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South County Beat: A.G. Village has its own little theater

The Spot is a new little theater in the Arroyo Grande Village. It’s housed within The Studio of Performing Arts on East Branch Street next to Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream Lab. A large, bright electronic marquee on the building announces the theater to people entering the Village from the west.

Jake McGuire opened The Spot in February. His “dream of theater overnight became an opportunity” when he became owner of The Spot.

He switched the stage and the seating, constructing walls and a whole new lighting system, creating a new space for performers and the audience.

McGuire started doing theater at the Studio of the Performing Arts at age 12, also ushering at The Great American Melodrama and Vaudeville in Oceano. He acted in the drama program at Arroyo Grande High School, graduating in 2000.

McGuire moved to New York City to pursue drama at age 21, working off Broadway and around town in different venues. He returned to Arroyo Grande about a year ago.

“My goal when I opened this was to use a theater for more than plays and musicals,” he said.

Thus, he named it The Spot, playing on ideas such as “hitting the spot” and “on the spot,” wanting it to be a community center where people could enjoy many different activities. McGuire wanted it to be a “place where something’s going on.”

Thus, folks can go there for plays, musicals, live music, improv, dance shows and movie screenings. It can also be rented for meetings and lectures.

McGuire’s original plan was to produce more shows, but lack of time and demand for space for other groups precluded that for now.

Unexpectedly, he got cast in the recent Melodrama production, “The Werewolf of Dr. Oz,” and now has been hired as stage manager there.

Recent productions at The Spot include, “The Women Behind the Walls,” a Poetic Justice project about incarcerated women, “Of Mice and Men,” and Paul Simon and Joni Mitchell tribute concerts.

Several groups are involved at The Spot, including White Elephant Productions, Pismo Beach Youth Theater, Core Dance from San Luis Obispo, Songwriters at Play (live music) and Comedy on the Spot (improv players).

With a growing mailing list of 300, McGuire has “stayed consistently booked” and is “booked every weekend through New Year’s.”

A large, brightly colored design with the words “The Spot” painted by Shelley Malcolm, sits above the entry to the little theater.

For information on upcoming shows or to request rental space, contact The Spot at 474-5711 or go to www.thespotag.com.

Shows at the spot

“The Grinch,” by The Studio for Performing Arts, first two weekends of December.

“Once on this Island,” Pismo Beach Youth Theater, modern version of Romeo & Juliet, Dec. 16-18.

Music concert — Best of 2011, Songwriters at Play, folk and classic rock, Dec. 19

Improv by Comedy on the Spot, Dec. 22, 23.

Melissa Vardey, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Foreclosure,” a one-woman show using comedy, drama and music, Dec. 29-30.

Melissa Vardey, the above, plus guest musicians, performing “Spinning the Globe,” New Year’s Eve, at 9:30-11:30 p.m.; simulcast of Times Square countdown at 11:30 p.m.

Gayle Cuddy and Cynthia Lambert write the South County Beat column on alternating Wednesdays. Reach Cuddy at 489-1026 or nightengayles@aol.com.

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