Web_Renaissance-Theatre-photo-by-Jeff-Sprang

Thank You for 90 Years

by Colleen Cook

This past weekend, we celebrated the 90th anniversary of the opening of our theatre, but we’re really celebrating this big milestone all season long. The reality is, our history is rich with the legacy of countless people who gave their time, their talents, and their resources to preserve our venue as a vibrant source of arts and culture for future generations.

It’s hard to imagine how many people have sat inside our auditorium, how many have stood upon our stage, how many have volunteered countless hours, or made a sacrificial donation to invest in the arts in Mansfield.  When you talk to lifelong Mansfielders, so many share memories of growing up coming to films at the Ohio, or as they get younger, shows and concerts at the Renaissance. The reality is, this incredible space holds special memories for nearly everyone who has sat in one of its seats.

I’ve been on staff for five years, and while I’ve heard about some incredible shows and seen many more, what I’ve loved is hearing your stories of first dates, proposals, parents and grandparents, and time shared under our magnificent chandelier. The arts and entertainment bring people together – we were created to share stories with the ones we care about, and those are the things that bind the Renaissance/the Ohio to our hearts.

When I bring my own small children into our space, I’m proud to create new memories in this special historic venue with them too. My daughter has seen more live theatre and music in her four short years than I had by the time I graduated high school, and I’m so grateful to have this space in our town to cement a lifelong love for the arts and entertainment.

So, thank you. Thank you for investing, for attending, for volunteering, for committing, and for performing. Thank you for believing that Mansfield deserves great arts and culture. Thank you for the past ninety years, and for the next ninety. We are so grateful.

Renaissance Chandelier Restoration 2015 photo by Jeff Sprang

The Ohio Reborn

by Colleen Cook

Ninety years is more than most people get to enjoy on earth. Mansfield has changed in so many ways over the past 90 years, our world has changed in so many ways, the fact that anything remains the same is nothing short of a miracle.

Yet, here we are in 2018 and Mansfield still flocks to the same beautiful venue for arts and entertainment. The Renaissance Theatre opened as the Ohio Theatre in 1928, and was for many years a popular destination for cinema and traveling acts. By the 1960s and into the 1970s, though, movie palaces declined severely in popularity, and nearly every theatre like the Ohio was victim to the age of television and multiplexes. One-screen movie palaces just couldn’t compete.

Renaissance quite literally means “rebirth,” and the theatre’s name change in 1980 could not have been more apt for the story that followed. In the late 1970s, the theatre had closed following public outrage as it had become a XXX film house.

Around the same time, the Miss Ohio Pageant committee had been searching for a venue large enough to house the pageant and with the capacity to do a television broadcast of the state pageant. The committee came into the space and cleaned it up (I’ve heard from individuals on that committee that it was in a very sorry state at that point).  A local group of community-minded individuals had been working to save the Madison Theatre down the street, and redirected their efforts to the Ohio Theatre.  Philanthropists Fran and Warren Rupp purchased the venue and donated it to the group, renaming it to the Renaissance Theatre.

In the mid-1980s, a $2.25 million capital campaign successfully restored the space and repurposed it as a performing arts center. The restoration was completed by Richland Renovating, the same group who completed the plaster, paint, and silk updates over the past two years at the theatre. A new theatre organ was installed, this time a magnificent Mighty Wurlitzer (the theatre’s original Kimball Organ had been sold off by prior owners), and fixtures from the Leland Hotel and the Sturges Mansion were later integrated into the theatre as well.


Celebrate the 90th Anniversary of the theatre with us at our 90th Anniversary Weekend – learn more here.

January 18, 1928 Mansfield News Promo

90 Years of Entertainment

by Colleen Cook

The Renaissance is celebrating a really big birthday this year – it’s the 90th anniversary of our theatre opening on Park Avenue West in Mansfield.

The Ohio Theatre was a big deal to Mansfield well before it opened on a cold January night in 1928. There were already several theatres in town, including two run by the same company that built the Ohio, but the Ohio promised to be the biggest and most modern of them all. It was advertised as Mansfield’s $500,000 theatre, which would be $7 million in today’s dollars – no small investment!

In 1928, silent films accompanied by theatre organs were the craze, and movie palaces and vaudeville houses were all over the country. The Ohio Theatre ran four showings a day, year-round, charging around 50 cents per showing. The first film shown at the theatre starred Clara Bow, a film sensation at the time, and was called “Get Your Man,” telling the story of a man and a woman who had been betrothed as infants by their parents, and who met later in life and fell in love.

Like many building projects in Mansfield, and beyond, the construction and opening of the venue was optimistic and ultimately, delayed. They had hoped to open by Christmas 1927, but delays in construction materials slowed the process and delayed the opening until January 19, 1928.

