My visit to the Manatee Performing Art Center was the first time I had stepped inside their beautiful new Riverwalk location. I had been to the downtown Bradenton location countless times over the years. While I was obviously expecting to see an updated and more sophisticated facility, I was not really sure what else I would learn about the “new” Manatee Players. Fortunately for me, I was able to talk with Janene Amick, executive director of the Manatee Performing Art Center (MPAC). Janene was able to give me some insight on both new and emerging aspects of MPAC.
While I have always enjoyed the theatre and attending performances, I understand that can be unusual for someone my age, or so I thought. Janene set the record straight when she and I discussed my generation: millennials. According to Janene, if you look strictly at the ticket sales or ticket holders for the MPAC, then yes, it will look like their primary audience is an older demographic. However, she says that this does not paint a clear picture of the whole audience of the productions of the MPAC.
According to Janene, this picture remains unclear to most because the primary involvement of millennials at the MPAC is voluntary. This means that there is a large group of dedicated young individuals who have an interest in theatre and are a big part of what goes on behind the scenes to make each production a success. These millennials have diverse jobs, from helping cast members into their costumes before they go on stage to working as a member of the orchestra pit. As a reward for their hard work, these volunteers are then able to attend the preview night of the show they are assisting with free of charge.
From what I could tell by talking to Janene, the MPAC really prides itself on having a diverse lineup of shows each season. This diversity allows them to cater to different audiences and attract people of all ages to the theatre. This can come from hosting productions that are considered timeless and desirable to all ages, like Cats (opening in August) or holding productions that individually cater to certain demographics like the family classic, Disney’s The Little Mermaid that opens later this fall.
The MPAC is looking to expand this idea of showing classic productions to please and attract all ages from the stage to the screen. The MPAC will host a screening of the 1960s classic, Charade, starring Audrey Hepburn and Carey Grant on their main stage in Stone Hall. Their hope behind choosing a film like this is that the notoriety of the stars will attract both individuals who loved the film when it came out as well as a younger audience who has an interest in vintage Hollywood film.
As should be expected from the MPAC, this will not be simply the screening of a popular film. There will be 1950s and 60s costumes on display in the lobby to set the mood for the event, a piano player and the concession will be open as well. This event is scheduled to take place on July 26th at 2 p.m. Tickets are $3 each.
For more information on everything the Manatee Performing Art Center has going on and to view their exciting fall lineup including dates and showtimes, visit their website!
Continue to follow me this summer through my many adventures in downtown Bradenton!