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Drama threatens to upstage Thalian Association's milestone anniversary

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- The Thalian Association celebrates its 225th anniversary this year, but the excitement is being upstaged by a real-life drama unfolding behind the scenes of the Official Community Theater of North Carolina.

The Thalian Association, which is not affiliated with Thalian Hall other than using the venue for many performances, recently decided to combine two artistic director jobs into one full-time position. The move will eliminate both Tom Briggs and Jason Aycock's positions leaving many in the theater community shaken up.

"It's upsetting to my soul," theater mom Teresa Loman said.

Loman says the decision brings tears to her eyes and makes her question the association's intentions.

"If something is working well, and if it is not broken why do we want to fix it," Loman said.

Anna Gamel, a six-year theater veteran, says she has Briggs to thank for introducing her to the stage.

"I feel like trying to consolidate these two part-time positions into one full-time will hurt both Thalian Association and (the Thalian Association Children's Theater)," Gamel said.

Both Briggs and Aycock did not want to comment, but many theater community members are taking the cue and speaking out.

"They have brought so much time and effort and support to this great theater community we have, and it's really sad what Thalian Association has done," Gamel said.

Gamel says the board is focusing more on the bottom line than center stage.

A nationwide search is now underway for a new artistic director to oversee the association's main stage and children's theater productions.

Thalian Association's Executive Director Susan Habas says she has encouraged both men to apply for the new position.

There is no word on when Aycock and Briggs will take their final bow or if they will apply for the new job.

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