The news articles at the time indicate a general concern and frustration with the delays, given a slightly unconventional construction process that left a large pit for what was perceived as too long as the team waited for materials. As we all know now in hindsight, those concerns were unmerited given the long tenure of the theatre on Park Avenue West since.

The Ohio Theatre was designed by Cleveland architect Nicola Petti. At the time, he had also designed several Cleveland-area theatres, including the Variety Theatre built at the same time as the Ohio with many similar design features. Nicola Petti designed a small handful of theatres before his untimely death in 1929, and only four of those remain standing today including the Renaissance.

The opening night advertisement for the theatre dedicated it to, “the future progress of Mansfield.” How true those words have been over the past 90 years, as we today continue to utilize this space to welcome tens of thousands each year for arts, entertainment, conversation, and community.

This month, we’ll highlight some of the significant moments in the past 90 years as we gear up to celebrate. We hope you’ll join us to celebrate this monumental occasion – learn more about our 90th Anniversary Weekend here.

 

Merry Christmas, from the Renaissance!

The Staff of the Renaissance

When it comes to Christmas, it may be our favorite time of the year as a staff. We love seeing the theatre decked out, the holiday lineup of shows, and the goodies that show up in our staff workroom all month long are simply the best (we don’t have a bad cook on our staff)!

It’s also a great time of the year to reflect on the past year and feel extra grateful for the people who have made it another great year for the arts and culture in Mansfield. If you’re reading this, you’re probably one of them.

So, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and may you be reminded of the many good things in your life this holiday season.

Warmest wishes,

The Renaissance Staff

Celebrating 90 Years of Growth

As we mentioned last week, we’re in the midst of an Annual Fund Campaign, which you can participate in here. This year, our goal is to raise $110,000, and we’ve already secured $45,000 in matching gifts to help us get there together.

2018 marks our theatre’s 90th Anniversary since opening in a blizzard in January 1928. We treasure these 90 years as Mansfield’s home for outstanding arts and entertainment, and look forward to celebrating them with you throughout our 90th Anniversary Weekend.

renaissance holiday gift guide 2017

Holiday Gift Guide 2017

by Colleen Cook

Tis the season! I love giving holiday gifts and write notes to myself year-round about ideas that might make a great gift. When it comes to my own wish list, though, I struggle. We don’t want for much and our house is small, so I am adverse to additional clutter. In my own life, I’ve shifted to trying to ask and give more experience gifts that can be enjoyed well past the holiday season. After all, there’s nothing like remembering the love expressed by a dear one when you’re enjoying your gift months later.

Last year’s Holiday Gift Guide is still a wonderful jumping off place if you’re looking for some great places to buy local gifts. This year, we’ll give some more specific gift ideas for anyone on your list:

For the Kids

Little Buckeye Punch Cards (or Memberships!) – $25/punch card; $75-$195 for Memberships

Our family has enjoyed and used our Little Buckeye Membership thoroughly each year, and my kids adore going to the museum. In the winter months, it’s a great place to burn off some steam while doing great educational activities. In the summer, it’s a welcome break from the heat. If gifting a membership is out of your budget, pick up a $25 punch card, good for 5 single admissions to the museum (which is a big savings!).

Richland Carrousel Tickets – 6 rides/$5

I love the idea of purchasing carrousel tickets as a stocking stuffer for the whole family. It’s super affordable, and is a promise for a great day of fun. We’re so lucky to have such a beautiful indoor carrousel in our community! Our family loves to ride the carrousel, then walk down to Athens Greek or Two Cousin’s Pizza for lunch after.

Class Registration at the Mansfield Art Center, Mansfield YMCA or Richland Academy

Whether it’s ballet, watercolors, or martial arts, covering the tuition for a class is a wonderful way to make a kid feel special and invest in their future (without further crowding their already overflowing toy box).

For Everyone

Gift Certificates to the Renaissance

We hate to be self-promotional, but we truly believe that Gift Certificates to the Ren are truly the perfect gift for anyone because of our diverse season lineup and the fact that they NEVER expire! A night out at the Ren pairs especially well with a gift certificate for dinner or drinks to one of the many local dining establishments downtown.

Kingwood Center Gardens Membership

Mansfield is lucky to have a true gem in Kingwood Center Gardens. Their membership levels vary, but offer special perks, access to their grounds and certain events, all while supporting this special and scenic place. From April through September, their brand new Peacock Playhouse Sensory Center offers a perfect place to educate children about horticulture in a sensory-friendly environment.

