Merrimack Repertory Theatre Fundraiser
Local playwright Lila Rose Kaplan to receive honors, along with UMass Lowell and Middlesex Community College.
MRT's 2016 Set the Stage Celebration
Lowell, MA – Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) is preparing for its Set the Stage Celebration, the annual fundraiser which provides vital support to its education programming. In addition to live and silent auctions, cocktails, seated dinner, and live music, the evening will honor MRT’s invaluable community partners UMass Lowell and Middlesex Community College, as well as Cambridge-based playwright Lila Rose Kaplan.
The event will be held at the UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center on Friday, June 9 at 6:00 pm, at 50 Warren Street, Lowell, MA. RSVPs are currently open at www.mrt.org/Celebration. Tickets can be purchased online, or by calling the MRT box office at 978-654-4678.
Honoring Community Leaders
UMass Lowell will receive the Tsongas Award, which was created by the theater in 1993 “to single out remarkable citizens who have provided distinctive leadership for both Merrimack Repertory Theatre and the larger community.”
In addition to the steadfast assistance UMass Lowell provides to MRT as a production sponsor annually, the university has supported the company by hosting workshops for new plays, in which professional actors work alongside students reading through plays in development for the MRT stage, creating an invaluable opportunity for playwrights to refine scripts before they move into production—and for students to learn the theatre arts first-hand from top industry professionals. UMass Lowell hosted workshops for last season’s farce “Home of the Brave,” and also for the current season’s contemporary drama “Chill.” Next season, it will host a workshop of the new comedy “The Villains’ Supper Club.”
“UMass Lowell has been proud to partner with MRT since its inception on our campus nearly 40 years ago, enabling our faculty and students to engage with and support the arts in our community,” said Patti McCafferty, UMass Lowell Vice Chancellor of University Relations and member of the MRT Board of Trustees. “It is an honor to receive the Tsongas Award from a professional theatre company that consistently brings extraordinary entertainment and recognition to our city.”
The newly created Donahue Award for Community Leadership, named for MRT founder Nancy L. Donahue, honors an individual or organization that has contributed extraordinary effort, resources, and spirit to partnering with MRT as a leader in the Lowell community. Middlesex Community College (MCC) is this year’s recipient.
MCC has taken a tremendous leadership role in the MRT community over the past two years, hosting an additional workshop of “Chill,” with MCC students working with professional actors, after which the theatre decided to program the play. MCC will host another developmental workshop for “Little Women, Retold”, the world premiere adaptation coming to MRT in the 2017 holiday season. The college is forging more partnerships with MRT through its just-opened Middlesex Humanities Center.
“MCC is proud to partner with MRT as this offers our students and faculty an opportunity to connect with and learn from a tremendous group of theatre professionals,” says president Dr. James C. Mabry. “These connections help strengthen the arts community in Lowell, and help to strengthen arts programming at the college.”
MRT will bestow its Artistic Achievement Award on Lila Rose Kaplan, the playwright behind last season’s smash hit “Home of the Brave” and whose upcoming “The Villains’ Supper Club” will premiere at MRT next spring.
“Lila Rose Kaplan is one of the great writers of this generation,” says Artistic Director Sean Daniels. “In addition, she’s decided to call Boston and New England her home, and that should be celebrated. In my two years here, I have not only been thrilled to program her work and see the results (her play “Home Of The Brave” is currently the #1 selling world premiere in the theatre’s history), but I have leaned on her knowledge, her taste, her joyous honesty that she brings to every project.
"It’s important to point out that some of the best writers in the business are local writers. Local writers having national and international careers. We don’t need to look to New York for our cultural cues; we can find them in our own backyard. And she is a woman who tells women's stories honestly and with incredible warmth and humor. It is still much, much too rare to find those stories produced.
"As we prepare for the world premiere of her next farce “The Villains' Supper Club”, it’s important to take a moment and let her know what she means to the MRT community.”
“What a joy it is to be a playwright at MRT!” says Lila Rose Kaplan. “Sean and the MRT staff and the MRT audience create a stellar home for new plays with their enthusiasm, generosity, and zest for heartfelt theatrical adventures! I am thrilled to be honored at the upcoming gala and to call MRT my artistic home.”
More About the Event
MRT’s Set the Stage Celebration raises over $100,000 annually. The funds support MRT’s essential work in education—including Student Matinees, which give thousands of middle and high school students from Lowell and Beyond the chance to see local, live, professional theatre—and Young Company, MRT’s signature youth program that has kids and teens develop their own theatre pieces, and remain a part of the MRT community all year long.
The evening will feature cocktails and seated dinner, plus live and silent auctions, where guests will bid on over $20,000 worth of vacation packages, autographed sports and arts memorabilia, fine wines and spirits, gift certificates to local restaurants, and much more. (Notable items up for bid include an autographed Julian Edelman Patriots jersey, a private studio tour of Boston’s NPR station WBUR, and a Pack Up + Go mystery vacation.) Rockabilly trio the Real Cool Cats will offer live music during what promises to be a night of fabulous fun in support of theatre education at the Merrimack Valley’s only professional theatre company.
Diamond Sponsors: Rickard K. and Nancy L. Donahue Charitable Foundation
Platinum Sponsors: Stephen and Suzanne Irish | Demoulas Foundation, Enterprise Bank
Gold Sponsors: Judy and Geoff, Frank and Belva Hopkins, Martha Mayo | Lowell Five, Washington Savings Bank
Silver Sponsors: Debra Grossman and Kate Tyndall, Judith G. and James C. Mabry, Susan Mitchell and Jim Waldo | Clark Insurance, University of Massachusetts Lowell
Bronze Sponsors: Don Bedard and David Vaillancourt, Denise and John Glaser, Lincoln Pinsky | Conway Insurance, Pearson & Pearson, LLC
Wine Sponsors: Fine Estates from Spain
Circle Health is the 2016-17 Season Sponsor. Merrimack Repertory Theatre is funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.
MRT 2016-17 SEASON
“45 Plays for 45 Presidents” by Andy Bayiates, Sean Benjamin, Genevra Gallo-Bayiates, Chloe Johnston, and Karen Weinberg, Directed by Sean Daniels
Production sponsor Enterprise Bank | Media sponsor Merrimack Valley Magazine
September 7 – October 2, 2016
“Abigail/1702” by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Directed by Tlaloc Rivas
Media sponsor Merrimack Valley Magazine
October 12 – November 6, 2016
“Going to See the Kid” by Steven Drukman, Directed by Alexander Greenfield
Media sponsor The Walmart Foundation
November 30 – December 24, 2016
“The Making of a Great Moment” by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, Directed by Sean Daniels
Production Sponsor Farley White Interests | Media sponsor WBUR
January 4 – 29, 2017
“Women in Jeopardy!” by Wendy MacLeod, Directed by Sean Daniels
Media sponsor 92.5 The River
February 15 – March 12, 2017
“Chill” by Eleanor Burgess, Directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian
Production sponsor UMass Lowell | Media Sponsor HOWL Magazine
March 22 – April 16, 2017
“My 80-Year-Old Boyfriend” Conceived and performed by Charissa Bertels, Book and lyrics by Christian Duhamel, Music and lyrics by Edward Bell, Directed by Sean Daniels
Production Sponsor Lowell Five | Media Sponsor WCAP 980 AM
April 26 – May 21, 2017
Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Performance Space: The Nancy L. Donahue Theatre (In Liberty Hall, adjacent to Lowell Memorial Auditorium)
50 E. Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA 01852
Box Office: 978-654-4678
UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center
50 Warren Street
Lowell, MA 01852