The return of live theater! | Characteristics

P45, GLCFA and Old Town Playhouse Summer Shows
By Ross Boissoneau | June 26, 2021

Theater in the (almost) post-pandemic summer? Well, yes, at least a little. Pillars such as the Shakespeare Festival in Interlochen and the Lakeside Shakespeare in Frankfurt are MIA, and camper performances at Interlochen are closed to the public. Other choices are slim as well, as community theater organizations typically get dark in the summer. But don’t worry, there are still some great opportunities to see artists take to the stage.

Powerful local theater organization Parallel 45 will once again bring back live outdoor summer shows under its open-air pavilion on the grounds of the Grand Traverse County Civic Center – two very familiar and family-friendly shows: the musicals “The Sound of Music ”(opening July 8) and“ You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown ”(opening July 21), and the lesser known“ Ugly: A New Pop Musical ”, which will be presented by p45’s Youthquake Company on July 31 and August 1.

The local theatrical organization brings in talent from the theater world for its performances. After his first season there in 2019, however, the pandemic changed everything. There was no 2020 season, and what that year would look like was still pending. “We have planned five versions of what the season could be like,” P45 executive director Joe Beyer said. “They have all changed.

Beyer said the plans originally called for distancing between actors and audience members and between audience members themselves. “We were wondering about the vocals and the interaction during rehearsals and performances… with (things like) plexiglass and masks,” Beyer said.

With the vaccines available – all of the cast and crew were vaccinated, with the exception of the cast representing Von Trapp’s youngest children – and the restrictions easing, those concerns were alleviated.

While things appear to have stabilized, there remains the possibility that the pandemic will further alter presentations at the Civic Center (and elsewhere). In the meantime, however, plans call for the public to be spread across the lawn, using their own blankets or chairs, although Beyer has said there will be reserved seats.

“It will be a lot more relaxed,” he said. To add to the picnic atmosphere, Oryana will provide food, and beer and wine will also be available for purchase.

Beyer said that in addition to being familiar to audiences, the two shows offer a glimpse into issues that are even more familiar now, given what the world has been through over the past year and a half. “The Sound of Music is about powerful themes of a collapsing world. The main theme of Charlie Brown is about children facing challenges, how you need to work as a team. For the latest information and tickets, visit

In August, the Great Lakes Center for the Arts will host the musical “Always… Patsy Cline”. The show is based on the true story of the country music legend’s friendship with a Houston fan. The two corresponded for the last few years before Cline’s death in a plane crash.

The musical recaps their relationship, with much of the script being directly derived from the letters the two exchanged. The play features many of Cline’s hits, such as “Crazy”, “I Fall to Pieces”, “Sweet Dreams” and “Walking After Midnight”. Go to Great

While the scene inside the Old Town Playhouse remains dark, the parking lot will remain open. Like last year’s pandemic-influenced performance list, Theater Under the Tent will host a summer of comedy, music, and, yes, a few theatrical performances.

The latter begins with “La Belle d’Amherst”, a solo piece based on the life of Emily Dickinson. The diaries, letters and poems of the lonely 19th-century poet are woven into a portrait detailing her encounters with the important people in her life. It will take place on June 19 and July 9 and 10.

The musical “I love you, you are perfect, now is changing!” explores all facets of a relationship, from dating to marriage, children and in-laws. The vignette series was the second longest-running Off-Broadway musical. July 23, 24, 29 and August 6.

Featuring a small group of young adults, the young company’s Showstoppers offer a musical review. The songs are taken from a variety of Broadway musicals. It takes place from July 30 to August. 1.

“Hate Mail” tells the story of a wealthy and spoiled child who fires the assistant manager of a department store when he writes a furious letter demanding the reimbursement of a broken snow globe. He and the former store manager begin an epic and acrimonious correspondence as their lives intertwine. Think of it as the dark and funny alternative to the poignant “Love Letters” played on August 5, 7, 14.

Also a series of monologues, “Love, Loss and What I Wore” explores the lives of five women, marking important events in their lives in relation to their clothes. It has been described as witty, melancholy, and bittersweet. On stage August 21, 26, 27.

All Tent Theater performances start at 7 p.m. Go to for information and tickets to all these plays and the other performances out there.

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