Do you think you have what it takes to organize and perform a 60-minute musical? Now, could you build a set that could fit in a 10-foot by 10-foot square prior to set-up? Or create your production’s world in a short 10 minutes, and in only 10 minutes deconstruct your temporary world? A team of 20 dedicated volunteers at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre have undertaken the challenge to do just that at Michigan’s American Association of Community Theatre (AACT) Fest, in Bay City, MI, February 10-12.

Volunteer cast & crew of The 25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee will compete in a statewide competition this February.

To compete in AACT Fest, teams must:

  • Prepare a 60-minute play or musical;
  • Build a set that fits in a 10 x 10 ft. square prior to assembly;
  • Set up stage in 10 minutes, and tear down (strike) the set in 10 minutes.
  • State winners advance to the Regional Festival. Winner of the Regional Festival will advance to the National Festival, held in Rochester, MN, from June 26—July 1, 2017. Caption: Grand Rapids Civic Theatre hosted the National AACT Fest in 2015. This video explains more of what encompasses AACT Fest.

This year’s group of volunteers is led by director Kylie Piette, who has a passion for bringing stories to life and is excited to be a part of presenting the comedic musical, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, for this unique competition. As the team prepares to compete, Kylie shares more about the process, vision, and experience of organizing a 60-minute musical.

What does this festival mean to you in representing Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, and our community?

For me, this is all about what Grand Rapids can do. We are a shining example in the state of a thriving, artistic, and theatrical community; Civic Theatre — in my humble and completely biased opinion — is the crown jewel. This would open up our audiences to individuals locally and across Michigan.

What are some of the challenges to creating a 60-minute musical, using all volunteer cast and crew?

  • Presenting a well-rounded and well-crafted production in 60 minutes
  • Building a set and props that advance the show, and are transportable
  • Making sure everything fits into a 10 x 10 stage space

volunteer cast & crew working hard to perfect their production.

What has been the best part about working with this group of volunteers?

We have a great, committed cast who has welcomed the challenge of taking on AACT Fest and bringing their characters to life. They make the larger-than-life Spelling Bee characters funny and vibrant. They’ve risen to the challenge, and it’s been a great collaboration.

What are you most looking forward to on the days of the competition?

This festival draws volunteer teams from community theatres across the state. It provides a great opportunity to highlight Civic Theatre’s talented performers and volunteers, and connect with other Michigan performers and theatres.

Kylie and her team are raising $5,000 to cover competition costs such as set materials, royalties, and travel expenses. Donations are now being accepted, and can be completed online, here, or via phone or mail. Please indicate your donation preference by noting “AACT” in the gift notes.

You can also check out a free performance of The 25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee at Civic Theatre on February 3rd or 4th, at 7:30pm. A free-will donation will be accepted to help cover competition costs.