Subscribe Now


The Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) raised $100,398 at the 2017 Set the Stage Celebration for its education programs, Student Matinees and Young Company. It is the most the 38-year-old theatre company has ever raised for its education offerings.

The event was held at the UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center on Friday, June 9, at 6:00 p.m., at 50 Warren Street, Lowell.

A Landmark for Arts Education

“When something like this happens, we all win” says artistic director Sean Daniels. “More of our kids can see live theatre—many of them for the first time ever—and more of our kids can make theatre themselves, telling their own stories on our stage. We’re ensuring that incredible theatre will always be a part of our lives here in Lowell and the Merrimack Valley.”

The revenue from the event will support MRT’s two education programs: Student Matinees, which brings students from across the region to see MRT shows and Young Company, which has students tell their own stories in summer sessions, and stay connected with MRT all year long.

An Uplifting Evening

Complete with over 100 silent auction packages and seven live auction items, an auction by State Representative Tom Golden, a speech from Young Company participant Tyler Higgins, and live music by rockabilly band The Real Cool Cats, and spontaneous dancing, it was an uplifting and just-plain-fun evening for the Lowell community.

175 were in attendance. UMass Lowell received the Tsongas Award, accepted by English professor Keith Mitchell and vice chancellor of university relations Patti McCafferty. Middlesex Community College (MCC) received the newly created Donahue Award for community leadership, named for MRT founder Nancy L. Donahue, and accepted by MCC president Jim Mabry and theatre department head Karen Oster. Playwright Lila Rose Kaplan (2016’s “Home of the Brave” and next season’s “The Villains’ Supper Club”) received the Artistic Achievement Award. The awards were created by Lowell glass artist Aaron Slater.

The event was organized by MRT’s interim director of development Nick Kane and special events manager Marianna Wood, along with the company’s volunteer group, the Friends of MRT.


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.