2014-04-13 / Dining & Entertainment

OCP invites community to grand reopening gala celebration

OWOSSO – Lebowsky Rebuild donors and community members who wish to be a part of the historic reopening of the Lebowsky are invited to attend The Grand Reopening Gala Celebration on May 9 as the Owosso Community Players begin their two-weekend run of “Shrek the Musical.”

This once-in-a-lifetime event for the community will begin at 6:30 p.m. and will include hors d’oeuvres and refreshments, followed by the red-carpet ribbon cutting at 7:15 p.m. Gala guests will also enjoy dessert and a bubbly toast after the performance. Tickets for the gala (including the show) are $75 per person, with the largest portion of the proceeds to go directly to Rebuild as OCP continues to raise money to pay for the newly renovated building, devastated by fire in 2007.

The gala tickets are available online at www.owossoplayers.com. Tickets purchased online require a credit card. People are also encouraged to go to the box office in person to purchase event tickets. Call 723-4003 for more information. Box office hours can be found online at www.owossoplyers.com.

OCP President Charlie Keenan urges audience regulars as well as community members who may never have attended an OCP show to come out for this exciting event. “I know so many local people talk about having gone to the movies through their teenage years at this building (then known as the Capitol Theater), and now they have the chance to contribute to its rebirth and see a fantastic musical. The new interior of the Lebowsky is beautiful, the perfect mix of historic and modern design,” he said.

According to Rebuild chairperson Cheryl Peterson, a critical share of the funds for the project came from community donations. “We are deeply grateful to the greater Shiawassee community for their financial support thus far in our quest to rebuild the theater. Their contributions were instrumental in making this happen,” she said.

Peterson also credits Chemical Bank for supplying the bridge loan that allowed construction to progress. In addition to local contributions, the Rebuild campaign secured tax credits and a USDA Rural Development loan. Peterson said, “We will continue to fundraise as we work to pay off the loan over time.”

The development of Owosso’s own “entertainment district” centers around the theater, according to Owosso Main Street manager Josh Adams.

“Having a 500-seat theater will bring many visitors to our community. The momentum is building as downtown projects like the theater and the Armory (slated for some major changes next year) are completed, transforming our downtown. We think the theater is a catalyst to make living downtown and playing downtown an important part of our local culture,” Adams said.

As area restaurants fill with customers, Adams anticipates future growth with possibly more restaurants or other services to be offered in the area.

OCP’s new executive director Ryan Bladzik echoes his sentiments.

“OCP hopes this show will be just the beginning of making the Shiawassee Center for the Performing Arts [including the Lebowsky and the Studio Theater] a “Premier entertainment destination in mid-Michigan,” Bladzik said.

OCP plans to book many acts in addition to its own performances, providing a big variety of entertainment in the new space.

The long-awaited opening of the Lebowsky is generating excitement locally and in the surrounding communities. Although most of the cast members in “Shrek the Musical” are familiar local performers, several others are traveling from some distance – Lansing, Flushing, Lapeer – to participate. Tickets for all performances went on sale April 1, and many reservations are already coming in, according to the box office managers.

The group also recently hired its first professional artistic director, Owosso native Garrett Bradley, who is thrilled to be directing the first show back in the Lebowsky.

“Like so many others, I have great memories of being on stage and directing shows in this theater,” Bradley said.

Over 70 people auditioned for the OCP production, according to director Bradley.

“The big numbers show just how much people want to be involved in our first show back in the Lebowsky, and I hope it’s an indication of the interest we’ll have in all of our upcoming productions,” he said.

Bladzik said, “The generosity of the community has gotten us to this point, and this opening gala celebrates the finishing touch on the construction. Of course, continued financial support is needed as we work to complete construction and close the loan. Please join us in celebrating our progress at the May 9 gala.”

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