Theater at Dusk
Penny Seats' twilight show
by Davi Napoleon
From the July, 2017 issue
While some theaters struggle and others shutter, the seven-year-old Penny Seats is expanding. This summer, both its outdoor productions in West Park are firsts: the world premiere of Joseph Zettelmaier's The Renaissance Man, which concludes on July 1, was originally slated for the Performance Network, but the theater closed before the play opened. And Peter and the Starcatcher will start an hour later than usual, at 8 p.m., to allow the use of theatrical lighting. "It's one of those shows that relies on twilight and shadow to make it magical," explains Lauren London, the theater's co-founder and president.
Three years ago, Penny Seats added a February musical revue at Conor O'Neill's, with a dinner-and-show package. This year, there's a fall production as well--Julia Glander will direct The Turn of the Screw at the Stone Chalet on Washtenaw in October.
"We have been trying to grow in a careful way that preserves our meager assets while bringing first-rate theater to the community," says London. That's meant gradual increases in offerings while keeping prices low (most tickets are $12). They've funded the expansion through donations and grants, including $13,500 this year from the Michigan Council of Arts and Cultural Affairs. MCACA's support has grown gradually, then not so gradually, from a three-figure mini-grant in Penny Seats' first season.
[Originally published in July, 2017.]
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