When it comes to great nonprofits, I believe Music Theatre of Wichita sets the gold standard. Here is my experience. I was finishing graduate studies in arts administration, pondering the gloomy arts outlook, when a friend suggested I come to Wichita to check out MTW and meet Wayne Bryan. It was just the boost I needed. Bryan became a mentor and showed me possibilities. I met a man with great charisma and passion for the arts, an artistic director who possessed the rare combination of creative vision mixed with business and marketing savvy. I met the core Music Theatre of Wichita staff -- Nancy, Vickie, Mary Sue, Bethany -- all delightful, talented, and equally committed to building the MTW dream. I met Board Members with diverse backgrounds and expertise. I sat in on rehearsals and marveled at the range of talent. Broadway veterans mixed freely with interns, all collaborating with a sense of joy and pride in what they were creating. At the evening’s performance, I witnessed Bryan come out upon the stage to affectionate cheers followed by hushed, rapt attention as he introduced the evening’s tale to an audience hungry for escape. The performance did not disappoint; it was accomplished on all levels. After, Bryan took his position in the lobby, thanking and interacting with audience members as they exited into the night carrying some of the magic with them. Something very special is going on at Century II! My interaction with Wayne Bryan and Music Theatre of Wichita took me from a low ebb to a place of hope for the future of live performance. MTWichita is making a difference. That is why I wanted to include my voice in these reviews. For when it comes to great nonprofits, I believe Music Theatre of Wichita sets the gold standard and provides a golden opportunity for patrons, foundations, corporate sponsors, individual donors -- all who want to ally with a successful and deserving arts organization. Which reminds me … time to pull out my own checkbook …
I have performed in four shows for MTW, and each time has been a splendid experience! The production quality is of Broadway caliber, and the people who run the company are the best! (Wayne Bryan once came to see me in a show at another theatre, and after that cast met and talked with him, they all said "Now, THAT'S what an Artistic Director should be!") Performers often give up longer-running "gigs" in order to work for MTW, because they know that they will be part of a production they can be proud of and look back on with joy for a lifetime.
I have worked for MTW several times, and it is always a wonderful experience. Their productions are top notch, and their educational programs for students are inspiring. What a blessing for this community to have MTW.
I've enjoyed an ongoing association with Music Theatre of Wichita for well over fifteen years. Some of my appreciation has grown from viewing their work from afar and following the extraordinary but ongoing quality of production they manifest, season after season. I've admired at closer range their audition and preproduction processes when they've spent their annual working visits to New York City. And on three occasions, I've been privileged to serve on-site there in Kansas, helping to promote and publicize two productions of THE WIZARD OF OZ and another of MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS. In my own four decades (plus) of sporadic professional musical theater employment, I've never known a finer aggregation than that assembled, onstage and off, by Wayne Bryan and his compatriots. They never fail to meet (and they generally surpass) their stated goals of offering exemplary entertainment, managing their facility as an intelligent business concession, and providing compassionate and first-class training for those in their orbit.
Music Theatre of Wichita is one of those "hidden gems" that the majority of the people who live here don't even understand. MTW's performances are on par with, and often exceed ANYTHING I have seen on Broadway. And there's a good reason for that. Many of MTW's alumi are on Broadway at any given time. Wayne Bryan has an eye for picking (and training) talent that has the potential to be on Broadway. In fact, many Broadway producers say when they see "Music Theatre of Wichita" on someone's resume they are more likely to give that person an interview! We have truly been blessed with Wayne Bryan's talents and abilities! And because he's so amazing the majority of stars on Broadway he's mentored come back to appear in MTW performances every year. So when you attend a MTW performance, you're not only seeing the stars of tomorrow, you are getting a chance to see the Broadway stars of TODAY at a much better ticket price!
I have had the good fortune of working as an actress for Music Theatre Of Wichita several summers. Music Theatre of Wichita has been the highlight of my musical theatre career. Once you've worked there, you are considered a member of the family for life. I've also had the pleasure of seeing shows at Music Theatre of Wichita when I'm not in the cast, so can say that the productions are of the highest quality. I travel to New York and don't even go to shows there because I know they won't compare to Music Theatre of Wichita! The professionalism is top notch, from Wayne Bryan, the Producing Artistic Director, all the way thru the staff and volunteers. AMAZING group of people who all work towards bringing the arts to the people in the best way possible. I'm HONORED to know them all.
There are not enough superlatives to heap upon this fabulous organization. When I met director Wayne Bryan, I was so impressed with him that I flew from California to Wichita to see his production of Camelot. The production values were first-rate, comparable to what I've seen in New York and San Francisco. While shopping and dining in Wichita, I met salespeople, waiters, and production staff members who all raved about Wayne and the shows he creates. One woman called him "The Treasure of Wichita." The entire organization is suffused with enthusiasm and esprit de corps, which is apparent on stage.
I've worked in theatres across the country (and overseas) for over twenty years and return to Wichita whenever possible to renew my sense of connection with the art form and audience. Wayne Bryan is a unique talent, an impresario who truly loves musical theatre and continually finds new ways to delight and challenge his loyal audiences. The staff, artists and hosts of volunteers seem to recognize the unique value of their contributions and the results can be seen in the quality of the productions.
My experience has been the mostly thrilling musical and theatrical experiences of my life so far. I've been involved for the last decade and wouldn't trade any of the years. The producer is one of the best theatre practitioners, businessman and all around great person. He's one of a kind and the success of the company trickles down. The company is committed to excellence in production and education for the many young people involved.
I have worked at Music Theatre of Wichita for 5 seasons now. Ever since my first, in 2002, the company has seemed like home to me. Working there I have met some of my closest friends and most respected business associates. The quality put into our productions is of the upmost care and consideration within every shop and rehearsal hall. MTW's staff is professional yet caring-a characteristic few can manage. In all, I get excited about March in anticipation of the fun I will and the challenges we will meet during the summer.
Going to MTW shows are a high-light of my Summer! Festival of Broadway is also a favorite part of the River Festival. I feel extremely lucky to live in a city that features productions of this caliber. I'm looking forward to next season! Keep up the great work. :)