On Friday and Saturday, February 14 and 15 Suzy and Bryce Cropper will take to the stage at North Windham Union Church to put on “Love is in the Air,” a special Valentine’s revue of love songs from both traditional and contemporary Broadway musicals.
The Croppers, owners of Main Stage Productions in Windham, have shared a love for musical theatre since they met in college, and spent their first date at a musical. After getting married, the couple spent a summer doing two shows a night in an amusement park musical revue. Now the parents of five children ranging in age from 3 to 16, Suzy said, “Although we occasionally perform, we have chosen to limit our own participation as performers to focus on our family.” Instead, in early 2011, the Croppers remodeled their basement, added a dance studio with a professional floating dance floor and mirrors, and started Main Stage Productions. The company trains students ages six to18 in multiple elements of the performing arts – singing, dancing and acting. “Our focus now has been on channeling our love for the performing arts into developing the next generation of performers,” said Suzy.
The Croppers are putting on the show to raise money for expansion of Main Stage Productions. “We are growing and feeling a bit squished in our current rehearsal spaces,” said Suzy. “Our vision is to continue to grow into a performing arts academy that will provide "triple threat" training. We envision becoming a training hub for our region so that youth in our area can have the opportunity to develop the skills and live performance experience that will help prepare them to be able to walk into an audition and feel confident whether for a local production or the world's biggest stages,” she added.
Students have various opportunities to perform locally, including at Windham Summerfest, the Yarmouth Clam Festival, Portland Music and Arts Festival and at Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital. This summer their teen group, Vocal Motion, will perform in New York City, and receive training from Broadway professionals.
There are many benefits to be gained at Main Stage, said Suzy, including learning harmony and solo singing, microphone technique, multiple styles of dance, audition preparation, studio recording experience, showmanship, confidence, a sense of accomplishment and affirmation, working together with peers, and forming lasting friendships. Main Stage Productions has a student base of around 40 children and teens from Windham and nearby communities.
Suzy said they are thrilled to be a part of the Windham community. “Windham and the surrounding areas have a strong tradition of embracing and supporting the performing arts. For a comparatively small community we have been amazed at the talent that comes out of this region,” she said.
The Croppers are excited for the upcoming show, which is the first event of this type that they have undertaken. The song list for the two-hour show will include classics from favorite shows like Carousel, The Music Man, and Phantom of the Opera, as well as from less well-known shows like Catch Me if You Can and Side Show. The cast of five includes the Croppers, Shelbi Wassick, Patrick Martin and Dvorah Governale. Both Martin and Wassick are alumni of Windham High School, and have been involved with numerous local productions.
Cast members are enthusiastic about their participation in the show and their support of Main Stage Productions. “I am, without a shadow of a doubt, doing this show to support the kids who are in Main Stage and the ones I hope will come,” said Wassick. “Main Stage Productions offers a safe environment for kids to grow in the performing arts, grow their confidence and grow themselves. I only wish there was a program like this when I was a kid!"
Governale said she is thrilled to participate in the Valentine’s show, which illustrates what Main Stage has to offer to the youth in the community. “Having been involved in the arts my entire life, I feel very passionate that our children have the resources available to them to development their talents. Main Stage provides that very opportunity,” she said.
The $25 admission price includes not only the show, but also a dessert reception immediately prior to the event. The dessert reception begins at 7:15 p.m, and the show goes on at 8 p.m. both Friday and Saturday evenings. Tickets can be purchased online at www.valentineshowinwindham.com.
A shortened version of the show for children will be presented on Saturday afternoon. Tickets for this matinee are $5 and can be purchased at the door. Suzy said they hope to attract their students to the event. “We spend so much time teaching them, and they often tell us that they wish they could see us perform. Now is their chance,” she said. “We are very excited to share our talents with these wonderful young people who inspire us each day.”