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Manchester Arts Center offers local communities ‘big city’ shows

Community theater offers the chance for locals to participate or at least view the stage and stay here at home. Near the top of any list of Middle Tennessee theater troupes would be Manchester’s own, Millennium Repertory Company (MRC), operating out of the Manchester Arts Center (MAC), where locals and visitors have the opportunity to enjoy “big city” shows.

MRC is a separate entity from the MAC. MRC, governed by a board and budget separate from the MAC, handles the stage productions that come to the center. The MAC board handles the building and has recently added a visual arts component to its mission.

Managing Director Joel Longstreth notes that the group has been in existence since 1995, but had to relocate in 2008 to the current location, 128 E. Main St., following a fire that destroyed the original theater on Hillsboro Boulevard.

“The center provides excellent entertainment with both theater and concerts plus great opportunities for kids, teens, and adults,” Longstreth said.

“We offer quality shows and art you can't get without driving to Nashville,” he added.

MRC opportunities for younger actors include a weekly homeschool program, complete with productions and theater-skills education, and the Wee Actors Guild and Teen Actors Guild that presents several full length shows per season.

Recently, WAG performed a version of Disney’s “Frozen” and the cast for TAG’s “Clue” was recently named.

“White Christmas” to open Dec. 4 and run both weekends through Dec. 13 will be the next MRC production.

The quality of the actors has been top notch at the MAC and over the last several seasons, the dancing and choreography has grown to become first rate.

Tending her talents to productions like “Singing in the Rain,” “White Christmas” and “Chicago,” Danelle Aflerbaugh, owner of Duck River Dance leads dancers that range from Nashville Ballet trained artist to local studio teens who are cutting their teeth while cutting a rug.

Local performer and director Jamie Harden of the Ultimate Oldies offers sellout performances several times a season of his shows. These shows are separate from the MRC, and include rock ’n’ roll from the classic eras of music. Harden’s ABBA tribute, Mamma Mia was held in early fall.

Pictured, from left, are Stephanie Whiting, Landon Spangler, Jonathon Duke, Laurie Burger.

Rounding out the local arts scene is the visual arts aspect of the MAC.

“We are resurrecting the visual arts program here that kind of died out. My goal is to get the students of Manchester involved, said MAC board member and head of the visual arts program Linda Robertson Gaines.

Most recently Alderman Bill Nickels has exhibited works at the center, along with school class submissions by Central High School, Coffee County Middle School and various local artist in a range of mediums. Painting classes and other special events are regularly held at the center.

White Christmas performances are Friday, Saturday, and Sundays, Dec. 4-13. Tickets are available at or by calling 931-570-4489.

Tickets: $10 – $15.

With the ongoing pandemic, masks are required at all Millennium productions. Safe spaced seating is in effect for all productions.


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