Theater institutions combine to form new organization -- Gazette.Net


Two local theater institutions have joined forces to create a large organization focused on musical theater training and youth and family performances.

Adventure Theatre in Glen Echo Park and Musical Theater Center in Rockville have united to form Adventure Theatre Musical Theater Center (ATMTC). The merger was announced Monday at Adventure Theatre’s 60th Anniversary Gala, although it has been official since March 12, says producing artistic director Michael J. Bobbitt.

The merger had been discussed for a year and was seen as way to expand the offerings of each organization, Bobbitt says. Founded in 1951, Adventure Theatre is known for its professional children’s theater productions and also provides early childhood theater education classes, workshops and summer camps. It has been located at Glen Echo Park since 1971.

The merge with Musical Theater Center will create the ATMTC Academy, which will offer professional training classes for preschoolers through high school students, Bobbitt says. Previously, Adventure Theatre had no way to retain students once they outgrew the programming that was geared toward young children.

“We are excited about creating a program that has a strong continuation,” he says.

Diane Hamilton co-founded Musical Theater Center in 1986 and helped grow the organization to become one of the leading performing arts education centers in the region, offering classes in voice, dance and acting. She believes the merger will draw on the strengths of the separate institutions to create something greater.

“Both organizations have been in existence for a long time and are very strong in our respective things that we do,” says Hamilton, artistic associate of Adventure Theater MTC. “It seemed like a perfect match.”

ATMTC will continue to operate in both Glen Echo Park and in Wintergreen Plaza in Rockville, and the public should notice few changes with all programming continuing as scheduled through Aug. 31, including summer camps in both locations, Bobbitt says. All employees were retained in the merge, but some may need to switch between the two locations.

In the past, shows at Adventure Theatre have featured adult actors playing children, but with the inclusion of the Academy, next fall’s main stage productions will also feature child actors playing age-appropriate roles, Bobbitt says. ATMTC’s season will kick off in September with “Big: The Musical” followed by “Little House on the Prairie Christmas” and “Winnie the Pooh.”

Over the summer, the organization will also be developing a master curriculum for its fall Academy classes that will focus on national, state and industry standards in order to ensure that proper techniques are taught at each level, Bobbitt says.

With the merger, Hamilton believes that nothing is lost in the shuffle, but much will be gained by the region’s theater students.

“Combining, we hope to offer more opportunities for children to take part in terrific theatrical experiences and offer superb areas of training,” she says.