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Paducah theater plans to have an “MPACT” in kids’ lives

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WKMS
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Zacharie Lamb

A children’s theater program in Paducah is consolidating its studio and theater into one building in the hopes of offering a better program for it’s students.

The Mainstage School of the Performing Arts and the Mainstage West End Theater will be combined under one roof which will be christened Mainstage Performing Arts Center and Theater or MPACT. The new space is located at 142 Stuart Nelson Park Road.

Mainstage is a children’s theater program that offers daily studio classes for dance, voice and acting for students ages 4-18. Mainstage’s director and founder Megan Hughes also produces four musical shows a year with her daughter Wheeler Hughes.

Hughes told WKMS the program now has over 100 children participating and has been in need of this upgrade for some time.

“Mainly, we’ve outgrown it,” Hughes said. “The kids - I mean - when they were little, little, they didn't take up so much space on the stage. But now, they know how to move. They know how to take up that space, and the stage is just not big enough. Backstage is not big enough.”

Wheeler Hughes said having different spaces also caused difficulties when rehearsing for productions.

“With two spaces, it’s often difficult to create a cohesive feeling with our shows until much later in the creation process,” Wheeler Hughes explained.“Being able to be in the space sooner allows students to get used to the stage, the sets and props earlier.”

Hughes said that part of the motivation for acquiring the new space comes from seeing the devotion her students put into learning and building the Mainstage community.

“And the kids, when I look at how hard they work, and what they put into everything. They just do. Hours and so much passion, and they deserve better. They deserve more. They’ve never asked for it, but they deserve it.”

Mainstage will be renting the new space, and has been approved to remodel inside of the building to fit the needs of the program. Hughes said the plan is to be operating in the new space in January 2022, but work so far has been slow.

“The paint will still be drying when we open the doors,” Hughes said. “This has taken a lot of energy and time. So as soon our current production, ‘Matilda,’ is over, it will be a lot easier.”

The remodeling process will be driven by parent and student volunteers who will help with everything from painting to knocking down walls. Hughes expects there will be a group of volunteers working almost every evening from the final show of “Matilda” on Dec. 19th to when they can have students inside the building sometime in January 2022.

Mainstage Students have also been fundraising through social media. So far, they have raised close to $5,000 for the new building.

Other costs will be covered through loans and some earmarked reserve funds.

Student actor Chole Chase was initially unsure about moving to a news space after so long.

“At first, I was really sad leaving ‘home’ and leaving behind all the memories. Now, I’m happy to know we will be making many more memories in the new place. There’ll be so many different possibilities in our new building that we have yet to discover,” she said.

Wheeler said the core of what Mainstage is will not change with this building.

“I am very excited to finally have a space that truly feels like ‘ours’ and is tailored to our needs, and I know our students will benefit from a brand-new building.”

Mainstage plans to begin their production of “Chicago” in the new MPACT building in February 2022. More information about the theater can be found at www.mainstageschoolofperformingarts.com.

Zacharie Lamb is a music major at Murray State University and is a Graves County native.