March 3, 2024

Parallel 45’s Latest Coup

An open-air theater, just in time for summer
By Ross Boissoneau | Jan. 12, 2019

New season, new shows, and a new venue make this summer a big one for Parallel 45, the professional Traverse City-based theater company that brings high-caliber actors and production and tech pros from around the world (and northern Michigan) to stage innovative new and classic works.
 
Recently, the theatre group reached an agreement with Grand Traverse County Parks and Recreation to refurbish its Civic Center Park amphitheater. For four weeks this summer, the company will host three rotating shows on its stage.
 
The shows will take place under a “saddlespan” tent (think: big, wide, and with curved “roof” edges) that will protect cast, crew and theatergoers from all but the most inclement weather. The company also will install professional lighting and sound equipment, which will also be available for rent to other entities when it’s not being used by P45. The new venue will seat 148 people.
 
From July 11 through Aug. 4, three plays will rotate: Hair, Little Bunny Foo Foo, and Stupid F---- Bird, loosely adapted from Chekhov’s The Seagull. The casts for the shows will draw from the same set of actors.

Hair is vocal and dance — how does that work with Stupid Bird and a children’s show? That’s a puzzle for the artistic director and set,” said Parallel 45 Executive Director Erin Whiting.
 
It’s a puzzle she said the actors and crew are comfortable solving. Whiting said there are efficiencies in having a cast that morphs from one role to another, principally in terms of finances. Rather than bringing in new groups for every play, they keep the same people in different roles. It will also allow P45 to have more than one performance in a day, providing more opportunities for audiences that might only be in the area for a brief time, or for locals to see all three efforts at different times.
 
Whiting said that also makes actors more available as larger markets typically follow a fall-to-spring season. That’s much the same model as used in decades past by Cherry County Playhouse, a summer stock theater founded in 1955 by former summer Northport resident and early star of "The Guiding Light" (when it was a radio soap opera), Ruth Bailey. CCP ran in Traverse City until 1990, when it moved to Muskegon.

Whiting is hopeful that audiences will embrace the opportunity to enjoy the summer while taking in these cultural offerings, perhaps picnicking prior to the show and enjoying the Civic Center. The company is also lookingto additional performing opportunities in years to come.
 
Tickets are on sale now at www.mynorth.com.

(Pictured: A rendering of the soon-to-be refurbished Civic Center Park amphitheater.)
 

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