In 1942, Rotary Charities hosted its first musical and comedy show to raise money for the Grand Traverse region.
Now, with more than $2 million raised and funneled back to local causes, Rotarians are preparing once again to yuck it up.
This year’s takes place April 24-26 at Lars Hockstad Auditorium, and features sketches, musical guests and a chorus of Rotarians.
“It’s a true variety show,” said Phil Murphy, executive director for the Old Town Playhouse and one of the writers and organizers of the show.
Murphy says the show has broadened its appeal over the years, with fewer insider jokes and more general entertainment.
“The sketches are less about Rotary and more about what is happening in the community,” he said.
While Murphy and other Rotarians plot out the general shape of the sketches, David Millross and Al Bonney begin the process of choosing the music. Mike Hunter crafts them into medleys for the chorus, a group of 40 to 50 Rotary members, with backing from a seven-piece band.
While the chorus and sketches remain the centerpieces, the show also showcases performers from across the region. This year they include the Accidentals; Blake Elliot; Drive South with Mary Sue Wilkinson and Roger Brown; Jenna Elsenheimer and Madison Hertel; Fiddling Around with Tom Allard and John Thompson, featuring Lindsey Boyajian; vocal group Quad Pro Quo; and Bennett.
Proceeds from ticket sales and program ads are used to fund projects in the Grand Traverse region. Chuck Downey, chair of the club’s Good Works Committee, says many of those are connected with Traverse City Area Public Schools, such as vocal and instrumental music performances outside the area.
Other groups that have benefited from funding include non-profits such as Goodwill and Food Rescue.
“I don’t think there’s a non-profit in town we haven’t been able to help in some way,” Downey said.
Tickets for the show start at $10. They are available at several locations in Traverse City, from Rotary Club members, or by going to mynorthtickets.com.