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MT Repertory Theater To Return Downtown

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MISSOULA -

The University of Montana's Repertory Theater is determined to bring live theater back to downtown Missoula.

After years of being a downtown staple, the theater took a break from performing in the area. After revamping its vision for performances, the Montana Rep is making a comeback downtown.

UM's resident professional theater, the Montana Repertory, is on a new adventure, looking to connect with audiences in downtown Missoula.

"Where theater takes place is really evolving, and we're excited to see what we can come up with in downtown Missoula that addresses relationship of the audience and the performer," said Greg Johnson, the artistic director for the Montana Rep.

The Montana Repertory Theater had a downtown presence since the 1990s. Renting out venues, and running the Crystal Theater for two years, but it became too much work for the crew.

"Everyone was getting so burnt out, and tired. We said, 'What can we do?'" Johnson said.

The crew took a year-long break, and came up with the "Vision and Voices Project."

"We've stepped back and looked at what we can do, and we're re-entering the arena," Johnson said.

The theater is now looking at unique venues to perform at downtown, and to connect with audiences in a new way.

"We want to keep producing things. It's important to keep theater happening," Johnson said.

The theater's first performance with the project took place earlier this month in a dance studio downtown. Other ideas they've had include performing Shakespeare in local parks, and even returning to the Crystal Theater.

"It opens up great opportunity for students to work with professionals, quality acting and theater," said Montana repertory student Sam Williamson.

The Montana Rep is known for its national tours, in which students travel with professional actors, set designers, and producers to get real-world experience.

"As an undergrad it was great to work with actors that have more acting experience then I've been alive," Williamson said.

Williamson directed the last performance, and said the downtown presence will only open up more doors for the student actors.

"It's a great challenge to direct, and it elevates your game. You can learn so much more in the process than you can ever learn in class," Williamson said.

The Montana Repertory Theater is currently looking for ideas for to expand its Vision and Voices Tour. If you have unique performance ideas, and would like the Montana Rep to hear them, email Artistic Director, Greg Johnson at gregory.johnson@umontana.edu.

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