Mill Mountain Theatre Makes a Comeback for 50th Anniversary - FOX 21/27 WFXR Roanoke/WWCW Lynchburg News, Weather

Mill Mountain Theatre Makes a Comeback for 50th Anniversary

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Mill Mountain Theatre announced Wednesday the 2014 season, marking its 50th year of service as the Roanoke region's only professional theatre. The season also is the first full production cycle since MMT began a four-year financial reorganization.

The theatre shut down in 2009 after a 10-year span put the company in more than $800,000 worth of debt. That time period allowed for the company to reorganize and come up with a new business model.

Vice President of the Board Cynthia Lawrence says the Theatre will be producing four to six full productions this year instead of the full 12, and will sprinkle in smaller concerts or co-productions throughout the year.

They have also scaled down to a smaller full-time staff.

The four major shows produced by Mill Mountain Theatre and a two-show festival presented in partnership with the Hollins University Theatre Department include:

  • "Decision Height," Jan. 24-26, 2014, on the Trinkle Main Stage. This play received one of the top play writing prizes in the Kennedy Center's American College Theatre Festival last year and will mark the opening of the 2014 Region IV session of that Festival being held at Hollins University. It was written by Meredith Dayna Levy, a Hollins graduate and current MFA candidate in Hollins Playwright's Lab program. The uplifting drama is the story of six women whose lives were changed when they became Women Air Force Service Pilots during World War II.
  • "Ben and Rita," Feb. 18-23, 2014, on the Waldron Stage. Also part of the Hollins University Festival of New Works, the play is written by Wendy-Marie Martin of the Hollins Playwright's Lab and is a romantic comedy about an eccentric fantasy writer and a woman with a desperate need for attention who is unable to sustain a relationship.
  • "Swing," May 7-18, 2014, on the Trinkle Main Stage. This play combines high-energy dancing, singing, and acrobatics with familiar and nostalgic music from the 1940s. The story is told entirely through music and dance without dialogue but recreates the swing style of jazz. This is the premiere performance of this show in the Roanoke region.
  • "The Wizard of Oz," Aug. 1-3, 2014, on the Trinkle Main Stage. This is the Young Performers Edition of the classic story of Dorothy's trip over the rainbow with many beloved songs. The version will feature students from the Mill Mountain Theatre Conservatory education classes in all major performance and technical aspects of the production, showcasing MMT's mission to provide pre-professional training for budding actors and theatre artists. Special discounted ticket prices will enable youth and students to be part of a unique educational event.
  • "To Kill A Mockingbird," Oct. 1-12, 2014, on the Trinkle Main Stage. The classic of American literature also is a beloved drama as a powerful story of the strength of the human spirit to overcome prejudice and isolation. The production will draw on Mill Mountain Theatre's affiliation with Actors Equity Association to bring extraordinary acting skills to the Roanoke stage for memorable performances.
  • "Children of Eden," Dec. 3-21, 2014, on the Trinkle Main Stage. Freely based on the Biblical story of Genesis, the play is a heartfelt and often humorous examination of the age-old conflict between parents and children. Adam, Eve, Noah, and the "Father" who created them deal with the headstrong, cataclysmic actions of their children. Familiar music and songs are part of the bittersweet message: The hardest part of love is letting go. The show will be a welcomed part of Roanoke's holiday season.

"This season represents a big step for our supporters, Board of Directors, and staff," said Ginger Poole, producing managing director. "It demonstrates our confidence that the Roanoke community is again ready for a full line-up of high-quality productions."

Since 2009, when the MMT Board canceled scheduled productions to absolve accumulated debt and develop a sustainable business plan, Mill Mountain Theatre has operated its profitable education programs and produced four stage shows.  Its current production in rehearsal, "The Sound of Music," will run Dec. 4-22 on the Trinkle Main Stage.

Mill Mountain Theatre, located at Center in the Square in downtown Roanoke, was founded in 1964 as is a cornerstone of the region's arts community. It serves about 90,000 people a year. As a member of Actors Equity Association, it maintains artistic and production standards as a fully professional company, the only such theatre in the Roanoke region. The non-profit organization also operates MMT Conservatory with educational programs for children, teenagers, and adults with pre-professional training and drama enrichment.