I Remember When: Playbill Part 1

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In this episode, Alva Joanna Sink, wife of former University Musical Society (UMS) president, Charles A. Sink, talks about music in Ann Arbor and her husband's work with both UMS and the University of Michigan's School of Music; and Burnette Staebler, former president of Ann Arbor Civic Theatre, talks about the Theatre's earliest performances and other theatrical venues in town.

Directed by Ronald Snow
Created by Jeff Werner
Exec producer: Catherine Anderson
Graphic Artist: Eric Andersen
Sponsored by the Ann Arbor Public Library, with help from the Ann Arbor Sesquicentennial Commission and the University of Michigan Speech Department.

Length: 00:29:13
Copyright: Creative Commons (Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-alike)
Rights Held by: Ann Arbor District Library
Repository Information: Ann Arbor District Library Archives


  • irw_playbill1
  • [00:00:00.00]
  • [00:00:00.99] [MUSIC PLAYING]
  • [00:00:43.65] SPEAKER 1: The performing arts can greatly affect the development of a city, leading to more civic pride, unity between different ethnic and economic groups, and attract further city growth. So it has been with Ann Arbor. I would like to trace the evolution of various entertainment forms in Ann Arbor and tell you how this city has become a center for the performing arts in the Midwest.
  • [00:01:07.12] The first attempts at bringing music to Ann Arbor were done quite naturally by John Allen, the town's first inhabitant. Although some say he was quite good with this fiddle, more serious musical efforts were offered by some of Ann Arbor's churches, the university, and the large German population, with their musical Heritage.
  • [00:01:26.95] Saint Andrew's Episcopal church became one of the focal points for musical talent in the late 1800s. Reuben Kempf, one of the town's best-known music lovers of that era, was then director of the Saint Andrew's Boys Choir. Kempf, who was born in Michigan, had his training in Stuttgart, Germany at the conservatory, and then he returned to Ann Arbor to further his musical growth.
  • [00:01:52.13] Kempf realized that there was a wealth of German musical talent in Michigan, so he organized the peninsular Songerfest. It was a yearly concert festival by German vocal and instrumental groups formed by German immigrants of the Lower Peninsula. For the seventh year of the festival, 1886, Kempf brought the Songerfest to Ann Arbor for three muggy days in August.
  • [00:02:18.91] A contemporary of Reuben Kempf and fellow music patron was Henry Simmons Frieze. Through his efforts, the University Choral Union was started. But his most important contribution was the birth of the University Musical Society.
  • [00:02:35.25] One night in 1880, February of that year, the society was formed, and Henry Frieze was elected its first president. The musical society began bringing the Boston Symphony Orchestra to Ann Arbor to end the season of Choral Union concerts. This practice continued without a name until 1894, when it was dubbed the First Annual Ann Arbor May Festival.
  • [00:03:01.34] One of the guiding forces of the musical society was Dr. Charles Sink. In all, he was associated with the society for 64 years and was responsible for many decisions that affected what the Ann Arbor audience had listened to. What was it like to be in the position of shaping the musical tastes and habits of a city? I spoke with Mrs. Charles Sink, who worked very closely with her husband and the musical society.
  • [00:03:33.33] Talking this afternoon with Mrs. Charles A. Sink, and we've been graciously invited into her home. Today we're going to talk with her about music in Ann Arbor. Mrs. Sink, thanks so much for welcoming us into your home today. Your husband was certainly associated with music in Ann Arbor, as you were, for a good many years.
  • [00:03:54.97] MRS. CHARLES SINK: Oh, yes. My husband was an officer in music for 64 years. He became associated with the School of Music as secretary when he graduated from the literary college in 1904. He had specialized in Latin and Greek and expected to make that his field. And so it was quite a surprise to him when he accepted this position.
  • [00:04:19.67] SPEAKER 1: Did he always have an interest in music, though?
