Okay, I’ll admit it: I love all of the classic Broadway shows we put on here at the Renaissance. They’re always fan favorites, thanks to their highly popularized soundtracks and storylines. (This season, we’ve got shows like Cabaret and Little Shop of Horrors in store, which is so exciting!) However, I do feel that musical theatre in its catchiness and pizzazz often steals the spotlight, and other forms of art may get overlooked, though they all boast their own type of pizzazz. That said, I’d like to take a moment to recognize other facets of the performing arts world, both at the Renaissance and in general.
We’ve all felt it: a bundle of nerves, a stressful week, emotional baggage…the list goes on. Those who suffer from mental illnesses or sensory processing disorders can be even more vulnerable to big changes and over-stimulation. There are many ways to unwind and give one’s mind a break, and luckily, theatres like us can play a big part in that. Performance art for some can lead to personal catharsis or relief, a concept known as drama therapy.
If you’re like me, you probably have fond memories of going to your local library to borrow books, CDs, and everything in between. I’ve always gone to the Lexington branch of the Mansfield/Richland County Public Library (MRCPL), and as a kid I LOVED the summer library program. I was a book worm, and the library made reading cool. Though I’m a bit older now, I’ve realized that no one ever stops reading and learning new things. Here at the Ren, we would like to celebrate both MRCPL and their library cardholders alike during our 2020-2021 Season.
The month of June is pride month for the LGBTQ+ community. It’s a tradition that started with the Stonewall Riots in 1969 (which were led by black and brown trans women, by the way!). LGBTQ+ activists and allies have made historic progress for the community in recent years, such as in SCOTUS rulings Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) and Bostock v. Clayton County (2020). Many people are familiar with pride parades and festivities but might not know that famous playwrights, actors, composers, etc. have also been part of the community. In honor of the many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people who have shaped theatre, here are 5 you should know.
Joining the Renaissance’s team has been a little crazy, but so much fun. I started this position as the marketing and development intern just over a week ago, in the frenzy of the pandemic, protests, and preview— the 2020-2021 Season Preview, that is. I’ve learned so much about marketing and media platforms, and I’ve even gotten to connect with some of downtown Mansfield’s local businesses, which is really enriching. As a lover of the fine arts and a business student, this internship is such a great fit for me, and I’m excited to be in preparation for this upcoming season. I’d like to share my thoughts on some of the shows.
October 2019 at the Renaissance was intense. We had the very popular Sweeney Todd, the Mayoral Debate, the Mansfield Symphony Orchestra’s “Family Pops,” and the Family Film: The Nightmare Before Christmas. Rounding it all out was the intensely personal and intimate production, The Last Five Years, in Theatre 166.
For those who may not know The Last Five Years, this musical has only two cast members: Cathy (portrayed by Matti-Lynn Chrisman) telling her story backward while Jamie (portrayed by Ryan Shreve) tells his story chronologically. These two 20-something New Yorkers fall in and out of love over the course of five years, and the characters only meet once throughout the musical (at their wedding in the middle of the show.) This emotionally powerful and intimate musical was a great triumph for both actors, as well as for Director Ryan Shealy.
This third installment of our blog series, “Pictures Say A 1,000 Words,” is diverting from its course of highlighting the 2019-20 Season at the Renaissance.
This past weekend, country music legend, Joe Diffie passed away from COVID-19. The Renaissance was fortunate enough to have him grace our stage just a season ago. As was his trademark style, the show had the theatre rockin’ and near a thousand of his fans had the time of their lives. The following photographs are a way to pay our respects to this extraordinary artist.
The Renaissance first opened in 1928. It has seen the Great Depression of 1929, the Great Recession of 2008, and It weathered the storm of becoming an X-rated movie house in 1979 resulting in closure due to public outcry.
The Renaissance Theatre originally opened as the Ohio Theatre.
The Renaissance (like ALL not-for-profit performing arts organizations) is now facing its greatest challenge in the history of its existence with COVID-19. Over60% of our operational budget comes from ticket revenue, and with doors closed we are currently at zero. However, all of us here at the Renaissance have hope. We have hope that soon this pandemic will be under control and our doors will once again be open to provide our community first-rate performances. No matter what genre of the performing arts you love, we have it – Broadway, Symphony, Country through Rock, Comedy – we will bring it back to you!!
This blog is the first of many called “Pictures Say A 1,000 Words.” We are releasing these twice a week with pictures from this season’s performances with hope they will remind you of the wonderful experiences of the past, and hope for more in the near future.
First up is our 2019 summer musical, Roald Dahl’s Matilda. We can’t thank Jeff Sprang of Jeff Sprang Photography enough for these pictures, and all of the photography from our shows!
On December 2, 2019, Michael Thomas, Artistic Director for the Renaissance, was honored by Broadway’s and Hollywood’s elite at the Ars Nova Ball 2019. He and his writing partner, Jeff Richmond, co-wrote Melancholy Baby which was the first show produced on the Ars Nova stage in 2002.