ST. CLOUD (WJON News) -- Great Theatre is bringing its production of Footloose to the Paramount Theater stage starting this Friday.

It's Great's last big Broadway show at the Paramount for this season.

The non-profit has already announced its shows for next year's 27th season. Artistic & Education Director Kendra Norton Dando says a highlight for the 2024-2025 season is the production of Waitress taking the stage in October, which is a rare opportunity for local theater.

We received an email from Musical Theater International asking us if we wanted to apply to do Waitress, and we jumped at the chance because that's not a title that you can license right now unless you are invited to.  So, we were ecstatic to then receive the rights to do this show.

Norton Dando says only 30 theater companies across the United States will be able to perform Waitress next year. It recently left Broadway and it will be going on tour in the future, which means it will be restricted again after this upcoming season.

Season tickets for next season are available now, single tickets go on sale on May 22nd.

Great will rent out the 800-seat Paramount Center for the Arts for a total of 13 weeks to perform five musicals next season.  The other three shows, two plays, and a youth artist project will be performed at Great's 150-seat Helgeson Learning Lab Theater in Waite Park.

Great says a summer musical at the Ledge Amphitheater is not included in next season's lineup.  They say a Great show at the Ledge costs them $325,000, which is about $100,000 more than the shows they produce at the Paramount.

Ticket sales only cover about 60 percent of Great's annual operating budget, which means they have to raise another $600,000 annually. Great has its first-ever Gala on Tuesday, April 9th at the Regency downtown which includes a dinner and program, before crossing the street to see a special performance of Footloose.

The nonprofit is continuing to grow its education and outreach programs. Norton Dando says registration is now open for their youth summer camps.

Things like Bluies Playhouse, Sail the Seven Seas, and different things that would interest our young kids.  They get to explore creative drama and movement and play and singing and character building.

The older kids in camp will be putting on the play Sussical the Musical this summer. They also offer day-long workshops for kids interested in make-up and costume design. The Great Summer Camps are spread out over 12 locations across central Minnesota. They do offer pick-your-price scholarships.

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During the school year, Great worked with 975 students last year putting on drama workshops. Also, every 5th grader in District 742 had the opportunity to be in a show organized by Great. As arts continue to be cut from school programs, Great says they are stepping in to fill that gap.


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