We hear a lot lately about businesses and organizations losing jobs and losing money… Now smack-dab in the middle of the mitten, a small community theater is launching. They’re hoping to bring money into their cash-strapped city and, as importantly they say, bring in some culture too.
At the landmark Doherty Hotel in downtown Clare, the “Acting Up in Mid Michigan” troupe is just getting warmed up. (Singing)
This group is launching community theater, in the midst of a recession… in one of the poorest counties in Michigan…
It took one woman to look the economy in the eye and say ” hey let’s do a play”
“I need to be fulfilled as an artist, and Clare needs to have a soul”
Renee’ Holbrook is the show producer.
“We’re all a little bit nervous about this new adventure, but we’re ambitious and we’re willing to give it a shot. And it’s not just for us, it’s for the economy of Clare, I mean if we can sell tickets to this the whole cities, the whole county will benefit from it. And maybe Clare would be known as the new Stratford someday, wouldn’t that be charming? Get people to get off the highway on their summer trips and have a reason to stop in Clare. We can bring them live theatre.”
Volunteers have been working for 2 – months to bring “Lafferty’s Wake” to life. The cast works on their lines and songs. (singing) And down the hall, other volunteers are drawing up the program and laying out ads.
Holbrook says she knew this first production would have to be commercial. And that’s a bit of a tough pill to swallow for a drama major trained in classical theater at Carnegie Melon University.
“I took advantage of the fact that I knew there was going to be a crowd here for St. Patricks, and Clare is renown for being a big St. Patty town, and I said well you know, let’s take advantage of that. I don’t want to go this way forever. I’d rather do Shakespeare in the park. I want to get the teen involved, because I think kids are desperate to do something in any small town. I think if we can get the teenagers involved then we’ll motivate the parents to realize, hey my kid’s happy, my kid’s learning to speak in public, my child has more self esteem now. Hm, my child is loving the arts.
The Acting Up troupe is backed by the Clare County Arts Council who gave them $2,000 in seed money to stage their play.
They’ve not given us any restrictions, they completely trust us, they really do, and we outnumber them, there’s 30 of us and 10 of them so…
Holbrook says so far tickets are selling well. Advertising space is being grabbed up. She’s hopeful the group will be able to at least break even on their play.
“Maybe we’re foolish in this economy, but you know, people will budget towards what they think is important, you know. I’m not going to give up my hair color (laughs) to buy a ticket for any show”
The theater group is hoping the community will respond well to this production… even giving up their hair color if necessary to support community theater in rural Michigan.
Lafferty’s Wedding opens Thursday night in Clare. The show also runs Sunday afternoon and next Tuesday evening – on St. Patrick’s day. You can get ticket information by calling the Doherty Hotel in downtown Clare.