Dig Baton Rouge

10 Years of Theatre

By John Hanley

The Manship Theatre is about as synonymous with Downtown Baton Rouge as the State Capitol and the Mississippi River Bridge. Whether to play in the outside water fountain, head up to the top floor for sushi at Tsunami and a pleasant view of the river, or enjoy plays, concerts, and all other forms of entertainment, most Baton Rougeans have had at least some experience with the Manship at some point in their life.

The theatre hasn’t been around long, but March 5 marks exactly 10 years of the Manship’s growth into being an important part of the city. To thank the community for its continued support and to celebrate its success, the Manship has held a week of activities this past week, which will culminate into tomorrow evening’s Red Carpet Gala, featuring multi-platinum-selling band Loverboy.

The evening starts at 6:30 p.m., and features live music, cocktails, a sushi bar, a silent auction, samples from local restaurants, and of course, Loverboy. However, the Manship Theatre has plans to keep the celebration going throughout the year, with several special events planned for the rest of 2015.

“The Shaw Center was meant to be the impetus for the revitalization of downtown Baton Rouge, and in fact, has been a cornerstone of that as it’s grown,” said Renee Chatelain, executive director at the Manship. Chatelain says this Gala is a chance for the Manship to honor its founding members and its visionaries, who put their time and energy into making the theatre a success. She says it’s also a chance, however, to celebrate the future.

“We’re at a really exciting point with the theatre itself,” she said. “It’s really grown…in the last three to four years and expanded its programming, so there are lots and lots of people who come in and out of our doors, and who offer great talent or great events. We knew we wanted to celebrate [and] formalize that.”

Chatelain says that, although they want to formalize their appreciation for supporters, the Manship didn’t want the Gala to be a formal event. They wanted an event where people could enjoy themselves, and that’s why Loverboy is up on the night’s music bill.

“We thought [Loverboy] was a great, happy medium for just having fun,” Chatelain said.

Loverboy follows a popular tradition of other ‘80s acts that have graced the Manship for galas, like Rick Springfield and the Go-Gos.

“It wasn’t necessarily a classical artist or something like that that would narrow appeal,” said Chatelain. “This would be something that everybody could just let their hair down and enjoy.”

Chatelain says she will enjoy the Gala as much as other attendees, not only for its fun and entertainment, but also for what it represents.

“It’s sort of like watching a child grow up,” she said. “At this 10-year mark, we know who we are, we know where we’re headed, and, while we’re always growing and changing, I think the community now recognizes who we are and how we serve the community. I think this is a real turning point in the sense of arrival, like ‘here we are, here’s what we do…let’s all grow this together.’”

The Gala will indeed be a celebration of growth and teamwork, bringing in people who founded the Manship, people who have supported it from the beginning, community members who support it now, and perhaps people who plan to support it for years to come.

For tickets to the Gala, visit manshiptheatre.org or call the ticket desk at 225-344-0334.

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