There’s a new theater company in town, and it wants Johnstown residents to contribute to its recipe for success.

Nail Soup Theatre Company takes its name from a Swedish folktale in which a man with only a single nail makes a delicious pot of soup by asking others for ingredients.

“What we want is for people to bring what they have,” said David Slavich, vice president. “Not just creative artistic types, but those in business who have organizational office skills, public relations skills, budgeting skills and even for play reading.”

Slavich, who has worked as a technical director with the drama department of Forest Hills School District for 13 years, has read hundreds of plays and knows it isn’t always an enjoyable task.

“You might read hundreds to get 25 good ones,” Slavich said.

The idea for a new theater company started about two years ago when Slavich and some other actor friends began talking about the lack of theatrical opportunities in the immediate Johnstown area.

They all believed what would become Nail Soup Theatre Company was a necessity.

“We’ve all worked at area theaters – Beta in Windber, which is now defunct, Cresson Lake and the Mishler,” Slavich said. “There was a lot of travel time, and with gas prices, the closest theater was in Ebensburg. We talked, then drifted away from each other. It was a pipe dream.”

Ed Zahurak, Nail Soup president, was instrumental in bringing that pipe dream to reality.

Zahurak, a Web developer for Conemaugh Health System, thought of the group’s name and forged ahead with the paperwork.

“All of a sudden, Ed said we should do it, and it happened quickly,” Slavich said. “It was official.”

Slavich and Zahurak have acted in area community theaters, designed sets and served as stage managers.

Slavich, who has a bachelor’s degree from Pitt in communications and theater, also has directed.

Other board members are Patty Coyle, secretary-treasurer; Julie Shirdon, executive director; and Brianne Lees, trustee.

Coyle has served as director, stage manager and actor in numerous productions at Cresson Lake Playhouse, Altoona Community Theatre and Mount Aloysius College.

Shirdon is principal business developer at Concurrent Technologies Corp.

Lees is artistic director for One Good Turn Dance Company in Portage and choreographer for local high school and community theater.

The fledgling troupe had its inaugural production in July at St. John’s United Church of Christ, 531 Somerset St. in the Kernville section of Johnstown.

Future productions will be at Roxbury Bandshell and Bottle Works Ethnic Arts Center.

“We don’t have a space of our own yet, but we want to stay in Johnstown, not Richland or Westmont,” Slavich said. “We’ll take it one step at a time and let the public know we’re out there.”

The theater company has been growing.

There are 30 to 40 members, with more joining every day.

Membership applications can be downloaded at

Acting out

What: Nail Soup Theatre Company.

Address: 1430 Brier Ave., Johnstown, Pa. 15902.

Phone: 266-3016.


Web site:

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