Fall Conference 2017 Information

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September 22 – 24 @ Evergreen Resort in Cadillac, MI

Exciting new offerings for our youth, the techies and directors plus a full day musical intensive programming course load!

We have an amazing line up for our fall conference at Evergreen Resort in Cadillac, formerly McGuire’s. You have been seeing information about our presenters in the past several issues of the Callboard: Jim Carver, Steve Carver, Frank Peot, David Wahr, Michael Wisiniewski – and we’ve added a few more recently. Jim Carver will be our Keynote Speaker on Friday night at the Meet & Greet.

The Friday evening Meet & Greet this year will be the event to dress up for because Saturday’s banquet is a sock hop! So wear your poodle skirts, saddle shoes, leather jackets, rolled up jeans…you get the picture! After the banquet, we will have a networking dessert, lead by one of our presenters and there will be ‘50s music in the main room for your pleasure! We will select the best costume at the event. We will have specialty drinks all weekend long and the resort makes a 50¢ donation to our group for each specialty drink purchased.

The youth program is growing each year and we need to encourage young theatre students to participate. Students 16 and older can register for either the youth program or for the general adult workshops. Students eight years of age and older can register for the youth program. We are delighted that the Youth Program this year will be under the tutelage of Shyrl Cone and Bonnie Grooters, two active and very well respected members who recognize the importance of including the youngsters in our programming. The weekend will be filled with theatre education through games, hands-on activities, learning scripts and a performance. The kids will be creating Fluppets (a puppet, but different). A Fluppet performance will entertain everyone on Sunday morning before the breakfast buffet. Why is it so important that we encourage our youth to participate? The obvious reason is because as we grow older we need younger blood to carry on our art. It is important that they attend our conference because there is no other event where our youth will have the opportunity to meet and learn from so many talented adults who want to share their theatre knowledge. Please share this information with kids in your program or local schools.

Calling all musical theatre performers! There will be an all-day Music Intensive! When you leave at the end of the day you will know how to audition for a musical and you will be extremely well prepared! Get registered today! This will have limited seating due to the nature of the class.  There will be a class on each aspect to make you the ultimate triple threat: performing (taking direction), dancing and singing.

If you can’t make if for the entire weekend, although we sure hope you can, you can purchase the following activities a la carte: Friday night keynote address, workshops, lunch, banquet and brunch. Bring friends to listen to our keynote speaker, Jim Carver, Friday night. Join in for the workshops or just stop in for lunch. If you have a child in the youth program, come join us for brunch on Sunday and watch their performance.

Complete Workshop Lineup

James Carver – Keynote Speaker & Blocking with Subtext

James Carver comes from a long line of theatre people: his grandparents and his parents were professional actors. He claims to have learned his craft by osmosis from the back row of the theatre where is parents propped him up while they rehearsed. Educated at Michigan State University, he worked in television for a while before he joined the staff of The Kalamazoo Civic Theatre in 1958. As a Production Assistant he built and painted scenery, taught classes and started directing. In 1974 Jim was named Managing Director. Under Jim’s guidance the theatre grew to be one of the largest in the country, presenting twenty-two productions a year with a staff of seventeen and eight hundred volunteers. Jim has directed hundreds of plays and acted almost that many roles. He has developed an international reputation as a director: two of his productions were selected in national competition to represent the United States in international festivals including the prestigious World Amateur Theatre Festival in Monaco. He has adjudicated countless festivals for The American Association of Community Theatre (AACT), including twice at the national festival. He is in constant demand as a director and workshop leader. Jim has served as President of AACT and from that group has received its highest award for lifetime leadership in community theatre. He recently published CARVER’S MANUAL FOR DIRECTING COMMUNITY THEATRE. Jim presently lives in Colorado and directs for community theatres nationwide.


