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All-of-us Express
Children's Theatre


History Timeline

A timeline of important or interesting events from AECT's history, mostly taken from the newsletters. The level of detail reported in the newsletters varied from time-to-time, and newsletters were not published in all months.

Index: 1998   2000   2002   2004   2006   2008  

March 30: Evelyn calls meeting to discuss forming a children's theater company. Eighteen people attend.
December: AECT's first show is Winnie-the-Pooh at Hannah Middle School, with a cast and crew of 17 young people.
December: The Truly Remarkable Puss-in-Boots & The Toys Take Over Christmas double-bill is AECT's last show performed at Hannah Middle School.
May: Individual membership set at $7.00; family membership at $12.00.
Spring: AECT moves into an empty storefront in Frandor, next door to Hobby Hub. Previously, rehearsal and crew work was done in a variety of spaces around Greater East Lansing.
December: Ticket price was listed as $2.50. First class postage was $0.32. Show times were 7:30 p.m. Friday; 1:00 and 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.
May: First strategic planning session announced for June 29.
June: Annual meeting report lists 232 members (mailing labels).
October: Ticket price raised to $4.00, with $1.00 discount for members.
January: Frandor storage trailer emptied into basement.
March: Frandor gave us one year's notice that we would have to move because of upcoming rennovation. (They tore down the part of the shopping center that we had been in, next to Hobby Hub.)
June: Annual meeting was attended by 33 people. It was reported that we had 527 members (that would be active individuals, not mailing labels).
October: First (?) appeal letter went out from Evelyn. Scanned image (PDF).
December: Creation of website announced.
March: We moved from Frandor to the 3930 West Saginaw space.
June: Annual meeting report lists 693 members in 232 households.
August: We're moving again, to a former restaurant (three small spaces connected together for a total of 6,600 sq. ft.) in the Cedar Park shopping center in Holt. Second strategic planning session announced for September 19-20.
September/October: Reported that sixty people helped move and clean, logging 770 volunteer hours.
December/January: Winnie-the-Pooh opened the 10th Season with record ticket sales of over 2000!
February: The Magician's Nephew sells less than 800 tickets. Endowment fund started with $7,000.
May: Ticket price increased to $5.00. Because of change in Michigan law about young people serving on non-profit boards, bylaws amended and Junior Advisory Committee created.
June: Annual report letter from the president announcing formation of an endowment fund. Scanned image (PDF).
September: Miss-out policy enacted. Link to 1998 policies page.
January: Evelyn becomes Employee #1, with a salary of $10,000.
April: The Princess and the Pea & Twelve Dancing Princesses double bill (winter show for the 11th Season) sells a surprising 1500 tickets.
May: Guild and experience crew system announced. 12th Season fees set: participation $40/$25, guild $30/$15.
June: Annual meeting reports membership levels static. Sexual orientation and gender identity added to anti-discrimination policy.
July: Survey asking why no one signed up for summer classes. Report that the Golf scramble raised $1500.
August: AECT and Boarshead Theatre collaborated on a joint season subscription punchcard for their children's shows; three by AECT and two by Boarshead.
Fall: Membership mailing about guilds & crews, classes and fundraising events (all PDF).
October: Report that $30,500 in grants had been received year-to-date. Summer show Aesop Says (written by Evelyn) sold 1800 tickets. 533 members and 181 mailing labels. $5000 in labor and materials had been donated to bring the Holt Cedar Park space up to code. (Not reported, but we also had to replace two rooftop HVAC units at $5000 each.)
November: Evelyn's 50th Birthday Bash raised $800 and various office supplies.
December: Evelyn's salary was increased to $12,000. Little Mermaid ticket sales reported as 1,666. Pizza kit fundraiser brought in $1,400.
February: Summer rehearsal times changed to 6:30-8:30 p.m. (Summer rehearsals had been in the afternoon.)
March: No SBST for next summer because too few people were available. No summer classes so staff could work on a business plan. (We had received an MCACA grant to hire a consultant to help formulate a five-year plan.) Evelyn also announced she would not direct from summer 2001 through summer 2002 to work on the business plan.
March 13: Letter from president (Lisa) that we had been informed that a company was looking at our space with the intention to lease, and we might be given notice at any time.
April: Plans announced to move by fall at the latest, so we could control when and where, but we didn't have a new space lined up yet. Gareth the Gentle Gargoyle (written and directed by Bill Helder and Evelyn Weymouth) sold 2,000 tickets for its Riverwalk Theatre run.
May: Announced desire to find a permanent space; putting stuff in storage if we were forced to move too soon. Work continued on business plan.
August: 13th Season fees set: membership $15/$25, participation $50/$35, guild $40/$25. Announced beginning of move to Logan Square, a 14,000 square foot temporary but free space. Do you remember these? Straight makeup steps.
November: Final moving day set at 4 November. (Sunday of first show weekend.)
December: Performance times changed to 1:00 and 4:00 p.m. on Saturdays.
February: 573 members, 218 labels. Holiday appeal letter raised $11,000. Received $18,600 MCACA grant to implement the first year of our business plan.