  • [00:04:22.12] MRS. CHARLES SINK: Oh, well, he enjoyed music, but he had no idea of going into music administration. But President Angell, who was president of the university at that time, evidently was quite interested, as were a number of the other members of the board of directors of the musical society, to have him become associated.
  • [00:04:43.25] And then he found out many things after he went over there just as a new graduate of the university. He said one of the things he found out first was that they didn't even own the building they were in.
  • [00:04:57.93] SPEAKER 1: I didn't know that.
  • [00:04:59.11] MRS. CHARLES SINK: Yes, they did not. And so it took a little bit of doing to get that all worked out, but I think people were very generous, people who held bonds on it. And so then the School of Music was owned by the University Musical Society. And of course, they did many structural changes in it through the years. And now, of course, there is no building on Maynard Street.
  • [00:05:28.94] SPEAKER 1: Not anymore.
  • [00:05:29.41] MRS. CHARLES SINK: No, no more. The lovely one is out on campus.
  • [00:05:32.60] SPEAKER 1: Now the musical society was responsible for the Choral Union and the--
  • [00:05:37.15] MRS. CHARLES SINK: Oh, yes.
  • [00:05:37.88] SPEAKER 1: May Festival both.
  • [00:05:39.20] MRS. CHARLES SINK: Yes. The Choral Union started in 1879, and it was formed from the choirs from four local churches. And they changed about, giving concerts in the various churches.
  • [00:05:57.39] In 1889, Dr. Albert Stanley, who'd been the choir director in Grace Church in Providence, came to Ann Arbor. And he was the man who founded the first May Festival. And the first May Festival was in 1894.
  • [00:06:14.64] SPEAKER 1: Do you remember which orchestra played for that festival?
  • [00:06:18.30] MRS. CHARLES SINK: My husband told me-- of course, that was long before his time-- that it was the Boston Festival Orchestra. I think there was some reason they could not get the Boston Symphony, as planned. And I know Charles used to remark to me that the men were certainly farsighted. When they announced the May Festival. They announced it as the First Annual May Festival, even before they had a festival.
  • [00:06:47.63] SPEAKER 1: That was farsighted. That certainly was.
  • [00:06:48.76] MRS. CHARLES SINK: And my husband had many delightful stories about the beginnings of the May Festival. And of course, all of that is on record. It's written up in various books. And the May Festival, of course, has continued throughout the years, as has the Choral Union.
  • [00:07:05.90] SPEAKER 1: One of the most significant musical events in the country, without question.
  • [00:07:08.67] MRS. CHARLES SINK: Yes, yes.
  • [00:07:09.36] SPEAKER 1: Your husband served for 41 years as president of the musical society.
  • [00:07:13.22] MRS. CHARLES SINK: Yes, he did. He was-- originally, the School of Music was also under the musical society.
  • [00:07:20.71] SPEAKER 1: That's an administrative responsibility, all right.
  • [00:07:23.33] MRS. CHARLES SINK: Yes, it really was, when you consider the large faculty and the number of students who attended. But in 1940, the School of Music became an integral part of the university. And then the musical society still was responsible for the Choral Union and the May Festival and all the other concerts that are given here annually.
  • [00:07:47.10] SPEAKER 1: Well, during the years-- you stayed right in Ann Arbor, you and your husband.
  • [00:07:51.30] MRS. CHARLES SINK: Yes.
  • [00:07:52.20] SPEAKER 1: And he began his duties with the musical society-- I bet during all those years, you certainly have met some fascinating and interesting people.
  • [00:08:00.64] MRS. CHARLES SINK: No doubt about it. It's been a great pleasure, and I just feel humbly grateful, Mr. [INAUDIBLE] that I've had the opportunity to meet and get to know these people.
  • [00:08:10.10] SPEAKER 1: And entertain them in your home.
  • [00:08:11.34] MRS. CHARLES SINK: Oh yes, yes.
  • [00:08:13.30] SPEAKER 1: Tell us about some of the people that you met over the years. I'm sure our audience would be interested in that.
