soon as we came near the cast, they held their chimney sweeps over our heads and cheered us on. These people, who we would be competing against, were so excited for us to be there and perform.”

Those who wish to get involved with Stage Door can simply show up for auditions or talk to the directors about being stagehands.

Ella Atkinson (12) recently auditioned for the upcoming show, “Cinderella.” She had never worked with the company prior to the audition.

“They said, ‘Don’t prepare a monologue. Don’t prepare a song. We’re gonna do stuff from the show,’” Atkinson said. “So, I went to Spotify, and I just listened to the whole ‘Cinderella’ soundtrack.”

She also made sure to get a full night of sleep beforehand and eat a healthy breakfast. The audition was casual, but still professional.

“I feel like I had adequate preparation,” Atkinson said. “I really didn’t think I needed to stress about auditions.”

She was cast as a grandmother villager. Rehearsals for the show have started, and “Cinderella” will run from May 4-14. The ticket fee is pay-what-you-can.

“Stage Door means everything to me,” Brewer said. “When I’m at school, I look forward to going to rehearsal, and on the days I’m not called for rehearsal, I am wishing I was.”