Matthew Felan, President and CEO of the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance talks about the importance of performing arts as a driver of community attachment. Midland Center for the Arts
In the first production of its kind, three local community theatres will be showcasing the wildly popular production of the hit Broadway musical ‘Mamma Mia!’ this fall.
Spurred by the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance, the effort brings together Midland Center for the Arts’ Center Stage Theatre, Pit & Balcony Community Theatre and Bay City Players and will include public and school performances as well as many community activities.
Matthew Felan, President and CEO of the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance and representatives from each of the organizations gathered on stage at Midland Center for the Arts to make this exciting announcement on March 13.
“The goal of a regional Mamma Mia! production is to bring together and showcase the outstanding theatre talent from Bay, Isabella, Midland, and Saginaw Counties into one production,” said Matthew Felan, President and CEO of the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance. “The Great Lakes Bay Region has long been home to outstanding community theatre and this will be an opportunity to highlight the immense talent from our four counties in one production.”
“As someone who comes from a family that loves theatre and the performing arts, I am very excited about this collaboration and seeing the depth of talent coming together in our region,” says Felan. “The arts are a vital piece in building the fabric of a vibrant community.”
Tommy Wedge, Assistant Professor of Theatre at Saginaw Valley State University will direct the production, which is the ninth longest running show in Broadway history, experienced by more than 60 million people worldwide in 440 cities and counting.
“Theatre roots run deep throughout our region and that shows in the talent we see on stage in our local productions,” said Terri Trotter, President & CEO of Midland Center for the Arts and Co-Chair of the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance Quality of Life Subcommittee. “Attracting business to our region is the ultimate goal of the Alliance and to do that, we have to ramp up our promotion of the amazing cultural offerings we have in our region and do a better job telling the story of why this is such a great place to live.”
“Taking an immensely popular musical like Mamma Mia! and presenting something that showcases the best talent we have in the region gives us a great platform to tell our regional story,” says Trotter. “The Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance helped convene this collaboration and we are all passionate about continuing to make the region a great place to live, work and play.”
Tommy Wedge, Assistant Professor of Theatre at SVSU will direct the production of Mamma Mia! this fall.
Several elements of the project will take place across the region. After the performance runs at Midland Center for the Arts in September, it will move to Pit and Balcony Community Theatre in Saginaw and host free performances for school students October 2-4.
With multiple shows in different locations there will be some theatrical challenges, like accommodating for different theatre sizes. To design for this, the teams will be building two separate sets simultaneously, with different scaling account for theatre dimensions and the cast will rehearse on both stages.
The effort will also spread to schools in the region, and many kids will get to experience the well-known production that almost everyone can recognize a familiar tune in.
“We shared the news with over 50 schools recently and the announcement was met with much enthusiasm,” says Amy Spaadafore, Managing Director of Pit and Balcony Community Theatre. “Arts and culture are a vital part of a child’s education and perspective, so we are looking forward to having some great engagement with the production this fall.”
Cast and crew planning is being arranged now and the whole effort will include upwards of 150 volunteers to bring the show to the stage. If you are excited at the chance to be involved in this large community production, auditions for cast members will be held on July 9 at Pit & Balcony, July 11 at Midland Center for the Arts and July 12 at Bay City Players.
Tickets for Mamma Mia! will go on sale to the general public on June 27 and will be available from the box offices and websites of all three theatres. (www.midlandcenter.org, www.pitandbalconytheatre.com and www.baycityplayers.org)