Bonnie Grooters – Youth Program with Fluppets

Bonnie lives in Lowell but was born and raised in Grand Rapids MI where she studied at Kendall School of Design. Married for 56 years, and has two adult children. A child at heart Bonnie operated a toy and gift store and carried several lines of puppets was the well-known line of puppets by Folkmanis. The Fluppets the students will be creating will stretch their imaginations.

She writes and tells children’s stories, two of them are published: The Floor is Not a Closet and Math Yuck. Later she began writing plays which have been performed At Allegan Griswold Auditorium, Barn Swallow Theatre, Alpena Civic Theatre, Dennison Performing Arts Theatre. She sculpts, paints and enjoys creative endeavors. She loves acting but prefers to write the plays because she doesn’t have to remember the words.


Shyrl Cone – Youth Program with Fluppets

CTAM Secretary Shyrl Cone is a veteran elementary school teacher with a thriving music studio for beginning vocal and piano students. Theatre is her passion, and Shyrl combines her expertise in instruction with that love by directing youth theatre productions and drama camps. Her youth directing credits include Beauty and the Beast, Jr., Jungle Book, Kids, and 101 Dalmations, Kids. In addition to being active in her home theatre group of Hartland Players/Encore Youth Theater, she has acted as vocal director for Community Theatre of Howell camps.




Mychelle Hopkins – Taking Direction (Musical Intensive)

Mychelle Hopkins holds her Master’s Degree from the prestigious Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-avon, England where she studied as a Fulbright Scholar.  She has received critical acclaim as a Director and Actress both regionally and internationally.  Her theatrical background is extensive with over thirty-five years of professional experience.  Mychelle joined the resident company of The Barn Theatre in Augusta, Michigan in 2005 after 15 years at the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre where she began her tenure as its Youth Theatre Director and was promoted to serve as the organization’s Associate Director.  Her theatrical affiliations include The Houston Shakespeare Festival, The Royal Shakespeare Company in England and The Athens Theatre Center in Greece.  Serving as an Adjunct Professor in the Western Michigan University’s Theatre Department, Mychelle introduced thousands of students to the joy and challenge of Theatre.  A native of Northern Michigan, she returned to Traverse City in 2008 to become the Education Director at Old Town Playhouse. Along with her administrative jobs, she continues to direct the majority of the musicals and straight plays for the OTP Young Company.


Matt Archibald – Singing for the Stage (Musical Intensive)

A gifted singer and musician, Matt has his degree in Education and Music and lives in Traverse City with his family.  Matt teaches the Old Town Playhouse Young Company’s Singing for Musical Theatre class, is the Summer Camp Musical Director, and has been both vocal director and music director for several OTP MainStage shows. Matt appeared in the OTP MainStage musical, Les Miserables as Marius, Man of La Mancha, and The Sound of Music, just to name a few.


Melissa May – Dancing Done Right (Musical Intensive)

Melissa May is a dancer and choreographer with over 20 years of performance experience both nationally and internationally. Melissa is the Creative Director of Fleur Couture Cabaret; she has choreographed for local high schools, dance studio’s, Old Town Playhouse (OTP), and Mash Up Rock ‘N Roll Musical. She is very involved with OTP’s Young Company as an instructor, choreographer, stage manager, and director. Most recently she assistant directed and choreographed the 2017 Black and White Gala and choreographed OTP Young Company’s camp productions of Madagascar Jr and Seussical Kids.



Steve Carver – Playing the Action Through Communication

Stephen Carver, Executive Director with the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre, brings 38 years of experience in theatre, TV and film. He is an award winning director, and has guest starred on such shows as Golden Girls, Star Trek, Deep Space Nine, General Hospital, and Melrose Place. His film credits include Liar, Liar, Housesitter and Die Trying.






David Wahr – Preparing for AACT Fest

David P. Wahr has been active in community theatre for more than 30 years and has participated in AACTFest for more than two decades as an actor, director and playwright (including one state AACTFest win). He has also served on the CTAM Board in multiple roles including president and is a recipient of the McKenna Award.






