The group of U-M musical theater students behind Ann Arbor's newest theater company is aiming to bring Broadway-caliber talent and shows to town.
Runyonland Productions' debut season will feature three productions: For the Record, written by Broadway performer and U-M lecturer Geoff Packard; Merrily We Roll Along, from the legendary Stephen Sondheim and George Furth; and Tony winner Adam Guettel's Myths and Hymns. Tickets for For the Record and Myths and Hymns have already sold out.
Runyonland founder and U-M musical theater senior Thomas Laub wanted to bring unique Broadway shows to Ann Arbor and share them with a diverse audience. His production team consists of other U-M musical theatre students who want to make an impact on the industry.
"We want to be one of the groups that is responsible for being a mover and shaker in the musical theater industry, and take our artistic shot," Laub says.
Laub kicked off Runyonland in 2017 by producing SHEL: A Historically Fictionalized Musical, written by Noah Kieserman, a U-M musical theater student. Laub named the company after the opening song of Guys and Dolls. Using his knowledge from working on Broadway shows such as The Lion King and Angels in America, Laub implemented dynamic pricing models (setting flexible ticket prices based on demand) to provide low price points for ticket buyers while still covering costs.
SHEL did well in Ann Arbor, selling out all performances. Its success encouraged Laub to pursue a full season for Runyonland, choosing unique productions to feature a variety of musical theatre. Tickets will remain in an affordable price range. Prices for the company's upcoming production of Merrily We Roll Along, for example, range from $12 to $24.
Laub says he hopes this season inspires the Ann Arbor community and U-M musical theatre students.
"I'm most excited to see what happens after this year," Laub says. "I want every young artist to feel like they have the potential of creating their own work and to build from the ground up."
For the Record and Myths and Hymns are already sold out. Merrily We Roll Along runs Feb. 28-March 1 at the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre. Tickets can be purchased here.
Emily Benda is a freelance writer based in Ann Arbor. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos courtesy of Runyonland Productions.