Experiencing Northern Michigan: Cadillac Footliters Perform “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” at the Elks Lodge

“All the world’s a stage,” wrote William Shakespeare in his play As You Like It, “and all the men and women merely players.” Community theatre plays an integral role—pun intended—in the vitality of artistic expression and the importance of building community spirit. In Cadillac, the spirit of community comes alive through theatre whenever the Footliters take the stage. Their most recent production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, based on the mystery novel by British writer Mark Haddon, was a triumphant testament to the talent and creativity of people here in Northern Michigan.

Cadillac Footliters presented this unique story told through the perspective of Christopher, a 15-year-old British boy on the autism spectrum, who struggles with the intensity of his emotional responses to situations like talking to strangers or being touched. Through a stellar performance by 14-year-old Cadillac Area Public Schools student Mark Simons, the main character Christopher invites the audience inside his head for the duration of the play. The acting was superb from the entire ensemble cast, the venue cozy, and the set and tech design simple, galactic, and spectacular.

The Footliters hosted two weekends of performances, January 25-26 and February 1-2 at the Elks Lodge in Downtown Cadillac, which provided an intimate setting for audiences to experience this story—and that’s exactly what the director Julie VanHaitsma wanted for the performance of this fascinating play. (The last time I’d visited the Elks Lodge was for a Gopherwood Concerts event featuring Northern Michigan musician May Erlewine.) The Elks Lodge offers a cash bar, where you can get drinks before the show or during intermission. It was the loveliest atmosphere for a snowy Friday night in at the theatre!

Throughout this phenomenal show, I was amazed at the actors’ talent, impeccable accents, and how well they blended humor with intensity in the story. The performance was so good—I’m seriously in awe of what creative people here in the Cadillac area have to offer. After seeing the play last Friday evening, February 1, I’m still to this day blown away by the raw skill, delicate emotion, and genuine commitment to the art of theatre our local community has shared. The play was fantastic, and I wish I could see it again. To learn more about it, check out Michelle Dunaway’s interview with the director and performers. Bravo, cast and crew!

Before the show started, the Footliters—a 501c3 nonprofit organization—opened with a message from their President, actor Joseph Baumann, who played the role of Christopher’s father in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. He introduced the evening with a special acknowledging of the Cadillac Chamber of Commerce Leadership Program, a group of local professionals nominated by their employers to lead the community through a year-long community service project to support a nonprofit that benefits Cadillac. I joined the Leadership Class of 2018-2019 this past September, along with 15 other professionals in the area, and we’re beyond excited to have recently announced our support of the Footliters.

Three of us from the class—Tracy Logan (Director of the Cadillac Wexford Public Library), Jarret Nelson (Quality Engineer at Avon Automotive), and myself (Creative Coordinator/Copywriter at Mane Content)—attended last weekend’s performance together and were blown away by the show. Our community service project, aptly titled “Leadership in the Spotlight,” is focused around a big goal: this year’s Cadillac Leadership class is aiming to raise $30,000 for the Footliters. This money will go directly toward purchasing portable, modular stage platforms, sound and music equipment, backstage intercom equipment, and a trailer to haul it all.

With brand new equipment, the Footliters will gain more mobility and increase their opportunities to take their show on the road, performing at community events and small venues throughout the area and enhancing their large stage productions. The Cadillac Area Community Foundation recently granted the Footliters their first $3,000 to purchase wireless headset microphones. To raise the additional 90% of necessary funds, we need your help supporting Leadership’s endeavor to benefit local talent, young people, and performing arts education in our small community with big dreams. Please help give the Footliters the ability to increase our community’s engagement with the arts by donating to this impactful cause!

Good news: 9&10 News is contributing $500 to the Leadership Program’s fundraising efforts on behalf of the Footliters! This donation, along with generous donations totaling over $6,000 so far from area businesses and organizations, including Baker College of Cadillac and Rexair, will go directly toward funding the Footliters’ vision for their future, which will significantly improve their ability to enrich educational experiences in theatre arts for people of all ages in the Cadillac area.

Our “Leadership in the Spotlight” community service fundraising project will culminate with a special “Leadership & Friends Dinner” at the Cadillac Grill coming up on April 26, starting with cocktails at 5:30pm and dinner at 6:30pm. Tickets for the event—featuring spectacular food, entertainment, a silent auction, and more—will be available to purchase soon ($55 for one ticket or $100 for two). All proceeds will benefit our Leadership project supporting the Footliters, so be sure to save the date and mark your calendars now! To learn more about this year’s Cadillac Leadership class, check out an article I wrote for the Cadillac Area Chamber Business Magazine back in November about our group experiences in the community so far.

The Cadillac Footliters have been serving the Northern Michigan community since 1964. Now in their 55th season, the local theatre troupe attracts participants ranging in age from eight years old to senior citizens, all sharing their talent, ability, and fourth-wall-breaking creativity with Northern Michigan through the Footliters’ impressive programming. Each year, about 150 performers and crew members produce six shows and hone their skills in arts education summer camps for youth. The Footliters recently released a strategic plan for 2019-2022 in addition to an announcement about our exciting fundraising partnership with Cadillac Leadership in 2019.

This year marks Season 55 for the Cadillac Footliters, which included performances of Leaving Iowa and Willy Wonka before this past weekend’s remarkable show. Later this season, the Footliters will be hosting auditions for their upcoming performances, including their teen show Freaky Friday (with auditions in May and shows July 26-27 and August 2-3) and the musical comedy Company (audition announcement coming soon with performances scheduled for June 7-8 and 14-15). Their next performance is Shrek Jr.: The Musical (April 12-13 and 19-20 at the Cadillac High School Auditorium) from the Junior Players program, engaging area youth in community theatre.

Tickets for future performances can be purchased online or at three locations in Cadillac: Horizon Books, The UPS Store, and Brinks Custom Framing. Northern Michigan, what was the last show you went to see? Do you have a favorite drama, comedy, or musical? Have you ever acted in a play before, or been part of a pit orchestra or tech crew? Feel free to share you own experiences in the comments! And if you also went to see the Footliters’ performance of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, let us know below what you thought of the show!

Categories: Experiencing Northern Michigan, the four