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New theater preparing for first production

NOW: New theater preparing for first production

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. — A new theater that wants to shine a light on the performing arts in Michiana opens this week.

The GhostLight’s summer theater season starts Thursday with the first showing of the musical, The Bridges of Madison County.

Coloma native and GhostLight co-founder, Paul Mow, calls it a production 18 months in the making.

Now describes the process of buying the theater, renovating it, and preparing for its first show as intense.

“We’ve been working 12 hour days these last few days,” said Mow.

The Bridges of Madison County is one of three musicals and two plays that make up the theater’s summer season.

“The socioeconomic impact of the performing arts in any community is palpable, so we’re really excited to see more restaurants to come back,” said Mow. “There’s a lot of lofts that are here already that people can walk to and from the theater. There’s a brand new restaurant like a high end restaurant that’s going in next month and so we hope that people want to do dinner and a show and walk back and forth and that this will be this, you know, just revitalize the arts district.”

Now hopes the black-box style theater illuminates the arts and culture in Benton Harbor.

“I want to leave our audience having conversation,” said Mow. “What is about the romance that’s compelling? What is it about existentialism? What is it about West Side Story and race relations in that or Clybourne Park and regentrification or this dystopian world? What are you left talking about, what are you left thinking about?”

Elizabeth Pacheco Rose and Branch Fields, the musical's lead performers, describe The Bridges of Madison County as a harlequin romance.

“I think this is about real life,” said Pacheco. “This is about stories that happen all the time but they’re unspoken.”

The musical is based on the best-selling novel. It’s about a forbidden love affair between Fields’ character, Robert, and Pacheco Rose’s character, Francesca. It takes place in rural Iowa in the 1960s.

Both performers think this story will take the audience on an emotional roller coaster but they hope attendees walk away understanding how theater can impact a community.

“There’s studies that say if you read books, see theater, you become more compassionate to your fellow man,” said Fields. “It just opens your eyes to other people’s situations, life situations that maybe you haven’t experienced or dealt with but you can certainly relate to and understand and have sympathy.”

To learn more about GhostLight, click here.

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