  • [00:08:18.83] MRS. CHARLES SINK: Well, one of the great artists who's been a guest in our home various times is Arthur Rubinstein, the world-renowned pianist. And he is a hostess's delight.
  • [00:08:34.88] SPEAKER 1: Now why is that so?
  • [00:08:36.10] MRS. CHARLES SINK: Because he had the most wonderful fund of stories. And one of them, you might be interested in. One day, he was traveling on a railroad train. He was in having his dinner, and he noticed a woman seated at a table, and she didn't take her eyes off of him. And he would try not to look, but he couldn't keep from it.
  • [00:09:02.23] Finally, she called the steward and said, who is that man? And of course, he would not tell her, so he just indicated that he played the piano. That was all she needed to know.
  • [00:09:17.71] As she got up to leave, she went to him and said, my family just adores you. We all like you. We have your records. We never miss your concerts. Now, Mr. Horowitz, may I have your autograph?
  • [00:09:32.07] [LAUGHTER]
  • [00:09:33.72] SPEAKER 1: Well, another pianist you in your home was Paderewski.
  • [00:09:37.10] MRS. CHARLES SINK: Oh, yes. Yes, Paderewski was a very fine artist. As a matter of fact, he felt so strongly about the wonderful Hill Auditorium on campus that one time, when he decided rather late to make a concert tour work in the United States, my husband had already booked the series completely. And so there was no place for Mr. Paderewski.
  • [00:10:04.98] His New York manager sent his itinerary to his home in Switzerland. He cabled back. These were the words. "What about Ann Arbor?" Because he was disappointed not to play here.
  • [00:10:17.55] SPEAKER 1: Did you ever keep a record of who visited you here?
  • [00:10:22.43] MRS. CHARLES SINK: Well, we have kept these guestbooks since, I believe, 1926. I think before that, we did not really keep a guestbook.
  • [00:10:33.71] SPEAKER 1: You have them here?
  • [00:10:34.62] MRS. CHARLES SINK: Oh, yes.
  • [00:10:35.14] SPEAKER 1: Oh, I'd like to take a look at them, if I could.
  • [00:10:36.69] MRS. CHARLES SINK: Fine, that's great. They're usually tucked away, you know, so they can't be found too readily. And in traveling, they used to always go to the vault.
  • [00:10:47.68] SPEAKER 1: Well, they're mighty precious.
  • [00:10:52.85] Well, we're going to have an opportunity now to look at some of these guestbooks.
  • [00:10:55.48] MRS. CHARLES SINK: See some of these guestbooks.
  • [00:10:56.53] SPEAKER 1: Right, I'd certainly like to do that.
  • [00:10:58.81] MRS. CHARLES SINK: My husband always took great pride in these. Here is [INAUDIBLE]. I remember so well the night that he was here, because in the morning, my husband received a call saying, he's not going to leave at midnight as planned. And my husband said, oh, well, then we'll have him for a party.
  • [00:11:16.81] And his New York manager was quite delighted, because he said, war has just broken out, as you know-- you know, in the late summer of '39. And his wife is with him, and their two children are in Europe, so they're really quite distressed. Well, we had them for a party that night, and that's a group of the people that we had, all Scandinavians that I called up and asked to come for that.
  • [00:11:43.10] There's the [INAUDIBLE]. Oh, and here is Dr. [INAUDIBLE] with the Boston Symphony. He was really a joy. And do you know what he liked to eat?
  • [00:11:54.79] SPEAKER 1: No, I'd be interested in that.
  • [00:11:56.63] MRS. CHARLES SINK: Broiled whitefish and boiled macaroni. It sounds so--
  • [00:12:00.88] SPEAKER 1: Did you find that out ahead of time?
  • [00:12:03.34] MRS. CHARLES SINK: Yes. But of course, we dolled it up a bit, so it looked differently. And he enjoyed other things, too. But he was a great man.
  • [00:12:17.48] Oh, there's Christian Flagstad, who was a terrific singer.
