Inspired by his love of fairytales and music, combined with his own life experiences, led composer and lyricist Michael Dexter to write the music and lyrics for what became GIANT STEPS: AN URBEAN MUSICAL, which will make its world premiere at the CTC on July 22.
The seed was planted in high school and grew from Chattanooga to New York City to Austin, TX before making its way to the CTC stage.
Michael tells us about the show’s journey and how it feels to see its first opening night.
The Chattanooga Theatre Centre is delighted to have Chattanooga newcomer Michael Shield bringing two improv comedy classes to our education program. Michael has first-class credentials, including training at The Second City, the world’s premier comedy club where hosts of comedians and Saturday Night Live actors have received their training.
He recently relocated to Chattanooga and is excited to share his passion for improv comedy at the Chattanooga Theatre Centre.
We’re offering two six-week classes with Michael, one for adults and one for ages 13 to 17, starting Tuesday, March 29. In the meantime, we had a little chat with Michael. See for yourself what’s so funny!
Moving through life like a dance—or dance as a metaphor for life—is central to the teaching philosophy that choreographer Louie Marin-Howard brings to his classes.
With an impressive background in modern dance theatre, Louie, who served as choreographer for last summer’s production of WORKING, will be teaching a fusion of modern dance and jazz to a CTC class of beginner level adults this winter called “Movement with Louie!”
“My goal is to offer a platform for a beginner adult to connect with the space around them and others, to explore movement and space in relation to others,” he says. “I want to train adults to feel more confident and comfortable to audition for more CTC musical shows and to feel more comfortable with movement in general.”
It’s a story of 11 shows and one set.
After the pandemic sidelined our production of THE HOLLOW within hours of opening in March 2020, we wanted to maintain the set in hopes of presenting that show when we could.
That’s when CTC Director of Productions Scott Dunlap came up with the ingenious solution to use the same set for each subsequent show, modifying it each time, to give the audience a fresh stage for each production.
His redesigns gave each show a dramatically different setting without changing the bones. Now the return of THE HOLLOW marks the set’s final moment in the lights.
“Leap and the net shall appear” is the motto that guides local artist and improvisor Shellyta Chatman, which makes her the perfect person to teach improv classes for the Chattanooga Theatre Centre’s Summer Academy. She has lived by this motto since she first heard it uttered by her teacher and mentor, Hope Alexander, during a film acting class years ago at CTC.
“Anybody can do improv,” Shellyta says. “The biggest skills are listening, teamwork, and being able to step out of your comfort zone, not necessarily disrespecting your own boundaries, but being willing to try new things. Dip your toe in the water and go along with what is presented to you.”
Shellyta will bring this enthusiastic approach to improv to Summer Academy classes for grades 4-6 and 7-12, which she will be teaching for the first time.
If you were to imagine someone with the perfect skills to teach stand-up comedy at the Chattanooga Theatre Centre’s Summer Academy, perhaps that person would have experience as both a teacher and a stand-up comic. Hard as that person might be to come by, the CTC found him in Chris Williamson.
Chris, an art and theatre teacher at Tyner Middle Academy, has appeared on the CTC stage several times, most recently as a rogue cop in November’s Lobby Hero. Before going into teaching, however, he spent some time performing at comedy clubs around the South, and he brings that experience to bear when he teaches sketch and stand-up comedy for the CTC’s summer program, something he’s done for nearly 18 years.
Classical music has been clarinetist, composer, and instructor Gordon Inman’s bread and butter for more than a decade, but with a new venture launching in April, the 31-year-old wants to bring some youthfulness to the undertaking and begin to reverse the stereotype of chamber music as stuffy and old fashioned.
That objective has manifested itself in the Chattanooga Theatre Centre’s new Northshore Karass Performing Arts Series, which kicks off Tuesday, April 6, with a performance by the Moon Change Quartet.
The setting is the CTC patio at the corner of Tremont and River Streets, adjacent to Coolidge Park, where the outdoor space will take on a cocktail lounge vibe.
Like the quartet, the five concerts of the Northshore Karass Series will employ a string of local musicians who, Inman says, “represent a who’s who of young classical musicians in Chattanooga.”
Local youth will once again leap onto the CTC stage in the upcoming production of The Wind in the Willows thanks to the writing talents of the CTC’s Scott Dunlap. We’re bringing the Youth Theatre back to the stage for the first time in over a year after being sidelined by the coronavirus outbreak.
Inspired by his love of The Wind in the Willows book, the 1949 Disney animated film The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, and the former Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride Disneyland attraction, Scott decided to adapt the story for the stage himself.
Katey Dailey is happy to be the first voice you hear when calling the Chattanooga Theatre Centre.
Katey became the CTC’s new Box Office Manager when Patron Services Director Wayne Shock retired in August after 22 years of service to the CTC. That leaves Katey following in some big footsteps.
“Everyone has been so kind to me,” she says. “I have big shoes to fill after Wayne.”
A career in theatre has been her lifelong dream.
As we welcome audiences back to the Chattanooga Theatre Centre, we have developed strict safety protocols to strike a balance between protecting the health and well-being of our patrons, volunteers, and staff and providing a theatre experience that is enjoyable for our patrons.
Our 22-step safety plan is extensive, but we feel that it is not so restrictive that our patrons cannot enjoy a visit to the theatre. In fact, we believe that it is because of these restrictions that patrons will be able to have an enjoyable experience.
Sometimes fate demands a curtain call.
The cast from the first play ever staged by the Chattanooga Little Theatre — the precursor to today’s Chattanooga Theatre Centre — is memorialized in a 1924 black-and-white photograph that was plucked from a dumpster 70 years later.
One hundred and twelve kids auditioned last August for the Chattanooga Theatre Centre’s 2019-2020 season-opening Youth Theatre production of The Lion King. Those numbers come as no surprise to the program’s founder, Sonia Young.
“The Youth Theatre has proven to be exactly what I thought it would be,” she says. “Why wouldn’t it be successful? Kids love to perform!”
That recognition launched a program with a distinguished history of nearly 40 years and a vital presence in the community today.
A love for theatre and psychology led Chattanooga Theatre Centre alum Kelseigh Garrett to pursue a career in helping those with mental illness through expressive arts as therapy. Kelseigh is working towards completing a Master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling with a specialization in expressive arts therapy at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Expressive arts therapy facilitates creative processes through the most meaningful medium for each person and situation, using a variety of approaches such as music, drama, dance, writing and visual arts as therapeutic tools in an integrated way to initiate change within mental health treatment.
“I have this love for theatre and I have this love to provide people with the tools to promote positive growth and healing and then, when I found expressive therapies, I found everything that sustains me come together,” she said.
Opportunities abound to volunteer at the Chattanooga Theatre Centre on stage and off, and all are vital to the success of the theatre, says CTC’s new volunteer coordinator Becki Jordan.
“This theatre was founded nearly one-hundred years ago by volunteers. Our volunteers kept us going through World War II and the Great Depression,” Becki says. “Many other community theatres would have had to shut down during times such as those, but through the work of volunteers, we kept running. We’ve relied on the work of our volunteers and we’ve been richly blessed over the years with a very dedicated and hardworking volunteer community.”
Becki, a longtime CTC volunteer herself, has just joined the staff as volunteer coordinator and in that capacity is working to expand and revitalize the theatre’s volunteer base.