We Deserve It
by Carol Bodensteiner, photo courtesy Patrick Gouran
You’re so good you should be on Broadway: The actors at The Old Creamery Theatre often hear that from their audiences. They’re flattered, but they say they should be good. They’re theater professionals who are paid for their creative talent.
“When people see us the first time, they may have the idea that they’re going to see something like community theater,” says Tommy Milligan, producing director of The Old Creamery. “But there’s a big difference between volunteer productions and professional theater. We bring Chicago-, Minneapolis-, and Kansas City-caliber theater to Iowans.”
Taking their name from the company’s first home, a former creamery co-op in Garrison, The Old Creamery, now based in Amana, is a professional equity theater company. Many of the actors, both Iowans and those who come from other areas, belong to the actors’ union. Established 40 years ago, Old Creamery is the first and one of only a handful of professional theater companies in the state.
Old Creamery has been in growth mode for the last five years. Part of that expansion is coming from a greater emphasis on producing professional theater for young people. Charlotte’s Web, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, and other productions have proved popular with both youth and adult audiences.
The company isn’t waiting for audiences to come to it. A school tour took 125 shows to 44 counties in Iowa and Illinois in 2011, and the staff also conducts seven week long Camp Creamery workshops each summer.
The company offers shows 11 months of the year. “We open something new every three weeks,” says Sean McCall, artistic director, who chooses productions for the main stage, studio theater, and special events.
Professional theater is good for Iowa audiences and for Iowa actors, says McCall, who grew up in Kansas City and worked on the East Coast before coming to Iowa. “I have actor friends in New York who don’t do half what I do at Old Creamery. When people tell me we should be on Broadway, I tell them, ‘You deserve professional theater here in your backyard.’ Then I tell them to come back and bring a friend.”
Find show and ticket information online at oldcreamery.com.