Encore Michigan

Riverbank Theatre plans for annual stage festival; seeks donors

News August 09, 2019 Encore Staff

MARINE CITY—Riverbank Theatre has announced funding is in the works for Riverbank Stage Festival, a summer long arts initiative, modeled on Ontario’s highly successful Stratford and Shaw festivals, that is expected to draw visitors from the entire Great Lakes area and offer an exceptional theater experience in the beautiful Blue Water Region. This Festival will use three performance spaces within a three-mile radius: The Snug Theatre, Riverbank Theatre, located in downtown Marine City, and the East China Performing Arts Center. The Festival will provide high quality, classic plays and Broadway style musicals at an affordable price. It is slated to launch July, 2020 and run initially for 6 weeks.

By creating a summer theater festival, audience members will have the opportunity to experience a variety of shows in the same weekend getaway. The East China Performing Arts Center, which sits dormant for most of the summer, will house a large Broadway musical. Riverbank Theatre will provide a large play or medium-size musical and The Snug will be home to a new playwrights workshop.

The playwrights workshop will take submissions from Michigan writers with the opportunity for staged readings of their material, advice from a panel of New York producers/playwrights, audience feedback, and the possibility of their play being produced in one of Riverbank’s upcoming seasons. “We feel this is an exciting addition to our festival offerings as patrons, actors, and writers will be able to collaborate on new works and enjoy the creative process together. There will be something for every kind of theatregoer whether they are looking for pure entertainment or whether they are avid theatre patrons interested in championing new works,” said Kathy Vertin, founder of Riverbank Theatre.

This workshop will be facilitated by Michigan-born, Broadway actor and playwright James Hindman, who currently works and resides in New York but is passionate about expanding performing arts in his home state. James has been a guest artist of Riverbank’s past two seasons. His two person play, Popcorn Falls, directed by Christian Borle, was workshopped at the Snug Theatre venue and premiered off Broadway this past fall.

The Riverbank Stage Festival was voted a top initiative by the St. Clair County Blue Meets Green Commission, a group of leaders from public, private and non-profit sectors that communicate, connect and advocate for projects that meet the goals of the regional strategic plan. This initiative will have significant economic impact on the entire region and is expected to bring 17,000 visitors over a 6-week period; once the festival is expanded to the targeted 12-week run, this number is expected to jump to 54,000. Further, an independent economic impact study conducted by Anderson Economic Group in Lansing, Michigan estimates that Riverbank Stage Festival, at this level, would bring $11 million in additional revenue to the region as a whole.

Bringing in guest artists, employing local talent and Equity actors, and launching multiple productions simultaneously at three venues will require a sizable budget. Thanks to a generous grant of $75,000 from the Franklin H. Moore Jr. and Nancy S. Moore Foundation, Riverbank Stage Festival is on its way to becoming a reality. The theater seeks to raise a total of $250,000 for the project. If interested in donating or sponsoring Riverbank Stage Festival, please contact Riverbank Theatre at 810-278-1749.