Ben Zylman – The Business of the Show…Marketing Your Theatre

Ben ZylmanBen Zylman’s career in sales, management, marketing and development spans 40 years and encompasses both the profit and non-profit sectors.  As the manager of Gilmore’s Department Store at Southland Mall, he was responsible for the productivity of 70 full time employees and the effective operation of the branch location placed in his charge.  While serving as the Director of Sales for the Yarrow Golf and Conference Resort, Ben supervised a seven person sales team and worked to position Yarrow as a regional conference and training facility.   His efforts were rewarded with a 254% increase in corporate revenue. During his 16 year tenure as Director of Marketing and Development for the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre, Ben developed a Corporate Sponsorship Program, created a marketing strategy for all programs and productions and branded the organization in a meaningful way.  His years of experience proved to be most beneficial as he worked to market the theatre effectively and helped to lead the Civic through the economic turmoil of the great recession.

Semi-retired, today Ben works as a consultant.  He focuses primarily on the areas of non-profit marketing and business development.



Frank Peot – Directing from the Tech Point of View

Frank began working in theatre when he was in high school. He has acted, directed, designed, built, painted, and has been a board member of several theatre organizations. He is currently secretary of the American Association of Community Theatre and chief US delegate to the World Congress of International Amateur Theatre. Other experiences include adjudicating community theatre festivals and conducting workshops with community theatres around the nation. He is an AACT Fellow, winner of the Art Cole Lifetime Leadership Award in Community Theatre and an AACT Special Recognition Award for contributions far-reaching & of a special nature.




Michael Wisniewski – All Things Set

Michael is from Bay City Players and has been Committee Chair for Set Design, Construction and Decoration for many years. He has directed musicals and plays for Bay City Players, has directed at Pit and Balcony and recently directed Assassins for Center Stage Theatre at Midland Center for the Arts. Michael also directed Hair at Bay City Players in the summer of 2017 and is directing Anything Goes for Pit and Balcony this Fall. With his experience he has worked on many productions involving all things set. Michael resides in Bay City with two adorable Boston Terriers. When he is not working on a set, acting or directing a show he enjoys traveling, gardening and has a strong passion for theatre. Michael is very excited to be leading his second workshop for CTAM!

Suzan Dunham – Create the Backstory

A graduate of Tawas Area High School, Suzan has completed her Bachelor of Arts with an emphasis in theatre from Morehead State University in Kentucky. Then went on to complete her Master Degree in Organizational Management from University of Phoenix. Suzan has one daughter, Gatlyn Dunham, who is a Scuba Dive Instructor. Suzan teaches Acting and Improvisation classes at Witz End and is a founding member and president for WE Players, Inc, a 501C3 organization focusing on youth theatre.

She loves to direct but acting come in as a close second. She values all aspects of theatre but you will not find her behind a sewing machine or a sound board. She says that it is best for all of us.

Suzan holds a trustee position on the board of Community Theatre Association of Michigan. She has performed in two AACT fest competitions and received an award for Outstanding Actress in a Featured Role for her portrayal of Geralyn in Love, Loss & What I Wore in 2017. In addition to theatre Suzan loves to cook, play with her dog, Izzy, go for walks, read and hang out with her friends. She feels it is important to give back to the community and help student learn life skills through theatre to become leaders.

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Don’t forget to book your room!

The Evergreen Resort is fully booked but there are 20 rooms left at the Hampton Inn of Cadillac just around the corner as of September 13th.  Just click this link (or the one in the previous sentence) to book your room.

Our annual raffle to raise funds for education will be happening again this year. We are looking for raffle prizes for adults and kids, $35 or more in value! Tickets are sold all weekend long and the drawing is held after brunch on Sunday morning. We raised more than $1,200 last year. This money is available through CTAM Scholarship to help attendees with registration fees for events like Fall Conference, Master Class and Regional Workshops.

It will be a fun-filled weekend! We hope you all can make it. Invite your friends, share with your membership, encourage the youth! What an excellent and entertaining way to learn theatre. Theatre people really are the best!