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Phil Murphy: 'Downtime' is full of shows, parties and camps!

Traverse City Record Eagle

Phil Murphy: 'Downtime' is full of shows, parties and camps
PHIL MURPHY Old Town Playhouse
Jun 16, 2023

It’s June and our season is almost over as we only have shows this weekend for the Young Company in their energetic performance of Schoolhouse Rock Live! Jr. which is the final show of the 2022-23 MainStage season.
Now we turn our eyes toward the summer and next season.

First up is our annual Gala Celebration on Thursday, June 22 with an Encore performance on Friday, June 23. This is our 24th event and is a major undertaking for many of our volunteers and enjoyed by many more donors and patrons. At that event we announce the new season. So be sure to keep your eyes peeled for future announcements. 


Gala events often appear to be happening all the time, and yes, they are, but one of the things that sets the Old Town Playhouse Gala apart from the others is the performance that is the centerpiece of the event. An hour-long entertainment that splits the evening, it is an amalgam of songs of musicals past and present and includes performances from next season’s musical fare.

We have created 24 shows over the years; I have been involved with 20 of them as a performer or as a director. This year I am directing, though that is not a totally fair distinction as it really is shared with this year’s musical directors. Carly McCall, one of the OTP board of trustees, handles all the vocal direction, and since the show is all music, she and band director Carol Purcell are deeply involved with everything you hear.

Still, seeing is believing and choreographer Melissa May, also a performer in the show, brings creativity, boundless energy and discipline aplenty, to this project — as she does to every show and her running and teaching of the Young Company.
The performers at the annual shows are always a treat, and usually the “wow factor” is in high gear. Through the years, the make-up has been as few as eight performers, to one year when there were 20 adult performers.

Add in the years where Young Company and Aged to Perfection also appeared on stage, and it’s clear how vibrant the OTP remains within our community.

This year, there are 11 adults performing and the Young Company has eight performers who will join us for the first Act of the evening’s show. As ever, I am gobsmacked by their ability and dedication to this show. The show consists of 18 songs from today’s best Broadway composers and lyricists. There are solos that draw you in to the intimacy of the moment, to full cast numbers as exuberant and eye-popping as they are aspirational and raucous in their showiness.

For my part, all I can say is, “Wow.” I get to see the show develop from the moment I selected the musical numbers to be performed, through the moments each cast member found the mojo they will bring to their performances. Now they complete the work by polishing their performance. I cannot begin to tell you how incredibly satisfying this work can be. There is no feeling that rivals it. Anyone who is involved in creating art knows what I’m talking about. It’s food for the soul.

The next thing at OTP is a summer full of young people who take their places in our summer camps, classes and workshops. They own the stage during the summer months — and an exciting and often joyously loud time it is — as each person gets to express themselves through the art of the stage. This summer we will see them present Newsies, Jr., A Year with Frog and Toad, Jr. and Babe, the Sheep Pig. These shows are put together through intensive programs of varying lengths and by and for different age groups. This summer program has continued to grow dramatically under Melissa May’s direction. Kudos to all the teachers and assistants involved.

Next time I’ll look at the new season. Maybe you’ll see something you like to see or volunteer for.
And this is our downtime!