Home Arts & Entertainment GRCC creates musical ‘Open Door’ in honor of 100th anniversary

GRCC creates musical ‘Open Door’ in honor of 100th anniversary


By Kayla Tucker, A&E/Features Editor

To celebrate Grand Rapids Community College’s 100th anniversary, Spectrum Theater and the music department are collaborating to present the musical “Open Door.” The show is a decade to decade time traveling adventure highlighting key events, people, and music that shaped GRCC for the past 100 years, along with some parody.

The script was written by Walt Lockwood, former GRCC English professor, and James Schafer, GRCC’s coordinator of video broadcasting and distribution.

The cast is made up of GRCC students as well as GRCC alumni, staff, and community members. Madeline Jones and Todd Lewis will play Jill and the first GRCC President Jesse Buttrick Davis, the lead roles in the show.

Jones, 19, was invited to play the leading role of Jill, there was never an audition. Jones has now been in 23 productions, and this is her first lead role in community theater.

“They thought of me,” said Jones. “They wanted me…they knew that I had gone to GRCC and that I was in theater. A lot of the cast was invited.”

All music performed by the music department is original composition. The orchestra will be led by GRCC music professor Brian Morris. Morris has also rallied Brandan Grinwis, David Hay, and Debora DeWitt who are musicians and faculty members set to perform as well.

While the characters transition through time travel, musical performances from the decade will take place and there will be a screen displaying historical events that were happening in the world at the same time. In addition to the musicians, live and recorded performances will occur during these transitions, original composition and pop songs of the decade. Jones said that she has about nine to ten costume changes.

Decade to decade, the show’s choreography features the Charleston, tap dancing, swing dancing, and more. Jones’ lead role Jill does not have any choreographed parts.

“(The production) has really opened my eyes to GRCC,” said Jones. “It’s become a different school to me.”

The show is intended to be relatable to typical GRCC students who aren’t sure what they want to major in, and might not be sure they want to attend a community college. Jones says that she experienced this last year, so she is able to relate to her character pretty well.

“It’s weird thinking that I went here for a year and decided that it wasn’t the right school for me and then learning all of this… history,” Jones said. “My character is…the exact same way.”

Many actors are participating in ‘Open Door’ to create a historic display of GRCC and its growth as a college.

“It’s a really…appreciated experience,” Jones said. Jones explained that she is humbled to work alongside so many actors, some nominated for Grand Awards, as well as the directors Michelle Urbane, Fred Sebulske, and Duane Davis who all came together to put on a performance in honor of GRCC.

Jones said the anticipation is growing as opening night draws near.

“I really hope that (the audience sees) that GRCC has become so much more than people expected, so much more than people really even know,” Jones said. “I want (the audience) to…realize that they have this great, thriving college right in the heart of their hometown.”

Performances will be at 8 p.m. on Nov. 7 and 8 at Spectrum Theater, 160 Fountain St. Ticket prices are $25 for the public, $20 for seniors, and $15 for students. Each performance will be followed by a complimentary dessert reception in the lobby. Visit www. grcc.edu/100th to see a historical timeline of the college, pictures, videos, and ways to get involved.

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