Friday, May 21, 2010

MMT's Return: Please Spare Us the Musicals

Mill Mountain Theatre's rise from the ashes appears to be imminent within 18 months to a year, according to a story in a Roanoke daily newspaper this a.m. (here), and that's some of the good news.

More good news is that "No Shame Theatre," which recently pulled out of Studio Roanoke, will return to its stages in the near future; MMT's $700,00 debt has been erased; the stage will be made available for producers of plays outside the MMT brand and for other entertainment; a fund-raising campaign will begin next summer and there seems to be a truly positive attitude about it.

The bad news? The first play with the return will be a musical. If MMT went five years without a musical after its return, it would only be catching up to a norm. I think we all simply got sick of them. They cost too much, they rarely challenge, they bring in an older crowd and--worst of all--a steady diet of musicals is lazy, unimaginative and bad theater. Frankly, I think if MMT returns to its reliance on musicals its new life will be brief, lonely and unhappy.


  1. Dan, I much prefer musicals, and Showtimers proves it is really possible to do more with less budget than MMT did with their musical extravaganzas in the 1990s. Real life is edgy enough for me--I don't need it in my "entertainment." How about one musical for me and the rest of the season can be the plays you like better! -- Fran Ferguson
    And your comment about bringing in older audiences--I resemble that remark!

  2. Having been raised on MMT, I can appreciate live theater, but to quote a friend of mine, "the only thing wrong musicals is the music".

  3. I am of the opinion that MMT took a wrong turn by presenting a succession of small cast, "packaged" musicals, staged elsewhere and brought into MMT for limited runs. The most successful regional theatres offer their audiences a balanced season which includes straight dramas, comedies, new plays, an occasional classic, and one or two big musicals. There are plenty of "dramatic" musicals of substance available ("Les Mis," for example); they don't all have to be "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" type fare. Balance is the key. How else would Showtimers have survived over 50 years? Or, take a look at MMT's own history on the mountain. Balance. If you don't believe me, ask MMT veteran actor and director, Ernie Zulia.

    Patrick Kennerly
    Roanoke VA