Playhouse in the Park in Murray is working to expand beyond their depot in the Murray-Calloway County Park. Executive Director Lisa Cope and board member Jeremy Bell visited Sounds Good to discuss the project.
"We have taken a big step over at Playhouse in the Park," said Cope. "People who have been around for a while have heard us for a really long time talk about the need for space. We have the need for education space and rehearsal space and storage space and all this kinds of space... We've just outgrown. Our programming has grown so that we just have been kind of in desperate need for a while now for space, particularly for the education program, we need classrooms and things like that. So we are under contract to purchase a building, and we are so excited about it. It's kind of a dream come true. It's everything that we needed it to be, all those boxes we needed to check, it does that for us. So this is huge. It's really the next great big thing at Playhouse."
This new building will provide storage space that has often been outsourced to local volunteers and will provide new areas for educational camps and classes, more rehearsal space and the opportunity to create new educational and performance programs.
"For years, we've had to ask for storage. We've been looking for a more permanent place. It's just like this past week, we've been doing kids' camp, and the kids are out on the deck. It was hot last week. It was very hot last week, as a matter of fact. So the kids, you had one group out on the deck, you had one group in the theatre, then they'd flip-flop. So with this new space, it allows us maybe to have part of them over [in the new building], part of them over at Playhouse, get them out of the outside. A small theater could be envisioned in this area as well," Bell says. "It allows us to do a lot more things. Not only does it give us the storage space, but it gives us the more educational space we need, [like] with Penguin Project. Right now, we're falling all over each other because you have one production going on, and when that one's a couple weeks out from getting started, another one's getting started, and so where do you rehearse? We've been very limited as far as where we can go for rehearsal space."
Cope says an expanded rehearsal space would effectively end the "common sight at Playhouse" of groups on the deck, in the green room, and on stage rehearsing for different things at the same time. Adult education programs, often overlooked due to lack of space with the abundance of child education programs, are now a feasible option in Playhouse's schedule. Other performance opportunities, such as an improv group, are also being discussed.
The news was shared with the summer camp audience at Playhouse last Friday night and was met with support. "It was just a good opportunity for us to introduce this to our camp audience. I think a lot of people don't realize if you're not a part of Playhouse, if you're not there, you can come to shows and not realize that we're stepping on each other the whole time if you go backstage," Bell said. "If you have a love of it, then you need to go back and you need to look and see what goes on behind the scenes. You can probably ask some of the mommas who work behind the scenes at camp, because they have to work in the green room, to see how everybody is kind of falling all over each other trying to get around, trying to change, if you have a large cast like that."
"I think that's the other thing we wanted to get out to people for this facility was the fact that we were needing just that space and so, again, we are kind of getting our capital campaign committee formed. We have been talking to some people [as to] how to go about that. We'll be probably having a chair, we'll be going from there. We've formed a lot of ideas on how to raise money, what to do, where to go from here," Bell said.
While the capital campaign is not yet on its feet, there are ways to help Playhouse before the campaign begins. Those interested in helping can contact Lisa Cope via the Playhouse in the Park website, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 270-759-1752. Another way to help is by simply becoming a patron and attend upcoming shows, which will continue to be held at the depot location.
"We're not going anywhere, we still got shows that have got to go on," says Bell. "Moonlight In Magnolias is coming up, as a matter of fact [August 16-25]. We still have shows that have to be performed, with Mamma Mia, and with A Christmas Story. We still have stuff that needs to be going on, on top of all this that we also have with a new place. But we want to try to get people excited about the possibility, whether it be little or whether it be big, we don't care. However you can help us."
Cope is confident in Murray's support for Playhouse. "It's exciting for the children, and it's exciting for the rest of us. When we met to talk about the money, one of the guys at the table kind of threw some numbers out there, and he said, 'how do you feel about that?' And I said that does not scare me. I think we can do it," Cope said. "People have always supported this theater, it's been here for almost 45 years. They've always recognized that it's an important part of this community. It's just with all my heart, I think this is doable. So, here we go!"