Adventure Theatre in Glen Echo Park joined forces with the performance training expertise of Rockville's Musical Theater Center in March to form Adventure Theatre MTC.
The new company has a stronger business model and can offer more opportunities for young actors, such as casting children rather than adults in the roles of Christopher Robin in Winnie the Pooh and Mary and Laura Ingalls in Little House on the Prairie Christmas, said the producing artistic director for Adventure Theatre MTC, Michael Bobbitt.
A professional theater will give young actors-in-training a reason to “step up their game” with the prospect of making it on the big stage, and the revenue from the Musical Theater Center’s training programs will help offset the low-cost performance tickets, Bobbitt explained.
With the average ticket price of $14, people don’t realize the operational costs for a professional childrens’ theater are the same as a regular theater, Bobbitt said.
“And so, if you can imagine, trying to produce a show at the level you want to produce it and only bringing in a small amount of income becomes a strained business model,” he said.
The new entity will draw 75,000 patrons and 3,000 students a year, the company estimates, and Bobbitt hopes to attract even more.
“Now we can serve kids from age 2 until they're done with high school,” he said. “In most of Adventure Theatre’s shows, the kids were aging out at about 8 years old. We didn't really have a lot of options for them after that. So now with the merger, we do.”
Musical Theater Center’s co-founder, Diane Hamilton, now the artistic associate for Adventure Theatre MTC, plans to start programs for student alumni, inviting them to take master classes with professional actors.
“We’ve always had a great education program but we’d always been wanting to build our professional production element, so it really was a perfect fit,” she said of the merger.
For now, the theaters will stay in their respective locations with performances held on the Glen Echo Park stage and the classes at the Wintergreen Plaza location in Rockville. However, Hamilton would like to bring the theaters closer together in the future.
“Our goal,” she said, “is to eventually have a brand new building with lots of studio space and two theaters, and have us be all under one roof.”