Thursday, December 7, 2023

Local actors find ‘The Real Thing’ in community theater

The stars of Thalian Association Community Theatre's 'The Real Thing' share a love for the small stage, despite their diverse backgrounds. Courtesy photo.
The stars of Thalian Association Community Theatre’s ‘The Real Thing’ share a love for the small stage, despite their diverse backgrounds. Courtesy photo.

In the course of their daily lives, an attorney, a stay-at-home mom, a teacher and a psychologist might not typically cross paths.

But in the world of theater, they share the spotlight.

And the four hard workers by day, experienced amateur actors by night—each playing lead roles in Thalian Association Community Theatre’s “The Real Thing”—stand together as an example of the unifying power of the small stage.

“The Real Thing,” a dramatic and darkly honest look at the nature of love, continues this weekend at Red Barn Studio Theatre, 1122 S. Third St.

For Wilmington native Maggie Miller, who plays Annie, this latest production is a chance to act out one of her all-time favorite plays. But the former drama teacher turned stay-at-home mom to two active, young boys finds an outlet in any production into which she throws herself.

“I feel so grateful to be a creative person. I feel like it makes me a better wife and mother,” Miller noted. “I love that I can be home with my boys and go out to the playground and play with them, and then at night, I leave that and go do community theater, where it doesn’t matter if you’re a mom or not a mom, married or not married, working or not working.”

What matters instead, she said, is that common bond borne of a passion for performance.

“You have to have that, because you put every bit of trust and faith in that other person,” she said.

And one fellow actor she knew right away she could trust in “The Real Thing” is attorney Bradley Coxe, who plays Miller’s onstage husband, Henry.

The two first met in 2009 when they were in a production of “Pillow Talk.” It’s a friendship that, like so many, Coxe said, could have only happened behind the curtains.

“It’s nice to work with Maggie again, and it’s nice to just sit down with those people and work with those people and it’s really neat how enthusiastic they all are about it,” he said of his fellow actors. “I meet a lot of interesting people in a lot of different age groups and backgrounds that I normally wouldn’t run into. It’s kind of a social experiment.”

And that “social experiment” does wonders for actors’ chemistry while in character, Josh Bailey, who plays Max opposite Amanda Young, a local therapist.

Like his cast mates, the middle school teacher has been involved in community theater much of his life.

“All these people getting together from different walks of life are bringing different perspectives. On this play, we have a lawyer, a psychologist, a mom coming together and volunteering their time to do something they love. It’s a familial experience almost instantly,” he said. “You know, when I moved to Wilmington, I didn’t know anyone, really, and theater has been big part of exposing me to new friends and to people I now love and adore.”

And the fact that he can find that all right here in his own backyard, Bailey said, makes it that much more meaningful.

Miller would agree.

“I’m so grateful we have this great vibrant community,” she said. “I’m not sure I would run into these people in my everyday life, and I love that. I love meeting people. You can’t be an actor and not love people. And there are some incredibly talented people here in this town.”

“The Real Thing” is set for 7:30 Thursday through Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $25. Click here for more information.

Hilary Snow is a reporter at Port City Daily. Reach her at (910) 772-6341 or

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