Human services group meets the arts; Summerset, REM Woodvale form partnership
Published 10:56 am Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Summerset Theatre kicked off its 2016 summer season with a special private performance Monday night.
The theater company held a preview show of “Shrek the Musical” for more than 100 people from REM Woodvale, which recently announced it will sponsor this year’s Summerset musical.
“It’s really great that we’ve got somebody on board,” said John Deyo, Summerset’s co-executive director and “Shrek’s” director.
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REM Woodvale’s preview performance served as a treat for the roughly 380 people in Austin, Albert Lea, Owatonna and Kasson that help support or work with REM Woodvale, a health and human services provider and part of The Mentor Network.
“They do very important work, and they deserve a little rest and relaxation,” said Jennifer Bute, a recruitment coordinator and marketing lead.
Bute called the preview show “a wild success” with a great turnout from REM Woodvale staff, individuals served and families who attended the show and a dinner. A few even wanted to know if there’d be a sequel musical.
Bute described the partnership as mutually beneficial, as it helps Summerset with its expenses.
For Summerset, it will get some important financial backing from REM Woodvale, which will toward expenses like paying for play royalties.
“That’s really great to have that financial backing and that community support, to know that theater is important to them and that they’re willing to help us bring quality entertainment to Austin,” Deyo said.
The financial backing and community support is important, Deyo noted.
“It’s going to help us so much, because when you start a season you have no money, and yet you have nothing but expenses,” he said.
“It’s expensive to put on a show like this,” he added.
REM Woodvale is a human services provider focused on supported living services for adults with disabilities in the region and state.
In southern Minnesota, it handles group home services for people with mental illnesses, developmental disabilities, autism, brain injuries and more. Much of that work takes place in residential group homes.
The focus is on supporting individuals with skills building and increasing independence.
Some of REM Woodvale’s local group homes are volunteering the be ushers during “Shrek the Musical’s” run. They’ll hand out programs and help scan tickets.
The clients REM Woodvale serves will get free admission with working the event, and some team members plan to bring them to the show as well.
Bute believes this is REM Woodvales’ first partnership of this kind, and she is pleased to see two groups she loves come together. She’s a veteran of many Summerset and Riverland plays and has been working with REM Woodvale just as long.
“It’s a cool experience for me being passionate about both the arts and the services that we provide to see the two forming a marriage for our community,” Bute said.
“Shrek the Musical” made for the perfect play to start the partnership, as Bute notes the story promotes that we are all different with our own strengths and weaknesses, but we’re still a team.
“It’s a great story of accepting yourself for who you are,” Bute said. “That’s really what we promote in our programs too.”
“Shrek the Musical” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. on June 21 to 25 with a closing matinee at 2 p.m. June 26 at Riverland Community College’s Frank W. Bridges Theatre.
Summerset’s second show, “The Murder Room,” will be sponsored for the second straight year by longtime director David Dalhquest, who passed away and left a legacy in his will to sponsor the show. He traditionally directed the second show of each Summerset season.
“The Murder Room” runs at 7:30 p.m. July 13 to 16 with a 2 p.m. show on July 17.