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Wild Swan Song

A beloved theater for kids closes.

by Davi Napoleon

From the July, 2021 issue

Covid forced theaters to shut down mid-season in 2019, but that isn't why the Wild Swan shuttered.

Hilary Cohen and Sandy Ryder have been creating quality theater for children since 1980. At their Wild Swan, plays ranged from classic children's stories (Pinocchio) to Michigan history (Rosie the Riveter). Shows were accessible to all, with signing, audio, and touch tours; they were often multicultural, and avoided gender stereotypes.

Ryder says the time seems right to retire. Why not continue the vision? Under new management, she says, Wild Swan would have become something different.

"We have nothing but gratitude for these forty years," Ryder says. "I never dreamed it would be this big, this rich."

Parents, children, and the theater community share the feeling. Carla Milarch, artistic director of Theatre Nova, appreciated the "gift to this community."

Katie Hubbard, managing director of the Purple Rose, "was in tears" at the news yet grateful her children enjoyed so many Wild Swan shows.

Suzanne Young, who designed costumes for the Swan for more than twenty years, laments "the end of an era."

"Maybe the end of an era," reflects Julia Glander, who was set to direct Treasure Island, "but most definitely not the end. The impact that the Wild Swan made on children carries on."     (end of article)

[Originally published in July, 2021.]


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