  • [00:12:21.70] SPEAKER 1: January 15, 1940.
  • [00:12:23.39] MRS. CHARLES SINK: 1940. You see, that's when the war was on. Oh, and here's Arthur Rubinstein. And another cute story he told was about-- one time, when he was giving a concert, he was almost thrown off. Because a woman had brought a little boy to the concert. He was much too young to come to a concert. And he was beating time, but it wasn't Rubinstein's time.
  • [00:12:48.89] [LAUGHTER]
  • [00:12:53.65] MRS. CHARLES SINK: So there's Mr. Ormandy. Oh, and here's Mr. Schnabel, yes.
  • [00:13:02.18] SPEAKER 1: Now tell me about him.
  • [00:13:03.47] MRS. CHARLES SINK: Mr. Schnabel, he was a pianist, and he also had master classes in New York. He was really very-- very fine man and a wonderful pianist.
  • [00:13:16.06] SPEAKER 1: I'm sure as you go through this book, you have an opportunity to renew many memories, huh?
  • [00:13:19.39] MRS. CHARLES SINK: Oh, yes. Well, just think of it. On the seventh book, now, there are hundreds of these. And here is some of the Budapest Chamber Music--
  • [00:13:32.15] SPEAKER 1: Chamber Group.
  • [00:13:32.81] MRS. CHARLES SINK: And the Minneapolis, with Mitropoulos. I recall one time when Mitropoulos was here, we purposely invited many a young man in music who were aspiring to be conductors. And I can still see them now, seated on the floor, sort of like getting words of wisdom from the maestro. And they still talk about it. There was one of them who was a guest here last year, and he was speaking, again, how much he enjoyed it.
  • [00:14:04.90] Oh, here's Lawrence Tibbett.
  • [00:14:07.31] SPEAKER 1: Great singer.
  • [00:14:08.24] MRS. CHARLES SINK: Oh, he was a terrific singer. Yes. It was wonderful. Suzanne [INAUDIBLE]. Oh, and here's [INAUDIBLE].
  • [00:14:16.67] SPEAKER 1: What kind of a person was he?
  • [00:14:18.89] MRS. CHARLES SINK: Well, he appears to many people as being very stern. But I thought he was perfectly charming. He was so interested in things, you know. Not really musical things, but he was interested-- he was here one time during the war. And someone had said something about my activities in the Red Cross, and he had been very active, too.
  • [00:14:43.01] SPEAKER 1: So listen, we could spend hours doing this, and I'd just like to do that, but we're going to-- I just opened up to Lily Pons.
  • [00:14:50.66] MRS. CHARLES SINK: Oh, fine, yes. Oh, Lily.
  • [00:14:52.54] SPEAKER 1: Goodness, everywhere I go, I find a distinguished person. But gee, it's very gracious of you, again, to show us these books of memories and names and guests.
  • [00:15:03.54] MRS. CHARLES SINK: Well, I'm delighted, Mr. [INAUDIBLE], that you could come this afternoon. I think it's perfectly fine. And I'm sure you have enjoyed your work.
  • [00:15:13.44] SPEAKER 1: Oh, I've enjoyed it very much.
  • [00:15:14.49] MRS. CHARLES SINK: In Ann Arbor, too.
  • [00:15:15.12] SPEAKER 1: It's good to know that there have been such wonderful people who've come to Ann Arbor, and I think they've probably sensed a little of its charm through the kind of hospitality that's offered here. Thanks a lot.
  • [00:15:27.55] But not all forms of entertainment had the peaceful growth that music had. Such was the case of the circus in Ann Arbor. It had its start, calmly enough, only a decade after the town's founding. By the turn of the century, the touring circus company had its yearly home on the west side of the city. The Big Top was set up just to the west of the railroad tracks between Liberty and Washington Streets.
