Staged musical performances to return this summer to downtown Baldwin City park

photo by: Flie photo

Cast members rehearse a musical number for the now defunct Baldwin City Community Theatre, in June 2013. A group of former community theatre members are working with the Lumberyard Arts Center on musical reviews to be performed on the new Sullivan Square stage during this summer.

After a six-year absence, outdoor performances of staged musical entertainment will return to downtown Baldwin City this summer.

Baldwin City Councilwoman Julie Constantinescu and Jeannette Blackmar, Lumberyard Arts Center executive director, said the expected completion of the $850,000 Sullivan Square project in May was central to the planned return of music-theater entertainment downtown. A 25-foot-wide covered stage is included in the plans for the new park in the 700 block of High Street.

Constantinescu said this summer’s planned outdoor entertainment will not be full Broadway musicals like those that the Baldwin City Community Theatre used to stage each June. Those ended when the community theater group disbanded in 2014 because of the expense and time demands of mounting the summer musicals, she said. Instead, a series of musical revues are planned in conjunction with a monthly third Friday event, she said.

The planned third Fridays are an effort to expand on the Lumberyard Arts Center’s monthly art walks, which have been a downtown feature on the third Friday of summer months in recent years, Blackmar said. The plan is to grow the art walks beyond the Lumberyard by engaging the Baldwin City Library and downtown businesses in the activities, she said.

“It’s part of our goal to get folks to come downtown all year long,” Blackmar said. “We’re calling it ‘Life on High — Third Friday in Baldwin City.'”

A big draw of the monthly events will be the musical revues on the new Sullivan Square stage, Blackmar said. Working with the Lumberyard to help plan the revues are a number of former community theatre members, including Constantinescu.

“We’re trying to think of a name for the group so it doesn’t get confused with the old community theater,” she said. “We’re thinking it could be the Baldwin Players.”

The musical revues will kickoff July 17, Constantinescu said. At that revue, former cast members will reprise numbers that they performed during the old summer musicals, she said. A community talent show is planned for August, and the Sept. 18 revue will celebrate Baldwin City’s sesquicentennial and the new park’s namesake, Lucy Sweet Sullivan, Baldwin City’s first female mayor. Sullivan and an all-woman city council were elected in 1889 on a platform of building a bridge on High Street between downtown and the train depot so that women didn’t get their long dresses muddy crossing a creek.

“That show will be right before the city’s big sesquicentennial celebration,” Constantinescu said. “There will be an appearance by Lucy Sullivan and the Petticoat Five, but we don’t know just what it will be yet. There’s lots of ideas out there.”


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