MCT renewing focus
Published 6:41 pm Tuesday, March 7, 2023
Organization hires first-ever executive director in Angela Sedgwick Perry
The curtain is rising on a newly focused Matchbox Children’s Theatre.
With an eye toward stability and growth, the MCT has just hired its first-ever executive director. In February of this year, the board hired Angela Sedgwick Perry to guide the 48-year-old theater.
Email newsletter signup
And it’s been off to the races from the very start.
“It was a lot of hitting the ground sprinting,” Sedgwick Perry said from MCT’s new home in the basement of First United Methodist Church in downtown Austin.
From this new home, MCT is looking at refocusing its eye on the theater troupe’s mission: Spark imaginations by presenting professional quality children’s theater on a consistent basis.
Perry’s hiring was an important step in the process, giving the theater a starting point to begin getting back to that core mission.
“It was becoming understood that an executive director needed to be appointed,” Sedgwick Perry said. “It was just getting too hard for volunteer board members to run this much.”
In the years since the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the MCT has enjoyed growth in not only the theater portion regarding shows, but its programming as well.
The growth necessitated both moves to hire Sedgwick Perry and to streamline the theater’s mission.
Sedgwick Perry first started working for Matchbox in 2020 when she was contracted by the organization to design a rebranding campaign and their website. That moved to part time in order to help upkeep the website and take MCT into the public more.
Eventually it led to where the theater is now.
“It became such a bigger project that it was time for an executive director,” she said. “Luckily, they put their faith in me.”
Another large step was the move to its current location for all of its programming, including shows. It’s not the bright stage of the Paramount Theatre, but the much smaller stage at First United Methodist allows MCT to hone and focus more.
Paradoxically, it’s also allowed MCT to continue growing.
“We have a stage area and so we don’t have the same overhead,” Sedgwick Perry said. “We love the Paramount so very much, but you know it’s hard, especially having smaller numbers and COVID — because this was a big hiccup for everybody, especially the theater.”
“When you’re trying to get seats filled once again, it’s good to start small and start where you are that’s been working out really well.”
MCT has transformed their new space, creating spaces for costume designing and alterations, make-up and a changing room for actors among other unique spaces for kids to explore.
It’s even got a special room for kids to run Dungeons and Dragons tabletop games from, which from first glance may be out of place for a theater, but when you consider how games are played, it makes sense.
“It’s everything,” Sedgwick Perry said. “You create the character, you act, you get into the role, you understand how to pivot and theater is a lot of that. Life is a lot of that.”
The move has also been good simply for the spirit of the theater and the actors as well.
“Just all of those different pieces and us being able to settle in one spot and not have to worry, ‘oh, are we going to have to move again? Do we have the space for that? What’s that going to cost?’” she continued. “We can just grow. It’s awesome what kind of response we already have.”
Thanks to the refocusing, as well as new parts of the larger picture, including the Second Act consignment shop, which opened next year and helps fund Matchbox, MCT is now able to operate under its own power.
It’s still going to need to rely on grants as it remains a non-profit, but there is now an autonomy to how the theater group is able to function.
At the same time, MCT is finding its place among the larger theater community at other sites, including organizations like Riverland Community College and Summerset Theatre here in Austin.
“The wheel is now,” Sedgwick Perry said. “It doesn’t need to be greased anymore. It’s just flowing. It’s working really well.”
Sedgwick Perry said that the future will entail putting on quality shows for the public as well as getting out into the community at events throughout the year in order to help maintain this momentum.
They are also continuing to refine and add to its programming to ensure that as many kids have as many opportunities as possible.
“Every kid is a theater kid,” Sedgwick Perry said. “Allow them to spark that imagination, run around and create those characters. Do dress up, have fun. Let you’re kid grow in that imagination and if they find they want to take it to Ellis (Middle School) and Austin High School and Riverland — awesome. They found out here.”
MCT’s next show is “James and the Giant Peach,” and will be performed at 7 p.m. on April 22 and 2 p.m. on April 23 at First United Methodist Church. Tickets can be purchased online at www.matchboxchildrenstheatre.org/ or at the door for $10 for adults and $7 for youth.
Visit MCT’s website for a rundown for all of this programming and summer camps as well.
“Keep us in mind for all of those classes and camps this summer,” Sedgwick Perry said.