Earlier this year, Music Theater International wanted to get people back on their feet to enjoy live performing arts following nearly 18 months of the pandemic that caused the music to go silent.
As the program was offered to performing arts venues and schools, John Legend Theater operations manager Terry McGonigle knew immediately he wanted it for his venue and to direct it.
“The whole idea was to bring back live theater to communities. I know they’re doing it in Cincinnati and Columbus and Springfield is one of the other places in Ohio I know that’s doing it.
“My goal with the Legend (Theater) is to do community outreach and this is a good one for us because we can perform it with students and adults.”
The 24 cast members range from age 11 up to 67 and includes kids from five schools and adults from various walks of life including teachers, physicians, retirees, those who work in arts and many other areas.
“My concept from the beginning was to bring in different types of people,” McGonigle said. “It should be a very exciting evening.”
Two of the cast members were connected by McGonigle in a similar way. He taught Karen Staffiera theater in her high school in Wichita, Kansas in the late 1980s and was Tom Hand’s theater teacher at a small college in George in the early 1990s.
It’s fitting they’ll perform a duet of the song “Stop the World” from the show “Come From Away.”
Staffiera drives more than an hour up from Loveland near Cincinnati for rehearsals, but said it’s worth it because she enjoyed reacquainting with McGonigle. This will be her first time onstage since high school.
“This is my happy place,” she said. “I had no expectation from the audition but it’s great to be here with Terry, he’s a master of his craft.”
Hand traveled up here this past summer to visit McGonigle and has ended up staying here, performing in the McGonigle-directed “The Fantasticks.”
“This is super cool. I have never seen an international production all done at the same time as a celebration of community theater,” Hand said.
McGonigle is also excited at the prospect of the world being together on a similar stage for a few days. And on a local level as the Legend Theater is hosting different shows three consecutive weekends.
“It’s kind of a way of uniting people again. We may never talk to those people who are also doing this but it’s a way of connecting,” he said. “People are excited to be out and going to the theater again and that’s what the idea of this show is about.”
In keeping with Springfield City School safety requirements, attendees are required to wear masks when attending the performances.
HOW TO GO
What: “All Together Now! A Global Event Celebrating Local Theatre”
Where: The John Legend Theater, 700 S. Limestone St., Springfield
When: 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 12 and Saturday, Nov. 13 and 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 13
Admission: Adults $12; seniors and students $8
More info: www.facebook.com/John-Legend-Theater-at-Springfield-City-School-District