Profile: Musical Theater Heritage
Musical Theater Heritage is a professional theater company that celebrates the history of the American Musical. They produce everything from Broadway-style musicals to special events, cabarets, and concerts. Experience their live performances, complete with an on-stage orchestra, in their theater located in Crown Center. We’re excited to introduce you to MTH’s Executive Artistic Director Tim Scott. We chatted with Tim about the history and mission of the theater, what it’s like to work as a part of a professional theater company, and their community programming. Plus, get a peek at MTH’s current and upcoming performance schedule!
How was MTH founded?
Musical Theater Heritage (MTH) was founded in 1997 by George Harter as a vehicle to syndicate his nationally syndicated, award-winning radio show, “A Night on the Town.”
How has the theater evolved over the years?
Originally the concept was to perform musicals to be broadcast live on George Harter’s radio show. Our evolution included a reader’s theater type format (script-in-hand), to concert style productions (with microphones and music stands), to today being an essentialist, yet fully realized and produced musical format.
As the Executive Artistic Director, what does a day in the life look like?
Where do I begin? Today we start tech for our production of OKLAHOMA!. Yet my morning includes tracking historical sales figures to make sure we are on pace for our sales goals, working on budgets for our 2020 season, curating the marketing assets for OKLAHOMA!, checking in on our Summer camps (which started yesterday), as well as coordinating copy for this week’s e-newsletter.
How long have you been with MTH? How did you get connected with the theater?
I first got connected with MTH as an actor when I auditioned and was cast in MTH’s 2005 production of CAROUSEL. I started producing shows for MTH in 2007.
Do you have any advice for those aspiring to make a career in theater?
My advice to people would be to continue to diversify your skills. Even beyond singing, acting, dancing. The more you know about theater and the business of theater, the more opportunities you will have to be a successful Theater Artist. And above all, be nice to people and remain humble.
What have been some highlights or favorite memories over the years?
Starting the education program in 2016 is one of the things I’m most proud of. Giving KC kids an opportunity to learn and have fun in a professional setting, led by some of Kansas City’s finest artists is just so gratifying. Artistically, our 2018 production of CATS turned out so amazingly well and received such widespread acclaim that it is always something I’ll look back on with pride.
Can you share more about the MTH Education Outreach Program?
Launched in 2016, our educational goal was to design and implement a ground-breaking curriculum that would immerse our area youth in the pure joy of musical theater. We began by designing popular, age-appropriate musical summer camps for students K-12—directed by Board Certified Music Therapist, Andrea-Boswell-Burns and taught by Kansas City’s top performers. These fun-filled, week-long camps of song and dance are already nationally recognized and now serve a diverse, cross-section of our community. Beyond summer camps we now offer after-school programming, student matinees, as well as week-long spring break camps in cooperation with Operation Breakthrough.
Tell me about the MTH team. How do you all work together?
We are led by President/CEO Chad Gerlt who is amazing at identifying people’s strengths and just letting them do their thing. Chad really is the ultimate utility man and can provide guidance and lend a hand in every department. From fundraising, to marketing, to graphic design… he’s even been known to pick up a hammer and help build sets when needed. Melissa Ford is our Development Director and she has just an amazing wealth of knowledge and a fresh approach on fundraising and cultivating atmosphere. Andrea Boswell-Burns is our Director of Education who approaches or education programming with such legitimate passion that it is genuinely infectious. Mark Exline is our Production Manager and is such an innovative and articulate artist that he literally makes our productions better just by being in the building. Our team is much larger than I can expand upon here; however, we generally meet once a week to talk about goals, progress, and what needs to be accomplished.
What is the seasonality of theater work?
We are a full-time, year-round production company, and although attendance and activities spike during the summer months, we’re pretty active all year round.
What are some upcoming shows you’re excited about?
I’m particularly excited about our upcoming production of IN THE HEIGHTS, directed by Nedra Dixon. Everyone knows HAMILTON and IN THE HEIGHTS is the Tony Award-winning show Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote before HAMILTON which is an incredible musical story in its own right. Additionally, we have Amanda Zieve (who was the assistant Lighting Designer for HAMILTON on Broadway) coming to KC to design lights for our production of IN THE HEIGHTS. I’m super excited to see what Nedra and Amanda come up with.
How is the theater programming chosen?
We weigh a lot of factors. MTH stands for Musical Theater Heritage so we always have an eye on producing classic musicals, often with a contemporary reimagining like we did with CATS and OKLAHOMA!. We also take into account any literary or educational synergy that might tie into our education program.
Looking forward, what are some goals for MTH in the next five to ten years?
We have three unique venues here at MTH and ultimately we want to get to a point where we are producing shows in all of them. I think we’d also like to continue to grow the education program to include some “Mommy and Me” type programming geared towards introducing music and theater to toddler aged kids in a fun, family capacity. Beyond that, it’s our goal to continue evolving and examining unique and innovative ways to tell relatable stories.