‘Guys and Dolls’ and Jack Neary

Jack Neary is one of our contributing writers at rh.com. We cross-post his blog entries, but he hasn’t been blogging a lot because he has been busy inventing a regional music theatre group, among other things. This past weekend, more than 1,200 people attended two outstanding performances of “Guys and Dolls” at Durgin Concert Hall on the South Campus of UMass Lowell. (Full disclosure: I co-direct the UMass Lowell Center for Arts and Ideas, which co-produced the play.) During one scene, I counted 52 performers on the stage, counting the orchestra, chorus, actors, dancers, and a pizza delivery guy who was lost. This is the second summer production for Greater Lowell Music Theatre.

Last year, the group raised the roof with “The Music Man.” There’s a plan to do three productions in the new season starting this fall. Stay tuned for details. This is an interesting project to watch. Jack, Leon Grande, and Phyllis George are creating a new cultural enterprise. We hear a lot about entrepreneurs in Lowell these days. This is a case study in the creative industry sector. They have brought together top talent, an excellent artistic product, and a ready audience. These folks have worked hard to get to this point. The community has been supportive with ticket purchases, donations, media coverage like features in the Sun and interviews on ‘CAP, local cultural council grants—and social media and blogs have helped to spread the word and generate enthusiasm. On the University side we are helping with performance space, technical assistance, and marketing. In the late 1970s, we played a similar role for the incubation of Merrimack Repertory Theatre, which opened for business in the auditorium at Mahoney Hall on Broadway in Lowell. Look at the success story of MRT now.

The audience this weekend roared its approval of the musical production.

Jack Neary