The show must go on as they say in the entertainment world, and, after a year in check, everyone at Old Town Playhouse is bursting to welcome our audience and begin! I know I am. Despite the challenges over the last year and a half, we managed to stay alive and well. We put together a number of virtual performances and two podcasts. They kept a number of our volunteers quite busy, writing, directing, performing and recording. These were uncharted waters for a producing theater, requiring skills that had not been in the fore prior to the COVID-19 world.

One of the things we did was put up a tent last summer and trying our hand at pop-up concerts and some theater to take advantage of being outside, albeit appropriately masked and distanced. These were modestly successful in total. Therefore, it was an easy reach to plan another season of “Theatre under the Tent” — this one even more ambitious than last year’s.

As we ramp back up to producing and presenting theatrical performances inside our building over the next year — hopefully to potential full houses rather than the 50 percent limit currently in place — we can all enjoy a summer chockfull with events on warm evenings from mid-June through August.

More than 50 nights and days the Old Town Playhouse parking lot will host a variety of events from live theater, concerts, comedy and youth activities, to a craft show.

“Theatre under the Tent” begins June 17 at 7 p.m. with the musical presentation of “BoBossa.” This is one of three concerts featuring the group of musicians known for a little bit of everything instrumental and vocal. You’ll hear jazz, Latin and swing, but you could also hear pop, rock, ragtime or even classical music. You are almost certain to hear something surprising. Come, listen and be prepared for a good time! Quickly on their heels comes Rigs & Jeels. Rick Willey and Dane Hyde offer a mix of Celtic and bluegrass with special guest, vocalist Katie O’Connor and the Celtic dancers from Northern Lights Dance Academy.

That’s only the beginning. There’s adult comedy with Derek Richards & Sal Demillio, and Traverse City’s very own Marti Johnson for those who need their funny bones tickled. Add in Mime artist Toma (Tom Johnson) also of Traverse City and STRUM ukulele band and we are covering the edges.

Local favorites Judy Harrison and Rebooted, Pico, Chown, and Sears, Jeff Hass and his quartet are all returning for featured performances. Doc and Donna Probes also combine with family, friends and others including “The Golden Voices” featuring Doc Probes and David Chown, The Cherry Blossom Ramblers and Beach & Buffett. Nights of great variety and fun await.

To all of this are four theatrical presentations that we are certain you’ll enjoy. “The Belle of Amherst” — a one-woman show that brings Emily Dickinson to life kicks off on June 19 with additional performances July 9-10. Later comes the classic musical “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change!” — a witty and musical look at relationships we all know and love. “Hate Mail” is the hilariously self-described antidote to Love Letters (performed last summer).

Filling out the August calendar is a revival of the witty and warm “Love Loss and What I Wore.”

Sprinkle in a whole lot more and this summer should prove a great time to breakout of life on hold and welcome in the new century’s Roaring Twenties. Unmasked no less! Yippee! Let the games begin!

Check out the entire schedule at and see all that’s on tap.

Phil Murphy is the artistic director of the Old Town Playhouse.

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