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The Majestic Theatre: A Performance-Art Gem for the Generations

By Elizabeth R. Elstien

For 25 years, The Majestic Theatre "provides artistic enrichment for the community through the programming of family-oriented productions and educational opportunities," states the website. Offering 15 shows a year, this theater has done more productions than any other New Hampshire community theater.

Their studio space at the landmark Ted Herbert Building in downtown Manchester is used for offices, classes, auditions and rehearsals. Productions are put on in two different places. Manchester's The Executive Court Banquet Facility is where dinner theater productions are held, while the Derry Opera House holds all non-dinner productions. "In addition," states Artistic Director and CEO Robert Dionne, "The Majestic tours certain adult and teen performances to local schools and private venues as the need and resources arise."

Starting as a local southern New Hampshire organization, The Majestic is now drawing thousands of patrons, actors, artists and supporters from other New Hampshire areas, as well as Massachusetts and Maine. "The reach of The Majestic Theatre far exceeds a single aspect or facility; we serve the community in every way possible and are constantly looking for new ways to partner with individuals and organizations alike," Dionne says.

The Majestic always has education and families in mind through summer camps for youth, private lessons and classes for most age groups. To expand the experience and enjoyment of theater arts, the Academy of Dramatic Arts for youth and teens was begun in 2008. This is a year-long program of educational and performing opportunities for kids and teens 7- to 17-years old and summer theater camps for ages 4 to 17. Scholarships are available.

What makes The Majestic special is the "idea that kids 'grow up' through our programs," Dionne explains. "It is not usual for a youth that has been in our productions to grow with The Majestic and later become a successful teen intern, adult director and sometimes career entertainer or artist due to their involvement in our programs." This is also true for adults who may get their first taste of the theater through their performances at The Majestic, learning more as they grow their theater knowledge.

Dionne explains the theater's longevity, "What makes The Majestic unique and a 'gem' is its ability to offer so much programming and opportunities to the community using a small dedicated group of volunteers (and a few staff members), and a financial model that is supported mostly by fundraising, ticket sales and sponsors." Whether you purchase tickets to the upcoming Godspell or Wizard of Oz musicals or audition for a future part, share the experience with your family and see why The Majestic Theatre is such a popular community performance-art organization.

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