Croswell Opera House summer 2015 brings in record crowds

Buoyed by a record-setting production of “Mary Poppins” in June, the Croswell Opera House’s recently concluded Summer Broadway Season was its best-attended summer season this century.

“We’re proud of this season for so many reasons, but the best part of it is how many people came through our doors to experience the magic of live theater,” said Jere Righter, the Croswell’s artistic director.

The summer season attendance of 13,260 was the highest since 1998, when 13,661 people attended that season’s productions of “Brigadoon,” “1776” and “State Fair.”

The season numbers are influenced in part by a change in 2009 that added a May musical to the summer season, but 2015’s total was the highest since that move.

The 2015 Summer Broadway Season opened in May with Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods,” followed by “Mary Poppins” in June. Two newer musicals, “Big Fish” and “Memphis,” rounded out the season in July and August.

“Mary Poppins” was the Croswell’s best-attended show since 1997, bringing in a total of 5,586 people over 10 performances.

“This was an incredibly ambitious season, but I’m so glad we took the risk,” Righter said. “Our audiences really proved that high-quality live theater is something that never goes out of style. Even today, when you can stream just about anything you want to watch over the internet, experiencing a live show in a historic theater is something that just can’t be duplicated.”

Summer season attendance hit a low in 2009 and has been increasing since then. The total number of events staged at the Croswell has also increased over the past several years, from 50 in the 2006-07 fiscal year to 75 in the same period for 2014-15.

“We’ve really been working hard to expand our programming and offer great entertainment for everyone, whether you’re a musical theater fan or not,” Righter said. “Along with making sure we’re always raising the bar on quality, that’s what will keep the Croswell at the center of our community’s cultural life for years to come.”

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