April: Bylaws overhaul announced. Begin selling bottled water with AECT logo.
August/September: Letter from Evelyn about recent and planned changes, her two-year break from directing, planned membership drive, and the MCACA grant to implement the business plan. Tickets are no longer available through Arts Tickets; only at the door.
October: Lisa takes on role of newsletter editor. 14th Season begins with a return to the renovated Hannah Community Center for Hansel and Gretel. AECT becomes a CAUW participant agency. Received from MCACA an Intergenerational Grant and an Implementation grant ($22,000 each) to support our general mission and to implement our the second year of our five-year business plan, respectively.
October 29: Evelyn's letter to the membership announces that AECT is beginning the process of hiring an Executive Director, while she becomes the Artistic Director; and the "Grow With Us" membership drive will kick off on November 15. (This is where the hats on the membership form came from.) [LINK]
November: Details about the Executive Director search and the new membership levels.
December: Kathy Keely hired as Executive Director, to start on January 6. Evelyn receives CTAM's volunteer service award.
February: Evelyn teaching at MSU. Introducing the Executive Director. Long article about Clowns' Play.
March: Special membership meeting announced to discuss why four long-term members of the office and production staff have left the company.
August/September: 15th Season price changes: participation $75/$60, guild $65/$50, basic membership $25 and tickets are now $5 youth and $6 adult.
October: Search for a new Executive Director. Diane Cooke hired as full-time administrative assistant. Annual meeting report: 26 people attended. Elected to the Board for three-year terms were Carol Armstrong, Mick Goldynia, Paul Hershkowitz and Laura Wotruba. They join returning members: Eric Diller, Mary Edinger, Teresa Fitzwater, David Hetherington, Tracy Litzinger, Michelle Mertz-Stoneham, Dudley Smith and Carol Stonebrook. Kirsten Spichiger is Costumer Crew Supervisor for the 15th Season.
November: Evelyn receives Community Luminary Award. Note that rooftop HVAC units at Logan Square space have died and are beyond repair. (Estimated replacement cost of at least $22,000 each.) Space heaters solicited.
December: Tracy Meade, new Executive Director, began work on November 17. New AECT outdoor sign dedicated in memory of youth participant Patricia Jean Owen. The office moved to the interior classroom because the Logan Square space is without heat. The Clowns Express troupe was formed.
January/February: Treasure Island auditions were held in the unheated Logan Square space, with rehearsals at Foster Community Center. Sets were built in the cold; costume and makeup crews worked in their supervisor's basements. Makeup handbook, Treasure Island edition.
March: A new furnace was installed in the Logan Square space. Along with repairs to the front-door furnace, this made the space habitable again For auditions for The Hobbit. 118 people auditioned, making this the largest audition turnout in some time. Memberships were reported as "approaching 150."
April: Bylaws amended to move the annual meeting from September to May, with the date determined by the board instead of being set in the bylaws. First photos hung in the Logan Square photo gallery. Catch a Falling Child appeal letter sent to members.
May: The Hobbit proved very popular, with several sold out audiences. Auditions for the summer show, The Pied Piper of Hamelin were rather small, with 60 people reading, all of whom were offered roles.
June: The "first annual" Charity Banquet was held at Okemos High School, raising a total of $530. Clowns Express performed at Delta Rocks!
September: Halloween Carnival and Diversity Wall announced. Sound effects reported missing.
October: Season raffles and online auction announced. ACTORS troupe re-formed as a troupe of home-schooling young people who will bring a touring show to local elementary schools. The 2004-2005 Board of Trustees is: Carol Armstrong Hall (Secretary), Carmen Benavides, Pam Bergeron, Nancy Carpenter, Teresa Fitzwater, Paul Hershkowitz (Vice President), David Hetherington, Michelle Mertz-Stoneham (President), Dudley Smith (Treasurer).
November: About 80 people attended the Halloween Carnival. A DSL connection was installed for the office computers, freeing up the phone lines for humans.
December: First annual "Big Ask" event held at Hannah Community Center, the culmination of a series of "Tip of the Hat" fundraisers.
January: AECT begins accepting credit cards. A newsletter article by Executive Director Tracy Meade looks back on her first full year. It is announced that a reunion of performers from the 1989 and 1998 casts is being organized in conjunction with the 2005 performance. (Check the photos page for photos from many events of this era.)
February: Winnie-the-Pooh ticket sales reported as 500. Home Depot donated supplies and labor to improve small sets storage in the Orange Wall room. ACTORS troupe begins rehearsing Tales of Hans Christian Andersen in preparation for touring to schools beginning in March.
March: Note that facades at Logan Square will be reconstructed during the spring and summer.
May: Raggedy Ann & Andy audition report: 76 people read, 61 were offered roles. Openings on all crews. AECT is partnering with Tom Sheerin on a Mobile Art Project. SBST is ready for performances. Tracy Meade resigns as Executive Director. Appeal letter sent to membership explaining our current situation. Annual meeting changes to May.
