GTPulse: Old Town Playhouse Presents Theatre Under The Tent

Old Town Playhouse has postponed performances until 2021, but that doesn't mean they're not performing. Theatre Under the Tent is a way to spend an evening outdoors enjoying local theatre.

“I kind of got pulled in accidentally. I was at a pretty low point in my life, and it ended up being such a helpful force in my life. It changed my life. I’m not a churchgoer but I think it filled that void for fellowship and community. It’s transformative for the audience, it’s transformative for the actors to be able to create for other people. It’s a healing action for everyone involved.”

Sometimes no matter where you go or live, you have a place to call home. Some people find it through church or volunteering, others find it through sports or clubs. These kinds of organizations can be found in many cities and towns and can provide a constant sense of community for people. For a band of folks just as alike as they are different, the Old Town Playhouse in Traverse City is their place they call home. 

A community theater is a necessary ingredient to any thriving city. Locals lovingly put their time, care, and creative talent into a production for the rest of us to watch and enjoy. There’s something so sweet and reciprocal about that. It feels like a cultural artifact our society has decided to preserve.

Theatre has been around since the 5th century, and despite standing the test of time thus far, I always wonder if theatre is dying. With endless entertainment options through television, movies, and streaming, how has it been so unyielding? By grace, it seems.

With theaters across the country shuttered due to the pandemic and cases continuing to spike unpredictably, it’s difficult to pinpoint when their doors will open again.

John Klapko performs at Old Town Playhouse regularly and is one of the many locals that the theater means so much to.

“We’ve postponed everything until 2021, so we’ve transitioned to using outdoor space. I believe it’s the first time that they’ve done something like this.”

The outdoor seating will accommodate up to 75, socially distanced people. The seating has been placed with care to patrons safety, and if plastic chairs aren’t your thing, you’re more than welcome to bring your favorite camping or lawn chairs. Don’t worry about not knowing where to place your seat. There are 6-foot makers on the ground, and portapotties and sanitizers are at your disposal. Yes, you will have to wear a mask when you’re buying a ticket or waiting to be seated, but once seated you can take it off and enjoy the show. 

Upcoming shows include Frankly Sinatra, Old Home Town Companion, Jazz North, and Love Letters. Love Letters explores how two childhood friends remain in touch, and in love, throughout the separate courses of their lives through writing letters to each other. The audience follows the pair through their letters to each other. According to the author of the play it “needs no theatre, no lengthy rehearsal, no special set, no memorization of lines, and no commitment from its two actors beyond the night of performance.”

There will also be open mic night next month on the 26th at 7 p.m. Locals who would like a slot should email and plan for being on stage for five minutes. All singers, musicians, actors, and poets are encouraged to sign up. While tickets to other Theatre Under The Tent tickets cost $20, the open mic night is free to watch. However, donations are appreciated, especially now. Tickets can be purchase at the door or online.

“The Playhouse is a nonprofit organization and I think it plays a pretty pivotal role in the community. If they don’t stay afloat it’s a bad thing. So, we really hope people will come out and check it out. Donate what you can, even if it’s just a little.”

What does a world without theatre look like to you? Old Town Playhouse is doing its part to keep theatre alive, and with a little love and support, we can keep OTP alive too.

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Categories: GTPulse