Abrams theater thrives on community

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‘Footloose: The Musical’ opens Friday

Anna Olson, Times Herald Correspondent

Abby Frank and the cast rehearse a routine from “Footloose: The Musical,” which opens Friday, June 21, at Byng Community Theater in Abrams. (Contributed photo)

Abrams Spotlight Productions Inc. (ASPI) is completely run by volunteers. The theater, from performers and production crew to set designers and the box office, even the board of directors, is entirely dependent on volunteers.

“We have been blessed with a very dedicated active board and volunteer staff. They are not only on the sidelines giving direction or orders but putting in countless hours to make this theater thrive and standout,” said board member Jim Klein.

ASPI’s latest production, “Footloose: The Musical,” opens Friday evening, June 21, at the Byng Community Theater, 5852 Maple St., Abrams.

While many nonprofits may have paid staff to assist in day to day operations, Abrams Spotlight Productions relies on the generosity and commitment of its community. Each production, and the time in between, involves hundreds of hours of volunteer help. This means the theater is seldom empty or dark, even between productions.

“ASPI loves to be the community theater in the heart of little Abrams,” Klein said. “We want the community to take ownership of this hidden gem.”

The list of volunteer roles and needed skills begins with directors, performers, and production crew, but also includes set designers and builders, costumes people, prop masters, ushers, box office clerks, board of directors, maintenance, repair, upkeep, lawn work, flower beds, painting, plumbing, etc.

ASPI needs not only the community’s time and talents, but also monetary support. The theater is largely funded through ticket sales and concessions, but sponsorships, advertising, and donations also play a key role.

Sponsorships range from as low as $25 per year through $500-plus, and sponsorships are gratefully acknowledged in the production programs. Sponsors at the higher levels receive discounted ticket prices.

Advertising is a way for businesses to support the theater and vice versa. A full page black-and-white ad in the program for all four of a season’s productions is $180 for the year. With eight performances per production, there is the potential of reaching more than 3,000 theater goers. Advertisers also receive two complimentary tickets to three of the four shows, a $90 value.

ASPI accepts monetary donations of any amount. That is how the theater was able to fund new cushioned chairs, through a Bond Foundation donation. A quick and easy way to donate is at the theater’s website, abramstheater.com.

Looking ahead, the financial vision of ASPI is to be debt-free of the mortgage in approximately five to seven years. In the long term, other potential updates to the theater space include additional bathroom space, a new roof, an updated sound system, and LED lighting for the stage.

The theater is looking into ways to make use of the theater space during down times. This includes renting the theater space for weddings, gatherings, and funerals. In the month of March, the theater hosted an Abrams Spotlight Wedding Show, which brought together Northeast Wisconsin wedding vendors for a spring wedding show in a unique and quaint setting.

“Footloose: The Musical” runs Friday through Sundays, June 21-23 and June 28-30, with performances at 7 p.m. Fridays, 1 and 7 p.m. Saturdays and 1 p.m. Sundays. A gala reception follows this Friday’s opening night show.

Tickets can be purchased by visiting abramstheater.com or calling the box office at 920-826-5852.