 

For the Book Lover

All of the following titles are recommended by the Book Lady herself, Llalan Fowler, and have local ties, and are available at Main Street Books:

Native Son by Timothy Brian McKee
Mansfielder and well-known local historian and author Timothy Brian McKee compiled a collection of his local history column “Native Son,” for Richland Source into a single volume that serves as the perfect gift for the lover of all things local.

With Love, Wherever You Are by Dandi Daley Mackall
Mackall lives in Ashland and wrote this book from her parents’ letters to each other in WWII. Perfect for someone who loves WWII-era romance.

Love and Other Alien Experiences by Kerry Winfrey
This young adult novel is by Bellville-native Kerry Winfrey, who currently resides in Columbus.

Fifty Must-Try Craft Beers of Ohio by Rick Armon
Rick Armon of Akron has signed several copies of this must-own guide for the craft beer aficionado (that features several shout-outs to our very own Phoenix Brewing Company). We think it’d pair perfectly with a growler of your favorite brew – we love the Redemption IPA.

The Ohio State University: An Illustrated History by Raimund E. Goerler
Have a die-hard Buckeye on your list? This beautiful book is a must-have for their coffee table, and is the first one-volume history to appear in half a century.

 

For the Grown-Ups

Original Artwork from Element of Art or the Mansfield Art Center

Let your holiday purchase do double-duty: get something beautiful for someone you care about while supporting local artists. Our community is full of talented artists who showcase their remarkable talents locally. Element of Art Gallery showcases artwork by artists with disabilities, and bonus: they have an online shop you can browse and order via phone.

Vinyl Records and Vintage Clothes from Old Soul

One of Downtown Mansfield’s more recent additions, Old Soul features a beautifully cultivated product line perfect for the hipster in your life. Their impressive collection of records and attire is sure to impress.

New DSLR Class at Tog Loft

I took this class a couple of years ago, and it’s brilliant. Many people have invested in a nicer camera than their phone, but few know what to do next. Tracy’s boiled down the basics into one, super-affordable class perfect for the beginning shutterbug on your list. If you’re looking for something a little more advanced, however, check out some of their other classes here.

Midnight Clear from Goldberry Roasting Company

This is on our family’s Christmas list as a must-have every single year. This rich coffee is roasted in Ashland and is always brewing on Christmas morning, and we give bags to family and friends every year. The description says it all, “Midnight Clear is a pleasant mingling of coffee beans from three continents, roasted to coax out mellow berry notes, faint hints of pinewood smoke, and a dark chocolate finish. With its medium-heavy body, Midnight Clear lingers pleasantly on the palate before softly drifting away.”

 

Why We need donations

Why We Need Donations: Annual Fund Campaign

by Sandi Arnold, Director of Development

Having discovered a passion for working with non-profit organizations in the last five years, I am glad to be one of the newest staff members of the Renaissance Team.  Though I had experience performing in a county-wide symphonic band during my high school years, I am not a performing artist.  My work for the Renaissance revolves around building relationships with existing and new business sponsors, foundations, and community supporters.  At this time each year, we hold our Annual Fund Campaign to raise funding from our community supporters.

Why does the Renaissance need to raise money when people buy tickets to our performances?  It may be hard to believe, but ticket prices only cover about 30% of our costs to keep the Renaissance’s doors open. We’re grateful to have so many generous foundations, businesses and individuals who contribute to the organization every year who help bridge that financial gap. Without this financial support, the Renaissance would have to significantly increase our ticket prices.

The Renaissance is the cornerstone of our regional arts and cultural community.  Several dedicated volunteers and staff work behind the scenes to ensure the Renaissance remains a vibrant cultural center in the heart of Downtown Mansfield.   We are here to serve the community by providing quality live performances, and to help generate many fond and lasting memories for our patrons in this historic venue. This is a goal we cannot accomplish alone. We need your help.  

This year, the Renaissance has two matching funds for the Annual Fund Campaign. The Renaissance is grateful to be partnering with the Richard and Arline Landers Foundation, which will match up to $25,000 of community contributions.  In addition, Sharon Granter, in memory of her late husband Don,  will provide matching funds of $20,000 for the campaign. What that means is the Renaissance has between now and December 31, 2017 to raise an additional $45,000 or more so we can receive both of the matching grants. So, for every dollar someone gives, the Renaissance will receive an additional $2 — the value of your donation will be tripled with these matching grants!

Making a donation is easy, and there are 4 ways!  You can visit our website www.mansfieldtickets.com/give and make a secure contribution through PayPal. Or, you can visit or call the Box Office at (419)522-2726, Tuesday through Friday from 12-5 PM and we will assist you.  You can also mail your donation to the Renaissance, Post Office Box 789, Mansfield, Ohio 44901.

Thanks for supporting the 2017 Annual Fund Campaign for the Renaissance Performing Arts Association!

