The Rapidian

Civic Theatre encourages Grand Rapids community to embrace themselves, others through storytelling

The Grand Rapids Civic Theatre is a creative space that encourages belonging. While donning another persona, actors often find a sense of self. This theme is particularly evident in its next musical, "Freckleface Strawberry," showing April 22- May 1, 2016.
Actors at the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre

Actors at the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre /Courtesy of the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre

Underwriting support from:

Now on Stage: "Freckleface Strawberry," based on the children’s book written by Award Winning Actress Julianne Moore

Freckleface Strawberry is a seven-year old girl awaking to the knowledge that her bright red hair and freckle covered skin is different from that of her family and friends.   No matter what she accomplishes, it is overshadowed, in her thoughts, by freckles, and she will stop at nothing to remove or hide them.  Spoiler alert, Freckleface’s friends help her understand how loved and needed she is in their lives, with or without freckles.  


April 22 – May 1       A Children’s Musical Tickets $10-$16


Grand Rapids Civic Theatre

Grand Rapids Civic Theatre /Courtesy of the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre

Freckleface Strawberry at the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre

Freckleface Strawberry at the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre /Courtesy of the Grand Civic Theatre

What if we lived in a world where everyone felt comfortable in their own skin and the norm was to just be you? Imagine the countless hours saved because there would no longer be time spent wishing away the things we did not like about ourselves. Instead, what if we spent time surrounded by people who lifted us up and helped us become our true selves? This is the core of the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, a creative space that not only allows, but also encourages, people to become their best selves.  

Grand Rapids Civic Theatre is a community theater: this means the ability to create art is dependent on volunteers interested in being a part of the experience. Civic Theatre employs a small staff, but hundreds of volunteers are needed to make a season possible. That is the charm surrounding community theatre, knowing the person playing Mary Poppins at night may also be in the checkout line at the grocery store with you the next day. But don’t be fooled by the word ‘volunteer,’ because this West Michigan community is filled with talented and dedicated artists.  

The commitment begins with the decision to audition and continues until the final curtain some eight to twelve weeks later. Those weeks are filled with rehearsals, running lines, learning songs, costume fittings, practicing dance moves, and up to six performances a week; it is all done while maintaining a life outside of the theatre. Many may question why someone would do this. Beyond the moment in the spotlight, what is the driving force behind this commitment? The answer is surprisingly simple: while donning another persona, actors truly find a sense of self – they find home. When the cast of the current production, Freckleface Strawberry, was asked how they feel when involved at Civic Theatre, the replies had similar undertones.  

“I feel I can be myself because when I work on a project alongside other talented people, I am free to feel good and comfortable in my own skin. I don’t have to think hard to act a part. I don’t need to work on impressing anyone because I’m surrounded by people that are also dedicated to excellence without fear of judgment," says Steve Place, a veteran Civic Theatre actor.

“I know whenever I walk through those doors I am at home — a secondary home.  I can be myself because I know if I mess up no one is going to judge me or make fun of me," says Zach Klooster, a teen actor.

“When I was little, I was really shy, like painfully shy. Civic Theatre has helped me find ways that are comfortable for me to express myself. It's a place that everyone fits in because theatre seems to bring people together,” says Makhylia Simpson, a young actress currently cast in her third theatre production.

When a person has the opportunity to take the focus off her and join with others for a greater good, the result can be life changing. These changes come about through a multitude of positive moments collecting and manifesting until released on stage and carried away into everyday life.

But the community theatre experience is not secluded; it extends to all of us. Each performance needs an audience, who become as important to the story as the actors on the stage. A collective audience, filled with individuals, who are given permission to be themselves. Each person accepted for who they are and welcomed to love, hate, enjoy or tolerate a performance, reflect how the story relates to them and voice their opinion. A theatre audience becomes a part of the play and is a representation of the community’s creative self.  

And finally, every audience and actor needs a story. Behind every Civic Theatre production there is a purpose: tell stories, entice feelings, and create dialogue. Behind the beautiful sets, costumes, song, and dance there lies a message. Granted, some messages are deeper than others, but all find a place within us and hopefully stay with us for a lifetime. There is such simple beauty in art; it provides a moment where something impacts you so deeply it invokes an emotion. The story becomes a part of your story, and is one you want to experience and share over and over.  

This moment awaits you, and it is as close as your own backyard. You can find a home at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre and know that you are welcome to simply be yourself.  




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