Parallel 45 Theatre widens audience with 'Go, Dog. Go!'

Mar 2, 2018

Parallel 45 Theatre is about to try something new.

The professional theatre company started in Traverse City seven years ago and typically produces three to four shows throughout the year.

Next year, the company wants to produce more shows, for more people. 

It’ll put on a four-week summer series in a format called rotating-repertory.


“What that means is that you can see one show on Friday night, come back the following night and see another show ... all rehearsed and performed by the same group of actors and designed by the same group of designers,"explains Kit McKay, artistic director for Parallel 45 Theatre. “So one group of people would be in town all summer long, producing multiple shows.”

The rotating-repertory format has been done successfully in other places like Creede, Colorado. They have a population of about 400 people, and Kit says the performers "bring in 15,000 people every summer, just to see theatre."

Kit says the Creede Repertory Theatre has taken advantage of people coming for the natural beauty of the area which is what Parallel 45 Theatre hopes to do in northern Michigan.

Erin Anderson Whiting, the executive director for Parallel 45 Theatre, says success will depend on more than just advertising and regional marketing; they’re counting on local word of mouth.

“It will of course be the fact that you trust your neighbor," she says. 

Part of the 2019 summer series will be producing shows aimed at kids and their parents, which they haven’t done much before. Instead, Parallel 45 Theatre is better known for producing contemporary plays aimed at adult audiences.

Cast members for Parallel 45 Theatre's "Go, Dog. Go!" rehearse in Traverse City.
Credit Dan Wanschura

But the theatre company is already preparing for a wider audience by performing a kids show this Sunday. “Go, Dog. Go!” is a show for younger audiences based on the kids book by P. D. Eastman. It's about dogs doing all sorts of crazy stuff.

But Noah Durham Fried, the show's director, says it's not just for kids.

“So I never for a second think, ‘What are the kids going to like?’" he explains. "I think, ‘What is making me laugh? What do I think is funny?' And I just make sure that it’s going to be appropriate for kids.”  

Noah says you won’t actually see a real dog on stage in this high-energy show, but you will see "humans that somehow have a little bit of dog somewhere in them."

For more information on "Go, Dog. Go!" and Parallel 45 Theatre's new rotating-repertory summer series format, click here.