Plays in the Park program announced for downtown Alpena

This November, downtown Alpena will have its first ever Plays in the Park event, launching the new program offered by the Alpena Downtown Development Authority and Thunder Bay Theatre.

Plays in the Park offers free, outdoor theater performances in public spaces throughout the downtown. The program will kick off Nov. 4 at 6 p.m. with a performance of “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare put on by TBT. The performance will take place in the Carter Street parking lot along the river next to the Cellar Building.

“Downtown Alpena is becoming an arts and cultural destination,” said Alpena DDA Executive Director Anne Gentry. “We’re home to six art galleries and studios, a public library, two movie theaters, a professional theater, film festivals, live concerts, and more. Plays in the Park is one more way to promote the artistic opportunities within our downtown and engage in public art.”

Plays in the Park was a concept first developed by previous DDA Director Lesslee Dort. After the success of TBT’s performance of West Side Story at the Band Shell this past summer, the two organizations decided it was time to officially launch the program. Over the next five years, the DDA is planning on hosting one fall performance (a Shakespeare production) and one spring performance (a Great American Play) each year in various downtown locations.

“What is being proposed here is somewhat unheard of, in that public professional theater performances are most popular and available in large metropolitan areas,” said Jeffrey Mindock, artistic director of TBT. “The fact that this small community and region will have this opportunity will help put Alpena on the map as a can’t-miss destination.”

For the performance, a stage will be assembled, a sound system set up and parts of the set brought to the outdoor venue. Attendees should bring their own chairs and blankets. The DDA will have outdoor heaters set up, as well as warm beverages for purchase.

“This program has the potential to energize the entire Northeast region and make them realize that downtown Alpena, home to Northeast Michigan’s only year-round professional theatre, is a place they need to be,” said Mindock.

For more information about the program and November’s event, call 356-6422 or email anneg@alpena.mi.us.