A local couple wants to the city of Denison to have a theater group just like the surrounding cities. Jeremy Magouirk and his wife Melodie are preparing to launch Denison Theater with a premier show this week of “Church and State.”

The newly formed theater company is made up of the married couple who have plenty of years of experience in the theater in California where they were living before moving back to Texas.

Between the pair, they have multiple roles in the production that opens this week. Melodie Magouirk is doing costumes, program and publicity, Jeremy Magouirk is doing lighting, set and technical director. The two are sharing in directing responsibilities.

“We have such love and respect for what theater arts bring to a community,” Melodie Henderson Magouirk said. “Theater really is for everyone—it connects people, it inspires, it’s somewhere for people to belong. Every community can benefit from that, and Main Street is so phenomenally supportive of art, it really is set up for a theater to flourish alongside music, art and craftsmanship.”

Jeremy Magouirk, a Denison native whose theater days go all the way back to seventh grade, said he wanted to return home to bring something special to the community.

“Denison has long been known as a champion of the arts,” Jeremy Magouirk said. “We would like to add to that fabric. This community is growing and ready for a different kind of artistic experience.”

Melodie Magouirk said it’s been a slow process starting up a new theater company, and only two people showed up for the auditions. Fortunately, they were two individuals with experience in the Sherman Community Players. Along those same lines, her husband and daughter are playing roles together in the play, something she said is a first for them.

“Church and State” is a fairly small production and ahead of the show, the group practiced in the Denison Community Center. The hope is to get into their own space eventually.

Community support has also been key. Melodie Magouirk said there have been a number of businesses who have donate rehearsal space while helping publicize the show. She is also hoping to found a Denison children’s theater program by next summer.

“Theater is what brought us together, and it’s been a huge part of our lives,” Melodie Magouirk said. “We moved here to be closer to family, knowing there was not a theater in Denison we felt like that was something we could give to the community. Our hope is that, eventually, the city will want to open a performing arts center. Until then, we’d like to build a network of people who want to be involved in theater. “

Jeremy Magouirk said he couldn’t be away from the theater for too long, and for him, it’s about challenging and inspiring the audience while offering local actors the opportunity to gain experience.

Jeremy Magouirk wants to “create an exceptional arts program for children to learn skills and lessons.” He said having this program will be helpful from practicing public speaking to gaining confidence and even how to utilize body language. He said theater teaches empathy and teamwork.

“Church and State” was chosen for its simplicity to perform with a small cast and minimal set changes. Melodie Magouirk knows the playwright personally and has worked with him in the past, making it easy to trust the script, she said.

“We wanted something with substance that could challenge the community without being too expensive,” Jeremy Magouirk said. “Melodie and I read a number of shows, but this one checked all the boxes: small cast, funny but with substance, new but not unrelatable.”

Melodie Magouirk described the play as a southern comedy with a lot of heart. She said it’s focused on a senator who is up for re-election struggling with the aftermath of some negative comments he makes to a journalist. After the ensuring backlash he begins to question his purpose.

“We’re doing what we love to do, and we’re so thrilled with this cast and this script,” she said.

The show will take place at the SNAP center in Denison on Thursday through Saturday. The show begins at 7 p.m. Seating is by donation at the door.

What do you think about Denison having its own community theater group? Let Denison area reporter Richard A. Todd know by email rtodd@heralddemocrat.com or reach him on Facebook and Twitter @RichardAToddHD.