A new stage turns a local guild into a summer theater. The Menomonie Theater Guild (MTG) has recently finished building a new stage and tech booth in their studio. In an attempt to utilize the otherwise vacant space, the theater will host shows there during the summer months.
“The studio space has traditionally—with a few exceptions—remained pretty vacant during the summer,” MTG President Melissa Smith-Tourville stated. “It just sits there and doesn’t serve any purpose.” The organization is happy to have a smaller stage to put on productions that would be more successful with a smaller, niche audience. “[The stage] allows us to focus on shows that are less well-known—potentially less popular content. There are times where a show might have some content in it that some people might find offensive and it’s still beneficial to offer it to the community.”
MTG has already hosted successful shows on the new stage, including a children’s production of “An Author’s Luncheon” and the musical comedy “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” Smith-Tourville said, “We ended up doing four shows this summer, and all four of them were really well-received and people were really happy with the space.”
It took more than 600 working hours over a four-week period to build everything for the new setup. With only about eight volunteers, MTG was able to complete the entire project. Smith-Tourville commented that they did not intend to finish the project in one summer, but members volunteered above and beyond her expectations. “We were going to do it over a couple years, but then it just ended up working out where everything fell into place.”
MTG plans to put on two to four shows every summer in the new space, with at least one show being a children’s theater camp. Melissa said she enjoys bringing theater to the youth and giving them a chance to learn something that would otherwise be unavailable to them. “We’ve had some good opportunities to train in teenagers who really want to have experience in that field (theater production),” Smith-Tourville expressed. “That’s my personal passion to keep the next generation hooked into theater in some way. Some people really love acting, some people just really love tech and then there are people that love both.”