Grand Rapids Documentary Shines a Spotlight on Community Theater

Fubble Entertainment is producing a documentary chronicling Grand Rapids' community theater.

From theater assistants to co-founders of their own production company, Teresa Thome and Patrick Ziegler have been friends and colleagues ever since they first met at Spectrum Theatre while attending Grand Rapids Community College, then Junior College.

After collaborating on the award-winning children’s television show, “Come on Over,” Thome and Ziegler launched Fubble Entertainment in 2010, where they have developed multiple projects in the areas of television, theater and web content.

While discussing how much they love and admire Grand Rapids community theater, Ziegler proposed the idea of capturing the community’s past on film and putting a spotlight on the legendary leaders who have produced and collaborated on numerous creative productions throughout West Michigan. Setting out to answer questions about what makes these theaters stand out, “Grand Rapids Theatre: The Documentary” became a story that needed to be told.

With the help of Maureen Dreher, the wife of the late Paul Dreher, former managing director of Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, producers Thome and Ziegler created a master list of talented interviewees. Soon after, Todd Lewis joined their team as the director and editor of the documentary.

Patrick Zeigler and Teresa Those with Fred Sebulske, founder of Actors' Theatre
Patrick ZiEgler and Teresa Thome with Fred Sebulske, founder of Actors’ Theatre

By early 2017, Thome and Ziegler secured their first grant with Actors’ Theatre as the fiduciary and are currently involved in researching, filming and editing countless interviews with various artists, actors, directors, designers, volunteers, supporters and theaters across West Michigan.

Although it is a process, it has been an exciting journey for Thome and Ziegler to have the ability to work on this project. Each interview offers a unique insight into the community’s remarkable past and allows Thome and Ziegler to connect with various leaders and collaborators who all share a deep love and passion for theatre in West Michigan.

Through filming these interviews, Thome and Ziegler notice the power theater can have in a community, such as the everlasting impression on an individual’s life and the familial bonds experienced during productions. “Theater has the capacity to transform lives, both for those people watching the show and for those on stage and behind the scenes,” Ziegler explained.

Community theater has thrived in Grand Rapids.
Community theater has thrived in Grand Rapids.

Because of the professionalism and rich history of the Grand Rapids community theater, Thome and Ziegler hope this documentary shows people how much hard work and collaboration goes into creating a successful production.

Due to the exceptional community in Grand Rapids, theater has been a vibrant and vital part of West Michigan’s past and present. Thome and Ziegler want this documentary to help others learn and appreciate the benefits theater can have in a community.

“We want people to understand the depth of what community theater has to offer our city – any city really,” Thome adds.

After “Grand Rapids Theatre: The Documentary” premieres and has been submitted to select film festivals, it will be available online. Donations to help this documentary succeed are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated, and any proceeds will benefit the Grand Rapids Combined Theatre Scholarship.

Individuals can also share their own stories of community theater on social media by visiting the documentary’s Facebook page and following its Twitter and Instagram accounts.

The pair expects the documentary to be completed by early fall 2018.

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