Established in 1929, The Kalamazoo Civic Theatre has been among the premiere community theatres in the United States. Originally known as the Kalamazoo Civic Players, the group presented 12 productions in its first year at the Lincoln School Auditorium.
In 1931, the Players moved into the newly built Civic Auditorium. The Civic’s mission is “to produce a broad spectrum of theatrical presentations of the highest quality, to provide hands-on learning experiences in all aspects of theatre production and management, to provide a sequential program of educational experiences in all aspects of theatre for children and adults, to celebrate the achievements of volunteers and staff, and to provide value for its supporters.”
In this theatre year (2017/18), the Civic Theatre marks its 89th season. Other productions this season include:
- Young Frankenstein
- The Little Mermaid
- Rock of Ages
- Calendar Girls
- The Good Doctor
According to theatre officials, when selecting this year’s season of presentations, it was felt BETM was a perfect fit for the Civic, based on its mission statement cited earlier. They say it was felt that the show “provides a wide array of roles for actors of all ages — plus numerous technical/crew roles which are vital to the success of the production”. And they plan to do it in a first class manner. For example, the theatre has contracted with Flying by Foy, which has “flown” Billy at various productions around the US, including in the Broadway production of the musical (2008-2012).
Another thing that made BETM attractive to the folks at the Civic was the fact that the show has not been produced by any local or professional theatres in southwest Michigan, so it is an area premiere for the Civic as well. BETM’s very experienced production team includes Director/Choreographer Jay Berkow, a Professor of Theatre and Director of Music Theatre Performance at Western Michigan University since 2004. Previous shows at the Civic directed by Mr. Berkow include Side Show, Evita, The Who’s Tommy and Jekyll & Hyde. The Music Director for the show is Cindy Hunter, who is the Director of Choirs for Portage Central and Middle Schools. Ms. Hunter was also Music Director for the Civic Theatre presentations of Sister Act, Les Miserables, Ragtime and Jekyll & Hyde.
The Civic’s production of BETM will be led by newbie Billy Andrew Klepser.
To see a complete listing of the rest of the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre cast, just click on the Cast Information button.