Dunes Summer Theatre Artistic Director Jeffrey Baumgartner has razzed his Michigan City date colleagues that it could be time for a name change for the abandoned abounding iconic assuming arts breadth with a about 70-year history.
“A year ago, we had air conditioning installed for the aboriginal time in the history of this building, and now we additionally accept axial heating, so it’s time to yze programming throughout the year,” said Baumgartner, who aing the Dunes Summer Theatre aggregation in 2017.
“I’ve said a three-week run of a anniversary appearance during these months is a abundant way to let our audiences apperceive that we are a destination actuality throughout the year, rather than aloof adopting our dark for four months of the year.”
Not far from the beaches of Lake Michigan, Dunes Summer Theatre was founded in 1951. Summer 2018 apparent the 67th connected division for the non-profit date venue, which is run by the Dunes Arts Foundation and a managing lath of directors.
Fresh administration and an arrival of new accessible talent, both locally and from Chicago and farther, has broadcast audiences and beat for new assemblage and performers to balance a abode already hidden and in charge of rehab.
“The year afore I took this position, the Dunes’ 2016 division alone had three appearance offerings,” said Baumgartner, whose resume includes assignment at Chicago’s Steppenwolf, Goodman and Chicago Shakespeare theaters.
In summer 2017, Baumgartner, accustomed his new role at Dunes Summer Theatre and helped transform the date amplitude with a abounding agenda of plays and musicals. For his 2017 countdown season, Baumgartner helmed bristles shows, with admired titles such as “Red,” “I Hate Hamlet,” “The Mousetrap,” “Company” and “Love Letters.” In 2018, the mainstage division was added to six ample productions, featuring visiting bedfellow admiral and appointed through the end of September, as able-bodied as appropriate amateur concert contest sandwiched in amid the amphitheater achievement runs.
Baumgartner, with the abutment of Amy Black, the admiral of the theater’s board, explains it’s the architecture and the amplitude of the Dunes Summer Theatre acreage which allows the befalling for added programming to attract audiences to the amplitude for winter and bounce box appointment opportunities.
“Even if the Dunes Summer Theatre aggregation isn’t creating all of the programming, it’s consistently been my ambition to affiliate our amphitheater association of Northwest Indiana to action the Dunes Theatre stage, aback available, for visiting amphitheater talents,” Baumgartner said.
“This is what we did this year in April, aback we hosted a run of ‘The Last Bristles Years,’ as remounted by a Crown Point amphitheater group.”
In the accomplished two years, added than $300,000 in donated funds, from an bearding donor and anchored grants, has accustomed the administration at Dunes Summer Theatre abundant banking means. Besides installing air conditioning and heating, they avowal new date lighting, new accouterments and above renovations to the 19-acre surrounding acreage breadth the 240-seat amphitheater is the axial focal point.
“With the funds provided to us, we’ve been able to paint, adjustment drainage, and now, we alike accept an online ticketing system,” Black said.
“We’ve additionally created a cable alternation for patrons. We accept our own Dunes Arts Foundation Endowment Fund, and we’re absolutely allowance as an bread-and-er active force for the surrounding area, such as the restaurants and gas stations.”
What was already a crumbling exoteric and awkward mural about the amphitheater now offers guests a tiered accurate terrace with awning tables to sip beer and wine awash in an adjoining bar anteroom afore shows and during intermission. There’s additionally a blaze pit that was congenital as a bounded Eagle Scout project.
The advance advance has additionally benefited the actors and crew, abounding of whom opt to alive in-residence on the acreage during a appearance run. There are eight cabins, all originally complete in the 1930s from Sears and Roebuck archive camping berth kits. All accept been adapted for avant-garde comfort.
Actress Kalika Rose, who starred in the August and September run of “Wait Until Dark,” is from Salt Lake City and absitively to absorb her summer at theater, with her parents aerial out from Utah to see her performance.
“I played a dark woman for this date abstruseness and it appropriate a lot of time acquirements my address to be acceptable as this character,” Rose said.
“By actuality in abode at the theater, I was able to allot the bare time and absorption to every detail.”
In accession to planning the bare accomplish for year-round programming, Baumgartner has added account to abide to restore the theater’s added highlights to abounding abeyant from yesteryear.
“We additionally accept an art berth acclimated for adobe ceramics which we use, and there’s still the brand of breadth the aboriginal abode architecture already stood aback in the woods, which you can see as you appear up the drive,” Baumgartner said.
“Being able to one day restore the abode as an added advantage for added artists to alive while they are actuality with us opens up alike added opportunities and dreams yet to be.”
Dunes Summer Theatre
Where: Dunes Summer Theatre, 288 Shady Oak Drive, Michigan City
Information: 219-879-7509; www.dunesartsfoundation.org
Eight adapted cabins, which date aback to the 1930s and a new blaze pit, are mural appearance at Dunes Summer Theatre in Michigan City.
Eight adapted cabins, which date aback to the 1930s and a new blaze pit, are mural appearance at Dunes Summer Theatre in Michigan City. (Philip Potempa/Post-Tribune)
Philip Potempa is a freelance anchorman for the Post-Tribune.
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