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Careers in the Arts: Entertainment Writing

by Michael Thomas

When I was young, I never envisioned a career as a writer – let alone a writer in the entertainment industry. Admittedly, I had a rough start, primarily because, early on, when participating in a creative writing class in high school, I was told I was incapable of following direction. Successful writing, it seemed, was accomplished by following a strict, preordained outline – and any wandering from the path would result in failure. Here were the basic ground rules:

  • Don’t try to funny. Funny is frivolous.
  • Satire is snarky. No one likes a smart aleck.
  • Say what you have to say as uninterestingly as possible, cite some examples of something or other, throw in a quote, use similes and a metaphor or two and then move on.

One day we were asked to write an autobiography. I filled my pages with a random array of fantastical Candide-like adventures, and proudly handed it in – expecting my teacher to pass it right along to her “Hollywood uncle” who, she said, had connections because he’d been in several Laurel and Hardy shorts. While it should have been given a low grade due to its pedestrian attempt at humor, (more Mad Magazine than Voltaire), it was instead judged on its lack of footnotes and quotes from my grandmother. “This was NOT the assignment!” was smeared across the top of my story – right next to the C-. On page three, my teacher had clearly had enough and had angrily written “You were NEVER a narcoleptic used car salesman in Sarasota. This is NONSENSE!” So much for my writing career.

At the time, I had no idea that film and television shows required writers. Like most people, I assumed that actors just made it up as they went along. So it never occurred to me that I could forge a career out of script writing. I happened into writing by accident – or at least by necessity. As a kid I’d written funny sketches – mostly ideas stolen from Mel Brooks or the Carol Burnett Show. At 11 or 12, I thought they were pretty clever – but they didn’t require much thought or planning – and they never seemed to impress my target audience – which was anyone I could get to read them.

But then I went off to acting school, where you were always being called on to perform monologues. It seemed as though there were only six or seven monologues floating around at that time – and classmates were incredibly possessive of them. “You can’t do that monologue – that’s Bill’s! Bill does that one.” So, since I couldn’t hope to compete with Bill, I started writing my own monologues – which I’m pretty sure were terrible. When performing them, I’d say they were from a little-known Off Broadway play – and I’d assign them fancy Off Broadway play titles such as Hero’s Welcome, The Blossoms are Gone or The Milwaukee Trilogy. I’d invent playwrights with fancy Off Broadway names like Everett Sinclair, Tansy Langford or Pepper Covington. It was all pretty ridiculous, but in fairly short order, I discovered that I actually began to enjoy writing more that I enjoyed performing. Perhaps it was because, when writing, you can get up and make cinnamon toast or stop and watch kitchen gadget infomercials. You can’t do that as an actor.

After college, when I was trying to find work as an actor in Chicago, I came to the realization that it was easier for me to write and create my own material to perform – especially since no one seemed particularly interested in casting me in any of their shows. What began as a whim, quickly became a passion. I spent more and more time fussing over a script and less and less time worrying about auditions, callbacks or monologues.

When one of my early stage projects became cult hit in Chicago, I shifted gears once and for all and focused exclusively on writing. It was then that I discovered what opportunities existed for writers in the entertainment industry. Everyone, it seemed, needed a writer. And no one cared if you used quotes, similes or footnotes. The qualities that failed me so miserably in my high school creative writing class were the same qualities that made me unique and original.

Now I’m not saying you should ignore your teachers. They must know something because they have books and desks and lesson plans and most of them seem very organized. But I truly believe there’s a greater power in following your own instincts – and that sometimes you don’t know what you’re looking for until you’ve found it. I’ve been lucky enough to have spent my entire career working in the arts – though I still having trouble following directions and completing a project as assigned. And who knows, if I keep it up, maybe I’ll one day be as successful as a Tansy Langford or a Pepper Covington.

Cheers to Ninety Years!

The Renaissance is celebrating a pretty big anniversary this season. In January 2018, the Renaissance Theatre (originally named the Ohio Theatre) will turn 90 years old!

To commemorate the occasion, we’ve partnered up with Mansfield’s favorite vintner, Rick Taylor at Cypress Cellars, to create two exclusive wines: the Renaissance Red and the Renaissance White.

RenaissanceRedandWhite

The Renaissance Red is a blend of cabernet sauvignon and sirah. “It’s a dry red with fruit forward,” says Taylor. The Renaissance White is a chardonnay which has been barrel fermented giving it a light oaky, but not overwhelming flavor.

Each wine will be sold at the Renaissance during all shows (except Sundays) by the glass for $6.

Individuals wishing to purchase either wine by the bottle can do so at Cypress Cellars. Renaissance Red is $17/bottle and Renaissance White is $16/bottle.