Let’s go to the theatre!
By Nora Jorgensen
Macon Little Theatre (MLT) has always been a great way for kids and adults to become involved with their community theater, and it is expanding its offerings this year. With the new season comes more adult-themed shows as well as opportunities for kids to gain acting experience. A lot more goes into creating the productions at MLT than spectators realize. I had the opportunity to talk with JP Haynie, who became the artistic director of MLT in 2019. Haynie explained that on the inside of production for community theater, it is important to make sure there are “strong casting choices at the beginning of it, making sure that people are excited and working on a show that they’re really interested in…. We expect a lot out of our actors during the rehearsal process.” For the kids camp performance of Descendants last weekend, MLT only had two weeks to put the show together, so it was vital to have hard-working actors. Haynie also said that a lot of thought goes into choosing what productions they will use and making sure they cater to a variety of interests in their audiences.
Currently MLT is facing the challenge of recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, during which MLT had to stop their productions for almost two years. Restarting involves tasks ranging from getting old and new actors to participate in productions, to balancing a tight budget, to regaining its typical audience, all while trying to expand and update MLT’s support and stability. MLT also dealt with the rehearsal process, which typically lasts six to seven weeks, while at constant risk of having to cancel a show with thousands of dollars already invested.
However, despite the numerous pandemic-related obstacles to live theater, the directors at MLT have handled the situation well. They produced high quality shows shortly after the pandemic, and Haynie stated that he is “proud of this whole season of shows. I feel like our actors have worked incredibly hard under very challenging circumstances.” He also mentioned that just being able to put on the first show since the pandemic, Songs For A New World, was an incredibly exciting experience. Even during the lockdown, MLT used its time wisely by updating their theater, renewing their website and beginning purchase of online tickets. Going forward, Haynie said that one goal is to increase the variety of shows and the intended audience age ranges. MLT is planning to increase the number of opportunities for young kids to gain acting experience as well as different types of plays for a young audience to enjoy. At the same time, MLT is hoping to launch “MLT after Dark,” which will be more adult-themed shows, including the musical Carrie by Stephen King and Avenue Q by Jeff Whitty. This newfound variety ensures that everyone can enjoy the theater.
Be a supporter of Macon Little Theatre, if not by participating in a play yourself, by showing up to see the talent that these hard-working actors and directors have to offer. The upcoming production is Legally Blonde from July 15-24 this summer, so mark your calendars and enjoy the show!