Muskegon Civic Theatre (MCT) closed its season with a couple openings.
When the community theatre company staged its final 2018-2019 production, “Shrek the Musical,” May 2-5 at the Frauenthal Theater, MCT also announced its upcoming season.
And on May 10, the Lakeshore Museum Center (LMC), 430 W. Clay, opened a new exhibit, “The Show Must Go On: Celebrating 35 Years of the Muskegon Civic Theatre.” The exhibit, which runs through Nov. 2, not only traces MCT to its 1985 founding, but also back to 1935, the beginnings of live, local theatre in Muskegon.
Obviously not part of the exhibit is MCT’s 2019-2020 season. Its lineup includes the parody “The 39 Steps,” a musical version of “A Christmas Carol,” a black-box staging of the 2015 Tony Award-winning musical “Fun Home,” playwright Thornton Wilder’s American classic “Our Town” and the musical “Mama Mia!” In addition, MCT in October will present “Peter Pan Jr.” for The Penguin Project, a theatre project that affords young people with developmental challenges to perform.
Season tickets already are being sold. They range in price from $80-$100. That represents a sizable savings from buying individual tickets which are $26.50. Tickets for “Peter Pan Jr.” are not part of the season ticket, and sell for $11.50.
Tickets may be purchased online at the MCT website, http://www.muskegoncivictheatre.org.
Anyone wanting to know how MCT got to this point could get a pretty good idea from museum exhibition.
The exhibit makes clear that Muskegon theatre goes back a lot further than MCT.
The whole thing started in 83 years ago with the Little Theatre of Muskegon, which lasted until 1940. Taking up the mantle, from 1950-58, was Greater Muskegon Civic Theatre, housed in a former Sanford Street church that would become Port City Playhouse ( and operated under that name from1961-83); It now serves as MCT’s Scene Shop. Civic Opera Association, which produced almost exclusively musicals, produced from 1951-84. Muskegon Youth Theatre ran from 1981-84.
In the Orwellian year of 1984, Muskegon Civic Theatre was formed through a merger of Port City Playhouse, Civic Opera Association and Muskegon Youth Theatre. The new organization premiered in fall of 1985, staging playwrights George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart’s “The Man Who Came to Dinner” at the historic Frauenthal Theater; Starring as acerbic critic Sheridan Whiteside, the title character, was the late, storied Muskegon critic John Allen.
The museum exhibition combines show photos, graphics, costumes, makeup, and set designs of models, and some video. It all gives visitors an overview of the entire theatre process.
The exhibit includes promotional buttons from shows; costumes from such productions as “Into the Woods,” “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and “The Music Man”; hair and makeup designs related to the musicals “Shrek” and “Disenchanted!”; and set and prop pieces from “The Lion in Winter,” “Annie Get Your Gun” (1980 at Port City Playhouse), “Into the Woods,” “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” “Li’l Abner,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Do Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?”; and set designs and models for “A Murder is Announced,” “Barnum” and “Shrek.” There also is a time-lapse video for the load-in for “Shrek.”
One of exhibition’s more notable features is the set model for MCT’s 1990 production of the musical “Barnum.” For that show, MCT brought home Muskegon native Kristopher Antekeier, a professional actor, to play showman and circus impresario P.T. Barnum. The reason: Antekeier in 1986 was ringmaster for the world-renowned Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, aka “The Greatest Show on Earth.”