  • [00:15:53.56] Of course, the circus brought enjoyment-- much of it. But one year, it also brought some brawls, with people trying to crash the gates. Before the volunteer fire department and the city's only policeman could get there in order to come by and break the brawl up, by then the local rowdies had turned carnival wagons, and they'd let the monkeys and bears loose and destroyed everything in the midway, from the popcorn stand to the fat lady's tent.
  • [00:16:22.10] When the circus returned the following year, they were ready for the worst. During the parade, someone, interestingly enough, tossed a firecracker under one of the elephants. And of course, the elephant jumped up, scared out of its wits, and stampeded every other circus animal in the procession. That night, the circus man waited, of course, for the local gang of roughnecks to come by. And they did. But this time, the circus came out on top.
  • [00:16:51.38] Part of the thrill of the circus was just being there and seeing it in person. And such is also the case with the theater, which here in Ann Arbor has flourished for years. I spoke with Mrs. Burnette Staebler, well known for her work with theater in Ann Arbor.
  • [00:17:14.88] We're talking now with Mrs. Burnette Staebler. And we're going to be talking about theatre in Ann Arbor. Thank you very much, Mrs. Staebler, for welcoming us into your home.
  • [00:17:24.39] BURNETTE STAEBLER: Delighted to have you.
  • [00:17:26.07] SPEAKER 1: Mrs. Staebler, as I understand it, you have served as president of the Ann Arbor Civic Theatre. And member of the board of directors, and have been active in directing plays at the Civic Theatre.
  • [00:17:37.21] BURNETTE STAEBLER: Yes, that's right.
  • [00:17:37.97] SPEAKER 1: Tell us, has Ann Arbor always been a community with interest in theater?
  • [00:17:42.46] BURNETTE STAEBLER: Oh, since its very beginning. It really has. Well, we were established, what, in the 1830s? And we hadn't been a town for more than a couple of years when there's a record of some group in town, the Thespian Society, giving a performance of Pissarro in a place called the EM Terry Hall. Nobody knows where that was, but it was one of the big rooms upstairs over one of the hotels, probably, downtown, as so many of the later shows were given in, too.
  • [00:18:15.53] SPEAKER 1: And this interest, then, continued to thrive and grow.
  • [00:18:17.73] BURNETTE STAEBLER: Oh, yes. And all during the 19th century, we had lots and lots of professional theater in Ann Arbor. First, there were traveling troupes that came, the first one as early as 1844. They gave a lovely combination of plays-- Richard III, Shakespeare, of course, and a thing called The Drunkard's Warning. Evidently, the melodramas and Shakespeare were very big in those days. And traveling actors and troupes used to come all during the 19th century. We didn't have a real theater until 1871, when Hill's Grand Opera House was built on Main Street.
  • [00:18:56.92] SPEAKER 1: On Main Street.
  • [00:18:57.44] BURNETTE STAEBLER: Yes, near Catherine.
  • [00:18:58.16] SPEAKER 1: Saw a picture of it the other day.
  • [00:18:59.50] BURNETTE STAEBLER: Yes. And then things really got going. And many of the biggest stars in the world would come for two- and three-night stands. Oh, all the famous names you can think of were here-- Minnie Maddern Fiske, and Modjeska, and all the famous names. John Drew and so on-- came for many performances.
  • [00:19:23.39] And then there were a lot of local groups that gave performances, too. If you say, was Ann Arbor interested in theater? Ann Arbor got so interested in theater that by 1899, in the year 1899, there were 95 legitimate plays given in Ann Arbor.
  • [00:19:43.00] SPEAKER 1: And this attracted not only students and university people, but the townspeople, as well.
  • [00:19:46.16] BURNETTE STAEBLER: Oh, yes. This was largely town, not university.
  • [00:19:50.03] SPEAKER 1: Oh, that's interesting.
  • [00:19:50.48] BURNETTE STAEBLER: Now, the university, of course, was smaller in those days, and they had dramatic groups, comedy clubs and this sort of thing. But I'm talking about town theater, which was mostly given downtown. The university finally began giving things in University Hall, when that was built. But it wasn't until the 20th century that the university really got going in theater. And of course, they've been going strong ever since.
