Crestview theatre buff takes director's chair in Pace production

Joe Perna

Crestview director Joe Perna brings an encore performance of “Soulmate Central” to the Panhandle Community Theatre, opening Thursday.

Special to the News Bulletin
Published: Tuesday, July 15, 2014 at 01:32 PM.

CRESTVIEW — Retiring from his civil service job at the Eglin Air Force Base hospital gave Crestview actor Joe Perna the opportunity to pursue his real love: The theatre.

Thursday, “Soulmate Central,” the play he is directing, opens at the Panhandle Community Theatre in Pace.

The comedy by Rick Ready is particularly special to Perna: Ready wrote it as a wedding gift for the director and his former wife, Bonnie Marks.

“Years ago I was doing a show and I was in the process of getting married, and I was kidding around and said, “Why don’t you write something for Bonnie and me?’” Perna said.

The two remain friends, and Marks is Perna’s assistant director for his third time directing “Soulmate Central” at PCT.

Primarily associated with the Stagecrafters theatre troupe in Fort Walton Beach, “I go through periods where I take a break and I branch out,” Perna said.

Last year he directed Neil Simon’s “Jake’s Woman” for Northwest Florida State College, and he would like a chance to work with Crestview’s View From the Stage community troupe.

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