How to benefit a community

. June 29, 2012.

Even among our area’s embarrassment of riches when it comes to theater, the Burns Park Players stand out—for a number of reasons. An amateur, community theater organization, the quality of the Players annual musical theater shows arguably rival that of professional troupe productions—local or otherwise. And the Players manage this feat despite limiting their membership to residents of the Burns Park School community, as defined by the boundaries of the school’s attendance area.

The Players, formed in 1984, have over the years given many, many Burns Park residents the opportunity to participate in every aspect of musical theater productions; center stage, in the pit, and behind the scenes, designing and creating the sets, costumes, props, sound and lights, and publicizing the show. Of course, they’ve also given thousands of Ann Arborites numerous memorable musicals. But they’ve have also managed to give something that few, if any theater organizations can claim to have offered. Each year, the Players donate their proceeds to a variety of arts-related programs in the school district. By now, those aggregate proceeds total nearly a quarter of a million dollars.

The title of this year’s production, “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” is therefore particularly apt. Certainly the BPP has been successful, though “not trying” is certainly not a part of their business plan. Their formula consists, in part, as follows: pick a great American musical, find a terrific director, cast a group of talented, hard-working people for every aspect of the production, and involve nearly 100 community children in the show.

“How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” certainly fits the bill as a top notch musical. After opening on Broadway almost 50 years ago, it won seven Tony Awards, and is one of only eight musicals to also win a Pulitzer Prize. The BPP’s director this year, Mike Mosallam, who returns for his sixth production with the Players, says, “It’s a timeless show.” Mosallam has worked in almost every aspect of show business, performing at the Kennedy Center, appearing on TV’s Comedy Central, helping to cast major motion pictures such as Clint Eastwood’s recent “Gran Torino,” and he’s now Director of Film Initiatives for Wayne County. About BPP he says, “The reason why I love coming back to work with this group time and time again is how hard these amazing people work. This group has such love and dedication, it astounds me. Sometimes, I look around the rehearsal and I’m seeing Ann Arbor’s top professors, doctors, lawyers, etc., and they take time out of their often-busy and extremely tiring days to come sing and dance. We’ve all become family at this point.”
The Burns Park Player’s production of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” runs February 4, 5, 10 and 11 at 7:30PM, and February 12 at 4:00PM  with an open dress rehearsal, February 3 at 7:30PM. Tappan Middle School, 2251 E. Stadium Blvd.For ticket information visit www.burnsparkplayers.org

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