  • [00:20:16.96] SPEAKER 1: Yes, indeed. Well, as the university got involved, and the opportunities for people to experience theater began to grow-- there was not only a big community to watch it-- what kind of lead did the university take in terms of theater? Or what did it build on, really, I should say?
  • [00:20:34.23] BURNETTE STAEBLER: Well, there was quite a doldrum in town in the first 10 years of the century, because the opera house, Hill's Opera House, which in its latter years became the Athens Theatre, finally closed in 1904. And there was no theater in town.
  • [00:20:51.60] In 1908, it reopened, on the same site, as the new Whitney Theater. And this theater was in existence for many, many years. I saw performances at the Whitney Theater when I was a freshman in the university, around 1930. And I think the play production department at the University was established in 1916. And this was the real beginning of the university's major interest in theater.
  • [00:21:18.57] This was given a tremendous boost in 1928, when Valentine Windt, an extraordinary man, came to Ann Arbor to head the university play production department. He was here for a number of years. He built the department so that the plays they gave were excellent. And then, of course, in 1929, Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre opened, and both university productions and town productions were given there.
  • [00:21:43.20] About that same time, we saw the beginning of the spring drama season, which brought professional theater, again, to Ann Arbor, performing in Lydia Mendelssohn. There would be a five- or six-week season every spring where the top stars in the country would come and perform five or six shows for a week each time.
  • [00:22:03.35] SPEAKER 1: We've certainly had a long history, then, of professional theatre in Ann Arbor.
  • [00:22:05.79] BURNETTE STAEBLER: Yes, we have. Yes.
  • [00:22:06.92] SPEAKER 1: Tell me, how did the Civic Theatre, the Ann Arbor Civic Theatre as we know it today, get started?
  • [00:22:11.23] BURNETTE STAEBLER: Well, it's 43 years old.
  • [00:22:13.11] SPEAKER 1: It's 43.
  • [00:22:13.76] BURNETTE STAEBLER: Yes, it's an old organization, as these things go. And this was a group, such as many of the groups that there had been earlier, of citizens, people in town-- often including many university people, of course, because that's part of the town-- to have fun giving plays for their friends. Well, it's grown over the years, until now, everybody comes to see Civic Theatre plays. They're very, very good.
  • [00:22:38.54] SPEAKER 1: Were the plays originally performed in Lydia Mendelssohn? Or was there another theater?
  • [00:22:43.07] BURNETTE STAEBLER: No, they gave them in the high schools and in various smaller halls. But we've been giving our plays in Lydia Mendelssohn, pretty much, for the last, oh, quite a few years now.
  • [00:22:54.36] SPEAKER 1: Well, bearing in mind how closely you have worked with the Civic Theatre, as you look back just to that group, are there particularly memorable performances that stand out in your mind?
  • [00:23:05.53] BURNETTE STAEBLER: In Civic Theatre?
  • [00:23:06.21] SPEAKER 1: Yeah.
  • [00:23:06.64] BURNETTE STAEBLER: Oh, yes.
  • [00:23:07.51] SPEAKER 1: OK, why don't you tell us--
  • [00:23:07.91] BURNETTE STAEBLER: Yes, I'm sure. Well, I think the first one that I ever saw Civic Theatre do, oh, 15, 20 years ago, before I joined it, was a performance of Major Barbara. Beautifully done. And then later, one of Arthur Miller's All My-- is it Arthur Miller's?
  • [00:23:26.16] SPEAKER 1: All My Sons?
  • [00:23:26.51] BURNETTE STAEBLER: All My Sons, yes. It was a beautiful production. And it was those things that sold me on participating in Civic Theatre. I decided this was a group that was interested not just in being a little social club that gave plays for fun, but were interested really in doing the very best job that amateurs can do. And this is what they do.
