So, together, their organizations have partnered on what is now known as Summer Stage, the first production of which will be the ever-popular musical Annie.
The partnership this summer is between the Wooster City Schools, where Patterson has directed numerous high school productions and the Wayne Center for the Arts, where Hyde is executive director.
Hyde credits Patterson for bringing him the idea. “He was looking for a partner who could handle the business side of a summer theater program – a nonprofit to market, promote and sell tickets – so he could focus on the thing he enjoys and does really well.”
So, Patterson said, the arts center handled the purchase of the rights and royalties to the show and got things financially up and running until ticket sales could start for the production, which will be staged at the Wooster High School Performing Arts Center on Fridays and Saturdays July 20, 21, 27, 28 and Sunday, July 29.
“We’re taking a chance,” Hyde admitted, but Patterson said he has heard ticket sales “are very strong – particular for the Sunday matinee,” and hopes that trend continues.
The last time Wooster offered Summer Theater (outside the Ohio Light Opera) was from 1995-2006 when the Stage Partners were formed out of a partnership of the schools, the arts center, the city of Wooster and the Wayne County Performing Arts Council. Patterson was involved in those productions, too, including Annie, where he was cast as Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks. That role goes this time to Keith Cornelius of Wooster, who has multiple family members on stage, backstage and in the pit orchestra. Patterson joked that he sometimes finds it difficult to not be on stage – though he plans to do some uncredited radio voice-over work in the production.
Like the Cornelius family, Patterson has several family members along for the production, most notably his daughter, Emily, who is serving as the musical director. The oversight of the production is rounded out by choreographer Stephanie Musselman and orchestra director Ned Brooks, both of whom are summer theater veterans.
Patterson said having been involved in theater himself and “having been very impressed with the talent in this area,” he decided on Annie because it is a family show that offers roles for a variety of ages, not to mention many opportunities on the technical, musical, and backstage areas. “It gives families a chance to make memories that will last for years to come,” Patterson said.
With just a few more rehearsals to go, he said the whole experience has been well worth it. “I’m thrilled. I am really thrilled with the talent that turned out at auditions,” both veterans and newcomers, as well as with the enthusiasm of everyone involved. The 85-member cast includes Taylor Mills in the title role, with Loralee Myers as Miss Hannigan, Kaillie Dravenstott as Grace Farrell, Max Musselman as Rooster, Nicole Lehman as Lily and Robert Baab as Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Hyde and Patterson agree deciding whether to make Summer Stage an annual production will be decided once Annie has come and gone. But Hyde noted, “I am completely enthused by Todd’s desire to make the theater experience as good for the cast and crew as he does for the audience. It’s the perfect formula for a great show.”
Tickets for Annie may be purchased through the Wayne Center for the Arts, by calling 330-264-2787. Show times are 7:30 p.m. for Friday and Saturday shows and 2 p.m. for the July 29 Sunday matinee.
Published: July 11, 2012