At New Art City Theatre, playwrights, composers and lyricists come from across the nation to develop their new work. Through a series of live readings and workshops, Ventura audiences get the unique and exciting opportunity to peek behind the curtain and witness the birth of theatre in the making.
To forge a new path to opportunity for artists who create theatre. By giving equal access to diverse voices, and inviting a broader audience to join us, we aspire to elevate all that is compelling about original theatre and its ability to promote unity, inspire curiosity and provide joy.
In the winter of 2018, NACT Founders Kirby and Beverly Ward approached a friend about hosting a table reading of their new musical in her Ventura living room. Though the setting was small that night, and there were even less theatrical trappings than typically found in a table-read, the excitement was palpable and the audience all reported feeling as if they’d attended a true theatrical event – and the Wards gained helpful insight into their script.
In 2022, the Wards presented another living room reading, followed by a larger scale table reading in a Los Angeles rehearsal studio. Guests from the 2018 reading eagerly requested an invitation.
Seeing this enthusiasm, and knowing from personal experience how limited the opportunities are for playwrights to present early or mid-process work, an idea to open a new works company was sparked.
On March 21, 2023, NACT officially launched with a table reading of Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime, a musical adaptation of the Oscar Wilde short story written by NACT founders Kirby and Beverly Ward. Attended by 100+ community members, the event was used as proof-of-concept for the residents of Ventura. A new theatre was born.
Beverly and Kirby Ward have been married since the ‘80s and each have decades of professional theatre experience. Their history of artistic collaboration spans nearly 40 years, beginning shortly after wedlock when they toured the country in Sugar Babies starring Mickey Rooney and Ann Miller. They’ve performed on Broadway and the West End in London, and in numerous National Tours. Their writing projects have taken them all over the United States and abroad. In the theatre industry, they’re known for high artistic standards, commitment to a collaborative workplace, and a desire to produce work that leaves audiences craving more.
Kirby Ward (he/him) is an international actor, writer, director and choreographer. Kirby was the original Bobby Child in the West End premier of Crazy For You, a performance that garnered him an Olivier Award nomination, an album, and a chance to meet the Queen. He oversaw both the Korean Premiere of the show and at the Academy of Drama in Beijing, China. Some of his writing credits include the American TV show “Wake Rattle & Roll” and the cartoon show “Monster Tails.” He’s a co-creator of the stage musical The Gypsy King, which was presented at the Village Theatre in Issaquah, Washington in 2010. His original short film, “Down in the Mouth,” which he wrote, directed and edited, received the Best Short Film award at the Kent Film Festival in Connecticut and was featured in four other national and international film festivals including the Los Angeles Shorts film festival in 2007. Broadway credits include Show Boat, Woman of the Year and Never Gonna Dance. He’s helmed theatre events on four continents and has directed and choreographed large and small scale stage productions of She Loves Me (L.A. Times Critic’s Pick), Grease, Singin’ In The Rain, Big River (San Diego Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, L.A. Times Critic’s Pick), Little Shop of Horrors, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Fiddler on the Roof, Sugar Babies, Dames At Sea, Crazy For You, Me & My Girl, and Return to the Forbidden Planet, to name a few.
After spending decades on stages across the U.S. and abroad, in 2006, Bev (she/her) turned her sights to writing. She first wrote the score for an adaptation of His Girl Friday, teaming on the concept and book with husband Kirby Ward. Next, they collaborated on an original musical titled Dancing As Fast As We Can which was invited to participate in the 2009 NYFringe Festival. In 2012, Bev was invited to participate in the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Writers Workshop. While at BMI, she selected the Oscar Wilde short story, Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime, for her next adaptation. Once again, she enlisted husband Kirby to musicalize Wilde’s tale of a misguided, love-sick Lord. Lord Arthur (now entitled Sunday After Next) has been presented in reading format at; The Wilton Playshop, at the York Theatre Off-Broadway, as one of five new musicals at The Village Theatre’s Festival of New Musicals in Issaquah, Washington, in London’s West End at the From Page To Stage new works festival, in 2020 as part of Rubicon Theatre Company’s Plays-in-Progress series, and most recently for audiences at New art City Theatre. As an actress, Bev’s Broadway credits include Epic Proportions and Anastasia. Her National Tour credits include, Sugar Babies, Crazy For You (Helen Hayes nominee for Best Actress in a Touring Production), Show Boat and Billy Elliott. Bev’s first solo EP, The Noble House of Pancake, was released in early 2016.
On March 21, 2023, NACT officially launched with a table reading of Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime, a musical adaptation of the Oscar Wilde short story written by NACT Founders Kirby and Beverly Ward. Attended by 100+ community members, the event was used as proof-of-concept for the residents of Ventura.