  • [00:23:45.44] SPEAKER 1: And acting, directing, performing, crewing, and so on-- the people that participate in that are members of the Ann Arbor community, not just the university community?
  • [00:23:53.52] BURNETTE STAEBLER: Oh, my, we have schoolteachers and secretaries and firemen and policemen-- just about all kinds of people in all kinds of occupations participate in Civic Theatre. I'm just amazed that many of the men and, particularly, the women, many of whom have full-time jobs all day and families to take care of, and then they come down there night after night and build scenery and costumes and act and direct and so on. And put on really very good performances.
  • [00:24:25.88] SPEAKER 1: Have you had an opportunity to be the Power Center yourself?
  • [00:24:28.61] BURNETTE STAEBLER: Oh, yes. I have not acted in the Power Center myself, or directed there. But of course, I've seen many productions there. This is a great lift, and Ann Arbor was really needing the Power Center. We were ready for it. We were bursting at the seams in Lydia Mendelssohn and the Trueblood Theatre, and the high school auditoriums. There just wasn't room enough for all productions--
  • [00:24:48.64] SPEAKER 1: Yes, I know. I've been to some plays where there's very, very, very crowded. The professional theater in Ann Arbor has been a help, you know, to students in some ways, insofar as they get an opportunity to see how some of the best directors and best performers--
  • [00:25:01.42] BURNETTE STAEBLER: And work with them, in some cases.
  • [00:25:02.92] SPEAKER 1: That's right, that's right.
  • [00:25:04.29] BURNETTE STAEBLER: There have been, ever since the spring drama season-- which as I say, started in 1929-- it went on with a brief interlude in World War II, then it went on into about 1950. That finally died because it wasn't economic anymore. It wasn't that people didn't want to see the professional plays.
  • [00:25:23.48] But after that, a number of us have been interested in seeing that we could keep professional theater going in Ann Arbor. There were two interesting little movements in the 1950s. There was the Arts Theatre Club, a little equity company. It lived for three years and did some very exciting things in a loft downtown.
  • [00:25:41.79] Then there was the Dramatic Arts Center, which followed it for another three years. I was involved in that one, acted in some plays and helped with the management of it. This, again, lasted three years, a little professional company in the old Masonic temple, which became an arena theater.
  • [00:25:58.18] But we soon discovered that the only way that Ann Arbor was going to maintain professional theater was to have it connected with the university. So that when the professional theater program started, this was the direction we felt Ann Arbor needed to go, as far as professional theater was concerned. And of course, professional theater groups, the PTP, is an excellent organization now bringing us all kinds of good professional theater. They work with Civic Theatre. We cooperate in a great many ways.
  • [00:26:27.49] Because I've always felt that theatre is all of a piece. People say, well, don't you compete, you different theater groups, for audiences? Well, of course we do, to some extent. But for example, last weekend, the University Players were doing a big thing with a professional star there. They sold out their houses for Cyrano de Bergerac at the Power Center.
  • [00:26:50.60] At the same time over at Lydia Mendelssohn, Civic Theater was playing Ernest in Love, a delightful little musical based on the old play The Importance of Being Earnest. I directed that show. We had excellent audiences, too, even though there were also big things going on at Hill Auditorium in the musical field.
  • [00:27:07.09] So theater is a piece. If you develop theater audiences in a town, they want to see all kinds of theater, and they support all kinds of good theater.
  • [00:27:16.74] SPEAKER 1: Well, thanks so much, Mrs. Staebler, for talking with us about theater in Ann Arbor and for giving us just a little background about the foundations upon which theater has grown in Ann Arbor. Appreciate you talking with us. And I certainly feel theater in the future is in good hands.
  • [00:27:35.82] Legitimate theater, musical performances, the circus-- these are just a few of the cultural and entertainment events to come to Ann Arbor, but not the only ones. Ann Arbor has had its share of almost every kind of entertainment. Unfortunately, we can't look at everything, but there's more to come. So join us next week, when we'll look at more of Ann Arbor's Playbill. See you then.

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