June: Report that ticket sales were good for ¡Hola! Cinderella and the spring appeal had so far raised $4,900. Board following annual meeting: Paul Hershkowitz (President), Dudley Smith (Vice President), Carol Armstrong Hall (Secretary), Christie Konieczny (Treasurer), Carmen Benavides, Pam Bergeron Laurie Hollinger, Lisa Lees. (Missy Foran and Morgan Lees were appointed to vacant positions later in the year.)
July: Response to spring appeal reached $5,440. Fee increases: participation $90/$70, guild apprentice $45/$30, advanced $90/$70, tickets $5/$7. Pre-paid season punchcard for $5.50 admission to go on sale to general public.
August: Pizza kit fundraiser raised $630. Facade construction at Logan Square continues. Orientation tours offered. Second Annual Halloween Carnival and Party (in two parts; one for kids, one for adults) announced.
October: AECT to be CAUW partner. Several AECT young people helped out at the Phantasmagoria Haunted Attraction in the old hardware store space in Logan Square. $2000 grant received to allow ACTORS to go to twenty Lansing School District elementary schools for free. Evelyn and Diane attended CTAM.
November: Big Ask event scheduled for evening of November 30. New Year's Eve lock-in planned. The Halloween Carnival and Silent Auction events at Gone Wired raised about $800, with some art still on display and available.
December: AECT's traditional holiday party and cookie exchange is December 10. New Year's Eve lock-in for kids is definite, 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 a.m. LSJ ran an article about the ACTORS troupe. Forty or so people attended the Big Ask event.
January: Facade construction is finished and our sign is back up. Makeup needs more Albolene.
February: Homeschooler-oriented classes offered. Board is "optimistic that fundraising efforts currently under way will let us pull through this fiscal year without crisis."
March: Just So Stories (our Riverwalk Theatre collaboration this season) is trying out the idea of having two casts and double running crews. Recent pizza kit sales raised $435.
April: Thirty-four people were cast for Aesop Says, the summer show. AECT begins to offer backstage tours. A group of people styled as All-of-us Friends has donated $3,000 to sponsor Just So Stories. Ashley and Morgan are helping with grant-writing. SBST is performing at the East Lansing Art Fair.
May: Ticket sales for Just So Stories totaled 1,500. A snippet from the show was performed at Lansing's Win the Day Diversity Celebration. Salena begins job-sharing with Evelyn.
July: AECT is participating in the Jackson National Community Fund. Evelyn continues to cut back her hours; Salena Smedley will become a paid employee beginning September 1. Lisa is working at MSU again, so Miranda Hartmann is taking over as Makeup Supervisor for the 18th Season, and someone else will take over as newsletter editor. Bylaws amendment proposed to clarify language about youth members.
December: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe ticket sales were 1,540. Ninety people auditioned for Sleeping Beauty & The Twelve Dancing Princesses. The Royal Feast fundraiser in conjunction with that show was announced.
February: 103 people attended the Royal Feast. Changes to the bylaws announced to allow calling a special meeting of the membership to elect members to the board.
April: State of Michigan announces a moratorium on grants, including grants in progress. ACTORS is performing live interactive exhibits at the Michigan Historical Museum.
November: Third annual Halloween Carnival had an attendance of 100. Pizza kit fundraiser netted $500.
September: AECT begins its 20th Season!
October: Annual meeting report: Company officers: Lisa Lees, President; Melissa Kaplan, Vice-President; Christie Konieczny, Treasurer; Sandi Sigworth, Secretary. Members: Missy Foran, Michelle Nicholson, Paul Hershkowitz, Patricia Huzar, Morgan Lees. Youth members: Dylan Lees, Corrine Pratt.
November: Alumni Reunion announced for December 19.
December: Sixteen people were cast for Stuart Little.
January: The weather was not kind to the Alumni Reunion, but several alumni braved the cold and snow to attend. Letter from the president about staff reduction and difficult times.
All-of-you Review fundraiser announced, to be held at Woldumar Nature Center pm April 17.
May: Newsletter inclusion announcing a meeting about the upcoming merger. SBST performed at the East Lansing Art Festival.
August/September: Newsletter inclusion announcing the merger. SBST participates in Renegade Theatre Festival. Report on first annual awards ceremony, help at LCC's Dart Auditorium.
October: Annual meeting report: Board officers: Sandi Sigworth, President; Missy Foran, Vice-President; Pedro Pozo, Treasurer; Morgan Lees, Secretary. Members: Melissa Kaplan, Gina Golden, Lisa Lees, Chris VanZwoll. Youth members: Corrine Pratt, Austin Homant, Amelia Rogocka, Andrea Hibbs. Second annual All-of-you Review announced for May 8.

It is the mission of All-of-us Express Children's Theatre to offer young people of all backgrounds, cultures, and lifestyles the opportunity to produce professional quality plays, study many aspects of the dramatic arts, and develop valuable life skills while providing outstanding entertainment to the community. It is the policy of AECT to provide equal opportunities to all eligible persons without regard to age, color, creed, gender identity, disability, height, membership in any labor organization, national origin, parental status, political identification, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or weight.

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