Missouri Western fell in a new relationship this summer — and now it’s getting pretty serious. This summer romance had sparks, cheers, laughter, play and chatter and is hoping to heat up even more in the near future. The romance, which could also be called Western Playhouse, reached its peak this summer as it offered amazing performances and unbelievable happy endings.
Theatre professor and Western Playhouse Managing Director Dallas Henry felt that audiences were quite captivated with the summer productions, even though it was the first time a summer production was held on campus through Western Institute.
“For the first year it’s always a tough experience when you’re starting something new, especially something new that has never been done on campus,” Henry said. “With that in mind, it was really well. The community really raved about the shows and really enjoyed themselves. ”
Western Playhouse grew support from not only the university and its sponsor Western Institute, but also from community sponsors such as Nestle, Aspen Leaf, Hy-Vee, Mr. Goodcents, the St. Joseph Mustangs and many others.
“We got a lot of sponsorships this summer — I think we got upwards to 15 to 20. We really did well with corporations and local businesses came to bat.”
Though the plays didn’t have sold out performances and packed audiences, Henry feels that the caliber of the audiences was definitely something he was proud of.
“We actually did an inventory,” Henry said. “Thirty or 40 percent of the people who attended have never been to a Missouri Western theater performance. So we started getting new patrons. We’d get people from out of town who just were stopping by at a hotel and saw the poster.”
Western Playhouse actor and voice music and performance major Kyle Minx, who played and ran crew for the shows, felt that the talent of the shows was something that really attracted people.
“I feel that the amount of talent we had in the cast and crew was phenomenal,” Minx said. “As far as the first year, I think it went fantastically well. It was a good start.”
Minx said that Western Playhouse was not only an opportunity for the community, but for many film, theatre and music students that were able to use this job as a stepping stone before seeking their invested careers. The production program offered numerous jobs for students — from marketing, to directing, to designing, casting, filming, acting and performing.
“It’s the kind of professional experience,” Minx said. “It’s about loving what you do and getting a paycheck for it. It’s that middle step.”
As far as where this blossoming romance between Western Playhouse and our university will go in the future, it’s all up in the administratives’ hands, Henry said. In a couple of weeks, Western administration and Western Playhouse affiliates will discuss Western Playhouse and ultimately decide if they want to continue this relationship.
“Ultimately what we wanted to accomplish we did,” Henry said. “That was to do professional theater over the summer and to do good productions.”