Documentary highlights role of community theatre in the UP

Negaunee’s Vista Theatre is just one of three community theatres featured in a new documentary ‘Saving our Theatre’.
Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 4:30 PM EDT
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - A Negaunee filmmaker is working to raise awareness about local theatre.

Negaunee’s Vista Theatre is just one of three community theatres featured in a new documentary ‘Saving our Theatre’. Director Dan Korhonen says he wants to highlight the passionate people involved in theatres and their community roles.

“I hope the film raises awareness about the issues the different theatre groups face and that people understand how important they have been in the past to the community as a cultural hub for these community and how important they can be in the future for arts, culture and music,” Korhonen said.

Korhonen says he hopes the audience walks away with a new understanding of community theatre.

“I just really wanted to be able to let the individuals who are involved, the passionate groups that are involved with these theatres tell their story so that the community can hear what they are facing,” Korhonen said.

The Vista has been out of commission for three years now since its roof collapsed after heavy rainfall.

Community members have since been working to bring it back.

“We need to get this story out to people further out,” Vista Theatre Peninsula Arts Appreciation Council President Rusty Bowers said. “We need to network with people to get money to come in from the area, people who love community theatre in the small town. We really need about $4-5 million to clean it all up.”

Also included in the documentary are the Keweenaw Storytelling Center and Marquette’s Masonic Theatre. The Masonic Arts, Theatre & Innovation Company’s Executive Director Ryan Engle says he hopes those who watch the film walk away with a new understanding.

“When it is Marquette, whether it is Calumet or whether its Crystal Falls we really need to make sure people are aware that these things are happening, and it really does support the artistic community,” Engle said.

A live showing of the documentary will take place on April 20 at Thomas Theatre in Marquette.

To view the trailer visit Korhonen’s YouTube page.