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Coming from the land of Southern hospitality, actor Dwight Robinette said he worried about how things would be up north in Rehoboth Beach.

It turned out that Robinette, who is from New Orleans, didn’t have much to worry about.

“Everyone is so nice,” he said.

Robinette is one of about 20 people performing with Rehoboth Beach’s Clear Space Theatre Company in three shows this summer. The same group of actors are part of “A Chorus Line,” “Legally Blonde: The Musical” and “The Little Mermaid,” said Wesley Paulson, executive director at Clear Space.

Paulson said this is the third year the theater has found performers at an audition in New York City for its summer shows.

“For us, it’s a chance to see a pool of hundreds of actors,” Paulson said.

The actors, who come from various cities for the auditions, also have the opportunity to audition with plenty of theaters, he said. Most of the Clear Space summer actors are either juniors or seniors in college or recent college graduates, he said.

READ MORE: A peek behind the scenes of Rehoboth Summer Children's Theater

Once the actors get to Rehoboth Beach, they need somewhere to stay. That’s where people like Chris Berg come in.

Berg, along with his husband and 3-year-old niece, is hosting two Clear Space actors this summer. Berg said volunteering as a host family allows them to contribute to the theater while providing a safe and welcoming place for the students to stay during the rehearsals and show season.

Berg, who was a music major, can also relate to their aspirations.

“I have so much appreciation for what these actors — what these young actors are embarking on, adventure-wise,” Berg said.

He’s kept in touch with an actor who stayed with him in 2015, and being a host is an experience he would recommend to others.

“It’s just been entirely wonderful,” said Berg, who has been involved with Clear Space in different ways.

Paulson said before the shows start, actors — who receive a stipend — have three weeks of lengthy rehearsals with an hour break for both lunch and dinner. Restaurants who participate in a Starving Artists program provide lunch for the actors, and there is also a card with restaurant discounts, he said.

The actors learn about Rehoboth Beach and what it has to offer, taking on an unofficial role as “ambassadors” of the area, Paulson said.

Melanie Bradley, the musical director for “Legally Blonde: The Musical” and “A Chorus Line,” said there were some restaurants that even donated lunch twice.

“It’s really, really great to get that support from the community,” Bradley said.

Bradley is a local who also plays for Clear Space’s musicals during the rest of the year. As she plays the keyboard, she also directs the band.

Each summer, she works with a different group of actors. So, it’s nerve-wracking the night before rehearsals start, she said. But then, once she hears them sing together, she said she gets that feeling of “this is why I do this.”

Even though the summer actors change each year, the Clear Space staff is close and works well together, Bradley said.

“There’s one clear vision,” said Bradley, who is also involved in Clear Space’s summer camps.

READ MORE: Beach fitness class gives option to 'pay your dues before you booze' in Dewey

If not for a change in the Delaware budget — which was passed after the July 1 deadline — Clear Space was just one organization that would have had to make do with less. The cut the state Joint Finance Committee approved on May 30 was $550,000 statewide — “a nearly 20 percent cut in state funding for arts programming,” according to the Delaware Arts Alliance website.

Using a hodgepodge of marginal tax increases and budget cuts, lawmakers agreed to reverse the elimination of the state’s grant-in-aid program, which scores of Delaware nonprofits have come to rely upon to fight fires, feed the homeless and provide arts programs, among other activities.

“The state of Delaware has always been supportive of the arts through the grants program at the Delaware Division of the Arts,” Paulson wrote in an email. “I was glad to hear the news that the legislators and Governor (John) Carney were able to agree on a smaller cut to arts funding than was proposed earlier.”

While the final decision loomed, actors were busy getting ready for the upcoming shows at Clear Space.

Robinette plays the roles of Sebastian in “The Little Mermaid,” Richie in “A Chorus Line,” and Sundeep Padamadan in “Legally Blonde: The Musical.”

In that show, he is also an understudy for the roles of Nikos and Carlos.

He described rehearsals as “intense.” The actors practiced all three shows between 9 a.m. and 9:30 p.m., with breaks for lunch and dinner, he said.

Robinette, a musical theatre and dance major at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana, said he became friends with a castmate through Snapchat before coming to Rehoboth Beach, and then he got to know more people through events such as mixers. He’s even found a friend so close it’s like they were “separated at birth.”

The cast spends a lot of time together and really gets to know each other.

“We became very close,” Robinette said.

The News Journal Staff Writer Karl Baker contributed to this report.

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